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Re: [ontolog-forum] Fwd: [New post] The Newest from SOA: The SOA Ontolog

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: John Bottoms <john@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 25 Dec 2010 00:04:18 -0500
Message-id: <4D157B52.7020100@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
A little perspective:    (01)

When electronic publishing started to develop we heard a few loud arguments.    (02)

1. "You have to be a trained editor and know meta-grammars to do 
electronic publishing."    (03)

2. "That (electronic publishing) is only for "published" (meaning 
structured) documents."    (04)

3. "All documents must be parsed (a collary of #2), no exceptions!"    (05)

4. "Hey! That's for paper, not for monitors!" (one of my favorites)    (06)

5. "You can't make a browser using electronic publishing markup".
    (this one spoken by several evangelists from a company named for a
    certain fruit at a conference. They nearly shouted me down from the
    podium.)    (07)

6. "Electronic publishing will never catch on for PC users, it's
    for the big text book companies and the military.    (08)

If you were there, you might recall that us "scientists" were deep into 
discussion of context-free grammars, regular expressions and LR parsers.
None of that mattered. It just didn't work that way.    (09)

A Little Vignette
I asked the late Bill Tunnicliffe to come to my office to see a web 
browser for unstructured documents. Bill had developed the tagging 
system now in use in markup-style publishing. He was the one who 
conceived of separating control and data for publishing applications and 
he co-developed GML, the predecessor of SGML.    (010)

He dutifully watched my demo of the browser. At the end of the demo his 
comment was, "Yeah, that's interesting, but I don't know why you would 
want to do it."    (011)

There is a newish book out on innovation (Where Good Ideas Come From, by 
Steven Johnson). Steven points out that there are changes that take 
place when successful new ideas are introduced. He says that there is 
oftem resistance from many observers. This includes those who are in 
positions of speaking authority. Observe Minsky's comments about neural 
nets. And there are often several new similar developments in parallel. 
Look at Gray and A. Bell's works on the telephone.    (012)

Earlier, Christianson, in his book, pointed out how change can 
cannibalize earlier systems. We certainly saw that in electronic publishing.    (013)

We should consider some of the observations of these writers. It seems 
that changes in technology have their own minds about what will happen 
and when.    (014)

Electronic publishing was successful because the market had legs, 
despite what the earlier nay-sayers thought, and despite the ongoing 
standards processes at the time. And further, the current products we 
use look very different than what many thought they should have.
And the users, they are different than what we expected (electronic 
publishing for porn anyone?)    (015)

I cringed the first time I saw markup used for a brochure. Soon, I was 
in with the grubbies doing CD-ROM's and training literature using 
markup, and that without a parser. I even argued in standards forums for 
"Conforming" and "Complying" applications, but it fell on deaf ears.    (016)

My admonition is that we should keep out eyes open and be receptive to 
what the markets want. We just might learn something along the way.    (017)

Happy Holidays to All!!    (018)

-John Bottoms
  FirstStar Systems
  Concord, MA USA    (019)

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