IBM XML Evangelist on Meaning
10:10, 22 Jan 2000 UTC | Simon St.Laurent

In a short piece, Meaning, Not Markup, Simon Phipps, IBM's Chief XML and Java Evangelist, takes a closer look at the quest for common vocabularies and finds that this dream, shared by many in the XML community, may have some drawbacks.

The piece, part of IBM's collection of XML white papers, points out that using the same words only takes users part of the way toward understanding each other. He suggests that convergence on single community vocabularies may come with costs as well as benefits, and that common understandings, supported by sometimes differing vocabularies, may be more important:

To connect from the heart of my e-business to the heart of yours would be impossibly expensive in shared systems without XML, but even with XML the system analysis needed to create the translation is a significant task. We should not assume that XML is a panacea, nor that the standardization of vocabularies will automatically bring interoperability. XML provides us with a medium to express our understanding of the meaning of data, but we will still have to first discern realities and differences of meanings when we exchange data.

Phipps sees XML as focusing much-needed attention on the problem of meaning within documents, but doesn't want that process to end at the conclusion of a community discussion after which responsibility is turned over to programmers.

Preserving the diversity of meanings that exist in different organizations may be difficult, and will require translations (which XML makes easier), but that Phipps sees that diversity as important to the well-being of XML and a critical part of its appeal as the Extensible Markup Language.

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Re: IBM XML Evangelist on Meaning (Oren Levine - 22:13, 27 Mar 2001)
Phipps addresses a critical barrier that prevents the true internationalization of XML data. I apolo ...
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