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   RE: [xml-dev] Symbol Grounding and Running Code: Is XML Really E xtensi

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Yes.  Only I can't think of any reason eBay or Google 
would raise a lawyer's paranoia quotient.  eBay goes 
to great lengths to police the actions of it's users. 
Google just relies on a PageRank algorithm (possibly 
patented) that is an opinion meter and even if it 
seems odd, it also works for most topics.  It will 
have strong competitors, so other than the patenting 
of the algorithms, I don't see a problem here.

Napster is a different case.  They set out to enable 
theft from day one.  And they got their heads handed 
to them for it.  And now, people who bought into the 
'free lunch' scheme based on theft of intellectual 
property protected by copyright law are also being caught.
That's a heckuva bad place to put the customers.  No 
one is above the law, but one can spend a lot of 
money postponing the day of reckoning.
Sad thing here:  the artists.  These folks can really 
do well in a system that funds back some monies for 
promotion but leaves them in complete control of 
the product.  Napster didn't evolve to that.  MP3.Com 
sort of did.  The ManyOne network may turn out to 
be the next generation there.

But this drifts away from the topic into areas I am 
only tangentially interested in.  Indemnity issues 
are just a part of the overall set of problems that 
can be made better with code registration of standard 
software objects where the standards themselves are 
the guarantors of royalty-free implementation.  For 
XML, this can result in not a change to the XML 
specification itself, but the use of certain productions 
normatively in legal specifications.  Of particular 
interest could be the schemas and the namespace 
xmlns declarations that are meaningful in the context 
of a wrapper application such as XHTML, X3D, SVG and 
so forth.   The rendering languages are fairly 
easy to sort out but they do have the problem of 
their object models:  do they have one or not and 
if not, how to determine the meaningfulness of 
their combinations and warranty the reliability of 
their implementations.  For this to work, the 
namespace productions can be used as legal 
symbols and as URLs.  As Alaric points out, 
RDDL or RDF can have a role here, and yes, the 
semantic web.  In fact, this is one area where 
the semantic web can really come into its own as 
a layer describing the object model relationships.

The data languages are easier but also where most 
standards are today.  As Jonathan noted, the use 
of schemas, to which I add, and normative references 
to these, warranties these if the datatypes are 
accounted for.   It is better if the namespace 
is owned by a standards body, but that isn't 
required as long as the namespace owner steps 
up to warranty on the data itself.

This is quite doable and could be the future model for
large scale collaborative internet systems and the 
software industry in general.

XML will continue to be meaningless.  Applications of 
XML will not be.  That isn't different from what we 
have today except where the application specifications 
have no object model to enable one to determine the 
meaningful combinations.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that 
many of the flaps in the industry today are really 
symbol grounding problems.  If we can make progress 
in XML with that issue without losing the essential, 
I agree, nature of XML as a syntax-only specification, 
we can improve our lives and the lives of our customers. 
We can stop some of the wasteful litigation.  We can 
push the quality of our products higher by ensuring 
that when used in combination, they are consistent.

XML Doesn't Care.  So we have to.  This IS a way 
of managing the lawyers by giving them what they 


From: Elliotte Rusty Harold [mailto:elharo@metalab.unc.edu]

At 4:09 PM -0500 8/13/03, Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:

>As for companies that move ahead without managing their
>risks, the fast moving Internet world is still writing
>off the costs of their losses.  Excuse me, the losses
>of their investors are being written off.  Many of their
>managers retired on the money they took from them.

Some of them, yes, Napster comes to mind. It's a fact of life that 
businesses fail, especially in a free-wheeling, fast-moving area like 
the Internet where the laws are way behind the times.

However, there are also many businesses that have succeeded despite 
going in directions any typical lawyer would try to prevent. eBay, 
Paypal, and Google are three examples (now two since eBay bought 
Paypal.) None of these could have gotten off the ground if they had 
been conservative about not getting sued. Napster would not have 
succeeded as a business if it had listened to the lawyers from the 
beginning. It would never have been started. Laws and lawyers will 
kill some companies with new ideas, but they won't kill all of them. 
And the companies that do succeed are far more likely to be the ones 
that manage their lawyers than the ones that let their lawyers manage 


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