(cc: DML mailing list)
In response to a critique of the DML Initiative posted to the Devel-L
mailing list, one of my colleagues (Lucie Lamoureux) sent this response to
that same list. As the critique was sent to Afrik-IT as well, I am
forwarding to you Lucie's response.
>In response to Christopher Byrne's message re. the DML Initiative, I will
>try to clear up some of the misunderstandings:
>The message which was posted on this list by Sam Lanfranco is an invitation
>for the development community to discuss the creation of a DML standard. It
>is not a "done deal", there is no "secret process", and it is not a
>Bellanet initiative. However, we believe this initiative is worthwhile and
>are thus providing support in order to move it forward. The mailing list
>discussion on DML is a collective effort. A growing number of organisations
>are represented on that list and we hope that this trend continues.
>It is difficult to compare XML with Lotus Notes. Lotus Notes is proprietary
>software which has very different objectives from XML, which is a markup
>language derived (as is HTML), from the Standard General Markup Language,
>SGML. XML is an international open standard, accessible to everyone, and
>designed to overcome the limitations of HTML. The two don't have to
>compete, XML can even be layered into Lotus Notes.
>The questions that were raised in the message (re. access issues, ease of
>use and willingness to collaborate) are indeed important ones, and the
>creation of a DML standard would not necessarily solve all these problems.
>But before deciding that "we don't need a mark-up language to define how we
>develop information standards", shouldn't we look into it? This is what the
>DML Initiative is all about and everyone in the development community is
>welcomed to participate and voice their opinions.
I would also like to take this opportunity to respond to one point in
particular, as I feel it would help to illuminate the kind of roles XML
might play in our efforts to share development information with each other.
Chris (original author of the critique) said:
>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?;
The DML Initiative does not try to convince all agencies that there is a
need for an all-encompassing universal meta-tag set (even though it would be
nice :-). The flexibility of the XML technology allows groups of agencies to
independently set their own meta tag standards for their own info sharing
needs. The fact that they use XML to implement their standards opens the
door for the rest of the world to access their information in an automated
fashion via the Internet.
The more commonality there is between each group's terminology, the more
opportunity there is for information to jump across traditional boundaries
of information flows.
A group of agriculturally inclined agencies develop XML standards on how to
share information around agriculture. Let's assume their efforts involve
-agriculturally oriented projects around the world
Also, a group of environmental organisations develop XML standards on how to
share information related to the environment. Let's assume their efforts
-global warming statistics
-ozone treaty compliance policies
-flora and fauna biodiversity
-environmentally oriented projects around the world
What XML might be able to do is allow the environmental people to
_automatically & intelligently_ extract the information on crop biodiversity
and incorporate this info in their flora and fauna biodiversity databases.
Or, if both groups had some common formats for project information, it might
allow a third party to collect the information on both agriculturally
oriented projects and environmentally oriented projects into some
super-large development projects database. I use the word 'might' in these
two cases because nobody has tried to create an XML framework within which
these opportunities can be seized. We are part of a group of IT
professionals from the development community that is trying to do just that.
In fact I'd like to take this opportunity to directly invite all of you to
initial discussions around how XML might be used in the future.
PS: The web address is: www.bellanet.org/xml
Program Officer, Bellanet International Secretariat
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