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Re: [xml-dev] The Exchange of Information

I am not sure it is even necessary to be too recent.  Christopher Alexander wrote a wonderful essay back around 1965 entitled a "City is not a tree" which makes the interesting point that trees are a relatively simple concept for our brains to grasp in a single bite.  But beyond that, they are not really all that useful for modelling the real world - in his sense, the urban landscape.  With just a little more effort we can also conceive of semi-lattice structures which are more useful and human-affirming.

There is a link to his essay here http://www.chrisgagern.de/Media/A_City_is_not_a_tree.pdf

"For the human mind, the tree is the easiest vehicle for complex thoughts.  But the city is not, cannot, and must not be a tree.  The city is a receptacle for life.  If the receptacle severs the overlap of the strands of life within it, because it is a tree, it will be like a bowl full of razor blades on edge, ready to cut up whatever is entrusted to it.  In such a receptacle life will be cut to pieces.  If we make cities which are trees they will cut our life within to pieces."

Fortunately we are not most of us building cities.  But I think the warning about conceiving patterns using trees just because they are relatively easy is a broader one.  We do cut things and thoughts and information into pieces. 

On 1 July 2014 15:48, Piotr Bański <bansp@o2.pl> wrote:
Hi Roger,

I always appreciate your attempts to look for analogies and neat ways to
communicate sometimes difficult topics, but you need to be warned that
what you've sketched is a blissfully naive and totally obsolete view of
communication and the human language faculty. I suggest you chuck that
book away and get something recent instead :-)

And if you persist by using the analogy (you've sent something along
these lines only a few months ago, after all), I advise you to make sure
to indicate to the reader that the first picture is only simplistic, or
else you risk losing the reader's confidence right after that first

Best regards,


On 01/07/14 11:38, Costello, Roger L. wrote:
> Hi Folks,
> Inside our brain information is in parse trees:
> The parse trees are structured according to a grammar, such as the
> English grammar.
> When I want to communicate information to you I linearize the parse tree
> and transmit the linearization (i.e., the sentence) to you. You receive
> the sentence and immediately reconstruct the parse tree and apply
> semantics to the parse tree:
> So information is exchanged by linearizing a parse tree, transmitting
> the sentence, and at the receiving end reconstructing the parse tree.
> This is true for humans as well as for web services: A web service has
> information in a DOM (parse) tree, it linearizes (serializes) the DOM
> tree into an XML string, transmits the XML string, and the receiving web
> service reconstructs the parse tree and then applies semantics to it:
> Neat!
> /Roger


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