Re: There Are No Metadocuments

At 8:38 PM 2/10/97, Terry Allen wrote:
>Strange.  I can publish a print book, which binds together in
>what everyone recognizes as a book font, size, kerning, paper
>type, thumbtabs, page numbers, line numbers, verse numbers,
>and footnote markers that cause the eyes of literate viewers
>to flicker involuntarily to the bottom of the page (behavior).
>Yet when I bind all this together (with the text) in a document,
>somehow this becomes a metadocument.  If I reprinted the book
>in another font, font size, etc., I'd have another book,
>perhaps "The Large Type Document for Presbyopters," which
>I would call attention to as different from "The Document,"
>although for some purposes it is "the same".

The "pre-SGML", if you will, concept of a document was simply
something that is printed.  SGML looks at a document as a
collection of potentially reusable information, which may
be reused in many ways besides republishing it on paper again
in a slightly different format.  "The document" is something
that can be published, searched, spoken (a very non-paper form
of publishing), indexed, etc., etc.  If, as you suggest, that
this something together with its publishing specifications is
a document but that with different publishing specifications
is a different document, then with its indexing specifications
it's yet another document, when published by speech synthesizer
it's yet another, etc., etc., etc.,...  Put all these things
together and you've got a metadocument, in many people's mind.

If the union of all of your related-by-having-the-same-content
documents is a metadocument in some people's mind, there are
others that would like in this brave new world to use "document"
to mean the intersection: the core structured data set.

...And those who draw the line somewhere in between.

Isn't English fun?

Dave Peterson