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Re: [xml-dev] "XML is just syntax" versus "Use semantic markup" (Is this a paradox?)

The discomfort that we feel in the absence of a commitment 
to a specific rhetoric or to a "base map" (as Len put it) is 
the same discomfort that a child experiences when it 
discovers that it is not the center of the universe.

Globalization must necessarily go to the heart of how we 
adapt to each other and to the situations in which we find 
ourselves, both individually and collectively.  I sense that 
globalization is widely expected to necessitate the 
suppression of most existing perspectives, and the 
imposition of something that's often called "modernity" on 
the not-so-modern.  In fact, however, we *all* have to 
adapt.  Time will make today's "modernity" uncouth.  A good 
way to ease the required adaptations is to give equal honor 
to the rhetorics of others, and particularly for the rich 
and well-educated to refrain from expecting more adaptation 
from the poor and ill-educated than they expect from 
themselves.  There doesn't need to be *a* base map; we need 
lots of them.

Readers of this list are enhancing the ability of humanity 
to adapt whenever they develop rhetorics that respect 
particular perspectives and, at the same time, clarify what 
those perspectives are (i.e., make them understandable to 
people whose perspectives are different).  When I first 
started working with SGML in 1986, I naively thought, "This 
is great!  SGML information is self-describing information." 
  Now I realize that no information can ever be 
self-describing, and that self-description is a quest like 
the quest for truth.  It's vital for survival, and although 
it has a goal, it doesn't end.

John Sowa's "Lattice of Theories" notion is interesting. It 
recognizes that it's useful to express intersections between 
different universes of discourse governed by incompatible 
ontologies.  The Topic Maps Reference Model is interesting, 
too. It establishes a standard rhetoric for expressing such 
wormholes.  In both cases, there's no requirement for a 
"base map".  I think these kinds of ideas show the way 
forward, because they sidestep any requirement that 
everybody agrees about anything before information from 
different perspectives can be integrated, or before 
information expressed in terms of a given perspective can 
become useful to people who don't share it.

Steve Newcomb

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