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   Re: [xml-dev] Managing Innovation

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In a message dated 01/10/2003 01:56:47 GMT Daylight Time, tbray@textuality.com writes:

Dare Obasanjo wrote:

>>>Can we 'do the simplest thing that will possibly work'
>>>and still produce a secure system.
>>Sure; viz Unix.
>This is probably the funniest thing I've ever read on XML-DEV.

Really?  Which part?  The assertion that Unix is basically simpler than
the alternatives, or the assertion that it achieves a good level of
security?  I happen to think that both are true.

I, too, found Rich's assertion highly comical (although in the course of other arguments on this list he typically makes some cogent points). For a moment I wondered if Dare and I found the same aspect amusing, but I see he has indicated that he finds the putative security of Unix systems the source of his mirth.

For me it is the assertion that Unix is simple that is highly comical. And also sad.

Many on this list are ardent proponents of open source, yet fail .... seemingly completely at times ... to understand how complex what they assert as "simple" appear to users. This applies to XML as much as Unix. Mike Champion's "First Law of XML" states something like, "XML is easy if you think at two or three levels of abstraction above your normal" [Mike help me get the quote right.] That is an important insight - that XML operates in an abstract universe substantively divorced from the thought patterns of the vast majority of human beings. For many users of computer systems XML is, quite bluntly, bloody difficult. To many, XML is incomprehensible. Unix is similarly difficult for multitudes of users.

The failure, and in my view it is an abject failure, of highly intelligent people to appreciate the complexity and lack of usability of software entites such as Unix and XML for their potential user community ... and to accord those user difficulties due emphasis ... is a pivotal reason why Microsoft has the market domination that it has. The open source community needs, if it wants to be a serious competitor to Microsoft, to move on from this self-centered lack of realism to a sustained, serious consideration and response to the needs and perspectives of software users.

Andrew Watt


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