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Re: [xml-dev] SGML default attributes.

On 05/07/2016 09:50 PM, Liam R. E. Quin wrote:

> There were good and well-thought-out aspects to FPIs and a single glaring irreconcilable problem that made them useless - resolving them (in the 1980s and 1990s) involved spending money, sending faxes or US Mail, transcribing data.

I think this point is questionable in two ways.  (1) Getting, keeping, and transferring an internet domain name only quite recently became (almost) free of the data transcription chores.  (2) As far as I know, it still costs money -- every year -- to keep an internet domain name. 

> But keeping public identifiers turned out to make it harder, in the long run, to bring AFs with us, not technically but culturally, since the concept of architectural forms doesn't depend on a specfic syntax. The goal of putting SGML on the Web was at odds with defining a clean, decentralized representation for information, because of the need to accommodate legacy architectures.

Quite right.  The legacy data belonged to others.  Their cultures were not our culture.  We, the W3C, were going to be the hegemon of the Web, with secret, members-only meetings, no public records of decision-making, and a brilliant strategy that, in combination with a lax U.S. Justice Department, made the Sherman Antitrust Act entirely irrelevant to the Web.  And all you legacy workers in the field?  You're either with us on all of that, and you're big enough to pay the membership fees and send your employees to the private meetings to collude with the employees of other such big players, or you will have no influence -- unless, of course, you agree to the secrecy and you turn out to contribute something that the big players turn out to like, uh, I mean, the Director turns out to like.  Who will represent the public's interest, you ask?  Well... we're practical, worldly, well-intentioned men, and what's good for us is, ipso facto, good for the public.  Why, before we came along, the industry was paralyzed for years!

To my astonishment and delight, in some ways it has worked out incredibly well, the good far outweighs the bad, and the W3C people deserve huge credit.  It could have been so much worse, and it has been anything but easy.  Still, it is hard for me to agree that, in view of all that has been accomplished, the loss of HyTime is no more than a spot on the record.

I think we'll be waiting a long time for anything like "Architectural Forms" and "Universes of Identification With Permanent Teeth" to emerge from W3C.  Such ideas are far too progressive, disruptive, and regulatory to be embraced by capitalists, or by any sort of Establishment, really.  As Wittgenstein famously said, "To imagine a language is to imagine a form of life."  After you've imagined a form of life, or even taken a tour of it, it's hard to feel that it's really so remote, so other, so "not us".


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