[xml-h] picking up the thread

Simon St.Laurent simonstl@simonstl.com
Sun Jan 19 17:11:33 GMT 2003

davep@dpawson.co.uk (Dave Pawson) writes:
>Then I can't see why end users should be interested. There's nothing
>there to make it a bonus? Why should we change what works already
>without any perceived benefit?

I think I need to get a better idea of who you're considering end users.

I don't think readers of hypertext will particularly care where their
links come from, and the most we can really hope for is that they'd at
least consider selecting links from a context-sensitive pop-up menu,
say, rather than remaining forever bound to blue underlined text or its

I don't think authors of hypertext are nearly as locked into the HTML
way of doing things (where all outbound links come from the document
owner) as you seem to suggest, in part because there are communities of
hypertext developers who work in other media with very different
approaches.  See, for example, the good folks at:

Has hypertext beyond HTML-style hypertext swept the world?  No.  Does
that mean we should stop talking about possibilities beyond HTML-style
hypertext?  I really hope not.

>OK, we differ. I buy a car. I'm the customer. Person A (Ford) is my
>supplier / provider, meeting my need. Person B (the garage down the
>road) is making money interfacing between the two. The garage is a
>secondary consideration when Mr Ford designs his cars for me. Nothing
>to repair if I don't buy the car?

Perhaps, though I stopped buying IBM desktops when I realized what an
incredible nuisance they were to open up and repair.  Straight-headed
screws and single-use plastic screws were not my friend.  Easy
maintenance demanded features like a smarter layout and phillips-head
screws.  I have many of the same issues with cars, and Saturn's decision
to install motors with a priority on easier owner access to
owner-maintainable parts made a huge difference in my purchasing
decision.  (My wife's Miata - augh!)

>With HTML as yesterdays product, what's the new whizz bang version
>that's going to sell like hot cakes tomorrow. Marketing is all about
>random guesses about what a product might or might not be good for.
>The ones that get it right have the saleable product.

I'm not looking for a "new whizz bang version" at this point.  I'm
looking for tolerable ways to do hypertext with XML.  I think SkunkLink
may be a crucial part of the answer, as Micah's taken what we've learned
from HTML and generalized it minimally.  That's not a recipe for "hot
cakes", but it does let us get real work done.

My own VELLUM work is not intended for that large an audience, and has a
very different choice of problems to which it applies the classic
"80/20" questions.  Will it sweep the world?  I don't think enough
people are interested in the questions it addresses.  Is it still
useful?  I think so.

>Maintenance issues are  generally a constraint, not a selling feature
>in my experience.

>From my perspective, no one thought about maintenance in HTML, and it's
been very difficult to build maintenance on top of HTML as a result.
Selling kludges is definitely difficult.
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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