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Re: Rhetoric and Psychology

From: W. Eliot Kimber <drmacro@drmacro.com>
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996 06:09:22 -0600
Message-Id: <3.0b24.32.19961114060902.0074a00c@uu10.psi.com>
To: Paul Prescod <papresco@calum.csclub.uwaterloo.ca>, W3C-SGML-WG@w3.org
At 02:06 PM 11/13/96 -0500, Paul Prescod wrote:
>I don't mean to pick on Lee, but I've just snapped. I'll address his
>conspiracy theories first, and then the larger issue of the degenerating
>tone of the discussions.


Thanks for the reality check.  Everything you say is true. No standard
created by and for more than one person can ever be perfect.  XML bit off a
particularly difficult chunk to chew, namely to produce a simple
specification to solve a hard problem in a nearly impossible political
situation.  The fact that we have even been able to produce a reasonable
draft without anybody A) leaving the ERB or B) any friendships being lost
(as far as I know) is, I think, a major miracle.  

The ERB certainly listens to the WG and has reconsidered a number of key
issues when the response from the WG made it clear we needed to.  We have
gone to pains to explain our rationales for design decisions.  We have had
to make number of very difficult decisions and for each member of the ERB
there is at least one such decision that they think was the worst possible
choice to make.  It's been an exercise in compromise, done with a huge
amount of genuine concern for the constituencies affected and very little
grandstanding or brinksmanship.

At the end of the day what matters is whether or not we've produced
something that is both *useful* and *not politically destructive*.  XML,
for a number of reasons, is inherently *very dangerous* in a number of ways
to a number of different interested parties.  I think we have done things
in a way that minimize the danger (at least for some, such as those that
depend on vendor-independent standards to protect their investement in
long-term information bases).  

I don't think it's meaningful to talk about XML "failing".  Either it meets
the requirements it claims to meet or it doesn't.  If it does, people will
probably use it, because people need something like it.  If it mostly does,
people will still probably use it because they know it can be fixed.  Even
if nobody ever uses it (which seems highly unlikely), it will still have
been a success if for no other reason than it both spurred the SGML RG into
action and provided a huge amount of very useful input in terms of
requirements and design.  


W. Eliot Kimber (drmacro@drmacro.com) 
Senior SGML Consulting Engineer, Highland Consulting
2200 North Lamar Street, Suite 230, Dallas, Texas 75202
+1-214-953-0004 +1-214-953-3152 fax
http://www.isogen.com (work) http://www.drmacro.com (home)
"Rats in the morning, rats in the afternoon...if they don't go away, I'll be
re-educated soon..."                 --Austin Lounge Lizards, "1984 Blues"
Received on Thursday, 14 November 1996 07:11:47 UTC

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