yikes: The Power of Bable: Mark Pesce on XML and the

Nerrrd Boy (reagle@rpcp.mit.edu)
Fri, 20 Mar 1998 10:18:01 -0500

The Power of Bable: Mark Pesce on XML and the Balkanization of the Web


I can't tell if this stems from:

1. Aything that MS is interested in must be bad.

2. The author actually _prefers_ an HTML where we continue to cramm new
things (commerce, EDI, payment, and of course presentation) into an
already bloated set of tags (HTML 4.0 Transitional, not Strict).

3. The author doesn't understand XML, XSL, and XLL.

Also, I can't tell if his title is a play on the 1995 essay of David
Siegel who has long pushed for content to be seperated from

Selected highlights:


<excerpt>Microsoft is conforming to Web standards in a way that its
competitors have not, and therein lies the problem. The Web -- not just
the browser, but the Web itself -- is bifurcating, breaking up into
chaotic fiefs, and that brief shining moment of unity from 1994 to 1997
will soon be entirely lost. Trouble is, the powers that be -- groups like
W3C and IBM and most especially Microsoft -- want it that way, though
they're all well aware of where it must inevitably lead. But the rest of
us, the folks who use the Web as a resource, who create content for it
and more and more live our lives through it, haven't been asked if we
want this singular moment to end. This is theft, of our newest, greatest


People want to do their own things, the question is do you give them
interoperable extensible mechanisms -- extensions which are machine
understandable and can be picked up on the fly -- or make them:

o fight over new headers, response codes, (HTTP) and HTML tags or

o go their own way and do a completely different or proprietary format.

Seems like a no brainer to me.


<excerpt>Sounds great, doesn't it? But there's an enormous downside: a
Web increasingly laden with gobbledygook. Just because a browser can read
in XML -- and soon, they all will -- there's no guarantee the browser
will understand it. You can hear perfectly pronounced Japanese or
Italian, but unless you're fluent, it's all Greek. It's this issue of
fluency, and fluency in a language that's continuously expanding its own
vocabulary, that represents the single greatest threat to the Web's
continued existence as a single, comprehensible entity.


Where is the motivating example! Mr. Pesce speaks of the strength, does a
play on words "its all Greek" and uses that as his reason!?


<excerpt>but rather because your browser simply doesn't know how to
translate the forty or fifty new and unintelligible XML tags it's
encountered into anything it can render visibly.


It is called XSL! Style sheets.


<excerpt>But what about the IBM extensions, or Intel's, or Procter &
Gamble's or General Motors', or those shared by X-Files fanatics? Make no
mistake, this isn't war; it's disintegration.


No its diversity and multiplicty without barriers to entry.