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Re: Seduced by Markup

Michael Kay says: "I would say that reading a DTD is rather like reading a musical score that doesn't say "pp", "mp", "mf", and "mf" to indicate dynamics, but instead says %volume17, and you have to scan 100 pages of manuscript to find the definition that tells you that in this particular score, %volume17 means "mf". Or it might not be in that manuscript at all, but in another one that's cross-referenced in a footnote."

Precisely. Although "refs" are marginally better. :) For some tasks, direct access is required.

In this example, if they say pp, I know it means "less volume than not much volume" but this is where the notation favors expression and adaptation: it isn't precise enough to tell the midi system unless there is another map to an instruction to the sound engine. In a good editor (say Sibelius), you can find that map and set those values per composition or as defaults for your individual "style".

In the case of a poco a poco (little by little), I would have to set a scaling value OR observe the director's hands and listen to the people around me.

The first case is relevant to the notation complexity reference I noted. What is the cognitive cost for using a given notation in a given situation?

The last case is interesting and relevant to the cognitive computing model where neuronal pathways and white matter columns "learn" by "experience" and "activate" given sensor inputs and a spike train. (I do wonder what XML brings to cognitive computing.)

The two qualities I think important to the XML professional of some given skill level or depth of understanding are expressibility and adaptability.

1. Tools may be inapplicable. It's ok to use the capo and just "shred". Don't apply to a jazz gig where capos are death. You are playing a bit out of tune and volume can't be used to cover tuning or lack of chops given a bm7-5 (more accidentals make tuning more critical because overtones matter). You know everything about HTML5 but you've just been told to style for PDF and your schemas were designed with XSLT in mind and you are only allowed to use the local tools so old school it is. Get to it.

2. The piece makes a difference. A guitar is great for big fat chords. OTOH, did you learn scales as a box model (in position) or on single strings? You can try to play Jerry Reed or even the Stones in a standard tuning but they never quite work because these guys aren't guitar players, they are as Reed said, "guitar thinkers". They retune the guitar to make the chords easier to play or even possible. You'll never play Jerry Reed without discovering how he tuned the guitar (watch some YouTube vids and look at his left hand). BTW, a lot of Joni Mitchell and David Crosby are the same: open tunings. Say chord clusters aka, why can't good musicians figure out the first chord in Hard Day's Night without a mathematical analysis?

Messages are one level of complexity. Documents are a different level of complexity. Notation complexity should be appropriate to type and task. User must be trained and practiced to do both or learn both fast. Fundamentals matter and I say that as someone who has failed in that regard because I am a musician first and only a computer professional by necessity. So I crab walked my way into this field. (Cred? My sweet aunt Martha. Sheesh. I got into the business when atoms were as big as houses.)

3. Tools fail. If you lose a string in the middle of a song live, can you cover? If your XML editor fails because of dialog freezes, can you open the file editor and keep going?

If you can't read a DTD or XSD or RNG and that is required, be prepared to learn fast. The more of the XML fundamentals you understand, the better prepared you are. Practice scales. Just shredding won't cut it. On the other hand, playing only scales sound terrible so shred often. Let your eyes and hand be able to just do it without too much though when doing it but don't let you eyes and hands add viscosity when the brain needs to acquire new means of expression. Tools should amplify and exemplify, not classify.

OODA: Observe Orient Decide Act


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