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

On 1/3/03 2:03 PM, "Shelby Moore" <> wrote:

>>>>>> First, we are not only talking about HTML elements. XBL has the
>>>>>> ability to bind semantics to new tags. There is no specification
>>>>>> for those new tags.
>>>>> And therefore those new tags have no semantics, no meaning.
>>>> Thanks for writing that. I hope everyone reads that. New tags have
>>>> no meaning according to Ian Hickson.
>>> That is correct.
>> I too agree with this position.
> I can find no evidence to support this position, but there is evidence from
> Tim
> Berners-Lee which suggests that both you and Ian are wrong:
> [...]
>>> People should not be sending any elements that have no predefined
>>> normative semantics over the network.
>>> This is one of the fundamental cornerstones of accessible Web design.
>> Again, strongly agreed.
> Again Tim Berners-Lee disagrees with you (he is against centralized
> semantics):
> Since Tim Berners-Lee founded the W3C, and since he is the main driving force
> behind Semantic Web, I think you better yield to his expertise.


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

Specifically, the statements you quoted:

"Each field had made certain ___CENTRALIST__ assumptions -- if not in the
philosophy, then in the implementations, which __PREVENTED__ them from
spreading globally...We __REMOVE__ the __CENTRALIZED__ concepts of absolute
truth, total knowledge, and total provability..."

"The __PROBLEM___ with all such systems was that they were conceptually or
physically __CENTRALIZED__. They required link __GLOBAL__ __CONSISTENCY___."

make the point that central "registries" are a weakpoint of many systems.
Specifically, linking registries are a weakpoint in hypertext systems.  That
context is important.  One could conclude that ideally there would be no
need for any central registries for anything.  But that does not refute that
fact that:
 1. central registries exist today
 2. some number of such registries are required for things to work today

We may improve the situation by minimizing the number of such registries
that are needed, but we are only in the middle of the process of doing so,
and are certainly not at the point where you can build and use systems
interoperably with others across the world with _zero_ central registries.

Now, in the "watch what they do rather than what they say department", go
read the W3C process document:

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]

The reality (status quo) is that one or more central registries are
necessary to advance such goals as a semantic web.  The W3C is a centralized
organization, open to any with email/web access, with special privileges for
those that can afford it. is a central registry whether or not it calls itself

Within a W3C context, W3C Recommendations are the only way to define "ideas
or technology" that are "appropriate for widespread deployment".  Sometimes
these RECs quote extensively from other central registries (IETF, UNICODE,
ISO etc.) as well.

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.

>>>> 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:

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 can't fathom where you get the idea that someone can or would
>>>> author a web page without having some clue what the tag meanings
>>>> are.
>> I know, isn't it incredible?  I can't fathom that someone can or would
>> author HTML without having read the HTML4 (or any HTML) specification.  I
>> can't imagine that anyone would use <b> tags to mean heading, and <br> tags
>> to mean paragraph separator (which are of course, not the "meanings", if
>> any, of the <b> and <br> tags).  Where could you possibly get the idea that
>> people would do such things?
> Sort of proves my point doesn't it?

I thought it fairly well refuted the particular point being discussed in
those paragraphs.  Whether or not it proves one of the infinitude of other
points in the thread is a whole 'nother question.

> Specification is not all powerful.

No it is not, but it can be a strong impetus for market forces.

>>>> I suggest you re-read the ENTIRE thread, therein you will find some
>>>> of my thoughts on this.
>> Shelby, the email medium is very poor for representing the depth and
>> richness of your thoughts on this.
> Agreed.
>>  It is unreasonable to ask and/or expect
>> Ian or anyone else to re-reread the ENTIRE thread to try to understand your
>> thoughts.
>> I have tried to read every email on this thread all the way through as they
>> were posted, and *I* have lost track of the number of different points being
>> made, and the latest "debate status" of each.  Perhaps I am simply too
>> intellectually inferior to keep up.  I get the feeling that I am not the
>> only member of this list who is starting to "tune out" of this thread.
>> I suggest for everyone's benefit (including your own) that you instead
>> summarize your points in a online essay (hosted at your website), titled
>> something appropriate, like:
> My summary posts (read in this order):
> Semantics:
> Last summary post of XSLT and XBL differences (conceptual example):
> Near last summary post of XSLT and XBL differences:
> Key summary:
> First post:
> Examples:
> [...]

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.

>> If you really care about getting your point across to the W3C community, you
>> care about making your point accessible to as many members of the W3C
>> community as possible.  A well written richly semantically marked up* essay
>> would serve this purpose far better than the current prolonged email
>> dialogue for this topic.
> Phew, I do not think I could manage at this time.

I strongly sympathize, however...

> 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.

So I'll reiterate - if you truly care about getting your point across, you
will produce a more accessible version of this content that is better
organized, and more richly marked up than with carriage returns and

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 - which is fine, but in that
case, is there any point to spending more time continuing the substance of
arguments here in email?  [I guess not - having read the end of your reply,
which, as I said, is fine.]

> If XBL gets momentum to becoming a standard (and especially
> under CSS group) then I may consider doing as you suggest.  Then again, I may
> just be too busy.
> I make money implementing, not writing specifications.  My only goal was to
> share info and find out if there were any major holes in my logic.  Now that I
> understand Ian's disagreement, and now that I have proven his definition of
> semantics is not supported by references on web

You are very far from disproving Ian's assertions about how W3C defines

> then I feel confident I have
> gotten what I wanted out of this exchange.

Again, I sympathize with your point about being too busy.

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.

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
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.  It doesn't help to alienate the
community that you want to help you.  At some point folks would rather just
stay silent rather than correcting you, 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).

> 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.  Good luck in your product
development efforts.  Ultimately the market will be your judge.


Received on Friday, 3 January 2003 18:49:24 UTC