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   RE: [xml-dev] (data) medium is the message

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Simon St.Laurent <simonstl@simonstl.com> writes:

> Perhaps.  My hope long term is that such schema development 
> will be something done by more ordinary "knowledge workers", 
> not "Frank in IT", and that it will be done iteratively, as 
> workers process messages and their mappings and meanings in 
> such a way that the computer can deal with similar 
> circumstances in the future.  
> Not AI (or even "automatic") by any means, but a long way 
> from setting the rules in advance by committee and setting up 
> processing around those expectations exclusively.  XML makes 
> continued human involvement in such things quite plausible 
> from my perspective.

Although I can understand this vision and even buy into some of it I wonder
how close it is? We spend a lot of time here trying to get agreement on what
the business rules are around a given piece of information.  We iterate over
those definitions until we think we've got them right and we formally
document everything.  We then automatically generate metadata from the
business rules documentation.  From the metadata we generate schema.  What
we don't do is arrive at these business rules by bouncing data around until
we get it right and frankly I don't see how we could.  One might be tempted
to say that's because we're doing research and the  common ground has yet to
be invented.  I don't think that's the case; surgery or chemotherapy might
have lots of variations, but at the level we're documenting them it's
basically things like is it a date or a datetime?, use a Snomed code to
capture the procedure, and a Snomed code to capture the location, etc...

I guess I don't buy into any vision of applications being built bottom up by
playing with the data. Maybe some day lots of little data handling objects
will somehow self assemble themselves into applications, but that's when I
stop and say not time soon.... I'm still a top down kind of guy.  Maybe Joe
user can do top down development, but that means stepping back and
understanding the big picture and that's not something that everyone can do.
So I think for the next couple of years there's still going to be a need for
Frank the IT guy, or at least Frank the consultant who helps you build some


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