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  1. Apologies just stopping by randomly, but being also in library school I found your blog, and being also in a Metadata class and…well, et cetera.

    I am one of those random librarian freaks who works with XML by hand. Started with my own hobbies, because I was doing my own little webserver and one day started trying to use XML so I could generate my own feed. Also use it on my computer because it helps to keep certain things (like my menus) generated. Occasionally, well, I do break it. And break it good. And sometimes it’s a funny break. And sometimes it’s the kind of break that ends up with me staring into middle distance with a string of great profanities issuing forth.

    Anyhow, as I talk to my classmates and coworkers and so forth about XML, I sometimes try and find a way to explain. I often fail. I saw this blog post and thought I would try some allegory. Now I’m thinking I’ll avoid it. While a poet in a past life, the only poetry that should every apply to XML are bawdy limericks, and the only device is perhaps irony. Besides, you may now be an XML wizard (this post is a week or two old, so you may have had aha! moments a plenty). So if any point it sounds like I am being pompous, feel free to add my comment to some random spam filter or such.

    All I can think to say is that a) it’s a bit stringent, but is so because it’s designed to self check. The tags and the quotation marks and such are meant to be used precisely. Everything opened must be closed. Certain characters, like the ampersand, are some sort of special demon that haunts the third circle and require a special code that includes the ampersand, which seems to tickle the edges of irony as hinted above, but I suppose rules are made to be confused about.

    b) As for all the rest, it’s just Aristotelian categorization. This block of text is of a type. And that block of text is of another type. And those types are defined by whatever agreed upon rooms we put them in and all types have a room, yessiree and all those rooms have a purpose, yes indeed. The tag needs a beginning and an end, because if XML is anything, it is, like Aristotle, pedantic.

    You get something along the lines of…
    <livingThing popularName=”Wood Duck”>
    <kingdom>Animalia</kingdom>
    <phylum>Chordata</phylum>
    <class>Aves</class>
    <order>Anseriformes</order>
    <family>Anatidae</family>
    <genus>Aix</genus>
    <species>A. sponsa</species>
    </livingThing>

    And even that might be something you don’t quite want. I mean, “Aix” is, and presumably always is, a subset of “Anatidae”. Which is one of my problems with XML. It seems to work really well within types and subtypes, but when the types and subtypes are related in more complex manners, it seems confused.

    Also, lot of XML for Dublin Core looks more like <classification type=”genus”>Aix</classification> which feels weird to me, since why not just do a simple like “rights” or “creator” tag?

    c) And then there are stylesheets and blah blah and blah dtd blahs. But those are secondary to the idea that we have this great complicated series of less-thans and greater-thans just to go “This is that”.

    Which is something like an allegory. And apologies, but I don’t think it will help all that much. One day, I’ll go “OOHHHHHHH” and then know exactly how to explain it. And if you have long since figured this out, can explain it much nicer than me, apologies all around.

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