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Re: There Are No Metadocuments

From: Steven J. DeRose <sjd@ebt.com>
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 1997 17:44:30 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org
At 12:00 AM 02/11/97 -0500, Dave Peterson wrote:

>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

<SOAPBOX TYPE="historical">
Sorry, but I can't help objecting to the "if you will" above. Descriptive
markup was around before SGML, before GML. Like Scribe for one example.
Scholars had document ontologies ages before that (heck, that's the
left-hand-side of a style manual). And if we just consider "the concept of a
document", it was *way* broader than print for a very long time,
particularly in the centuries *before* printing.

This is especially clear when you consider heavily referenced and annotated
documents such as Talmud, Bible, and so on, which were used in many ways
beyond republishing in a slightly different format. And in consequence, few
people referred to passages in them using print-specific means. For centures
they have referred using structural pointers: book/chapter/verse,
stanza/line, and so forth. "the text" is an abstraction beyond particular
printings or manuscripts (hard as it is to get at the abstraction in many


Received on Tuesday, 11 February 1997 17:47:06 UTC

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