RE:the semantic web (was Re: XHTML Invalidity / WML2 / New XHTML 1.1 Attribute)

On Tuesday, December 12, 2000 8:35 PM, Sean B. Palmer 
[] wrote:

> Occasionally, though, someone needs to make a few large strides in order 
> get over the obastacles...
> I don't have a plan, no-one really does, but I find something new every 
> to do, to try to get the SW moving. I just keep thiking, if everything 
> stored as information, pure information, it would be up to the user as to
> how it is rendered...
Is this a chimera? In the field of copyright, a fundamental doctrine is the 
"idea-expression dichotomy": ideas are not subject to copyright, but the 
way they are expressed is. Unfortunately, if the ideas cannot be 
distinguished from their expression then ideas themselves become protected, 
which is generally a bad thing. The copyright distinction between idea and 
expression is similar to the distinction between semantics and 

The art of the author is to explain ideas and information - to impart 
understanding to the reader. If words are used as the medium, then it is 
relatively easy to separate out the presentational aspects. But not all 
ideas are so susceptible to verbal explanation; in many disciplines, 
diagrams are more effective. The second most important aspect of the Web is 
its ability to carry multimedia and so help explanation of ideas without 

Ultimately I do not think rendering can be totally in the hands of the 
reader; it is an important part of the process of explanation.  Expressing 
the semantics well is only half of the job of imparting understanding to 
the reader; the second half is in the presentation - whether to be printed, 
displayed on a big screen or a wap phone or braille display or output as 
speech synthesis.  The result is that the process of authorship must be 
divided, and authors must learn new skills.

Edward Barrow
new media copyright consultant

Received on Wednesday, 13 December 2000 06:49:23 UTC