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Re: Rule of Least Power

From: <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>
Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2006 17:16:07 -0500
To: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Cc: www-tag@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF64A586C9.C4C772EC-ON8525712B.0079C3DE-8525712B.007A539B@lotus.com>

Pat Hayes writes:

> That indeed makes perfect sense. What I am now puzzled about, 
> however, is that this isn't what the RuLePwr document seems to be 
> saying. This example has to do with the extent to which information 
> is accessible, even to processes that were not being considered when 
> the information was being created: information buried in Javascript 
> is less accessible than information in HTML. OK, good point; but the 
> RuLePwr document talks about computing power in the 
> theory-of-computing sense.

Quoting from the finding [1]:

"The intention of this finding is neither to rigorously characterize the 
many ways in which a programming language may exhibit power or complexity, 
nor to suggest that all such power necessarily interferes with information 
reuse. Rather, this finding observes that a variety of characteristics 
that make languages powerful can complicate or prevent analysis of 
programs or information conveyed in those languages, and it suggests that 
such risks be weighed seriously when publishing information on the Web. 
Indeed, on the Web, the least powerful language that's suitable should 
usually be chosen."

I think that's the point, and I confess I'm confused about why so much 
discussion has arisen that seems to make the finding into more or less 
than that.   It doesn't, for example, say that power languages are bad. It 
sugests that the risks of using a powerful languge be weighed seriously. 
It doesn't say that there is only one aspect of power that is pertinent or 
that all aspects of power are necessarily problematic;  it clearly says 
the opposite.  It doesn't say use languages that aren't powerful;  it says 
"Use the least powerful language >suitable< for expressing information, 
constraints or programs on the World Wide Web."  So, if what you need is a 
powerful language use it.  If you have a choice, consider the options 
carefully, and at least seriously consider the ways in which use of a 
powerful language >may< inhibit others' ability to reuse the information 
you're publishing.  That's about it, IMO.

Anyway, it looks like I'll be on jury duty for at least awhile, so please 
take no offense if I am unresponsive to further discussion on this thread. 
 Thank you.

Noah

[1] http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/doc/leastPower-2006-02-23.html

--------------------------------------
Noah Mendelsohn 
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
1-617-693-4036
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Received on Wednesday, 8 March 2006 22:16:28 GMT

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