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Re: [xml-dev] hypermedia affordances

Mike Sokolov scripsit:

> personally I'm happy to be a king's follower in this instance.  I
> don't mind coinage of new terms as needed, but to avoid jargon it's
> preferable to repurpose an old one that's relevant.  How about
> "links" or "references"?  

We are so used to them that we don't easily see that "links" and
"references" are just as much jargon as "affordances".  Our field has been
repurposing terms from its beginnings, perhaps starting with "computer",
which used to mean someone whose job it was to compute things, with
or without an instrument.  Yanks and Brits collided in the early days
over "memory": the latter preferred the less misleading term "store",
but it didn't last.  I laughed almost twenty years ago when I got a
letter from the principal of my daughter's school talking about the
newfangled Internet: he mentioned that he knew some of us parents were
"expert browsers".  A natural mistake, really: isn't a browser an animal
that eats shoots and leaves (no commas)?

But not everyone thinks our terminological buccaneering a Good Thing.
Primo Levi in his essay collection _Other People's Trades_ talks about
his mystification in trying to decipher the manuals that came with his
shiny new Macintosh:

    The computer was delivered to me accompanied by a profusion of
    manuals. I tried to study them before touching the keys, and I felt
    lost. It seemed to me that although they were apparently written in
    Italian, there were in an unknown language; indeed in a mocking and
    misleading language in which well-known words like "open," "close,"
    and "quit" are used in unusual ways.  [...] How much better it would
    have been to invent a decisively new terminology for these new things.

And he also speaks of the un-helpfulness of the glossaries in those
same manuals, which proceed "in an opposite direction to that of common
dictionaries; these [glossaries] define familiar terms by having recourse
to abstruse terms, and the effect is devastating."

In short, the question of "new terms or old?" is a matter of taste and
common practice in a field, and "affordance" belongs to a field related
to ours but not the same.

Yes, chili in the eye is bad, but so is your    John Cowan
ear.  However, I would suggest you wash your    cowan@ccil.org
hands thoroughly before going to the toilet.    http://www.ccil.org/~cowan

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