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   Re: [xml-dev] What is the data here?

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In a message dated 19/04/2003 13:20:40 GMT Daylight Time, frank@therichards.org writes:

On Sat, 2003-04-19 at 06:00, AndrewWatt2000@aol.com wrote:

> The data in its data container whether that is a .doc or .xls or other file
> format is something signficantly, but perhaps subtly, different from the
> plain data on paper which latter is indisputably yours and only yours
> (assuming you didn't steal the data or similar).

I see where you're going, and no I don't agree.


Do you mean that you think I am wrong? Or that you wish the situation were otherwise?

I don't see how it is possible to argue that the bare data on paper and the data-dataContainer combination are identical so will assume that is not what you are saying.

If I read other of your comments correctly you seem to be agreeing that this data-dataContainer combination is currently "jointly owned". Or is "jointly controlled" less provocative? You also seem to be saying that you passionately want to change that situation.

If you are correct in (perhaps) asserting that the data-dataContainer is not de facto jointly owned, what is it that you so passionately want to change? Your passion to see a different situation seems to me to indicate that what I am saying is de facto the case is something you recognise as true but passionately wish were otherwise.

In a text retrieval
system or data warehouse perhaps. The whole is then greater than the sum of its parts. There's also the question of who did the work. Lexis-Nexis runs the computers and loads and backs up the data rather than just
leasing the tools. A very different contribution to the job rather than
just swapping a CD for cash. The vendor's software is giving you the
capability to do things you couldn't otherwise do. In a word processor
document all the value in the document is still the document.

But the document ... whether .doc, or .xsl or something else ... which you value is the combination of the data and the data container.

> It is that combination of data and its proprietary data container that I am
> suggesting is de facto "jointly owned".

Or 'held to ransom' as the case may be.

You see. You accept my contention of the de facto situation but contend that the situation ought to be otherwise.

Yes the de fscto situation

So we agree that the data-dataContainer is in effect jointly owned/controlled?

I fully understand why this is of benefit to the software vendors. It's equally obvious

why cracking the situation is good for the
people on this list.

Yes, but the people on this list are not typical "users". If I were to hazard a guess, the people on this list exist somewhere WAY beyond the 99th percentile as far as being able to think abstractly is concerned.

That means, as I pointed out before, that the people on this list have a de facto vested interest in the data being available as XML.

No value judgement on whether that is good, bad or neutral. It just seems pretty obvious, to me at least, that it is the case that people on the list gain if proprietary vendors open up their formats into XML.

I continue to wait for you to give any reason that that situation can benefit end

users/data owners.

Ignoring the specifics of Office 11, I would suggest that the fact that thousands of businesses have invested in proprietary software is strong evidence that there have been perceived/real business benefits. An interface can provide added value which, perhaps, is orthogonal to the data it produces. Not sure if that is true but they are separate concepts, at a minimum.

I guess you are asking if that provides the optimal/maximal benefit. As I pointed out in earlier posts that is not self-evident and is determined by circumstances that prevail in particular situations.

I accept that the proprietary situation
can be _just as good

That's progress. :)

_:[the one page announcement, printed copied read and forgotten, eg.] But you

have yet to enunciate a scenario which is better for the users.

Serious question. How do you measure better?

Let me give you one possible example - sticking to the XForms/InfoPath dichotomy which underlay parts of this thread.

Last night I pointed one developer on another list to XForms. She indicated that she gave up after an hour or two because there is just *too much* in XForms for her to grasp. That's not a criticism of either her or XForms, just a statement of the situation. InfoPath may provide an easier route for many in to the dynamic XML-based forms space. [MS presumably think so, judging by how they seem to be marketing it.] InfoPath is a more expensive hurdle and is proprietary but is "graspable" by a whole class of people who will be totally lost when they meet XForms.

Something that is "graspable", even if it is proprietary, is of more value to that class of users/developers than something that they are overwhelmed by.

Remember Champion's First Law of XML. :)

Andrew Watt


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