limits of the generic
Recent discussions of HLink here and on www-tag have made me reconsider how much value there can really be in generic technologies. XML is generic markup, capable of representing pretty much any ordered and hierarchical content. (Applications can throw away the order if they choose.) Labeled structures are useful. There are a number of tools for manipulating that content which rely on the labels and the structures - XSLT, DOM, SAX filters, etc. These tools have very few expectations about the content they process, and programmers can provide whatever logic they want to produce results that are meaningful to them. (RELAX NG is on the boundary of this, I think, but crosses out of it at times, in things like mixed content processing.) Unfortunately, there are also technologies which attempt to provide meaning. These technologies often define vocabularies which are meant to be useful across all situations, but which can only prove effective in situations which correspond to the worldviews of their designers. W3C XML Schema is a classic case (especially its datatypes), but XLink now seems destined to join it as a limited technology whose ambitions outran its abilities. (Note that I am NOT including in that category applications of XML which seek to define vocabularies used in particular situations, only those which would pretend to provide meaning to any XML document.) Can we give up on the dream of generic semantics so that we can get some real work done with labeled structured content? Please? A single syntactic solution is useful. A single semantic solution is a wretched hairshirt straitjacket. ------------- Simon St.Laurent - SSL is my TLA http://simonstl.com may be my URI http://monasticxml.org may be my ascetic URI urn:oid:126.96.36.199.4.1.6320 is another possibility altogether
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