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RE: The Three Myths of XML
- From: "Bullard, Claude L (Len)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- To: Uche Ogbuji <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 08:22:04 -0500
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
From: Uche Ogbuji [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
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.