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Re: Formatting Objects considered harmful

Subject: Re: Formatting Objects considered harmful
From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 13:48:29 -0400

At 05:40 PM 4/22/99 +0100, Guy_Murphy@xxxxxxxxxx wrote:
>What the end user is getting is a view of the data. They get that either
>for free, or by paying for it.
>If they hit "view source" what they are now after is the semantic, which
>again they get either free or by paying for it. If the intent is to give
>them this for free, then give them semanticaly meaningful formating, maybe
>XML+CSS. In such a case you might concentrate well on exactly what semantic
>you are giving them here as opposed to the semantic used within the
>application domain.
>If the semantics used are not free, then using FOs gives a company a safe
>wall here, a semantic firewall if you like.

Many thanks to Guy for making this business case explicit, demonstrating
quite clearly how tempting the use of FO's may be for businesses.  If any
of the readers of this list are out to become rich on the Web, we may
finally have a non-advertising business model for you.

If, on the other hand, you're of the "information wants to be free" school,
or some related category, the funeral for the excitement that was the Web
will be held at some point shortly after XSL is finalized and FO-based
software is widely available.

So much for semantically-enriched search engines...

>I would say that the Net *is* balkanized at the moment, in that it isn't
>getting the high quality structured data. I would like to see that >changed.

I'd agree that it is balkanized, but I have to agree with Hakon that
delivering formatting objects rather than HTML is a significant step downward.

I guess the next question for the W3C is whether this fits with Tim
Berners-Lee's vision of the Web.  It doesn't sound to me like it does,
based on the speeches and writings I've seen, but who knows.  And if the
W3C doesn't provide it, I'm sure someone else will.

Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer
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