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   Look at the longer term (was Re: [xml-dev] WD for Namespaces 1.1)

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4/4/2002 5:58:04 AM, "Rob Lugt" <roblugt@elcel.com> wrote:

> I've come to the conclusion that
>this is inconsistent with the way that we all normally go about our
>business.  In software engineering, the perceived wisdom is to perform small
>incremental changes, thereby reducing the overall risk of getting it wrong.
>Why should the evolution of XML be any different?  

It won't be :~)  But there is another aspect of evolution to consider, the 
"punctuations in the   equilibrium" or the "disruptive innovations."  Gene 
pools / meme  pools can incrementally acquire complex adornments in a stable 
and favorable environment -- peacock tails and orchid blossoms come to mind -- 
but more utilitarian organisms/ideas that can handle adversity tend to take 
over when the environment is disrupted.  The "evolution of XML" is indeed 
producing longer and longer tails and ever-fancier blossoms, but it is also 
setting producing a set of specs that is less and less likely to survive in the 

For example, in the dog-eat-dog  world of Web Services, SOAP (in practice) has 
already deprecated DTDs, PIs, and treats XSD as mainly a meme pool to ransack 
for good ideas (the primitive types and xsi:type are the main things extracted, 
as far as I can see).  Standards bodies and XML gurus complain that the ad hoc 
web services specs are not using all the "good stuff" in XML, the web, and the 
semantic web. The response of the web services community: create a new quasi-
standards body (the WS-I) to *select* those standards that really work rather 
than *create* new ones.  There is a lesson here ...

So, XML won't be any different; it will gradually sprout subcommittees and 
features and incremental versions.  I had a sense of deja vu reading this 
thread back to the early 1980's when I would see incomprehensible (to me) 
articles  in ComputerWorld about battles over the direction of the evolution of 
mainframe OS, COBOL, CODASYL, etc. technologies.  The results of those debates 
still "matter" in glass rooms all over the place, but not in the "wild."  where 
that stuff was displaced by PCs, Unix, C, RDBMS.   Yup, XML won't be any 
different...it will get incremental features piled on, then some disruptive 
force will throw all but the most powerful ideas away, with very little remorse 
for what was broken.  

So, when we think about the evolution of XML, we need to think both about the 
incremental changes to find local optima, and the necessity of staving off the 
Grim Reaper of technologies that can't survive without lots of hype and hope 
and consensus.


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