A Plea for Schemas

Jerome McDonough jmcdonou at library.berkeley.edu
Fri Oct 29 18:15:17 BST 1999

For what it's worth (and my opinion and $2.50 will buy you a latte at
I agree pretty much completely with your rant (except for the gratuitous dig
at the HyTime guys, who History Will Prove Were On The Side of Right).
XML doesn't address the problems of interoperability at the level you're
about, and neither does RDF.  What you're talking about, unfortunately, is
establishing standardized controlled vocabularies, and those are a ton of
work.  They're hellish enough to develop in a relatively small, cohesive
like librarians.  There's no way in hell you're going to get competing
to sit down at a table long enough to do this.

I suspect what this will probably mean is a variety of grass-roots efforts
where people
in particular communities who care enough will establish their own schemas
controlled vocabularies, and if they see enough use, software companies that 
deal with those communities will start altering their software to make use of
that fact.  I see a possible danger here in that this might start reifying
boundaries between communities and make it harder to search for information
outside your common field of intellectual practice.  Schema repositories will
help this problem somewhat by making schemas for intellectual domains you're
not familiar with more generally available, but getting those up and running
also involve a lot of hard work.

TANSTAAFL still holds as a universal principle.  But for those who
really care about trying to achieve interoperability and more open exchange
of information, XML will still be used.

Jerome McDonough -- jmcdonou at library.Berkeley.EDU  |  (......)
Library Systems Office, 386 Doe, U.C. Berkeley     |  \ *  * /
Berkeley, CA 94720-6000    (510) 642-5168          |  \  <>  /
"Well, it looks easy enough...."                   |   \ -- /  SGNORMPF!!!
         -- From the Famous Last Words file        |    ||||

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