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Re: [ontolog-forum] Sustainability

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 18 Sep 2010 12:31:30 -0400
Message-id: <4C94E962.7080503@xxxxxxxxxxx>
David,    (01)

There's a lot that can be learned, because people keep making
the same mistakes again and again -- but with minor variations.    (02)

JFS>> If IBM had done that, OS/2 and its follow-ons would have killed
>>  Windows 3.1 (and probably Bill Gates would not have broken his
>>  contract to co-develop OS/2 with IBM).    (03)

DE> Ahhhh... when Dinosaurs ruled...& small, warm blooded rodents were
> about to topple the rulers.  Or was it the rulers were going to
> commit hari-kari?    (04)

IBM (and other monopolists) usually destroy their own monopolies
by protective measures that stunt their natural growth.    (05)

I won't go through the many ways IBM strangled their natural growth
path, but every other business does the same.  Xerox PARC had an
outstanding computer design, which the copier executives didn't
understand.  But Steve Jobs did, and it became the Macintosh.    (06)

Bill Gates wanted to license the Mac interface to run on DOS,
but Steve refused.  So Bill had his friends design a cheaper
version called Windows -- and almost killed Apple.    (07)

Sony had an outstanding line of products in consumer electronics.
But they frittered away their dominant position by ignoring the
competition, starting with the Betamax.  Then they invented the
Walkman, but they lost the market to the iPod.    (08)

Steve keeps coming up with new innovations based on clever user
interfaces, but he has a tendency to strangle his own designs
by keeping them proprietary.    (09)

> What have we learned?  What's changed in the past 20 years?
> At least now we have something of a universal presentation mechanism,
> the HTML browser... at least at one level the data layer is no longer
> tied to the presentation hardware.    (010)

The need for a device-independent presentation system for both paper
and screens was recognized in the 1960s.  Charlie Goldfarb and his
buddies (the G-M-L trio) invented the General Markup Language in
1969, and it became the foundation for all of IBM's publications.
In those days, IBM was the second largest publisher in the world --
in both number of titles and number of pages -- all formatted by GML.
Only the US government was larger.    (011)

In 1983, I produced camera-ready copy for my first book with GML
-- and it was a much more flexible foundation than MS Word is
today.  Addison-Wesley insisted that I match the style, fonts,
headings, and layout of Chris Date's database book -- and GML
could do that.  I would challenge anybody to try doing that with
MS word today.    (012)

IBM Research developed Janus, which used two screens for showing
GML source and formatting in parallel.  It wasn't WYSIWYG, but
it would be trivial to adapt Janus to WYSIWYG.  But IBM killed it
and several other promising applications of GML.  So Goldfarb left
IBM after he pushed SGML through ISO.  Then Tim B-L adopted a
tiny subset of SGML, Mosaic added images (in the same way that
I used images with GML for my book), and the rest is history.    (013)

> I get very nervous when I see discussions of distributed (obviously
> heavily heterogeneous) Repositories.  If we haven't been able—or
> willing—to automate necessary central repository activities
> (including discovering & maintaining constantly evolving language),
> how will we transparently automate a highly distributed repository
> process?    (014)

I wouldn't worry.  Somebody will do that.  Google could do it,
but more likely it will be done by somebody who will put Google
out of business.    (015)

John    (016)

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