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   Re: [xml-dev] Better is better

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> 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.

All the investigation I've done says that the Web is exactly a subset of
what it was intended to become.  The biggest pieces "missing" are that
it's not used for collaboration as much as Tim would have liked (though
it can be argued that perhaps we don't need to collaborate as much as
Tim would have liked 8-), and that many forms of automation on the Web
isn't possible yet (enter the Semantic Web).

> I see 
> HTTP/HTML as being designed along the lines of the following 
> principles:
> - Simplicity, both in implementation and interface. 

I think it's as simple as it can be given the other constraints it was
working under.  But by any objective measure, I don't think HTTP 1.1
would be considered simple.  Ditto for HTML after about v2.0.

In the earlier days, both were simpler, but they also weren't

> - 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.

That's my understanding, but I wasn't a Web head until after most of
those decisions were made.

> - 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?

For sure.

My objection is simply the name and the meaning that the name invokes,
that it's somehow a good idea to be "worse", because sometimes "worse
is better".  Considering the whole system when designing, rather than
just part of it, can in no way be considered "worse".  I don't
disagree with the conclusion of "worse is better", but I disagree with
the unfortunate choice of wording.

Mark Baker, Chief Science Officer, Planetfred, Inc.
Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA.      mbaker@planetfred.com
http://www.markbaker.ca   http://www.planetfred.com


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