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Subject: Re: [emergency] Circle and Polygon

On Jun 10, 2005, at 6/10/05 11:04 AM, Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:
> When gardening, one doesn't 'let a thousand flowers bloom'.
> One prunes relentlessly and daily.

Alas, I suspect that what we're involved in here is more like  
forestry than horticulture.  And after all, having each specialist  
community tend its own garden is pretty much what led to  
interoperability problems in the first place.

Instead of serving one particular constituency, we're trying to  
address issues at a higher level of abstraction, one that bridges a  
number of specialties.  As with any attempt at global optimization,  
it's unavoidable that the results will be slightly suboptimal for  
each individual user.  So I think we may want to be careful about  
carrying efficiency arguments too far... we're rarely going to find a  
single take on efficiency that every stakeholder shares.

Also, I think we need to consider what our role should be.  Are we  
proposers and presenters of standards, or just repackagers of other  
folks' work?  Putting that another way, is a pre-existing standard  
always better just because it came first?  If not, how much weight  
does precedent deserve?

Further, I think we need to guard against turning XML into a next- 
generation stovepipe by moving application logic into messaging data  
structures.  Some XML folk, in particular, seem to prefer doing every  
possible bit of processing in the parser.  That's understandable, but  
might that path lead us toward petrification as loosely coupled and  
flexible web services get trapped in a dense matrix of hyper- 
specified data structures?

Finally, I'll call for a committment to humility on everyone's part.   
What we're trying to do here, in terms of cutting across disciplinary  
and organizational boundaries, hasn't been done before.  There are no  
real experts... we're all explorers.  If we let ourselves become  
personally attached to particular theories, techniques or precedents,  
this whole undertaking could bog down in exactly the sort of  
factionalism some skeptics have predicted.

The question, IMHO, isn't what's "right"... we really don't know  
that, even though each of us may have strongly-held theories.  The  
question for now is what we can put together that will serve as a  
productive platform for further exploration and learning.  And it's  
in that spirit that I urge we keep our structures as simple as  
possible, on the theory that it'll be easier to add specificity later  
than it will be to back out of premature choices.

In short, let's not let our ideas of the Best become the enemies of  
the Good.

- Art

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