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   Re: [xml-dev] semantics in schema (xsd)

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On Feb 27, 2004, at 9:45 AM, Liam Quin wrote:

> But I am male, and my husband (yes, legally here in Canada) is male.
> When you try to enshrine legislation in software, you have to be
> willing to make changes ;-)
Hmm, maybe that's why Dubya is so determined to make marriage a "sacred 
bond between one man and one woman" -- fixing all the software that 
assumes this definition of marriage will make the Y2K problem look like 
small potatoes :-)

But seriously folks, if profound assumptions baked deep into most human 
cultures can change, and even the laws of physics are in turmoil (I'm 
thinking of "dark energy", not that this is likely to affect very many 
ontologies or class hierarchies!), what does this say about the utility 
of investing in building deep semantic hierarchies, whether they be 
enshrined in OWL or Java or whatever?  Sean McGrath wrote a marvelous 
essay recently that introduced me to the concept of "duck typing"  -- 
if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. 
http://www.propylon.com/news/ctoarticles/040224_duckmodeling.html I 
guess the social analogue would be a household that looks like a family 
and acts like a family, even if something is not quite in synch with 
the legal definition of "family."   In software, the analogues are 
things like Schematron rather than XSDL, Python rather than C++, and 
maybe regexp matching rather than data binding.  Not that the more 
rigid technologies don't have their place where some authority has put 
a schema or ontology in place and will make  sure it is respected, but 
the domain where XML works best tends to be where flexibility in the 
face of evolution and robustness in the face of deviation is highly 


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