Inline markup considered harmful? (was RE: question for a friend)

Tim Bray tbray at
Fri Jun 11 19:36:53 BST 1999

At 01:01 PM 6/11/99 -0400, David Megginson wrote:
>Way back in the 1980's, about 40 Internet years ago, the computer part
>Oxford English Dictionary project at the University of Waterloo
>(Ontario) published a short monograph on this issue.  I no longer have
>my copy, and remember neither the title nor author, but the premise
>was that inline markup like SGML should be considered harmful, and
>that out-of-line markup was much more flexible (since you can apply
>more than one hierarchy to the same content).

Not sure I recall the paper, but I recall the work.  You save a lot of
space, but juggling N data files + M markup indices in parallel is
just immensely more complex than chugging through tags, so you'd better
be sure the benefits are high.

Anyhow, stand-off markup as a concept has a long & distinguished intellectual
history - it was at the core of Ted Nelson's Xanadu thinking, and sometime
in the last 2 or 3 years there was a real good presentation on it at 
one of the Web conferences... Daniel Rivers-Moore if memory serves. -T.

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