I think this message could be of some interest on this list too ...
Sorry for duplicate for those who are also on xtm-wg list ...
> Since we are in the "Big Picture" debate I'd like to add a little
> perspective to Jean's intervention.
> What computers' people call "interoperability" is called in other older
> fields of science : "unification".
> The first known unification happened in Physics when Newton proposed an
> unique frame for terrestrial and celestial movements.
> What is generally stressed about that is that he was the first one to have
> the idea that they could be unified, against all previous prevailing
> paradigms. What is less stressed but surely as important, and IMO even
> is that he forged a new mathematical tool - now called calculus - to do
> that. Without that formal mathematical new tool, the idea would have
> remained just a brilliant idea.
> This very tool turned out to be very powerful indeed, since it was used to
> unify afterwards in 19th century electromagnetism and thermodynamics. If
> know what is a differential, you can understand mechanics and
> electromagnetism and thermodynamics.
> Computer Science is very young compared with Physics. It has developed in
> great variety of ways, and mainly around specific technologies and ad hoc
> languages. It now calls for unification. Topic Maps are a good conceptual
> step towards that. So is XML, and RDF etc ... My hunch is that, like in
> Physics, unification will be gained through some federating mathematical
> tools, and first in line of these candidate tools is the Graph Theory.
> markup people around there don't care much for getting involved in graph
> theory, no more than some graph mathematicians care much about XML - but
> both of them should indeed care. One thing is sure : graph theory is the
> older one, and is here to stay. Not sure any present syntax will still be
> around in 2020. But graph models will still be there.
> A last thing : unification was never easy for anybody. People had to
> and learn these new tools. But they were damned worth it in the long run!
> Do you think Newton should have stopped war with Leibniz about calculus,
> saying "well, forget it, there will never be more than a few dozen people
> understanding that stuff anyway". That was about the number of people
> understanding what it was at the time. Now it's used dayly by maybe over a
> million scientists and technicians and engineers all over the world.
> And I think in terms of productivity, gathering energy around graph
> and graph processing, and graph representation, and graph query etc, will
> much more rewarding than building one new syntax every other six months,
> then struggling to interoperate the syntax, and getting to endless wars on
> the MySyntaxIsBetterThanYours battlefield ...
> Have a nice day
> <ondutyepistemologist> Bernard </ondutyepistemologist>
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