XSL and the semantic web

David Brownell david-b at pacbell.net
Tue Jun 22 06:55:30 BST 1999

Marcelo Cantos wrote:
> On Mon, Jun 21, 1999 at 04:47:35PM -0700, David Brownell wrote:
> > Marc.McDonald at Design-Intelligence.com wrote:
> > >
> > > When sensitive data needs to be hidden I would send it out
> > > subsetted in the xml: <name>joe</name> <phone>555-12345</phone>
> None of the following argument is at all relevant. 

... except as yet another concrete example.  From specifics, one
can generalize.  I've given other specifics at other times.  The
generalization is simple, and you've not addressed or disproven it:

    It's often an anti-goal to deliver "semantically rich"
    data to arbitrary clients.

I'll also commend you to Paul Prescod's posts.  As he pointed out,
none of this is an argument against a "semantic web", but it just
calls attentions to the limits of what it can be, or do.  That
"semantic web" exists between back end servers too; the fact that
some clients may only get views to it doesn't mean it's not there!

> The real danger, to me, of keeping such a potent capability in the
> closet is that,

That capability has been out of the closet since SGML started!

>	 in the absence of any real discussion of the nitty
> gritty details (which can only occur once the community has started to
> push in the direction of semantic content exposition), implementors
> will undertake courses of action that expose people to all the perils
> you warn against.  They will not listen to the community when it says,
> "semantic content considered harmful."  They will do it anyway (it is,
> after all an exceedingly useful concept), and they will do it badly.

I confess I don't follow your argument.  People who manage databases
are often quite aware of the risks of such disclosures.  I don't assume
they suddenly lose that awareness because they're on the web.  It's
the web designers (including some on this list) that I worry about;
since often they don't care to learn from the past.

- Dave

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