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   Re: [xml-dev] Redefining the meaning of common nouns

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 Paul Prescod <paul@prescod.net> wrote: (in different posts)

> It was wrong to hijack a common term.

Well, yeah.  OK.  But the damn term is a meme out there in memespace and 
the W3C,  Microsoft, and IBM couldn't exterminate it at this point even if 
they wanted to or had any motivation to work together and try. After all, 
the whole point of the "Web Services" architecture WG being chartered was 
to figure out what people really meant by "web services" in an 
architectural sense and to try to find some order amidst the chaos.

To beat the "hijack" metaphor into the ground (endangering good taste in 
the process!), a group of marketroids hijacked the plane, couldn't agree 
where to fly it, so they appointed a committee of the passengers to decide 
... retaining veto power over the decision.  "Let's go back to the original 
airport and start over" doesn't seem to be an option that they will allow 
at this point <groan>.

> The question is whether the W3C should now ratify that decision so that people 
> like my wife and your cousin will be permanently confused about what 
> computer people mean by "Web Service" or whether the W3C should invent a 
> new term so that elite, cutting edge computer people can
> use the term the same way everyone else has been using the term as common sense 
> since the mid 90s.

You seem to greatly misunderstand what the W3C *is* and what it can 
possibly do.  It's a consortium of the vendors, not a legally constituted 
authority in its own right.  It can Recommend whatever it wants, but if the 
Recommendations fall on deaf ears (as so many do), then what?  And why 
would the vendors even contribute to the development of a Recommendation 
that essentially  said "ignore all those billions of dollars of hype and 
vision-ware,  let's start over from scratch with this stuff." It's not 
going to happen.

Sigh, if we want to get literal about it, XML is not really an "Extensible 
Markup Language", it's a generic syntax and/or data model for  defining 
markup languages.  Maybe we should discuss changing its name to GSDMDML or 
something :-) Or maybe we should accept the reality that human languages 
hijack terms all the time and learn to live with this one too.

But to address some of the questions in this thread:  It is a VERY hard job 
to figure out  what common thread runs through all definitions of "web 
services," and what the W3C can or should do to define a reference 
architecture that points in the "right" direction.  Is Google (the one we 
know and love via HTML/HTTP) or the wretched canonical example of a stock 
quote site a Web Service if I can  write a program to generate its URLs and 
screen-scrape the results?  That's probably the lower bounds.  The upper 
bounds would be something that uses  queryable metadata (RDF, WSDL, or 
otherwise) to define the syntax and semantics of a collection of services 
and something like the SOAP extension/processing model to allow secure, 
reliable, choreographed, encrypted interaction between dynamically 
determined endpoints using only generic software.

Does the term "web service" cover all these?  Or maybe only the ones that 
only use URI+HTTP+XML to do the job?  Or maybe there has to be queryable 
metadata defining message formats, and the stuff that involves sneakernet 
communication of data formats and screen scraping doesn't qualify as being  
sufficiently machine-oriented to be a "web service"?  Or maybe they all are 
"web services" but they get more and more specific adjectives  associated 
with them, e.g. "REST web services", "SOAP/WSDL/RPC web services" or 
whatever.  That makes "web services" a fairly meaningless term, but then 
again, so is the "world wide web" when you try to deconstruct it too 


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