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Re: Very rough draft of TAG finding on self-describing documents

From: Elliotte Harold <elharo@metalab.unc.edu>
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2007 10:32:44 -0500
Message-ID: <45E2FD9C.5050005@metalab.unc.edu>
To: Jan Algermissen <algermissen1971@mac.com>
CC: noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com, www-tag@w3.org

Jan Algermissen wrote:

> Not sure if this misses the point of you proposal, but it might be a good idea
> to also mention that self-descriptiveness of messages is what protects the
> sender of a message from an effect of change the receiver might go through.
> Messages that are not self-descriptive depend in part on implementation of
> the receiver. In an environment where there is no cenral control that keeps
> the receiver from changing the client would never be able to independently
> prove what it actually said when it sent a message.

This seems grounded in the idea that the sender's meaning and the 
recipient's are the same, and that it's a problem if they're not. The 
sender sends what it sends. The receiver interprets that in the way that 
is useful to the receiver, irrespective of what the sender meant. Adding 
more or less markup doesn't materially change that.

The sender can prove what it sent, if it cares to. However absent a 
contract with the receiver, it has no expectation of or claim on 
particular processing by the recipient. Similarly, absent a contract or 
agreement, the recipient cannot insist on any particular meaning or 
message format by the sender.

The title is "self-describing documents" but what people are writing and 
talking about are more "self-agreeing documents" and I find that a very 
dangerous concept for several reasons. The sender's mere description 
does not imply or mandate any agreement or processing on the part of the 

´╗┐Elliotte Rusty Harold  elharo@metalab.unc.edu
Java I/O 2nd Edition Just Published!
Received on Monday, 26 February 2007 15:32:54 UTC

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