When
· Naughties
· · 2003
· · · September
· · · · 15 (2 entries)

Spaghetti Doesn’t Want to be Free · A bril­liant note from Rick Jel­liffe of Topolo­gi, on the sub­ject of W3C XML Schemas, from which I ex­cerp­t: Any suf­fi­cient­ly mono­lith­ic tech­nol­o­gy is in­dis­tin­guish­able from spaghet­ti. Once a large tech­nol­o­gy is made from suf­fi­cient­ly in­ter­twined part­s, there is no way to or­der an ex­po­si­tion of it such that strongly-connected ideas are al­ways close to­geth­er. Spaghet­ti doesn't want to be free. (At least, "no way" to or­der the ex­po­si­tion with HTML-style pages: maybe WXS needs some­thing more like Nelson's tran­sclu­sion, where you can pull in frag­ments (with­out los­ing their con­tex­t) and em­bed them in­to run­ning tex­t, with­out the main­te­nance penal­ty of du­pli­cat­ed sec­tion­s.) In­deed, I think that is a for­got­ten ra­tio­nale for XML over SGML: dumb­ing down an in­ter­twined tech­nol­o­gy so that it could have a spec straightforward-enough that peo­ple could con­ve­nient­ly read it.
 
Software Patents from the Inside · There has been much lamen­ta­tion and gnash­ing of teeth in re­cent times about the evils of soft­ware patents. There is wild con­tro­ver­sy about whether the whole idea is fa­tal­ly flawed—for ex­am­ple, Dave Win­er has ar­gued that soft­ware patents are bad eco­nomics and (in the U.S. con­tex­t) con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly un­sound. Fur­ther, there is a widely-held be­lief that the US PTO has been too un­crit­i­cal, and in­suf­fi­cient­ly at­tuned to pri­or art, in is­su­ing such patents. Here’s a con­fes­sion: I cur­rent­ly have two soft­ware patents in the US PTO pipeline, and did some work on them last week. Here­with some nar­ra­tive of what the pro­cess is like from the in­sid­e, with com­men­tary on the broad­er is­sues ...
 
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