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Re: [xml-dev] Create fake stuff (that’s all you can really do anyway)

This is very wrong in a lot of ways. It's also right that one is usually thinking in terms of some model, and that model may be closer or farther from the reality of nature.

What's off target is the role of an XML schema. What is it you have to do here? Develop a weather model, or construct a schema or interchange of weather information? They are not the same thing. Developing a weather model requires a lot of physics. Developing a model of the information needed to be exchanged requires knowledge about modeling structured information, and a much smaller amount about physics.

I spent several years, on and off, in a similar position working on schemas for (vehicle) traffic information, and I didn't know much about traffic. But we started from preliminary schemas that were already in existence, and worked to correct and improve them (actually, we also had to do ASN.1 <==> XML conversions). Yes, we had to try to do some modeling of traffic so that we could understand how the XML messages supported by the schema would work. And we had some idea of what kinds of information people needed to exchange.

In the case of weather, or weather patterns, the request for a schema wouldn't happen in isolation, divorced from any needs of scientists or meteorologists. If it were, it would be like asking for a specification for a new airplane, but without giving any indication of what the users' requirements were. If that were the case, yes, give up!

Otherwise, take what you get from the users about what they need, and carry on.


On 1/21/2017 3:13 PM, Costello, Roger L. wrote:
Hi Folks,

So, you’ve been tasked to create a model of weather patterns. Your
deliverable is an XML Schema. People will then use your XML Schema to
generate XML documents and exchange those XML documents.

Ah, the world will be so much better with the ability to exchange
standardized weather data.

But how will you model weather? What will your XML Schema contain? You
do not have expertise in weather science. How long will it take to gain
the expertise to create a useful weather model? How deep into the field
should you go?

Answer: Give up. You have no hope of ever understanding weather. Even if
you are already an “expert” in weather science, you have no hope of
truly understanding weather.

Allow me to explain.

But first, a detour.


1 + 1 = 2

Obvious, right?

Not at all. It took two of the most brilliant 20^th century
mathematicians (Whitehead and Russell) 300 pages to prove that 1 + 1 = 2.

I have this note next to my desk, which I read every day:

/Everything is vague to a degree you do not realize
                till you have tried to make it precise./

Scientists, mathematicians, engineers, philosophers, sociologists, and
others recognize the futility of tackling reality head-on. So instead
they invent miniature – fake – worlds, containing small sets of fake
symbols and fake rules. They then manipulate the fake symbols, according
to the fake rules, to see what kind of fake results they get. Sometimes
there is a correspondence between the symbols and rules in their fake
world to things in the real world, and so the results they derive in the
fake world are then applied to the real world (with the caveat that it
might be completely wrong).

Don’t be deceived (or have the conceit) to think that you fully
understand something. You don’t. You’re understanding is appallingly
shallow. Mine as well, of course.


Okay, back to the weather XML Schema. You will never understand weather.
Abandon such ambitions. So what to do? Answer, invent a miniature – fake
– world, containing a small set of fake symbols and fake rules. Create
an XML Schema for that fake world. If you’re lucky, exchanges of your
fake stuff will have utility to others.



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