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RE: SV: Tim Bray on "Which Technologies Matter?"

markup history
Thanks John.  :-)

Just curious.  Did a technical innovation 
(eg, automated typesetting, typewriter keyboards) 
drive the convergence and subsequent stabilization?

For those who don't follow markup history: automated 
typesetting systems drove markup to emerge as the 
progenitor of what we have today.  The concept has 
been around for quite some time.  The name belies the 

What we sometimes call "the environment" can include 
the politics of the zeitgeist and any other number 
of factors.  What is usually of most concern are 
the systemic requirements.  For SGML to emerge into 
widespread use, there had to be a widespread system 
that could use it.  As I said before, the Internet 
and the application, the Web, provided infrastructure. 
The movement to markup or something like it after that 
had to do with at least two sets of requirements:

1.  Systemic requirements
2.  Conceptual requirements

What we often have problems with when the "history" thread 
raises its ugly little head is keeping these two sets of 
requirements separated such that we draw useful lessons 
from history.  It is vital that we understand what markup 
conceptually provides (and what of these concepts matters) 
and what the system we host it on requires (and what of 
that system's requirements are so important that we will 
judiciously prune the conceptual requirements for use 
on that system).  That is the history of XML, SGML, and 
markup that matters, IMO, for technical decisions.

The people matter too because the team matters, but that is 
a different thread and one which the majority of the principals 
involved don't disagree on AFAICT.  If it is contentious, at least 
for me, it is because the example set by this team will be 
and is widely emulated as a pattern for success.  Let us bend 
that twig to a shape that meets the needs of the markup team for a 
century and beyond.  Then we will have done a job folks 
like Yuri would have approved of.  In my view, that matters 
more than the technology and I think we do possess the 
understanding to achieve it.


From: John Cowan [mailto:jcowan@r...]

"Bullard, Claude L (Len)" scripsit:

> But any tweaking of the alphabet has serious implications 
> to that framework.  How long (John Cowan>?) has our 
> standard western alphabet had 26 regular characters? 

Well, i and j on the one hand, and u, v, and w (double u or double v)
used to be mere glyphic variants.  Michael Everson would know better,
but I think a stable distinction didn't exist until about the 18th


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