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   Re: [xml-dev] Web Design Principles (was Re: [xml-dev] Generality ofHTTP

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"Simon St.Laurent" wrote:
> That's one aspect of it, certainly.  I don't think it's unreasonable,
> however, to suggest that reducing that expense (and getting a system
> with more flexibility) is preferable to eliminating that expense (and
> getting a system with very little flexibility.)

I know a guy whose job it was to deal with these variant structures. So
it does happen. But he considered it the worst part of his job. He hoped
to move to XML so that he could encourage producers to produce reliable
data by providing a schema.

> Sure, and 4GL was supposed to take care of all of that.
> I'd like to see such work done in a much more widely distributed style
> taking advantage of the human networks organizations already have. Many
> of the reasons for centralization are dwindling, as the price of
> computers drops and the need for dedicated programmers slowly lessens.

I don't understand what you mean by that.

> I'm not sure what creative work you're asking of invoice clerks.  The
> "freed up to do creative work" line often involves unemployment, if
> that's what you mean.

They can do real accounting instead of staring at mangled XML documents
trying to figure out why the elements are wrong. Or they can join the
support line and help people trying to send documents to make valid

> And visual mapping tools could be part of such human "exception
> handling", adding extra mappings so that exceptions become less
> exceptional.

Well, the tools are out there to do this. I don't think businesses will
deploy them in the way you want for a variety of reasons. Once you let
your business partners know that you will accept non-conforming junk,
what incentive is there for them to provide you with good data? I guess
you could bill them for ever order you process by hand...

> > Also, I notice that some people make a distinction between
> > well-formedness and validity when it comes to this issue. Aren't they
> > the same? Couldn't we say that if a purchase order comes through that is
> > not well-formed it should be routed to a human being who looks for the
> > missing angle-bracket and inserts it? It isn't a job I want to have but
> > if you're serious about being liberal in what you accept...
> Sure thing.  I do it all the time, and I'm pretty amazed at how weak the
> tools are for dealing with such errors.

If the XML community creates a new job description of "business document
markup fixer" then I think we'll have done the white-collar working
class a great disservice. A person who "helps" the computer to analyze
variant documents will be a component of the system in a very
dehumanizing sense. They will likely be expected to deliver
computer-like turnaround times and extremely high levels of accuracy.

 Paul Prescod


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