[xml-h] picking up the thread

Simon St.Laurent simonstl@simonstl.com
Sat Jan 18 18:49:46 GMT 2003

davep@dpawson.co.uk (Dave Pawson) writes:
>>I'd like to be able to create links from content I don't directly
>OK. That's a customer requirement.
>Now just what do you want your end customer to get/do/receive when
>he/she comes across that link? Why should you make my browser do
>something different when it hits one of these pages? Do you have an
>agreement with the owner of the page which holds that link?
>   Why isn't that defacing this web page?

All of those are potential problems, yes, and they're things that XLink
never really addressed.  Elliotte Rusty Harold hosted an excellent (if
poorly attended) panel at Software Development a few years ago where we
talked about these issues.  No real conclusions, except that these are
interesting problems.

>Lets assume its a page on my website. You ask me, I agree.
>So some third party reads my webpage......
>   Do they need an agreement with you that they will 'see' this links?
>  (I'm presuming you haven't modified my pages directly).
>  This is getting complex Simon.
>Why do you see added value in this n party agreement to modify what the 
>reader see's?

I'm not concerned about the parties, to be honest.  I suspect my views
on intellectual property would likely go over poorly with people who
insist on absolute control over their pages, but the kind of project I
have in mind is a lot simpler.

My background is history, and I've never been comfortable with the
historian's control over source citation.  I'm slowly collecting
materials and building a framework for a hypertext exploring the
downtown of the small city where I grew up from about 1820-1920.  The
materials will all have their own structural markup, but I want to be
able to present those materials - and let other people present those
materials - from different perspectives by making different connections.
Putting all the linking markup into the documents is a huge nuisance in
that case to say the least.  

(In fact, putting linking markup into documents generally creates a huge
mess as the link density increases, even without control issues.)

For a higher-level perspective on this, see _Why History for
Hypertext?_, a piece I wrote back in 1992 while I was playing with

>>I'd like to be able to create links that have scope over more than a
>>single page.
>I don't understand that in terms of what a customer is going to get out 
>of such a facility?

It depends largely on who the customer is.  You seem to focus pretty
exclusively on the author and the reader.  I worry about the customers
who have to maintain these documents.  Managing the links for a site can
be a lot easier if you can control those links in a single space with a
larger scope instead of having to manipulate multipe documents

>Hypothesising. Until we get agreement that this and that and the other
>features are wanted (saleable), I don't see that as necessary other
>than as watching briefs?

Right now, nearly all hypertext beyond HTML is unsaleable hypothesizing.
My concerns about maintenance come directly from my experiences in HTML,
not from random guesses about what hypertext might or might not be good

> Only if it can't be programmed, maintained should we come back to the 
>customer and say sorry, we can't give you what you wanted.
>Sound reasonable?

No.  I'm happy to have programmers considered only for the sake of
establishing limits to what a given technology should do, but
maintainers need features, not just limits.

Simon St.Laurent
Ring around the content, a pocket full of brackets
Errors, errors, all fall down!
http://simonstl.com -- http://monasticxml.org

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