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   Re: [xml-dev] Better is better

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1/22/2002 10:23:28 AM, Mark Baker <distobj@acm.org> wrote:

> I cringe everytime I see "worse is better" referenced, 
> especially when it's applied to the Web.  
> The Web is better because it was designed to
> be better.

I think that everyone, especially Richard Gabriel (the author of the 
famous article) cringes a bit at this phrase; it is a deeply 
unpleasant thought.  I throw that phrase around a bit, admittedly, as 
my canonical response to someone arguing that there will be a 
tangible business benefit from doing the "right thing," when 
technology and markets are changing rapidly and nobody knows what a 
"good" design or schema or process would really look like. 

I'm curious as to how one would argue that the Web was "designed to 
be better."  Perhaps we don't really disagree, but I'd say that the 
web is "better" because its fundamental design principles allowed for 
easy implementation/understanding and robustness in the face of 
change, not because it was designed to be what it became. I see 
HTTP/HTML as being designed along the lines of the following 

- Simplicity, both in implementation and interface. 

- Consistency:  it is better to drop those parts of the design that 
deal with less common circumstances than to introduce either 
implementational complexity or inconsistency.

- Completeness-the design must cover as many important situations as 
is practical. 

These principles are taken directly from the "Worse is Better" 
article http://www.ai.mit.edu/docs/articles/good-
news/subsection3.2.1.html.  At least in the context of 1980's 
hypertext theory/research, doesn't HTTP/HTML illustrate the triumph 
of "keep it simple and make it workable; a working system with 404 
errors is better than a lab prototype where they can't occur" as 
opposed to the kind of "2-way content link, transclusion, and 
transpointing windows" that Ted Nelson http://www.sfc.keio.ac.jp/
~ted/XU/XuSum99.html was trying to achieve?


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