XSL and the semantic web

Paul Prescod paul at prescod.net
Wed Jun 16 12:55:44 BST 1999

"Simon St.Laurent" wrote:
> >Note that there is also widespread dissatisfaction with namespaces, RDF,
> >XLink and XML itself.
> Apart from Ted Nelson's excellent "Embedded Markup Considered Harmful", I
> haven't seen much claiming that XML is a danger to the semantic Web the W3C
> seems interested in building.  

I think that most people agree that being able to hide intellectual
property behind a semantic firewall is a Good Thing. We are, after all,
mostly capitalists and tend to think that short of ethics concerns,
independent actors should be able to control how their intellectual
property is distributed. If they want to dumb down their data then they
should have that right, right? Why should the W3C get in their way?

I want to address your concern that this goes against the grain of the
"semantic Web". There is only a conflict if you think that the semantic
web is about all information being freely available in its most semantic
form. My interpretation was always that the semantic web was about some
information being richly semantic and free ("yellow pages online"), some
being richly semantic and expensive (e.g. the company database behind the
yellow pages), some being presentational and free ("Joe's Web Pag") and
some being presentational and expensive ("Paul Abdul's latest video").

In other words I always interpreted it as being about choice. You complain
that XSL allows this choice. Even if it were the case that XSL uniquely
allowed data dumbing (which it is not), I could not see how its allowance
of this choice would constitute a problem or flaw. Data dumbing is part of
the economy and ecology of the Web. As Guy Murphy has described, the Web
is richer for it. Do we want Lexis-Nexis to take their thousands of
databases back to their private network where they controlled the level of
semantics tightly?

 Paul Prescod  - ISOGEN Consulting Engineer speaking for only himself

[Woody Allen on Hollywood in "Annie Hall"]
Annie: "It's so clean down here."
Woody: "That's because they don't throw their garbage away. They make 
        it into television shows."

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