Extreme 2007 Closing Thoughts – Sperberg-McQueen
“How you frame the distinction makes all the difference.”
By framing XML as not-SGML this has created a couple of responses….people who really love SGML seem to see the XML people as “ungrateful thieves” and those who don’t. If the technology had had ‘SGML’ in it all the people who looked at SGML and found it complicated would have ignored XML as too complicated as well. But the omission of the name allowed them to look at it with new eyes and see how the language could work in their favor….even though the changes between SGML and XML are of questionable significance.
“The week has been full of those dichotomies of technical merit/marketing…we come to Extreme to avoid those marketing things..at least that is what the marketing for the conference says.”
“cool stuff” vs “grown-up stuff”
Cool: overlapping structures, multi-layer linguistic annotation
Grown-up stuff: optimizing XSLT, validator performance, record a relational database for use after the end of relational dbases (like that will ever happen), legacy conversion of HTML using TagSoup. (Which Jon says he “did it because it was cool”.)
The strongest impression made on him was on Topic Maps and RDF appearing to him in these talks “as things I might want to try in the next six months to solve some real world problem”. That seems to me to be a big deal since it seemed that there was a significant divide here between the people who have ‘drunk the kool-aid’ on Topic Maps and those that see them as interesting but not the ‘savior of information’. I had several conversations with both sides of the divide and neither convinced me of the primacy of their opinion. But really do I care? Do I have to pick a side? No…because I can mostly agree with the Topic Map people and still not join their crusade. But I can see how exciting the use of Topic Maps would be to several projects I have in mind….so in that way I am in agreement with Michael Sperberg-McQueen. But evangelicals of all stripes tend to concern me…so we’ll have to see.
“Like mandrake roots, some of our systems avoid repotting and they can make a horrible noise when we try.”