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   Paranoia and Slippery Slopes (was Re: [xml-dev] bohemians, gentry)

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On Thu, 05 Dec 2002 09:22:15 -0500, Norman Walsh <ndw@nwalsh.com> wrote:

> I sometimes think the gentry go a little bit off the rails, but I don't
> lose sleep over it because I don't see how I'm being threatened. As I
> said before, maybe I'm insufficiently paranoid.)

I'm not sure if you should lose sleep or try to become more paranoid,
but do think the point of all this is to not become complacent. Although
it frustrates Jonathan <grin> this discussion really is about abstract mindsets 
 and not concrete technologies.  There are a lot of venerable sayings about 
this kind of thing:

"Don't go too near the top of a slippery slope"
"Eternal vigilance is the watchword of liberty"
"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're NOT out to get you"

OK, this mindset leads to absurdities like the ACLU defending the
free speech rights of those who would lock up the ACLU leadership if
they ever took power, and the US's perennial habit of enshrining evil dictators 
 as bastions of the "free world."   But it also makes sure that
potentially fatal problems are identified early and addressed before the
alternatives are moot.

It's particularly worrisome to me that the TAG chose not to consider the
issue of excessive dependence by other specs on the on W3C XSD and PSVI 
after the vigorous opposition by the Chair of the XQuery WG
(as best I can infer from the public minutes).  Modularity and layering
seem like as close to universal truths as we have in software engineering,
and it sets off my latent paranoia when they are opposed. (Although I
realize that most of the arguments were essentially procedural rather than
substantive, and that the XQuery spec *has* become much more modular
in the last year).

The theme running throughout this permathread is not that types, validation, 
 even static typing are  Bad Things, but that they should not be imposed as 
the One True Path by the specwriters.  Jonathan's
mantra "show me the concrete problems with building on types/
PSVI/etc." worries me simply because I think it reverses the burden
of proof.  I want concrete success stories of how the paradigm shift
from text to types actually helps solve real problems better/faster/
cheaper before I'm going to get my back down, fur flattened,
and hissing stopped. [It's obvious I live in a multi-cat household, eh?]


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