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RE: [xml-dev] XPointer is dead. What about XLink?

Quoting Len Bullard <cbullard@hiwaay.net>:

> Those technologies don’t get traction I think because for most common practice uses of XML they aren’t that useful.   Most useful related office data is stored relationally.

I seem to recall a report (can't find the link to it) by a major consulting firm that found that most of the useful data in a corporation is not the "IT based applications (relational)" but documents (mail, manuals, policies, procedures, product documentation.... on and on).

>If you need a doc of links, you usually have a table of contents or the reverse index which is fine because those are where some of the ideas in XPointer and XLInk originate as well as glosses/annotations.

table of content - isn't that typically for a single document? - maybe reverse index might be more appropriate for cross document reference - but it doesn't contain any intelligence.

>Very complex abstractions of semantically loaded data can be fascinating to think about, but what practical desktop uses are made of them?  I’m not saying they don’t exist, but where they exist in the information ecosystem, what other systems are their dependent neighbors?

>Humans read the stuff.   Documents work.   As a result, the most frequent user of the system doesn’t use XPointer or XLink.  They don’t care.   No care: no market.

Dunno - I have always been taken by the description of a memex and what I have been calling Vannevar Trails in Vannevar Bush's article in the 1945 Atlantic Monthly - "As We May Think" [http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/194507/bush].  Although he describes his machinery in terms of 1945 technology - the key thought in my mind was the ability to build, name and share collections of associative links between information.  The value in this is for a particular subject matter - a trail could quickly take you through the most relevant material (at least according to that particular author) in the vast literature for that subject.

Bob Ducharme [http://www.xml.com/pub/a/98/07/xlink/index.html] stated that the links could be more valuable than the information they link.   I think this is so.  He wrote, "Sometimes a link has more value than the information it links. How? A link is more than an instruction to jump from a piece of text to another document; it's the identification of a relationship between two (or more) pieces of information".

The critical thing here to understand is that the relationship cannot typically be deduced from the data itself. The relationship usually originates in the brain of a human.

But 64 years later - I don't think I see a tool that does what Bush saw - a button push to create an associative link between two documents - and an easy mechanism to build a named trail containing collections of these associative links....... or maybe that's just a web page ;-) ... but it is the added intelligence of the author - the relationship and relevance of the link that adds value.


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