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   Re: [xml-dev] Don't Let Architecture Astronauts Scare You

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9/17/2002 11:06:17 AM, Paul Prescod <paul@prescod.net> wrote:

>I don't think that it is as simple as that. Some coherent architectures 
>do emerge as a package from a single person or small team. Examples 
>include the WIMP interface, the original Web, the Lisp programming 
>language. Of course all of these have been incrementally extended since 

I'll quickly agree about the Xerox PARC WIMP interface and McCarthy's
LISP.  From what I know, these were profound innovations by Intelligent
Designers.  I'm certainly not denying that coherent and powerful
architectures CAN emerge full-fledged, just asserting
that it is rare, and that it's dangerous for any one or small group of
us to flatter ourselves that our Intelligent Designs are to be
taken seriously until reality has worked them over for a few years,
or decades. 

Not having known TimBL in 1989, I defer to Paul's characterization of
him as an "architecture astronaut."  In 20/20 hindsight, it seems easy
to see HTTP as an incremental modification of FTP, URLs as 
DNS+filesystem, and HTML as a trivial SGML DTD.  I'm sure it didn't
seem so cut and dried at CERN!  

Furthermore, upon reflection, it probably took an "architecture 
astronaut" to PROMOTE the vision of "The Web" as something more than
a new flavor of FTP + DNS-prefixed pathnames + a trivial SGML DTD. 
Without that vision and the promotional efforts, the "emergence" wouldn't
have happened, at least like it did.  Still, I guess I don't put "the
original Web" in quite the same category as LISP and WIMP, since
TimBL was standing on the shoulders of a pretty large giant (or a large
stack of dwarves!) by 1989 ...  


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