Re: Structure vs Substance?

Subject: Re: Structure vs Substance?
From: Dan Emory <danemory -at- primenet -dot- com>
To: intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2000 10:37:54 -0700

At 10:31 PM 6/10/00 -0700, Andrew Plato wrote:

You're using my words to launch another assault on Microsoft, Dan. And you're
missing the point.
Listen to yourself. You hammer people to give up Word an accept FrameMaker.
1. The subject is not Microsoft, it's structure and content. Microsoft is mentioned
only peripherally when I cited some examples of what happens when standards
are cast aside.

2. FrameMaker is mentioned nowhere in my post.
My original arguments were never directed at standards such as XML, SGML, etc.
But if you attack the structures defined by DTDs, you're attacking the
standards themselves.
Grammar is useful only when it can communicate, not the other way around. If
your audience preferred that document be written in the past tense, then you
better write in past tense, despite the fact that most grammar books discourage
such writing.
The rules of grammar have no bias against the past tense.
I'm sorry, Dan, the universe and the western, capitalist society is not wired
that way.

One of the most poignant concepts that defines the New Economy is that quality
is not synonymous with success. Just because something is good does not mean
it will be successful.
This is just a variation on Gresham's law that bad money drives out good money.
Hardly a new concept. Besides, what's your point? That it's better to produce
mediocre crap because your "New Economy" values quality less than the
Old Economy?
A) "Corruption of standards" depends on your point of view. It is just as easy
to argue that the standard was lacking, and Microsoft improved it. You just
don't like the outcome. Technically, JavaScript is a corruption of HTML.

B) I think your emotional reaction to Microsoft renders you incapable of
rending a rational evaluation of these products.
The Web Standards Project (WaSP) is an international grassroots coalition of
Web Developers and users fighting for standards (specifically W3C) on the
Web by calling attention to browser incompatibilities that "fragment the
medium, prevent many people from using the Web, and add 25% to the cost
of developing all sites. They test each new release of browsers for their
conformance to W3C standards. They have harshly criticized most browsers,
including Netscape, but their disgust at the new IE5.5 prompted them to
issue a press release on 10 April. Here are some excerpts:

"Microsoft's reversal will make it nearly impossible to create documents
that adhere to Web standards. At the same time, proprietary
technology that Microsoft is providing may lure some developers deeper into
functionality that is supported on only one browser and one
operating system--Microsoft's."

"By casting aside standards, Microsoft is making it more difficult, if not
impossible, to create Web pages that would be accessible on a variety of
devices and platforms."

"Coming on the heels of Netscape's preview release, it's hard not to
view this as exactly the kind of 'predatory' behavior the U.S. Justice
Department laid at Microsoft's door. If Microsoft, as the dominant player,
undercuts Web standards on its prevailing Windows platform, developers
will be helplessly spun in Microsoft's direction, killing the dream of a Web
that is accessible to everyone."

You can read the full text of this document at:

You're out of your mind to think the industry will standardize to any one tool
or technology. Correct me if I am wrong but don't you hate Microsoft, Dan,
because they have monoploy. Didn't you just say we need a monopoly standard.
You're faulty logic is begin to show here.
Your argument is absurd. An international standard supported by ISO is
not a monopoly, it is the result of a painfully tedious process of building
consensus among all the players. What drives the participants to
consensus is the alternative to a standard, which is chaos. Is the
likely result that some innovations will be deprived of the chance for
success? Of course, but that's a small price to pay for bringing order
out of chaos.
Dan, you are very turned around about how the New Economy works. I don't
really have the time or the skill to give everybody a lesson on free economics,
communication, and the Internet all have some common threads.

What I can say is that the new world is not about limitations, rules, and
regulation. Frictionless economies need freedom and flexibility. Imposed
structure is inherently inflexible.

Inside the smallness of one document, one group of people, or one mind the
beauty of rigid, universal structure seems logical and can provide some short
term benefits. But it is ultimately counterproductive. In the larger sense, the
individual must have the power and flexibility to evolve and adopt new
structures and new methods, to suit the needs of new designs, technologies, and
Hogwash. Those who throw around meaningless phrases like New Economy, and
invoke as the authority for the phrase's meaning some unrecognized authority
who may or may not be a quack, are playing games. Particularly when they rebut
another person's argument by saying "Oh you poor soul, your problem is that you
don't understand how the New Whatever works."

When you say "imposed structure is inflexible" do you think you're saying anything
profound? The question is: Can a structure be made sufficiently flexible to allow
most cases to be accommodated within the allowable structure? And I contend
that a well-designed DTD, developed after a thorough analysis of content and
requirements, will be flexible enough. Will it last forever? Of course not.
Will it offer a viable migration path to something better? You bet.

Unstructured documents, no matter how well done they are, do not offer such
a migration path. They have a very short half-life before becoming "legacy
documents." When better ways of doing things are considered, there's a
growing realization that those legacy documents are a major impediment
to implementing new solutions, and the magnitude of the problem inevitably
grows as time passes. The unavoidable cost of converting and upgrading
legacy documents to new systems is often large enough to deter or delay
the changeover, or to force enterprises to settle for half-baked
| Nullius in Verba |
Dan Emory, Dan Emory & Associates
FrameMaker/FrameMaker+SGML Document Design & Database Publishing
Voice/Fax: 949-722-8971 E-Mail: danemory -at- primenet -dot- com
10044 Adams Ave. #208, Huntington Beach, CA 92646
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Re: Structure vs Substance?: From: Andrew Plato

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