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It should be noted that this water cooler list has
produced best practices at times. Of particular
interest is Roger Costello's leadership as evidenced
by www.xfront.com .
His technique has been straightforward. From time
to time, he asks a question or series of questions
on a topic. Interested parties with relevant experience
answer. One might consider that anecdotal except that
each answer published on this list is usually met with
critique either from Roger or from other members, or all.
Roger sorts these out and responds eventually with a
synthesized and winnowed presentation. Xfront, as a
result, has become an excellent resource with examples
vetted by experience.
Mathematical proofs and elegance have their place. So
does experience and distillation. This may someday prompt
a mathematical investigation of why these practices work,
and that investigation may uncover even deeper principles.
These will be codified, studied, and taught. They might
even improve the working systems. Time will tell.
Markup systems emerged from the publishing communities made
up of editors, typesetters, print system manufacturers,
publishers and even some lawyers and computer scientists.
Now, it is clearly in the hands of and under the control
of the computer scientists. Make of it what you can but
keep in mind that those from whom it originates were solving
specific problems and generalizing from these, not creating
mathematical edifices. Between the pragmatic and the elegant,
there is a wealth of applications to be built and those that
build find the proofs they need in the running code and
their stubbed toes.
That is why it's called the 'bleeding' edge. If one needs
proofs first, one is frightened of tomorrow instead of
excited by the prospect of discovery. Prudence, not prudish.
From: Rick Marshall [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
that's why there's conservative people and risk taking people and bits
in between. you may have to wait until it's proven best practice - rdbms
technology took at least 15 years to be accepted as such, and to a large
extent i think that what was delivered was proven best brochures and
proven tier one suppliers - neither has a lot to do with proven best
technology - but this approach meets all sorts of contractual
i guess i'm lucky in having a number of clients who have a different
approach and encourage use of sometimes experimental techniques to try
and get a business advantage.
in 10 years or so the experience of early adopters will provide the
proven technology you need for more conservative projects.
it's all part of our complex business :)