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   RE: [xml-dev] RDDL (was RE: [xml-dev] Negotiate Out The Noise)

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From: Paul T [mailto:pault12@pacbell.net]

> From: Paul T [mailto:pault12@pacbell.net]
> >I imagine people writing A HREFs before the
> >first HTML browser would exist. How would
> >we call them? Religious fanatics, I guess.

>;-) Honestly, when I was writing the sentence 
>above, I clearly understood how can one 'feel' 
>the future of A HREF, because if just thinking 
>about the 'linked' documents (or any 'linked data' 
>for that matter)  anyone would get a clear 
>understanding  that there should be some way 
>to link one place with another so even there 
>would be no actual system, *implementing* 
>the linking, one can start placing A HREFs into 
>the the picture ( and into the documents ) , 
>because 'earlier or later they would be used'.

Vannevar Bush (As We May Think).  He also 
advised on the atomic bomb and it eventually 

>In the same sense, RDDL is 'right' that: 

And when Szilard first imagined the atomic 
bomb, he was inventing the future.  To 
me, RDDL looks like the linkbases of old. 
Big ol'databases were built that way in 
the Sixties and they worked.  I'm not 
anti-RDDL and I don't think you are. 
I'm not fond of pine tree solutions: 
they kill anything that tries to grow 
around them and leave sticky useless 
cones on the ground.  So RDDL is fine 
until it becomes an excuse to dismiss 
alternatives.  That is the politics of 
some supporters, but not the design of RDDL.
Spy Vs Spy.

>'there should be some way
>to share the 'semantics' of 'some tag' 
>( or 'namespace' ) on the web'

On the Web, or among some set of applications 
or information owners that use the Internet 
as a hosting and transport medium?

>And also RDDL is right that URLs 
>should be involved ( how else can it be, 
>it is the Web ;-) 

I won't fall for that bait.  ;-)

>But there is a lot of other problems 
>if thinking about this possible 'semantics linking'. 
>Caching, certification, distribution, e t.c.
>I've spent one year thinking and I think that 
>it would take years to get it right. Simple 
>things are complex .

Errr... at the risk of immolation, .Net and 
it's competitors are reaching for that brass ring.

>And ( most important ) all this stuff would not 
>fly until somebody would try implementing a 
>real-life project with that. 

See above.  God help them if they are wrong because 
they are betting their companies on it.

>The 'phonebook' was a 'killer application'
>for the web. What is the 'killer application'
>for RDDL? 

I dunno.  Maybe the idea that a language
needs a killer application is inherently another 
magic spell.  It could be that RDDL does 
some things that a lot of people need and does 
it in a way that is easy to understand and 
apply.  Maybe it is an Angel application 
that tries to preserve life by giving others 
time to live it instead of trying to implement 
grotesque baroque code.  Don't Play Bach If 
They Came To Boogie.  I'm waiting to hear what 
that something is.

>> Anchor tags have been around since waaaay 
>> before HTML, even SGML.  The HyTimers took a shot 
>> at standardizing them into clinks, but 
>> were denied by a goal line stand.  And 
>> because at that time, the real issues of
>> associating semantics were badly enunciated.

>I'm not questioning this. I never thought that 
>TBL invented A HREF. His book says that 
>he had not invented things, but he just 
>spent years trying to explain his ideas 
>to experts  ;-)

>I belive that Weaving the Web is a honest book. 

I don't know TimBL and haven't read the book.  
I knew other people of his millieu and 
was around for some of their projects.  I've 
no problem with his accomplishment because 
the thing he got totally right was that the 
bare minimal system that would start the conversation 
globally was more important than a final design 
that addressed all requirements.  He chose wisely. 
If he ever gets a Nobel Prize, it should be 
the Peace Prize.   He wasn't the first to argue 
for a simpler solution; he was the first to get 
one out there that DARPA liked well-enough to fund 
a grant to UofI to build a graphical interface to. 
There were better browsers, but none used HTTP. 
He figured out how to get around and hide all the 
Internet node nasties.  Great job.  We just 
have to be aware that hypermedia doesn't start 
there and where we know more about the ideas 
that were good ideas but failed in their time, 
we have a basis for either trying them again 
in a better time, or improving them, or saying 
once and for all, bad ideas, but we do that based 
on facts, research, and experience, not superstition. 
You and I are in complete agreement there.

How many ideas of communism are there that are 
good ideas and might work given a better economic 
system or improved humans?  It is a scary thing 
to consider, but Marx wasn't all wrong, just a 
bit deluded on those two issues.  The only way 
humans improve is by self-examination and practice. 
Communication.  The web is part of that.
>Some *particular* task.

Always better to have a problem to solve. 
It bounds the requirements if you are sure 
about the scope of the problem.  It may 
be a bitch to scale it later, or to modify it 
in some upwardly compatible way.  <rant>Those of us who 
wanted SGML On The Web did so because we knew 
from experience precisely where HTML would 
run out of steam.  We had to steal ideas, change 
the name, and virtually knife a community to 
do that even though many of us were nursed 
by that community.  Ask yourself where we would be today 
if Dr. Charles Goldfarb had really fought XML.  
Remember, he put his entire life, career, and 
fortune into making markup a workable system. 
It takes a helluva man to get it that far, then 
hand it over to kids for the last two inches. 
But when you look at SGML, it was there to solve 
a bigger job and where it succeeded or failed, 
we who came behind him found the border cases. 
That made XML a lot easier to spec and made 
some people look like geniuses.  No one denies 
it now, but we built on the shoulders of a man 
who did the dirty work before we got here.</rant>

>See - again instead of *first* seeing the *task*, that we 
>want to solve and *then* writing / desiging  RDDL 
>as a tool to solve the *task* it goes other way 
>around : "put something on the end of namespace 
>URI and then try to do something with this apparatus". 
>that's why I call RDDL scientific. ( below I explain 
>why I call it political )

Ok.  I leave it to the RDDL designers to answer 
that one.  As I recall, they had definite applications 
in mind, but it was designed over the Christmas 
holidays and I was playing guitar in my new 
house last year.  I missed it, darnit.

>I'm sure there was some particular application 
>for markup. 

Circa late Sixties:  publishing houses needed a 
way to move manuscripts among dissimilar and 
non-interoperable printing systems, thus emerged 
GenCoding.  IBM needed a way to unify their contract 
and other legal document work.  Thus emerged GML. 
Scribe was borrowed from for that, but originally, 
lawyers needed a better way to do their work.  
Charles wrote a history of that and it is at his 
web page.

>In the healthy situation, problem *always* comes 
>*before* the solution. 

Engineering over art.

>> len was talking about the problems of discovery of 
>> semantics given raw markup (no schema, no n number 
> of definition languages) and said that can be a 
> negotiation process. 

>Dear Len. Perhaps you can save us ? ;-)  

I am sinking deep in sin.  Put out your hand, I'll 
pull you in.  Blame Steve Newcomb for spending his 
own money to put a modem in my work machine at Unisys 
so I would join comp.text.sgml.  It's been all downhill 
for SGML ever since.  I can't even code good programs, 
so look elsewhere for heros.  I'm a musician.  See 


for an overhyped description of my total contribution 
to this party.

XML Does Nothing.  WASD.  The rest is the fault of 
our ambitions, not the stars.  You are right; it 
is because we want to do something that we design. 
Getting a room or list full of people to agree on 
what that something is is the political angle. Just 
like songwriting in a band for a major label; compromise 
after compromise until you get something the public might 
buy but you can barely listen to after it is done.

>Sometimes I wonder for how long can a 
>human being tolerate living in this 'markup' universe ;-) 
>Looks like a crazy place, comparing to many 
>other mailing lists ;-)

As long as it takes, as much as it takes, whatever 
it takes until we find a willing idiot to take 
the torch.  There is always The Cause (apologies 
to Torry, Vicki and Peter Newcomb who lived a 
good life with a sweet professor before I tempted him 
with the apple of a better world through hypertext).



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