XSL and the semantic web

David Brownell david-b at pacbell.net
Wed Jun 16 18:20:14 BST 1999

"Simon St.Laurent" wrote:
> At 06:28 AM 6/16/99 -0400, Paul Prescod wrote:
> >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?
> I'm afraid we'll have to accept the value of this 'choice' as a fundamental
> disagreement.  I feel strongly that by encouraging this choice, and by
> providing a vocabulary that is even more formatting-oriented than HTML, XSL
> encourages a greater level of server-side dumbing down than was available
> before, and makes it easier.  I can't see this as a positive move in any
> light,

I can, quite easily.  I give examples below.

And one more:  you appear to be assuming that the client actually
has enough horsepower and information to do the transformation (or
for the FO side of the argument, formatting) ... those are known
to be false assumptions in many cases.  A PDA with a typical speed
IR link (not measured in megabits), slow CPU, and small fixed size
storage just doesn't have that kind of resources.  For many set-top
boxes, ditto.

>	and no, I don't see the 'semantic firewall' as a positive thing for
> the Web.

Hmm ... do you see them as issues in other contexts?  Information
is transformed routinely, every day.  Frankly, I don't want to to be
getting a complete history of everyone's life every time I deal with
them; I'm happier to work with the current context (far smaller!).
That sort of time/history based "semantic firewall" is very useful,
for all that it's subject to abuse by all parties.

There are others; if I browse a product description, rarely will I
want complete technical specs, and if I do then I'll ask for them.
I may want my technical books at a different level than someone else.

Those are examples of transformations reducing the information
that's presented.  There are other transformations that can increase
it; perhaps I want to look at a particular seller's history on an
auction system before I buy from them, and not otherwise.

If the semantic content is a "web" then anything short of looking at
the whole web at once (yeah, right!) is looking through a "firewall".

- Dave

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