#AtoZChallenge: April 27 – X is for XML

“Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a simple, very flexible text format derived from SGML (ISO 8879). Originally designed to meet the challenges of large-scale electronic publishing, XML is also playing an increasingly important role in the exchange of a wide variety of data on the Web and elsewhere.”

TBL Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World-Wide Web in 1989, wrote twelve years ago in his book “Weaving the Web”, that “XML makes it easy for everyone to create their own tags or entire mark-up languages. We might therefore see an end to the idyllic situation that has prevailed so far on the Web – the predominance of HTML, which helped all of us to share documents easily. Can it be that, a decade into the Web’s existence, XML will give us a freedom that forcibly leads us back toward myriad incompatible languages?”

Those thoughts and anticipation reminded me of what another scientist and philosopher, Thomas S. Kuhn, wrote nearly 50 years ago, in “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”:

“The man who is striving to solve a problem defined by existing knowledge and technique is not, however, just looking around. He knows what he wants to achieve, and he designs his instruments and directs his thoughts accordingly. Unanticipated novelty, the new discovery, can emerge only to the extent that  his anticipations  about nature and his instruments prove wrong. Often the importance of the resulting discovery will itself be proportional to the the extent and stubbornness of the anomaly that foreshadowed it. Obviously, then, there must be a conflict between the paradigm that discloses anomaly and the one that later renders the anomaly law-like.”

Could it be then, pace TBL, that the web of the future, may turn out to be to the present “www”, what today’s e-book is to the printing press of the age of Gutenberg?

One thought on “#AtoZChallenge: April 27 – X is for XML

  1. Pingback: #AtoZChallenge: May 9 – Reflections | Of Glass & Paper

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