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AFRIK-IT  November 1998

AFRIK-IT November 1998

Subject:

Re: DML:XML for international Development

From:

Christopher Byrne <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Tue, 10 Nov 1998 00:04:35 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (141 lines)

After reading the truncated report of the Bellanet Consultant on their
web site (would you please provide the full report?), I will assert (as
I have earlier only to be blasted by a Bellanet person that failed to
disclose this initiative in his flame) that Lotus Notes/Domino is a
superior EXISTING technology for what is being tried here (it provides
security, remote access, replication, formula driven access and views if
desired, secure web access, and it is tried and true, while there are
concerns about untested standards) and that this process that Bellanet
is undertaking should be referred to as setting a "metadata" standard
(which in and of itself is a worthy undertaking independent of
technology (see below). I am surprised that Bellanet worked in what
appears to be a 'secret' process with to try to develop the "critical
mass" called for in the consultant's report if they truly want this to
be an open process.

The announcement below also makes it seem like this is a done deal and
that Bellanet has been appointed by some higher authority to take the
lead on this ("...DML WILL (emphasis added) be a data exchange standard
for information that is specific to international development, making").
I do not know if this is really 'full disclosure' on the part of
Bellanet.

The report talks about getting buy-in from Donors such as the World Bank
and CIDA.  Do we really expect these organizations to walk away from
their monetary and skills investment in Notes for an unproven
technology?  The consultant also stated that "However few [of the
organizations contacted] indicated that they were interested in being
actively involved, at least at this time".  I find this interesting in
that 7 of the 28 organizations contacted by the consultant are donors to
Bellanet.  It is also interesting to note that none of the larger
non-Canadian NGOs (or any NGOs for that matter) or many other Bilateral
Agencies were contacted (i.e. AED, MSH, EDC, PATH, CARE, AusAID, DFID,
USAID, JICA, World Vision, etc...)

The report also says that "the field is wide open for Bellanet to take
the initiative and to spearhead a standards development activity."

I am sorry, but there are other core issues in the provision of
development information that are more important than DML or any other
standard:

1.  How do we get all development organizations, particularly from the
South, on the web and train their staff in information management
techniques and tools;

2.  How do we convince all agencies that there is core/common
metadata/data that needs to be provided on all development web sites (in
a consistent manner), and that there IS A NEED for this?;

3.  How do we make the process as easy as possible and built to the
lowest common denominator (i.e. accomodate people and organizations not
using the latest and greatest browser)?

4.  How committed are organizations to truly sharing information?  I
won't even get into USAID's penchant for hiding information because the
fear what Jesse Helms might say (yes, that is what one of their IT folks
told me the reason was for not putting a lot of information on their web
site).

We don't need a mark-up language define how we develop information
standards. I seriously ask Bellanet to think long and hard before going
down this road and to consider all options rather than "spearhead a
standards development activity."  And I am also curious as to how
independent the report is given the nature of Bibliomatics work and
their client list.  Will they be precluded from receiving funding for
implementation work on this project given their participation in the
development of it? (Some issues just bring out my procurement hat:-)).

Disclaimer:  These are personal opinions and not those of my
organization.

Christopher Byrne
[log in to unmask]

Sam Lanfranco wrote:
>
>   ********************************************************
>   DML: XML for international development
>
>   XML is a new markup standard for networked documents, a
> set of custom tags   similar to those used in HTML. While
> implementation of the new "meta-language" is in full swing
> by software   developers, there is currently a window of
> opportunity for various professional groups (medical
> practicioners, chemists,   engineers, etc.) to use XML to
> define their own sector-specific markup languages. The DML
> Initiative was formed to discuss the possibility of a
> Development Markup Language, or DML, for the international
> development community.
>
>   As it stands, DML will be a data exchange standard for
> information that is specific to international development,
> making
>   it much easier to to share information with regional
> offices, partner agencies and with the public. It will also
> be easier to
>   find and manage information about who is doing what, and
> where.
>
>   This is a global standards-setting activity which will
> have radical implications for development planning over the
> next
>   10-20 years. We urge all sectors of the development
> community to participate. Whether you belong to a
> multilateral,
>   private sector, charitable, academic, or non-governmental
> organization, add your voice to this collaborative effort.To
>
>   find out more about the DML Initiative, visit the website
> hosted by Bellanet, at [http://www.bellanet.org/xml]. To
> join
>   the discussion, subscribe to the DML e-mail list by
> sending an e-mail message to Lucie Lamoureux
>   [[log in to unmask]], and ask to be added to the
> list.
>
>   ____________________________________________
>   Bellanet: an international initiative
>   to support collaboration in the development community
>
>   ________________________________________________
>   Lucie Lamoureux - Outreach Program Officer
>   Bellanet International Secretariat, c/o IDRC
>   250 Albert St., PO Box 8500, Ottawa, ON, K1G 3H9, Canada
>   tel: (613) 236-6163 # 2424 fax: (613) 238-7230
>   email: [log in to unmask]   www:
> http://www.bellanet.org
>   _______________________________________________
>
>   ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>   Sam Lanfranco <[log in to unmask]>
>
>   Sam Lanfranco
>     <[log in to unmask]>
>     Netscape Conference Address
>     Netscape Conference DLS Server
>   Additional Information:
>   Last Name
>   First NameSam Lanfranco

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