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There is a great discussion of this occurring on xml-dev.
From what I have read, a characteristic of complex systems is that small
changes/differences are magnified. They even have a name for this
characteristic - the Butterfly Effect
Butterfly Effect - a butterfly stirring the air today in Peking can
transform storm systems next month in New York.
Beta vs VHS
An example of the Butterfly Effect in the economy is shown with Beta
versus VHS videotapes. A small difference in the initial user-base (in
favor of VHS) resulted in an avalanche of people purchasing VHS machines
(despite Beta being technically superior). Thus, a small difference was
Mike Champion gave an excellent example of how new semantics can pop up
> Here's an example: What/where is "Rummy World"? The
> #2 hit on Google for that term already gets it right
> (Iraq). I could probably construct a tortured line of
> "reasoning" to explain how this would fit into an
> ontology, but AFAIK Garry Trudeau
> [http://www.ucomics.com/doonesbury/2003/09/23/] just
> created it out of thin air because the idea that Sec.
> Rumsfeld and friends have created a terrorist
> playground in Iraq produced a mordantly funny image in
> his mind.
The introduction of this small Rummy World article on the Web was
quickly taken up and amplified. The word Rummy World went from
obscurity to a world-wide term virtually overnight. Again, small
initial conditions were greatly magnified.
Conclusions: the Web is a complex system. Semantics changes.