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On Sat, 4 Dec 2004 00:38:26 -0500, Michael Champion
> Windows APIs -- This might be a particularly good historical example
> to learn from ... Obviously the early versions had serious
> limitations, but it was not economically feasible to simply kill them
> off and move on. As I understand it there's an ongoing struggle
> between the need not to break existing applications and to move
> forward in a better direction. I'm not sure what the lesson for XML
> is, other than "whatever you do will make SOME substantial group of
> people VERY mad". I guess Windows exhibits all three categories:
> Users learn to avoid the dragons, some parts of MS work on refactoring
> things without breaking too many legacy apps, and some parts of MS
> proceed forward with new APIs that don't attempt to maintain
> compatibility ???
Speaking of patterns, one of the "bohemian intellectuals" (heh) you
mentioned came up with the following "Law of Standards" in 1991:
"Whenever a major organization develops a new system as an official
standard for X, the
primary result is the widespread adoption of some simpler system as a
de facto standard for X.". 
We've all seen variations of this doing the circuits, but John Sowa
(for it was he) had the foresight to put forward a prediction to test
"... the law of standards predicts that the Linux API (Application
Programming Interface) will replace the Windows API as the de facto
standard for operating systems."
That hasn't happened (as such, yet), though the Linux API on Win32
through tools like Cygwin have broadened its reach in nerdland at
least. But there has been an interesting development that wasn't
really on the radar back then: .Net, and the CLR virtual machine.
Right now it's still early days, but the fact that you can already get
most of the API on Linux (through Mono ) would suggest it's in with
a chance for global domination.
I have absolutely no idea how this affects analysis of the growth and
backlash around XML, (except that accurate predictions aren't easy)...