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Sir Tim's Law was: Re: [xml-dev] Too much power? was RE: [xml-dev] 2007 Predictions

I know you didn't want it discussed, but seeing Metcalfe's Law, Amdahl's Law 
and so on mentioned, the use of the word 'Law' might be an option for when 
the TAG finds itself in a similar predicament in future.

The use of 'law' in the mentioned contexts seems to imply an observation 
that seems to hold true, but is probably not too amenable to rigorous 

And "Sir Tim's Law" sounds good!


P.S. Apologies if it is already called "Sir Tim's Law".  I did a google on 
various combinations and couldn't find anything useful.  Then again, he has 
been mentioned a couple of times on the web!
Pete Cordell
Tech-Know-Ware Ltd
for XML to C++ data binding visit
(or http://www.xml2cpp.com)

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>
To: "Michael Champion" <mc@xegesis.org>
Cc: "'XML Developers List'" <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
Sent: Monday, January 22, 2007 9:31 PM
Subject: RE: [xml-dev] Too much power? was RE: [xml-dev] 2007 Predictions

> Mike Champion writes:
>> (I can't remember why the TAG changed "Principle" to "Rule" in the
>> title).  "The Rule of Least Power" sounds a lot more awesome than
>> the actual advice being offered really is.
> I don't think it's been discussed here, and I don't think the change
> merits more discussion.  In short:  TimBL originally called it the
> Principle of Least Power, which I liked a lot.  Years went by, and in
> other work such as the Archticture of the World Wide Web [1] the TAG
> decided there was value in making fairly careful use of certain
> terminology [2]:
> Principle
> An architectural principle is a fundamental rule that applies to a large
> number of situations and variables. Architectural principles include
> "separation of concerns", "generic interface", "self-descriptive syntax,"
> "visible semantics," "network effect" (Metcalfe's Law), and Amdahl's Law:
> "The speed of a system is limited by its slowest component."
> Constraint
> In the design of the Web, some choices, like the names of the p and li
> elements in HTML, the choice of the colon (:) character in URIs, or
> grouping bits into eight-bit units (octets), are somewhat arbitrary; if
> paragraph had been chosen instead of p or asterisk (*) instead of colon,
> the large-scale result would, most likely, have been the same. This
> document focuses on more fundamental design choices: design choices that
> lead to constraints, i.e., restrictions in behavior or interaction within
> the system. Constraints may be imposed for technical, policy, or other
> reasons to achieve desirable properties in the system, such as
> accessibility, global scope, relative ease of evolution, efficiency, and
> dynamic extensibility.
> Good practice
> Good practice—by software developers, content authors, site managers,
> users, and specification designers—increases the value of the Web.
> So, somebody made the case that the XXX of Least Power was in not quite a
> Principle but was really more of a Good Practice.  Then again, calling a
> TAG finding the "Good Practice of Least Power" didn't have a real catchy
> ring to it.  So, for better or worse, as a compromise, we renamed the
> finding itself the "Rule of Least Power".  I don't love it.  Probably
> nobody loves it, but there you go.  FWIW, the finding does have in it the
> following [3]:
>        Principle: Powerful languages inhibit information reuse.
> ...because that did seem closer to being a principle, and a Good Practice
> Note [4]:
>        Good Practice: Use the least powerful language suitable for
> expressing information, constraints or programs on the World Wide Web.
> Since you asked, that's how it came to be.  I don't think the particular
> question of Rule vs. Principle, etc. is worth further discussion on this
> list.
> Noah
> [1] http://www.w3.org/TR/webarch/
> [2] http://www.w3.org/TR/webarch/#app-principles
> [3] http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/doc/leastPower.html#plp
> [4] http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/doc/leastPower.html#ruleOfLeastPower
> --------------------------------------
> Noah Mendelsohn
> IBM Corporation
> One Rogers Street
> Cambridge, MA 02142
> 1-617-693-4036
> --------------------------------------

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