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'tree' is a pretty straightforward data structure to explain to non-techies,
thanks in part to the familiarity of family trees (which aren't actually
trees, but by the time the person's realised that, they've got the idea).
Graphs (as in RDF) are a little more difficult to explain because of
>On the "XML as abstract syntax" side of the aisle, I have to agree that
>"metalanguage" is definitely in the realm of geekdom. But how does
>to Joe Webhacker what the "angle bracket thingies" are if there is no
>constraint that they consist of the tags <h1>, <h2>, <p>, <b>,
>etc. etc. etc.?
>"Language for creating languages" is not quite right in the well-formed XML
>world. How about "Conventions for defining what is "markup" and what
This depends a lot if the person has encountered html or not.
If not, "punctuation" is pretty good! If so, "...like HTML but you can make
up your own names, as long as you abide by a few rules..."
People discriminate between punctuation & layout and words all the time -
the difference with markup & content surely isn't that great.
>Yup, it is hard to de-geekify one's vocabulary, that's for sure!
Yup. Whatever a geek is...
>be a little more specific about what we can assume about typical
>before wasting any more of our time. Do they understand what HTML
>is and that
>it has "elements" and "attributes"? Do they understand the
>content and markup?
Probably, probably, probably...
Do they understand the distinction between the HTML
>source text and the representation inside the browser that is
>a DOM-like API?
Probably not. Newbie-web students I've encountered seemed to have a lot more
trouble with models than with e.g. procedural code.
I'm afraid that people will just have to learn
>in order to have a prayer of understanding "XML" beyond "the
>secret sauce for
>interoperability that everyone says I need to buy."
Folks on lists such as this tend towards stricter, more careful tech
language (in flame-squared proportions). It's easy to forget that the ideas
are essentially simple, and what may be clarification to others towards the
tail end of Andrew's skew may be sheer gobbledegook to others. Extensible
means extendable, take it from there ;-)