March 17, 2006

Genesis III

I'm arguing with Danny Ayers again.

My latest take on tools vs. formats.


Oh well, I'm getting repetitive, but still, as everyone's still OPML-bashing. :-)

Getting data out of OPML and RSS 2.0 is SynWeb rather than SemWeb, because the decision as to what the information "means" is decided by the scrapers (following usage conventions) rather than by explicit URIs added by the data's creators.

Tools trump formats and processes. The funny thing is not simply that this is *true*, but that the entire history of computer science can be interpretted as one long war between pragmatic tool builders and idealistic format / process builders. And the tools win every time. And the idealists *still* haven't noticed.

A format without a tool is like a technology without a business model. It has no interface to the wider, user, consumer community. It is not ecologically "fit". It can't feed itself on user attention or money but must be kept on life-support by optimists.

The SemWeb people are great programmers. They spend all their time writing code. How come they never actually produce any "tools"? Because all the tools they produce are explained like this : "this is a great tool because it uses a better format / process". That's not a "tool" or an "application". Because tools / applications have an inner-world of their technology, and an outer-world of their usage. And they have a story that mediates between the two. That explains *why* this technology is necessary for that usage.

SebWeb programs have an inner-technology *and* an outer usage. But they have no story that joins the two together. A story that says "this technology is *also* for that usage, but better (by some internal criteria)" isn't the same thing. This is why they must be parasitic on the story provided by real tools like the OPML Editor and various RSS generators, consumers.
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