Re: xml + style.
I suggest the core problem is simplier then this. Ignoring the unique charactoristics of legislation (as the blog was mainly about). I work with Clinical authors and documents. But I don't think that is unique. I suggest the problem is the difficulty of humans to map tangible representations to more abstract ones. As well as their feelings that the visual representation is the *preferred* representation. There was a great quote at Balisage a few years back (pardon me for forgetting the speaker or the exact words) but it went like this. Its about the advent of desktop publishing now the push towards semantic markup. "For 20 years we've been empowering people to create their own documents. With desktop PC's and programs like Word or Pagemaker or other document editing we've been teaching people that they can *own* their own document presentation. Put headers here, bold there, italics here ... Now we come and say 'Forget everything you've been taught ! Don't put in style markup. Put in semantic Markup and "trust us" it will look right". No wonder we have problems with getting people to use XML and when we do they still want to do presentation. Its deeper then that though. I have a difficult time with my authors having them using a tag like <cite> instead of <italics> ... because they want (really badly) to control how something *looks*. Even when explained that on different devices it will look different, and some wont even *have* italic fonts, and that a majority use case for this data is *data* not presentation. That just doesn't sink in. People intrinsically seem to think in a visual representation for writing. I suggest this is 'human nature' or at least a few thousand years of training. Document authoring for the lifetime of the human race has been mostly about presentation. I suggest this crosses all languages, cultures, and generations (some exceptions but I think very few). It may be because people are *taught* to think this way or maybe its *ingrained*. Much of the early written language is hyrogliphic in nature. Even today, with intelligent, well trained people, it seems 'against the grain' to get document authors to think in terms of meaning instead of presentation. They want Paragraph, Bold, Italics, Indentation, Bullets. This visual display is how we think of documents. Its very very difficult to think in terms of "Section" , "Citation", "Emphasis" , "list". And this is when your starting from scratch. I've had the opportunity to author clinical document schemas and its literally pulling teeth to tell the authors "No you cant specify Italics, you have to use a <medication> tag instead". And if you give them a visual Preview function ... (as they really want) then they end up using <medication> tags for anything that that should 'look that way in the preview' even if its not a medication. And these are highly intelligent educated people. I've had to get over thinking "they just dont get it" and start thinking "this is how humans are wired to think". And that's when creating a schema and document type from scratch and paying people to author explicitly for it. I really do feel sorry for the author of the blog posting about Legislation. In that case your dealing with centuries old practices of a particular format of written (presentation) documents and workflows. And the participants don't want that changed. Someone else from outside is coming in and saying "We need electronic versions of these documents". But the benefit is all for someone else, the authors and participants don't benefit so not only is it difficult technically but its difficult socially. The same thing happens in the Medical field. Big Organizations are coming in and saying "You need electronic health records". But the doctors and nurses dont want them - at least for their everyday practices. They don't benefit personally from having to use a computer to enter or view health records. There are generations of practice of using written records and they work very well for the individual practitioners. This is in some ways worse then the legal field, because documents are *hand written* not printed. Its not an issue so much of "Header" and "Bold" but more of margin writing, tick marks, shorthand notation ... things that are 'out of band' of even presentation markup based schemas. ------------------------- David A. Lee firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.calldei.com http://www.xmlsh.org On 6/20/2010 9:33 AM, Greg Hunt wrote: > > What sometimes seems to happen is that people try to map multiple sets > of equal-valued but not really overlapping meaning about something in > the world (like perhaps legislation) onto a model with a "real" > meaning and some other stuff that must be presentation or otherwise > not quite as important (I suspect that that is the problem that the > blog author has).
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