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Re: [xml-dev] Caught napping!

Seaborne, Mark wrote:

> As any self respecting archivist will tell you, without understanding the
> original context of a document, and its function within that context, it is
> impossible, or at least very dangerous, to derive other meaning from the
> document.

Quite so.  Indeed, my claim is stronger: you need to understand the
surface meaning as well as the context.

> For example, I might study a seventeenth century hearth tax return
> in order to learn about household structure in a small Scottish town,
> certainly not the use intended by the originator. However without some
> understanding of the administrative structure that generated the records,
> and the motivations of the data collectors and the data providors, I cannot
> even assume that what I mean by household is what the creator of the
> document meant by hearth.

And indeed, if the document were written in Harappan instead of Scots,
you would have even more trouble: is it in fact a hearth tax return or
just a dog license?  There would be no way to tell.

Not to perambulate             || John Cowan <jcowan@reutershealth.com>
    the corridors               || http://www.reutershealth.com
during the hours of repose     || http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
    in the boots of ascension.  \\ Sign in Austrian ski-resort hotel