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When dealing with cultural phenomena, it is best to
understand it as an analogical system. When I was
writing the paper on Information Ecosystems in 95,
I was attempting to get to some of the issues that
would confront us and are confronting us now. Using
the ecological metaphor may have been a bad choice
because it was seized on and spread without much
understanding. XML has become 'memish' that way.
Nonetheless, as metaphor, it has proven by experience
to be a good predictive model.
I believe that a primary problem of the web and
computer science at this time is that it is becoming
more religion than science. Given the information
wealth morphing into infoglut, personalities dominate
and where that occurs, the personal problems of the
sources often become institutional problems. The
web is an amplifier, feeds back on itself, and the
lie can become the truth at light speed. It takes
maturity and experience to sort this out, and the
press is often incapable of the depth of analysis
required. Blogging isn't a solution unless the
bloggers themselves are able to distance themselves
from the desire to be the most linked. GIGO still rules.
This was a danger some saw coming but
few wanted to acknowledge in the rush to deification
of web technology. As with television, the result may
be that the web will become, is becoming, an untrustworthy
source of extreme inbred mediocrity.
The web itself, culturally, is quite immature. There
is a lack of responsibility, even a cultural imperative
to toss away any sense of responsibility and that is
very much the opposite of the so-called 'community ethic'
the culture pretends to embrace. As a result, yes, some
will claim XML to be a much better solution than say
relational systems and will fight for that until it is
inconvenient. Note I didn't say disproven. I don't
think you will find too many experienced XMLers who
make that claim at this time and for reasons that have
been debated here now and in threads that are some years
older. That was what surprised me in this thread. I
assumed most here know that XML is not an all embracing solution.
The academic proofs (and I don't mean that pejoratively
but to point to where the time and resources usually are
to pursue these to the level of excellence needed), are
useful. The claim 'it can be whatever you want it to
be' does not solve the problems of Boltzman entropy and
that is the central problem of information sciences. To
be meaningful, some choices are more probable than others.
Proofs lead to the selectors that enable intelligent choices
in a noisy environment. Intelligence does not emerge from
the fringes, but from the overlaps. The problem of the
web is that its culture still embraces the fringe the
way a teen ager does to make his or her parents notice
him. That is the dilemma of anonymity and ever since
the XMLers took out the parent language and became
wildly successful, a return to anonymity is the greatest
unspoken fear of the community.
See Clockwork Orange. It is very possible to be both
practical and deviant and to be rewarded for it. That
is the essential problem of desire as the maker and destroyer.
This is not philosophical; it is observable. If proof is
required, it will be analogical and historical. It will
only be testable in specific cases, and then, dangerous
to generalize. Nonetheless, with prudent application,
it is useful to know.
From: pop3 [mailto:email@example.com]
I have nothing to disagree with in your response. I often work from the
practical result back to the theory, to derive useful theorems that I can
later apply to other problems. But my experience is that this is not the
best way to develop applications for production use in the wild as several
round trips may be necessary (as has been seen, and will continue to be
seen, I think, in the XML community).
I will call, again, for specific proofs people already have, or for
requests for very specific proofs, that people need right now, or expect to
need in the near term.
Perhaps if we take this discussion up to a higher level of academic
achievement, it can progress and be fruitful.
Personally, I would like to see XML proofs in line with Knuth's work and
Codd's. Proofs that justify its existence, and define its scope and
Something other than what I often hear... "but the XML document can be
__anything__ you want it to be !!!!!!" as if that was proof enuf. When I
respond that a Word doc (using Microsoft's word document markup language
and symbol interpreter) can be anything you want it to be, the XML advocate
usually just looks at me in total amazement.
At 12:32 PM 8/25/2003 -0500, Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:
>Yes, once one has a good idea of what needs proving.
>Otherwise, like proving that a bumblebee can't fly,
>one is modeling from axioms, and the bee just goes
>about its business doing what it will. Abduct, induct,
>Markup scales where it needs to first, in the applications
>which its inventors had in mind. Note, DTDs were added
>later. Formalization was done later. This is historical
>even if not necessary. In short, don't wait on proofs
>nor ignore them when available. Just be sure of what is
>being proved and that it is relevant to the task.
>To the point: is a wall-to-wall XML database the right
>solution for any problem? No. Can we define in advance
>all of the problems it is or is not applicable to? Not
>all. I agree with you 100% on that.
>As noted elsewhere, when looking for the proofs, it is
>not XML that needs to be compared, but the data models.
>As others have noted, there is lots of work being done
>on these. Meanwhile, hybrids rule the niche today.
>I do note that the environment for which XML, (not markup)
>was designed or adopted from SGML, is one of decentralized
>and loosely coupled sources, not one where normalization
>is the norm. Will that create update problems? You bet.
>Like 404, it is a cost of using the system. The only
>proof 404 needed was 50 years of trying to get around
>it. Progress in fielding very large distributed hypermedia
>systems was made only when that constraint was relaxed.
>The way around the update problems so far is hybridization
>and tightening the coupling. The ideal of full decoupling
>is not just risky, it is unworkable to date.
>You're right about Curie. One shouldn't bet the farm
>for a prize in husbandry, or die of the experiment,
>but there would be no Wright Brothers without Lilienthal.
>From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
>Awww, now, gee whiz..... doing a math proof can be as exciting and
>exhilarating as any other form of discovery, and doing so first can save
>one many stubbed toes, later.
>After all, Codd's proofs led the way, as did Knuth's, and were not derived
>from existing advanced art but from theory and science. While it probably
>goes both ways, some proofs coming from experience and others derived
>purely from theory. saying that waiting on proofs makes me a cave man who
>is frightened of tomorrow is just personal.
>Which is something I will not respond to, :), other than to say that if
>Curie had done the math, used the full scientific method, waited for
>results and included advancements from other scientists, maybe she would
>not have died of radiation poisoning.
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