Seeking a Dao of Groves

Len Bullard cbullard at
Sat Jan 29 02:18:47 GMT 2000

The aggregate of W3C standards are a reinvention of HyTime in 
the sense that they set out to standardize the same scope of 
concepts.  If it looks like strip mining, in a sense it is, 
but that is Ok because as many of us know, many of the same 
people are involved.  There is no ISO vs W3C in this area.  
There are different authorities, but the same minions.  
XML is still SGML On The Web and while it may be fun or 
profitable to ignore that fact, it is still just ignorance. 
We came here to work together.  Some are asking about HyTime, 
so let's get into that.  It is worth doing.

It might be good to understand some history.  *ACK NO!  NOT THAT!* 

Why?  Politics and personalities are what they are, power, tactics 
all of that, but they get us no closer to understanding HyTime. It 
is true that I was around a bit after hyTime emerged, and worked 
with its inventors.  It is true that by the time we got to the 
Vancouver conference, and after some experience, I no longer had 
the foggiest idea what Eliot and Steven were saying in their
Those experiences made me a believer in HTML in the same way 
IADS made me a believer in fixed tags for certain constructs 
in hypertext systems:  easy to learn, solves the problems at hand, 
gets the income stream started to feed the staff.  IOW, I may not 
be the brightest bulb, but I am qualified in the application of 
hypertext systems and if Mikey can't understand it, something 
is amiss.  A standard the user cannot apply is not a useful standard 
(see David, we can all be taut..).

HyTime is brilliant, but brilliance blinds as well as illuminates.  
Sometimes the best position for a light is behind, above and slightly 
to the left.  So, a statement for finding the position:  standards 
derail, in my experience, when the problem to be solved by them is 
not (adequately understood | clearly stated | closed).  I am asking 
Dr. Newcomb, the only one besides Dr. Goldfarb on this list who 
was there at the beginning to verify or refute the following, and 
fill in the rationale.  I would be delighted if Dr Goldfarb would 

1.  True or False:  hyTime started (little H deliberate as a music 
standard.  The problem(s) to be solved were synchronization and an 
application language for a musical notation.  What requirements of music 
made the hyTime designers move into a larger scope of standardization 
(Intergrated Open Hypermedia:  Bibliographic Model).

2.  True of False:  There originally WAS a hyTime DTD.  Why was 
it abandoned?

3.  When at its most widely studied, HyTime included an exhaustive 
set of linking and location models.  At this point, the synchronization 
facility was expressed using these.  Why did linking and location become 
the dominant feature of HyTime?

4.  True or False:  Groves are a concept borrowed from DSSSL, a 
style language, itself, originally that was altered to include 
Semantics.  What requirement in a linking and location standard 
resulted in a unification with the DSSSL groves concept?

If we can understand the decisions made during the decade long 
design of ISO 10744, we can better understand the concepts because 
we will understand the problems it tries to solve before we try 
to understand how it solves them.  It took ten years to make 
HyTime obscure.  The W3C has beaten that speed record with 
the XML specs.  The XML Schema is a mess.  Put it with all the 
others and Dr. Newcomb is justified in saying this is a 
disaster.  So, yes, time for some simplifications.  Perhaps 
understanding the way another standard tried to solve the 
same problems is a clarifying experience.

BTW:  Tao.  It means, "the way".  In that system, there are 
many ways; they lead to the same place.   Aware intelligence 
can decide to go there together.. or not.  It is more important to 
understand that than it is to understand HyTime because 
the effect of community is much stronger than the effect 
of monopoly or consortium.   Authority is choice, and 
whether as in the Tao, this is opposites, or as in Tao, 
extremes of the same continuum, intelligence still 
must choose for community.


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