W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > January 2003

Re: XBL is (mostly) W3C redundant, and CSS is wrong W3C layer for semantic behavior *markup

From: Tantek Çelik <tantek@cs.stanford.edu>
Date: Fri, 03 Jan 2003 18:32:03 -0800
To: Shelby Moore <shelby@coolpage.com>
CC: <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <BA3B8756.1DDBF%tantek@cs.stanford.edu>

On 1/3/03 5:20 PM, "Shelby Moore" <shelby@coolpage.com> wrote:

> You won't let go...below...

Now what did I say about working on form?  This kind of statement is what
I'm talking about.

[snipped discussion that leads up to this conclusion.]

>> Now, in the "watch what they do rather than what they say department", go
>> read the W3C process document:
>> http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Process-20010719/tr
>> Here is a key portion:
>> "A W3C Recommendation is a technical report that is the end result of
>> extensive consensus-building inside and outside of W3C about a particular
>> technology or policy. W3C considers that the ideas or technology specified
>> by a Recommendation are appropriate for widespread deployment and promote
>> W3C's mission [PUB15]"
> That is fine.  I am not arguing against central registries for
> specifications.

Ok, thanks for that clarification.  I thought you might be taking the
position of a "no central registries for anything!" zealot.

[Sidenote: Though was it necessary to copy paste it 4+ times? And no I don't
expect that that could have been a bug in your email editor, unlike a bug
that may cause multiple posting of an email (which you complained about

> I am agreeing with Tim Berners-Lee that central registries
> for semantics are bad.

That's a goal / design principle.

> Thus specification does _NOT_  completely control
> semantics.
>> From that, I believe many folks derive the notion that a tag name is
>> meaningless unless defined in a W3C specification.  I think that is a very
>> reasonable conclusion.
> Reasonable but incorrect according to the whole thrust of Tim Berners-Lee's
> effort to decentralize semantics.  He specifically says that previous
> attempts to centralize semantics have failed.  Go read the entire document
> of his that I linked to.

Shelby: you are still

 "mistaking  a statement of goals and design principles
        for  a statement of status quo."

Today, specifications (written in natural language prose) are all we have to
define semantics.

Tomorrow, we may have other technologies that allow semantics to be defined
mechanically, in a distributed fashion.

We're not there yet.  Don't confuse present with future.

>>>>>> Need I say any more? Why would any one markup a page with tags that
>>>>>> have no meaning?
>>>>> That is a question very well worth asking, and one which has often
>>>>> been overlooked by the XML groupies who jump on the bandwagon as it
>>>>> goes past.
>>>> So true.  Very sad, but true.  Not just XML groupies, but self-proclaimed
>>>> so-called XML experts who have written books on the subject have made (are
>>>> making) this mistake as well.
>>>> You might say there is even the potential for XML to enable a "destruction
>>>> of the tower of babel" like scenario - with thousands of non-interoperable
>>>> languages springing forth which communicate some implied (but unspecified)
>>>> level of meaning among their micro-communities, but which actually destroy
>>>> communication across communities.
>>> Actually Tim Berners-Lee argues that centralization is what causes failure:
>>> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2003Jan/0059.html
>> Your quote of a handful of words _pales_ with the TBL's time and effort
>> pursuing W3C as an organization, and his promotion of W3C based (i.e.
>> centralized) standards.
> I am not arguing against central registries for specifications.  I am
> agreeing with Tim Berners-Lee that central registries for semantics are
> bad.  Thus specification does _NOT_  completely control semantics.
> Again, if you disagree, I challenge you to get Tim Berners-Lee to comment
> otherwise.

No need for comments.  Just look at his actions.  Just look at all the
specifications which define semantics for particular tags which TBL approved
taking from Proposed Recommendation to Recommendation.

For most folks, actions speak louder than words.  If you are saying for you
that words speak louder than actions, then ok, I won't bother trying to
argue this further.  Please go on believing what authority figures say on
face value as mandates from on high.

>> While an improvement, this index of posts is still too long, and too
>> redundant to hold the attention of folks, to effectively make your points.
> Then it is not important enough to you.  That isn't even more than one
> chapter in any first year college text book.

I was trying to be helpful to YOU, because I thought there were a few good
points you raised which have now gotten lost in the "logorrhea".

You are new to this list, and thus I believed you deserved at least some
feedback to improve communication.  That's why I responded in such detail
and why I am continuing to respond.  If you don't want the feedback just say

>>> Phew, I do not think I could manage at this time.
>> I strongly sympathize, however...
> Thank you.
>>> My posts above should
>>> suffice for now.
>> I would assert that the above will not suffice except for maybe one or two
>> individuals who have the time and amazing patience to read through that much
>> loosely organized (I hazard to say disorganized) text.
> The CSS group is free to ignore if they so choose.

Huh?  My only point was that if you are speaking to be heard you could be
more effective.  If you aren't speaking to be heard, then you are speaking
to hear yourself speak which is probably off topic for this list.

>> So I'll reiterate - if you truly care about getting your point across,
> It is impossible to get a point across to people who are not interested.

People are interested in the subject matter, but not in the format,
structure (lack thereof) nor length of the discussion as it is presently.
You can change those latter factors - that was my point.

> [...]
>> If you're saying you don't have the time to do so, then it just means you
>> don't really care enough about it to do so
> I already wrote the information.  I even provided summary links that can be
> read in a couple of hours total.
> If you don't care to read it, that is your perogative.
> It has nothing to with whether I care.  I can't control what other people do.

It has to do with how much you care, as that is directly related to how much
effort you will expend to make your communication accessible.

>> You are very far from disproving Ian's assertions about how W3C defines
>> semantics.
> LOL :-)
> It is above plain as day.
> I have seen no references cited from Ian or you to support your claim that
> specification _completely_ control semantics.

There is no need to "prove"  "complete control".

The point is I quoted the W3C process to state the _only_ _known_ way to
define semantics for W3C languages.

It is your burden of proof to offer a citation for another _specific_
mechanism (rather than just an ethereal design goal) that permits definition
of semantics for W3C languages.

Absent any other specific mechanism, W3C specs are all we have to define the

You are free to propose another mechanism as well.

>> Again, I sympathize with your point about being too busy.
> Thank you.
>> I for one respect the amount of time you have spent trying to "have yourself
>> proven wrong" in this thread, I think that's the right attitude to take for
>> an implementer, and shows a good example to be followed.
> Thank you, but I am not wrong yet.

You misinterpreted me.  By saying "trying to 'have yourself proven wrong'",
I wasn't saying that you _were_ proven wrong, only that the effort of
_trying_ to do so was the right attitude.

> Not until I see references cited which
> prove that specification _completely_ controls semantics.

See above.  You have erred in terms of burden of proof.

> Or until Tm
> Berners-Lee (or other equivalent highly respected semantic expert) says
> that I am wrong.

I for one will take his continued endorsement of specifications which define
the semantics of specific tags as statement enough.

> Afaik, you and Ian are not semantic experts (nothing in your resumes to
> support such).

Please see what I said about "working on form".  Right here:

>> However, IMHO you could work on improving your form a bit (as I'm sure many
>> of us myself included could), as entering a list, making claims of
>> superiority (experience etc.), and insulting long-standing respected members
> Just remember that I did not discuss my experience in first post and I was
> the one who was insulted first and Daniel was first to mention his experience:
> First response to my initial post:
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2002Dec/0188.html
> Daniel Glazman wrote:
> ":-D Thanks for that morning laugh. Please try..."
> "work with XBL on a daily basis, used XSLT to produce the CSS 3 Selectors
> Test Suite, and I think I know quite well what Bert Bos thinks of the Web,
> past present and future "
> "I am the co-editor of the BECSS spec that federated some time ago the
> Action Sheets proposal from Netscape and the HTC proposal from Microsoft. I
> know quite well this subject. "

My goodness!

Are you saying you are no better than the schoolyard child caught in a fight
who says:

 "But I wasn't the one who started it!"

It doesn't matter if you insulted first or not or claimed your experience
first or not.  You sunk to that level when there was no need to do so, and
when doing so hurt your message.  If I was more cynical I might say you were
baited (tricked) into doing so in order to cause you to undercut your own
message.  I thought this kind of thing was Netnews 101.

>> of that list, is not an effective means of either convincing the members of
>> that list of your points, or motivating members of the list to even bother
>> spending the time in the discussion.
> I can not force people to open their minds to learn new things.

No, but you will catch more bees with honey than vinegar.

>>  It doesn't help to alienate the
>> community that you want to help you.
> In life, there is no use being concerned about closed minded people.  I am
> only concerned about what open minded people will do, because they are the
> only ones with power of mind to either help or compete with me.

Interesting filtering premise.  I don't think I agree with your premise or
the evaluation of this community as being closed minded.  This is an open
(to the public) mailing list with numerous individuals in many professions
from all over the world.  These factors in combination tend to self-select
more open minded people.

Consider that people may appear to become more "closed minded" when you
insult them.

>>  At some point folks would rather just
>> stay silent rather than correcting you,
> Maybe they do not want me to correct them :-)

Yes that is possible also. And many folks simply avoid conversations where
the tone has become unpleasant.

>> and, let you go off and learn by
>> trying and failing (which is not necessarily a bad way of learning mind you,
>> just a more expensive way).
> Same for the people who use XBL.  They will fail and learn.  XBL will never
> be a standard.
>>> I think I can let this standard as my final response on this thread.
>>> Hopefully
>>> in some months, with links to commercial examples in XSLT (running on all
>>> browsers in 2003! :-)
>> I look forward to seeing what you come up with.
> Thank you.
>>  Good luck in your product
>> development efforts.  Ultimately the market will be your judge.
> You got that right.  I'll be back here in 2 - 3 years to remind you of
> that. :-)

Hey no need to remind me of it - I did not mean my comment as a taunt.  I
meant it with all seriousness, with all positive and negative implications.

I will note however that if you improve your form (style) of communication,
you may see more people cheering you on (and saying good things about your
products) if/when you succeed.

> This is an open challenge to XBL supporters to make XBL a standard and to
> make it successful and ubiquutous.  I am confident they those supporters
> can not.  Prove me wrong, if you can.

I think they're just trying to succeed - not to prove anybody wrong.

I for one am reserving judgment on XBL for the moment.  I have other things
to work on...

Received on Friday, 3 January 2003 21:16:25 UTC

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