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Re: [xml-dev] Do you enjoy neighborhoods where every house looks the same?

As someone who's in the final stages of building a custom house I call 
bullshit.  (as if this would come as a surprise...)

Any time irrelevant analogies are brought to bear it immediately smacks of 
trying to hide the larger axe attempting to be ground.

There's nothing limiting of the design that standardized components brings 
to the process.  Rather those help eliminate time wasted on infrastructure 
details, freeing that up for customization of human-facing aspects.  It 
would be insane to have to drill down into the nitty-gritty of plumbing pipe 
diameters, wire gauges or dimensional aspects of lumber and sheet materials.

Now, does the ease with which standardized materials can be obtained allow 
for blandness?  Of course it does.  But this is true for just about 
EVERYTHING on the planet!  Should we rail pointlessly about this as some 
sort of evil?  No, of course not.  Better time can be spent on building upon 
those basic elements to create the uniqueness a situation requires.  The 
trick is in coming to terms with just how much uniqueness any given 
situation actually requires.  Most don't.  This is a reality those enamored 
of 'designing' often ignore.

-Bill Kearney

-----Original Message----- 
From: Simon St.Laurent
Sent: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 9:25 AM
To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
Subject: Re: [xml-dev] Do you enjoy neighborhoods where every house looks 
the same?

On 8/28/13 9:08 AM, Costello, Roger L. wrote:
> Infinite replication is lousy, especially if it's replication of
> something that doesn't fit anyone well.
> Forcing everyone to use the same XML vocabulary to describe different
> use cases is really bad.
> I suggest for your consideration the following approach to designing
> XML Schemas: create an XML Schema that contains a smorgasbord of
> well-defined, semantically-rich elements. Then, work with your users
> to create XML instances by picking and choosing elements that are
> meaningful to their specific needs.

This is a great place to start - certainly an improvement over too much
existing practice.

The challenges go deeper, though.  Even that "smorgasbord of
well-defined semantically rich elements" brings its own issues:

     Today's systems of housing production almost all rely, in one form
or another, on standardized building components. These components may be
very small (electrical boxes, for instance), or intermediate (2x4
studs), or very large (precast concrete rooms); but regardless of their
size, buildings are understood to be assembled out of these components.
In this sense then, the actual construction phase of the housing
production process has become an assembly phase: an occasion where
prefabricated components are assembled, on site, to produce the complete

     It has been little understood how vast the effect of this has been
on housing: how enormous the degree of control achieved,
unintentionally, by these components and the demands of their assembly.
Yet, as anyone who has intimate knowledge of building knows, these
components are merciless in their demands. They control the arrangement
of details. They prohibit variation. They are inflexible with respect to
ornament, or whimsy, or humor, or any little human touch a person might
like to make."

     — Christopher Alexander, _The Production of Houses_, page 220.

Issues like these - which I think Ruskin describes differently as he
dealt in his age more with standardized design than standardized parts -
bring the "sameness" issues all the way down to the edges of the
document tree.

Simon St.Laurent


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