Superb Feed piece on the Balkanization of XML

Dan Kohn (
Thu, 19 Mar 1998 10:32:26 -0800

Of course, there's nothing surprising about great writing by Mark Pesce,
but I think he does a wonderful job of looking below the utopia XML to
begin worrying about standardizing tags. And, how can you write an
article on the web without making Microsoft out as the enemy?

If you have the time to read the whole article, do it on the web rather
than reading his concluding paragraphs here (which I quote because I
love Orwellian, Greek, and biblical allusions in technical writing).

- dan

Which brings us back to Chrome. Microsoft is rapidly redefining the
Windows desktop as a swirling sea of Microsoft-defined XML, extensions
which will be visible only on their browser and OS, created only by
their tool suites. Given their "natural monopoly" on the desktop,
perhaps the wisest option is simply to roll over and let them have their
way, let Microsoft define the future of the language which has become
the lingua franca for electronic communication. Microsoft can assume the
role of the Inner Party, doling out the XML Newspeak to a legion of
content creators tooling away in the Ministry of Truth, altering the
electronic corpus to reflect a particular reality.

Or perhaps we should rise up, throw off our chains, and demand coherence
above everything else; we hang together, and speak the same tongue --
our tongue, or at least resign ourselves to spaces as individual as the
space of our own thought. But that would mean forsaking the dream of
Doug Englebart and Ted Nelson and Tim Berners-Lee, a vision of a
neo-Alexandrian library rising to encompass all human experience; not
just knowledge or books, but the sights and sounds and sensuality of
human being. We are nearly there; the Web encompasses almost a billion
"documents", the minutia and flotsam and historical artifacts which
represent who and what we have been, and perhaps shape what we are

All of this leads me to wonder if we haven't over-reached ourselves:
perhaps our newest tower built toward Heaven has invoked another
judgment, another confusion of tongues, as if some antediluvian God were
afraid of our collective imagination.