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   Re: [xml-dev] RE: Why is there little usage of XML on the "visible Web"?

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On 7/18/06, Michael Kay <mike@saxonica.com> wrote:
> I would argue the opposite to #7. Everyone knows that Paris is the capital
> of France, so how can this information be valuable? Not many people know
> Bill Gates' credit card number: this information therefore has much higher
> value.
Well if one were to  believe those polls they sometimes mention on the
evening news we would be shocked to discover not many people actually
know that Paris is the capital of France, or even that it is in

I would like to suggest Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A lot of people know it
is the capital, but many people don't know. Is the information itself
valuable? It is really only valuable if I need to answer a geography
quiz or am in Ethiopia, in a neighboring land, answering a trivia
question or have been told by my boss to send a package to the capital
city of Ethiopia. And even so it is the kind of atomic bit of factual
information that is a commodity nowadays. It is not worth keeping in
mind when I can look it up and not burden my mind's processing power.

For something to be valuable there should be a potential to extract
value from it. I cannot, and most people cannot, extract value from
the knowledge of either Paris or Addis Ababa as capital cities
(Jeopardy players are an exception ) what one can extract value from
is the sort of knowledge about the places that enables understanding
of their futures, basically since extracting value is a process that
cannot be done immediately.

I remember coming to this conclusion back in the late eighties when I
was stuck somewhere with a dearth of reading materials other than
about twenty haphazard issues of U.N sub-saharan reports. I realized
that what I knew about Ethiopia was that Addis Ababa was the capital,
and although it had helped me in geography quizzes that was not
anything one could describe as real knowledge. The difference between
my knowledge and the knowledge of someone who did not even know that
Ethiopia was a country was rather negligible, neither one of us had
enough knowledge to derive value from it.

Bryan Rasmussen


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