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   Re: [xml-dev] W3C Schema: Resistance is Futile, says Don Box

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John Cowan wrote:

> Is that because you secretly believe that content should be interpretable based
> on its mere lexical appearance after all?  Certainly nothing in the form
> "-44-3-13" tells you it's a date, but nothing in the form "7/4/1776" tells you
> it's a date either.

I cannot imagine how you suppose this from anything I have said. I have argued
long and consistently that content always requires the operation of a process to
elaborate semantics, which are required for any interpretation. If what I
secretly believe is as you assert, it is so secret that I have never been aware
of thinking it, let alone arguing it.

> > The element content itself (the ides of
> > March, 710 A.U.C.) if instantiated as a date by an accurate application of
> > the AUC process as redefined by Caesar himself must yield a result of the
> > fifteenth day of the third month of the 710th year.
> I deny this.

Deny what? That the operation of a process accurately implementing Caesar's
calendrical calculations yields the result which Caesar's definitions require?

> Learning this fact doubtless is part of the instantiation process, but need not
> be its endpoint.  Indeed, if we have trustworthy
> annotations, we may never need to determine this at all.

At the point at which you learn this fact, you have instantiation. They are one
and the same outcome. The specific annotation which you proposed needs the
operation of a different process (as you concede below) to elaborate (at least
potentially) different semantics. And in this case the semantic outcome is
different:  one process yields the 15th, the other yields the 13th. You can
appeal to a third process, like time travel, to elaborate different semantics in
light of which the two outcomes are the same. That does not change what each
process yields through its own operation, nor how those outcomes are different.

> A different process, yes, but need it yield a different product?

It could, and in the example you gave, it does.

> > Resolved as a date on one simple
> > reading of its own terms (i.e., AUC) the element content yields a result
> > which is unquestionably the 15th of March. Resolved as a date through the
> > execution of a gDate process the attribute value yields the 13th.
> But it's bogus to privilege the first over the second, as if the text itself
> had some sort of native viewpoint.

I'm not. I'm simply pointing out the conflict. And I would, I think, be the last
person to argue that the text had any viewpoint, or intent, or any such
significant semantics until it was operated upon by some process which elaborated
some specific semantic outcome.

> There is no AUC semantics.  There is only date semantics, with various
> calendars expressing the method of transforming an abstract syntax of {day,
> month, year} into the semantics.

There are semantics elaborated by the operation of a process appropriate for
manipulating syntax expressing a date in AUC form. There is no one date
semantics, just as there is no one date syntax. Semantics are elaborated on each
occasion by the operation of process against syntax. Different syntax or
different process and you yield (at least potentially) different semantic
outcome. And there is not, in the world of concrete markup, an abstract date
syntax, only instances of particular syntactic usages.

> To out-Lacan Lacan, "there is no such thing as the text".  Whatever purports to
> be the text is invariably an instantiation.

No. The XML 1.0 Recommendation gives us the basis for determining whether a given
text is well-formed. That is why I am in the practice of XML. We can say that a
well-formed text is an instance of XML syntax. Beyond that we can apply various
processes to various artifacts of that syntax in order to elaborate particular

> (This, BTW, is my beef with deconstructionists, at least the ones I have met on
> the net: they at the same time want to claim that "nothing exists outside the
> text" and then talk about contradictions between what a text says and the
> circumstances of its production.  But if the text is really all there is, then
> it has no meaning whatever, and claims about contradiction
> are as meaningful as to say that Minsk is the opposite of Pinsk.)

Beef with them all you want. I, on the other hand, say that there is text, there
are processes, and there are the particular semantics elaborated by the operation
of specific processes against specific text on specific occasions. How could my
argument be any more different from this strawman?


Walter Perry


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