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Re: [xml-dev] [OT] Re: [xml-dev] Lessons learned from the XML experiment

John, Michael, Simon,

please let us get to this perspective: the possible *benefits* of regarding XML as syntax in the first place. I think you have not yet explained them.

Simon and John dwell on a person's right to see somthing as he likes; Michael says that XML *is* syntax, and I suppose this is meant in the historical sense. I ask you to change the plain, abandon the social, psychological and historical, and focus on the technological. Let us investigate the various benefits of the alternative approaches. So you think I oversimplify things? My view, in a nutshell, once more: XML technology is based on nodes, not syntax. Seeing syntax, I cannot deal with technology; dealing with technology, I cannot see (or should not see) syntax. And I take it for granted that we want to deal with technology. But it seems that things are not that simple and the "syntax view" offers something that has eluded me so far.

Counting on your help,


John Cowan <johnwcowan@gmail.com> schrieb am 1:32 Sonntag, 17.November 2013:

On Sat, Nov 16, 2013 at 6:05 PM, Hans-Juergen Rennau <hrennau@yahoo.de> wrote:

The wording „designed for nodes“ is perhaps unfortunate, as this may not be the case in the historical sense. However, I am at a loss why one should see anything in XML but nodes.

I apologize for the inherently ad hominem nature of the following remarks, but I don't see how to avoid it.

In my interactions with you both face to face at Balisage and on this mailing list, you appear to be simply unable to comprehend that anyone could see things other than the way you do.  Our conversations tend to consist of you saying "It's like this" and me saying "Or perhaps it isn't" and you saying "But don't you see that it's like this?"  I, in turn, am unable to comprehend how anyone could fail to see that there are people in this world who see things differently from one another.  That makes it very difficult to impossible for anyone whose world-view is different from yours to communicate with you.
XML is an expression, nodes are the value. I think this is the essence of understanding XML.

So you do, but others think otherwise.  What is more, many people (including myself) reject the whole notion of "essences" as philosophically ill-founded.
What people thought 15 years ago when finishing the XML spec is irrelevant. To dwell on that appears to me pure pedantry. People thought, once, that the earth is a disk, but we have passed on in the mean time.

The "we" who adopt the node model are not to be identified with the "we" who adopt the spherical-earth model.  The Earth is not a human artifact, and the flat-earth model fails to describe it accurately (though it does have its uses!)  But XML is a human artifact, and it means, like Humpty Dumpty, what we intend it to mean.  As Northrop Frye says:

The principle of manifold or "polysemous" meaning, as Dante calls it, is not a theory any more, still less an exploded superstition, but an established fact. The thing that has established it is the simultaneous development of several different schools of modern criticism, each making a distinctive choice of symbols in its analysis. The modern student of critical theory is faced with a body of rhetoricians who speak of texture and frontal assaults, with students of history who deal with traditions and sources, with critics using material from psychology and anthropology, with Aristotelians, Coleridgians, Thomists, Freudians, Jungians, Marxists, with students of myths, rituals, archetypes, metaphors, ambiguities, and significant forms. The student must either admit the principle of polysemous meaning, or choose one of these groups and then try to prove that all the others are less legitimate. The former is the way of scholarship, and leads to the advancement of learning; the latter is the way of pedantry, and gives us a wide choice of goals, the most conspicuous today being fantastical learning, or myth criticism, contentious learning, or historical criticism, and delicate learning, or "new" criticism.
In my opinion, XML is not syntax backed by a data model. It is a data model, augmented by a syntax.

"[You're\ certainly entitled to think that, and [you're] entitled to full respect for [your] opinions."  —Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird

GMail doesn't have rotating .sigs, but you can see mine at http://www.ccil.org/~cowan/signatures

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