OASIS Mailing List ArchivesView the OASIS mailing list archive below
or browse/search using MarkMail.


Help: OASIS Mailing Lists Help | MarkMail Help

ubl-ndrsc message

[Date Prev] | [Thread Prev] | [Thread Next] | [Date Next] -- [Date Index] | [Thread Index] | [Elist Home]

Subject: [ubl-ndrsc] Fwd: The Only Hard Problem in XML

Too true!

>-------- Original Message --------
>From: XML_in_Practice@itw.itworld.com
>Subject: The Only Hard Problem in XML
>To: "steve trezise" <steven.trezise@sun.com>
>XML IN PRACTICE --- January 24, 2002
>Published by ITworld.com -- changing the way you view IT
>* The harder we try to establish a hierarchical IT naming structure,
>   the more untamable the task becomes.
>The Only Hard Problem in XML
>By Sean McGrath
>Before I start, in the grandest tradition of us XML types, let me
>generalize. This article is about the only hard problem in computing in
>general -- never mind just XML. And that problem is?
>Naming things.
>These two simple words, added together spell trouble all over the IT
>landscape. On your network you have files; files have names. You put
>them in folders that have names, on drives that have names. All the
>resources on the network are named at least once and probably twice --
>once with a human friendly name, like foo.baz.com, and once with a
>computer friendly name, like
>Names contain hierarchical layers, which is where the trouble starts.
>With DNS, some top-level domain names where created: .COM, .ORG, etc.
>These, in turn, break into sub-domains and so on. IP addresses split
>into segments separated by periods and various routing techniques rely
>on being able to peel off various layers from the segments.
>The thing about naming conventions is that they are self limiting.
>Creating one involves taking a view of the world of discourse,
>classifying it into a hierarchy of "things" that have names, and
>joining the name segments into longer names. In a word: taxonomies.
>"Taxonomy" is a great word to describe the naming problem because it
>covers both giving things names and putting them into some sort of
>classification system. We can see taxonomy problems everywhere: the
>Domain Name Service, Carl Linnaeus's organization of plant species,
>Niels Bohr's model of the atom, etc....
>And so to XML. XML is all about taxonomy problems. Every time we
>concoct a schema -- whatever the notation -- we are addressing the
>naming problem and creating a taxonomy. Every time we seek to
>interchange XML data with someone, we need to address the naming
>problem. Their data may overlap with yours in terms of its true meaning
>(that dreaded word "semantics") but if their system has grown up
>independently of yours, it almost certainly uses a different naming
>The blue sparks that fly out of XML people's ears when you put them
>into a room together are due, in no small part, to naming problems. The
>great holy grail of interchange is to be able to interchange the
>meaning of information, in XML form, without the enormous overhead in
>time and money of industry standard schemas and/or point-to-point XML
>Tim Berners-Lee's vision of the Semantic Web has caused some XML
>people, me included, to say, "Good. Maybe now the world will see the
>enormous nature of this naming knowledge problem." Note that we did not
>shout, "Yippee. A solution cometh!"
>This problem is hard, real hard. It is hard because it requires caging
>a wild animal called "knowledge". Nobody knows how to do that. Wrapping
>angle-bracketed tags around data does not magically transform it into
>knowledge. Knowledge refuses to be written down. It is not "declarable"
>in any syntax, XML included. It remains in the minds of people,
>transferred transiently and at much cost into computer programs.
>The field of "naming things" -- variously referred to as mereology,
>ontology, epistemology, data modeling, RDF, Topic Maps, Meta-
>Architectures -- is fascinating to watch. Much work goes into coming up
>with ways to express the knowledge hidden in hierarchies, yet that
>knowledge itself is not hierarchical, which makes humans' quest to make
>it so all the more puzzling.
>Perhaps the problem is unsolvable. Perhaps, thanks to the Godelian
>insight into the incompleteness of knowledge of any field, we petty
>humans cannot hope to write down the knowledge inherent in the "system"
>to which we are a part. Which isn't to say we should give up of course,
>but such musings can help keep you sane when your day job revolves
>around grinding out naming conventions for XML schemas and XSLT
>transformations to change data from one naming convention to another.
>About the author(s)
>Sean McGrath is CTO of Propylon. He is an internationally acknowledged
>authority on XML and related standards. He served as an invited expert
>to the W3C's Expert Group that defined XML in 1998. He is the author of
>three books on markup languages published by Prentice Hall.
>Naming Things
>Carl Linnaeus
>The father of modern plant and animal classification (1707-1778)
>Godel's Incompleteness Theorem
>Semantic Web
>The Semantic Web: A Primer
>The Semantic Web: An Introduction
>Index of XML in Practice
>SOAP: Simple Object Access Protocol
>Vendors Stock the Java Toolbox
>- Go to: http://www.itworld.com/newsletters
>- Click on "View my newsletters" to log in and manage your account
>- To subscribe, check the box next to the newsletter
>- To unsubscribe, uncheck the box next to the newsletter
>- When finished, click submit
>Questions? Please e-mail customer service at: mailto:support@itworld.com
>* Editorial: Andrew Santosusso, Newsletter Editor,
>   andrew_santosusso@itworld.com
>* Advertising: Clare O'Brien, Vice President of Sales,
>   clare_obrien@itworld.com
>* Career Corner: Janis Crowley, Vice President/General Manager, IDG
>   Recruitment Solutions, janis_crowley@itcareers.net
>* Other inquiries: Jodie Naze, Senior Product Marketing Manager,
>   jodie_naze@itworld.com
>ITworld.com has been TRUSTe certified
>Copyright 2002 ITworld.com, Inc., All Rights Reserved.
>Share this email with a friend! Click here!
>Please click on the link below to modify your subscription, unsubscribe,
>or change your email address:

Eve Maler                                    +1 781 442 3190
Sun Microsystems XML Technology Center   eve.maler @ sun.com

[Date Prev] | [Thread Prev] | [Thread Next] | [Date Next] -- [Date Index] | [Thread Index] | [Elist Home]

Powered by eList eXpress LLC