XSL and the semantic web

David Brownell david-b at pacbell.net
Mon Jun 21 21:28:19 BST 1999

Marcelo Cantos wrote:
> > > 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".
 > ... the following two transformations:
>   <employee status="active">
>     <name>Joe</name>
>     <phone>555-12345</phone>
>   </employee>
>   <H3>Joe</H3>
>   <P>Phone: 555-12345</P>
> Are of a fundamentally different character.  It is not a simply case
> of having more or less information.  In the second example, even the
> structure of the information you are entitled to (and this from the
> owner's viewpoint) has been lost, and gratuitously so.

And there we catch the essence of a philosophical divide, I think!
(Not the one about not counting structure as information.)

On what grounds can you claim "you" are "entitled" to such information?
Have you any legal "need to know"?  Have you entered into an enforceable
contract, with penalty clauses if you misuse that information (e.g. sell
it to a competitor or other unauthorized entity)?  Who are "you", and
why should your interest trump the "owner's" interest in reducing the
risks inherent in sharing information with you?

As I said earlier:

> > Turning data into presentation-only data is just another transform, in
> > any case, for all that it's a bit more apparent how much was removed.
> > Clients don't generally have any "right" to see that extra data.

I can accept that some folk don't like the FO part of XSL.

What I can't accept is justifying such a dislike on legal grounds,
when in fact when you bring law into it you're more likely to find
reasons for "firewalling" data than otherwise.

- Dave

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