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   Re: [xml-dev] Understanding Scaling - Critical for a Net-CentricVision

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This is interesting stuff, but it seems to me you've left a few things out:

1.  A lot of your discussion seems to ignore whether the stuff that's 
published is useful to the potential users of it.  I'd include in the 
criteria of whether a Web technology is successful or not how useful the 
stuff is to the intended users.  For example, you say:

 > - When your book readers write review of books and post them for others
 > to view, then your book review technology has succeeded.

and I'd say that unless other book readers start to use those reviews 
for book-buying decisions, your book review technology has only 
"succeeded" in providing yet another collection of stuff on the Web.

2.  The "high-priest" approach continues to be used in determining the 
material that is published in scientific and professional journals, and 
in reviewing that material.  People can and have debated this approach, 
but it does act to some extent as a useful filter for a lot of people, 
and has been pretty successful.  As the amount of scientific literature 
has increased, the number of publication venues has increased with it, 
and so has the amount of reviewing that takes place.  So the amount of 
professional reviewing that takes place has certainly scaled, although 
people can argue about whether it has scaled enough.

3.  You're not really describing alternatives.  All these approaches 
have been used, and will continue to be used, as long as people find 
they are useful.  For example, there will continue to be professional 
book reviewers and book reviews , there will continue to be blurbs 
provided by book publishers, and there will continue to be reviews 
provided by book readers (e.g., those on Amazon.com), as long as 
sufficient numbers of people find these sources of information useful in 
selecting books (see point #1)


Roger L. Costello wrote:
> Hi Folks,
> A few musings about "scaling" which I thought might be of interest ...
> Note: In this message I use the word "technology" in its broadest 
> sense.  It can mean a specific tool, or it can mean an approach or strategy.
> A key aspect of the Web is its ability to scale.  Web technologies 
> flourish or die depending on their ability to scale.
> What does it mean for a technology to scale?  What does it mean that a 
> technology does not scale?
> To have a sensible net-centric vision it is critical to have a deep, 
> intuitive understanding of this concept of scaling.  As a company moves 
> to a net-centric environment it must adopt technologies that scale 
> well.  A technology will either scale or it will die.
> Let's consider some examples.
> Roger Ebert is a professional movie critic.  He reviews a movie and then 
> provides information about it:
>    - a short description
>    - a rating (1 - 4 stars)
> [Note that what Ebert provides is "metadata" about the movie]
> Over the years, the number of movies has multiplied (independent 
> movies, blockbuster movies, etc).  It is no longer possible to Ebert to 
> review all them.
> Having a single professional movie critic review movies doesn't scale.  
> Even a group of professional movie critics would be soon overloaded.
> As well as not scaling, there is a problem with "truth".  A movie review 
> represents someone's interpretation, not facts.  Everyone has their own 
> opinions about a movie.  Ebert may love the movie, but the rest of the 
> world may hate it.
> An alternative to using a professional movie critic to review movies is 
> to have each movie producer generate a movie review.  This approach 
> scales well - there is one movie reviewer for each movie.  Of course, 
> the problem with this approach is that the movie review will be heavily 
> biased.
> A third alternative is to record the comments of the movie-goers.  This 
> approach is highly scalable - there are many reviewers for each movie.  
> Further, since there are many reviewers there is a diversity of 
> opinions, which give a variety of perspective to someone who is trying 
> to decide whether to view a movie.
> Thus, a scalable movie review "technology" is one that can grow as the 
> number of movies to be reviewed increases.
> The New York Times has a small group of book reviewers.  This group 
> reviews books and then publishes their reviews.
> Just as with the problem of reviewing movies, using professional 
> reviewers does not scale.  The New York times group is unable to review 
> the exponentially growing number of new and old books.
> An alternative approach is for each book author to elicit a review from 
> a fellow author.  This scales well, but suffers from bias.
> A third alternative is to let the users (the readers) provide a review 
> of the books.  This scales well and provides for a diversity of opinions.
> A scalable book review "technology" is one that can grow as the number 
> of books to be reviewed increases.
> There are some lessons to be learned from the above examples. There are 
> three approaches to solving a problem:
> 1. The high priests approach: Solve the problem using a small, 
> centralized set of
>     skilled professionals (the professionals may be geographically 
> separate but
>     functionally they are centralized)
> 2. The authors approach: Solve a problem using the authors.
> 3. The users approach: Solve the problem using the large body of 
> distributed users.
> The high priests approach is not scalable, although it may produce 
> precise, reliable results.
> The author approach is scalable, but it may produce dubious results.
> The user's approach is scalable and produces multiple results which are 
> then shared. 
> A successful web technology is one that:
>     - scales and
>     - shares
> Technologies that scale invite participation by the users.  When the 
> users become the professionals then the technology has succeeded: 
> - When your users style the XML data to their own liking and share their 
> stylesheets with others, then your technology for making appealing 
> looking data has succeeded.
> - When your users markup data using tags that make sense to them and 
> share their tags with others, then your markup technology has succeeded.
> - When your movie goers write reviews of movies and post them for others 
> to view, then your movie review technology has succeeded.
> - When your book readers write review of books and post them for others 
> to view, then your book review technology has succeeded.
> A long time ago (Oct. 28, 2003) John Cowan made the below remark on 
> xml-dev.  I now understand it.
> Roger L. Costello scripsit:
>>  BTW John, I really liked your paradigm shift on the telephone operator 
> story.
>>  Can you think of a similar shift with programming?  /Roger
> Yes, in fact.  Perhaps ten years ago, I was sitting next to a stranger
> on the New York to Boston shuttle.  In casual conversation, she asked
> me what I did.  "I'm a computer programmer", said I.  She said, not
> unusually, "Oh, I don't know anything about programming", but then
> added in the same breath "except for some Excel and Basic."  I had
> an epiphany: the world had changed.
> As always, comments are welcome. /Roger


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