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   Re: [xml-dev] Friday Flame Fest, anyone???

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4/5/2002 9:56:00 PM, Betty Harvey <harvey@eccnet.com> wrote:

>Here is a link to the entire report:
>	http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d02327.pdf

Thanks for the pointer! That report looks much, much better than
the article's summary implied.  I have only skimmed it, but it
looks like the discussion of EDI and XML is quite informative
and thought-provoking.  Also, there is quite a balanced and
thoughtful discussion of the merits of a "top down" approach where
schemas are imposed by the Powers that Be vs a "bottom up" 
approach where schemas are developed and refined to fit individual
agencies' needs, and coordinated via a central registry.

My biggest problem with the report -- again, from about 10 minutes of
skimming, not a thorough study -- is a rather touching faith in the
W3C to have gotten the technology right, implying that the challenges
are now on users to define and agree on standard schemas for various
application domains.  I would doubt if anyone reading this list with
an open mind believes that the basic technologies are as solid as the
report seems to imply -- the namespace issues we've talked about recently
and  schema interoperability come to mind. Likewise, the web service 
architectural challenges (e.g., the REST debate) and SOAP interoperability
issues are not hinted at in the very short treatment of web services.

I guess I also disagree with the report's implied faith in bureaucracy to
come up with solid applications/schemas.  I know that this is widely
disputed, but one could argue that nothing they talk about in the report
couldn't have been done with SGML 10 years ago; the reasons that didn't happen
were not so much technical as human -- political, bureaucratic, psychological,
and the simple fact that the job of defining monster "one size fits all"
uber-DTDs is almost beyond the scope of human intelligence, even without
political and bureaucratic hinderances.  To touch on my favorite subject,
the power of XML (IMHO) comes from its ability to deal with chaos gracefully 
rather than insisting on order.

I could also make the obligatory wheeze and suggest that the possibility of 
"leadership" from either the career civil servants or the political crowd in power are 
somewhere between infitesimal and nonexistent ... Well, MAYBE after Dubya restores peace 
to the Middle East, disposes of Saddam Hussein, brings  bin Laden to justice, and 
figures out who to blame for the Enron debacle, then he'll have time to sort out the 
REALLY hard problems of defining universal XML schemas :~)


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