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Re: Dictionaries in the library

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 13:47:59 -0500
Message-Id: <200005231737.NAA2115506@smtp2.mail.iamworld.net>
To: xml-uri@w3.org
Please, everybody, read Rick's remarks carefully.  He is onto something
important.

Another way to say it is what you find if you search for "XML is not
formal" in <http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/xml-uri/2000May/0376.html>.
 Actually it is enough to search for that string in the archive...

At 11:51 PM 2000-05-23 +0800, Rick JELLIFFE wrote:
>> Re: Dictionaries in the library
>> 
>> From: Tim Berners-Lee (timbl@w3.org)
> 
>> With formally specified languages, the spec is
>> in 1:1 correspondence with the language. 
>
>Not always: a formally-specified language could also be specified with
>a juridical process to guide interpretation and overcome flaws. (e.g.,
>the errata process for XML).
>
>It could also be specified accompanied by a "community tradition"
>process
>as well, saying that if most/all implementations interpret an ambiguous
>text 
>one way, that that is its meaning.
>
>(What is missing from most specs is a statement "please if you find an
>ambiguity,
>choose the less crazy interpretation", which may successfully divert
>legalists
>onto edifying dissections of craziness. :-)
>
>It is difficult to specify formally anything using just text: if you use
>an
>artificial language no-one understands it and errors creep in; if you
>use 
>technical English, it is not very expressive and prone to mistakes. This
>is
>why I think one must consider standards-reading as ultimately a social
>activity based on agreeing on respect/competency/experience/power roles;
>even artificial languages are human activities.
>
>To say that a language is defined by a formalism will, when that
>language
>gets used by communities, immediately fall down: few formalisms are 
>expressive enough to specify the software engineering intentions
>underlying
>its design. When SGML uses the term "generic identifier" it embodies a
>lot which 
>cannot be expressed in a high-level language definition system such as
>Z, for example. 
>But "generic identifier" is a concept at the heart of SGML as a
>language.
>
>Rick Jelliffe
> 
Received on Tuesday, 23 May 2000 13:36:23 UTC

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