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RE: The Three Myths of XML
- From: "Bullard, Claude L (Len)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- To: Michael Brennan <Michael_Brennan@allegis.com>,XML-Dev Mailing list <email@example.com>
- Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 15:19:18 -0500
The Tower of Babel is an old myth both for humans
and for markup. The HTMLTerrorists used to it
say that without supporting TimBL's "Shining
Moment of Clarity" the web would devolve into
a heap of system rubble and we would lose the
universal capacity to communicate.
That's a crock, and worse, it is the kind of
zealous demogoguery that makes gives one
organization authority to steal the intellectual
property of another. "You didn't polish your
silverware, so in the name of table sets across
the world, we have stolen your silverware to give
to those who will care for it and love it and
decorate their tables with it."
Markup says the tower of babel is a
natural phenomenon of communication among locally
ruled systems and that any attempt to unite these
systems through a single language will fail eventually.
Markup says, lexical/syntax unification is the
strongest agreement one needs (XML is ASCII on Steroids).
The use of Schemas/DTDs simply lets the local tribe
create its own agreements, decorate a rock to regulate
it's trades so to speak. Nothing more.
Who fears the tower of babel? Let it fall, baby.
We got all kinds of rocks, and we know how to
stack faster than any tribe from the Indus to
the Euphrates. It's a full desert economy.
As the sign says; "HIRING STACKERS AND CARVERS!"
Again, I can decorate the rock but you have to want
it to accept it in exchange for your cat.
People who promote and fear such myths are the
superstitious and opportunistic, who think we
cannot think for ourselves so they must either
think for us or take advantage of our thoughtlessness
to trade a well-decorated rock for a cat.
Hmmm... seems to me that is what I did when I
got married. The rock is holding up very well.
Ekam sat.h, Vipraah bahudhaa vadanti.
Daamyata. Datta. Dayadhvam.h
From: Michael Brennan [mailto:Michael_Brennan@allegis.com]
I think most of the hype of XML being magic is waning. There's a new myth
being propagated, though. I've seen a spate of articles of late that
characterize XML as a failure. XML is characterized as a "tower of Babel".
The problem, according to these articles, is the lack of standardized
vocabularies. Without those, XML is utterly useless. Once those standard
vocabularies are established, though, systems will magically connect and
talk to each other over the internet, ecommerce will hum along without human
intervention like a well-oiled machine, interoperability issues will become
a forgotten thing of the past.
This seems to me pretty consistent with how the popular media tends to treat
just about any new technology -- it's either a panacea or an utter failure;
there's almost nothing in between. Complex subtleties are reduced to simple
caricatures. Everything is cast in black and white. How many times have we
heard a TV news story about an imminent cure for cancer/AIDS/whatever
anytime a scientist makes an incremental advancement in understanding? I
think the same phenomenon is at work, here. Some of it is natural fallout
from trying to summarize a broad topic "in a nutshell". But much of it, I
think, results from a combination of marketing hype and honest naivete.
In time, the myths fade, only to be replaced by new ones. Fortunately that
does not stop those with more balanced perspectives from recognizing the
real value -- and shortcomings -- of new tools and finding useful,
innovative ways to solve problems with them.