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   Re: [xml-dev] There is a meaning, but it's not in the data alone

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On Tuesday 22 January 2002 01:53 pm, Nicolas LEHUEN wrote:
> I think that data has no meaning if there is nothing to process the
> data. A book has no meaning if there is no one to read it.

As I always say, "the meaning is in the eye of the beholder" pr 
"interpreter defines semantics".

> Likewise, XML data has no intrinsinc meaning. XML is a way to convey
> meaning between two systems. In the emitting and receiving system,
> meaning exists because there is code running there.

Yup. XML does nothing itself, it just helps other things do something. 
Tim Bray used to call XML "the new ASCII". In terms of an encoding for 
data, he was right on the mark.

> The meaning is what you get when a program's run depends on its
> input data. Which means that you can observe meaning everywhere in a
> computer.

Conversely, the meaning of the data depends on the program being run.

> If 'meaning' is the result of a synergy between structured data and
> code processing the data, then improving the exchange of meaning
> needs :
> 1) to improve the exchange of structured data, which XML is all
> about 
> 2) to improve the exchange of code. It begins by allowing
> stylesheets and plugins to be downloaded and ran automatically, who
> knows where it can go ?

I think we need migratory applications/agents. This is why I'm 
concerned about security for distributed application vis-a-vis REST 
etc. Rather than having an HTTP server embedded in my browser that 
anyone and his dog can call to, I'd rather have a secure, scoped 
application space.

> A corollary of those two objectives, and maybe a pre-requisite, is
> to find ways to describe structured data itself, in the form of
> structured data about structured data, AKA meta-data.

Yep. Another think to think about it is "application definitions", 
where "application" is a loose use of the word spanning both the SGML 
and the desktop meanings for the word.

> This is something that we need to think about. We can't work on XML
> without thinking about the programs and frameworks that will process
> XML documents, because XML is a way to convey meaning, and meaning
> needs code AND data, not just data.

Of course, code can be treated as data...


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