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Re: What does a document mean?

From: Elliotte Rusty Harold <elharo@metalab.unc.edu>
Date: Fri, 5 Apr 2002 09:05:07 -0500
Message-Id: <p04330104b8d35df70149@[]>
To: www-tag@w3.org
At 8:45 PM -0800 3/31/02, Tim Bray wrote:

>>I don't know that I believe that all documents on the Web have MIME types.
>Yes they do.  If only application/octet-stream.  If they don't
>they're not on the web.

Can you cite the specs that prove that? Maybe it depends on what you 
mean by "on the web". I can believe this is true for http/https, but 
I'm not nearly as convinced for all other protocols out there. FTP 
predates MIME. Do you define "on the web" as "served by http"?

>>Finally, are we really sure that a document on the Web is always 
>>bits? and always will be? What about non-binary computers?
>I'm OK with not trying to build in this much generality. -Tim

That feels a little short-sighted to me. Probably this is good for 
the next five years. I'm not sure it's good for the next ten. I would 
be very surprised if it remains true for the next 50. I think one of 
the important strengths of XML is defining it in terms of characters 
rather than bytes, since characters have been around for the last 
several thousand years and are likely to around for the next several 
thousand, whereas bits and even more so bytes are just this 
generation's  technical Ephemera. Unfortunately not all documents are 
made up of characters (e.g. images) so we need something a little 
more general. I'm not sure what though.

| Elliotte Rusty Harold | elharo@metalab.unc.edu | Writer/Programmer |
|          The XML Bible, 2nd Edition (Hungry Minds, 2001)           |
|             http://www.cafeconleche.org/books/bible2/              |
|   http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0764547607/cafeaulaitA/   |
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Received on Friday, 5 April 2002 10:14:57 UTC

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