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RE: The Three Myths of XML

Real work and the arguments about of human thinking that 
engender willingness to work may be usefully separated 
as rhetoric and logic.  Sometimes the rhetorician 
and the logician find themselves on opposite sides taking 
the role of the other without ever touching the underlying 
emotional motives that really motivate their arguments. 
Logic need be no more based in rationale than rhetoric 
in witless emotion.

Perhaps we should better understand magic.  Attention is magic. 
Where a technology, an initiative, or even a simple email brings 
attention to a topic, enables that topic to be shared, understood, 
and become part of the competency of some individual or group, 
that is magic.

Efforts such as HumanML are easy targets for cynicism and critique. 
They defy the neo-Gothic, the easy pejorative, the all too common 
laziness of so-called serious intellectual thought.  Where some 
step up to the challenge of making a difference, 
they enable hope.   To clarify the question, 
to enable the individual or the group to share a belief, 
an emotion, or even a simple thrill, this enables humanity. 

We do not create humanity; we humanize.

This magic is not reserved to the political process, or 
the elite who become a core community then shut themselves 
off from the commons, who consider every moment of their 
attention so precious that they soon experience 
only the messages from their self-selected peers, that 
magic is available to any person that trades attention 
for learning about others.  Note those who are now 
core decision makers who inform us that they do not 
subscribe to XML-Dev.  Should we therefore listen 
to what they have to say, or should we consider the 
opinions of the commons more persuasive?  Is consensus 
less important than the technical opinions of the 
self-selected elite, who as you say, drink too much 
of their own kool-aid?

Technology is not magic.  The effort to create the 
technology is magic.   The artifacts of the HumanML 
initiative are not magical spells, but the attitudes 
and emotions of the individuals who will dedicate 
attention to creating the languages are magic.  It 
is the magic of hope, the willingness to believe 
and persevere in the the face of the cynical, 
the pejorative and the emotionally impoverished or 
frightened that transforms the lot for some 
large or limited number of individuals.

In the end, all magic is attention and all attention 
is the power of the individual.  Whether an effort 
fails to achieve its goals or is the starting point 
for other efforts that achieve these goals, the 
chain of human initiative is linked by the sustaining 
belief that the goals are worthy of the attention 
freely given.  That belief, that willingness, and 
that acceptance of the cost of effort, these are 
the magical powers of individuals whose hope that their 
effort can bring that hope to others, that the 
chain of human achievement does create a better 
world, that simple hope, that willingness, that 
acceptance of the power of marvelous faith is magic.

XML is magic because we made it.  What we 
make of it, where that brings hope, is a 
greater magic and we are magicians.



Ekam sat.h, Vipraah bahudhaa vadanti.
Daamyata. Datta. Dayadhvam.h

-----Original Message-----
From: Uche Ogbuji [mailto:uche.ogbuji@fourthought.com]

You described Clark's article precisely: "satire".  I don't think there
are many people in positions of dangerous influence who ascribe to the
described "magical thinking".  I certainly wouldn't have thought Alan
Kotok to be one of them, given his involvement in the XML-EDI group, and
given the long and rancorous debates about inflated XML promises on that
group between EDI traditionalists and XML boosters.  I'd like to assume
Clark quotes Kotok quite out of context, because I have to agree that the
excerpts that appear in Clark's article are worthy of satire.

However, I think in the real world, where everyone has more work to do
than dreams to dispense, that no one really believes in XML as magick.
Robin cover wrote about these matters back in 1998 in his paper on
Semantic Transparency, and I've written about them more recently in my
"Thinking XML" column.

coniuratores consilia sua mirabile esse non putant
loosely: conspirators shouldn't drink too much of their own Kool-Aid.