XSL and the semantic web

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at simonstl.com
Wed Jun 16 18:29:56 BST 1999

At 09:21 AM 6/16/99 -0700, David Brownell wrote:
>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.

Maybe it's just that I'm at JavaOne, where Sun and 3Com keep talking about
what you can do with Java on a Pilot, but I see the bandwidth as more of a
problem than the processing power.  It might well make sense to create some
kind of PDA middleware that slims down content before shipping it to the
PDA, but that seems more a matter of consumer-oriented content-negotiation
than producer-determined semantic firewalling.

>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".

In all of these cases, I have a very simple question: do you want to be
able to choose the level of semantic information you receive, or do you
want that to be determined by your provider?  I have no object to
intelligent content-negotiation. I do have a problem with handing content
producers new tools for creating dumbed-down content with XML, the very
language that was supposed to improve the level of information quality on
the Web.

Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer / Building XML Applications
Inside XML DTDs: Scientific and Technical (July)
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