Ivan’s private site

March 3, 2007

On “Where is XML Going?”

Filed under: Semantic Web,Work Related — Ivan Herman @ 9:30

A few days ago Kurt Cagle posted a blog entitled “Where is XML Going”. He lists a number technologies and trends of interest in the XML development community. There is nothing in his post I would disagree with (well… I am always a bit cautious when RDF is presented as part of XML; this is not really true and this strong association has done a lot of harm to the image of RDF in the past. Oh well…). He refers to XSLT2, XQuery, XHTML (note the ‘X’!), XForms, SVG, etc., even RDFa (!) as technologies to watch for.

What caught my attention was not really the content of the blog itself. Instead, it made me realize again how diverse the Web has become. Kurt clearly represents and refers to the XML development community; however, we all know that there are large Web communities out there that frown upon anything that begins with an ‘X’ and would prefer it never existed. And anything in between these two… Which is, in fact, all right: all major fields diversify over the years. Although there are some fundamental architectural principles that underpin the Web (and we can be grateful to the W3C TAG to remind us of those time and time again), different communities with different views, working in different worlds (corporate intranets, social networks, digital libraries, you-name-it) do and should coexist. Just none of the different communities should decide that they represent the Web, and that all others should be thrown out…

When working on the Semantic Web, mainly on messaging (eg, in groups like the SWEO IG), we should always remind ourselves of this. The Semantic Web has the potential to be applicable in very different areas and application domains, and we should build bridges to possibly all of the different communities, recognizing their differences, not concentrating on one only (whichever it is). It is not easy, the different fields begin to have different cultures and, consequently, the messaging should be different and adapted to those but, well, that is the way it is…

(It reminds me of my previous life, when I used to work in Computer Graphics. 25 years ago, when I began to work there, it was one discipline; today, it has split into diverse fields like realistic and non-realistic rendering, information and scientific visualization, animation, etc, etc. And yes, each of those communities had the tendency to claim they represented Computer Graphics, and that the others were aliens at best or bastardising the field at worst. And I do not think any of those communities were right. Nevertheless, some common principles still bind these together even if it is not always easy; associations like ACM SIGGRAPH or Eurographics have a major role to play in that.)

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