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Thread: HTML: A technological detour?

  1. #1
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    HTML: A technological detour?

    A few friends of mine and I are having an argument, and I thought I'd propose it to the Forum.

    A technological detour is when technology goes down a certain path, and suddenly makes a drastic switch to another path that has nothing to do with the old one.

    An example would be vacuum tubes. They existed for a long time, until the advent of transistors, which had absolutely nothing to do with vacuum tubes.

    Another would be cassette tapes, which were supplanted by CDs, which were nothing like cassettes.


    The argument we're having is this: That HTML was nothing more than a technological detour, and that XML (including XHTML) has nothing to do with the old HTML.

    Do you guys think this is true?

  2. #2
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    I strongly disagree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Initial Man
    The argument we're having is this: That HTML was nothing more than a technological detour, and that XML (including XHTML) has nothing to do with the old HTML.

    Do you guys think this is true?
    Yes.

    HTML and XML are both born of SGML, and they are both markup languages, but that's where it stops. They are very different and NOT compatible. For a fine example of how incompatible they are, have a look at a testbed of mine: http://www.dootdootdoodydoodydootdoodoooo.com/ in IE and a web browser. I've disabled parts of the content negotiation for a little while so you can see. In IE, you'll get perfectly valid XHTML served as text/html, yet still you'll get nothing but a blue screen. Yet if you veiw the same thing in a web browser you'll get XHTML served as application/xml+xhtml and the page (if you can call it that) will be there for all to see.

    Consider them the same at your own cost.

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    I'd stick with HTML, I'm sure Charles is around somewhere and suports me retroactively. You cannot win against Charles in discussions concerning standards so we might as well just settle the argument in favor of Charles.
    No offense Charles, it's just I recall you supporting this idea in the past.

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    moved to general, due to presence of a logical topic.
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    I wouldn't say that transistors were any kind of radical shift from vacuum tubes. They're remarkably similar in the way that they work. You have three prongs, the voltage across the one regulates the voltage moving between the other two. Sure, the chemistry and physics inside is different but they're basically the same thing. One's bigger and more expensive than the other, but then tubes actually do a better job of amplifying a signal.

    Lobotomies, now there's a technological detour.

    And be careful trying to compare HTML to XML. HTML is to SGML what XHTML is to XML. From that it follows that:

    HTML x XML = XHTML x SGML

    The implications of that are Earth shattering, but I digress. SGML is the grammar and HTML provides the vocabulary. HTML isn't some subsequent technology to SGML it is an application of it. In the same way, XML is the grammar and XHTML provides the vocabulary. Now, XML is clearly and admittedly based upon SGML so we can't say that SGML is a detour. XML is another stage of development. An we observe that HTML and XHTML each provide exactly the same grammar. The one is derived from the other. It serves a different purpose, but it is derived from it nonetheless.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Philbin
    Consider them the same at your own cost.
    So what you're saying here is that HTML and XHTML are completely unrelated?

    BTW, part of this technological detour argument was that HTML was, in retrospect, a mistake.
    Last edited by Mr Initial Man; 11-17-2005 at 07:17 PM.

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    For what it's worth, tubes are making a strong comeback in the audiophile world. Everything else being equal, they tend to be more linear than transistors, plus when either is driven to distortion, the harmonics that tubes tend to distort in are less irritating than those that transistors distort in.

    Yes, I own a tubed amp for my music system. In fact, I'm such an anachronism that I often listen to vinyl records throuh it.

    No, I have no opinion on the subject of this thread. Sorry for the diversion.

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    Firstly, I think the original posted definition of a technological detour is wrong. A detour (as it is more commonly referred to when traveling) is when you have to take a different path to get to the same place. So the two paths do have at least one thing in common: the destination.

    Given that, transistors might be considered a detour of vacuum tubes. As Charles' said, it achieves the same result with different technology. (Though, a detour still doesn't seem to be the proper analogy for the transistor. More like a major highway that takes you to the same place as the vacuum tube, which would be a curvy backroad. But I guess bad analogies happen when we suddenly try to invent a new term.)

    HTML and XHTML. I would call this a fork rather than a detour. The XHTML "road" can take you much further, but there are obstacles in getting many cars onto this path.
    for(split(//,'))*))91:+9.*4:1A1+9,1))2*:..)))2*:31.-1)4131)1))2*:3)"'))
    {for(ord){$i+=$_&7;grep(vec($s,$i++,1)=1,1..($_>>3)-4);}}print"$s\n";

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    BTW, part of this technological detour argument was that HTML was, in retrospect, a mistake.
    Yes and that's just silly. A "mistake" can only be made when a choice is involved and HTML existed as the sole markup language for the web for several years before XML came on the scene. That's like saying the English settlers made a mistake in retrospect of using ships to travel to America because jet airliners are so much quicker.
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  11. #11
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    Actually, Jeff, it's the other way around: Vacuum tubes were a detour of transistors.

    Basically, what the question my friends and I are snarling and snapping over is this: Are HTML and XHTML at all related, beyond being markup languages, or are they utterly alien to each other?

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    Vacuum tubes still do a great job of sound amplification, using well-proven technology. Transitors are much more useful and practical than tubes for building complex circuits such as those used in computers. I see no reason to stop using one or the other, or claim that either is better, but simply select the best tool for the specific need.

    HTML does a fine job of presenting documents on the web, using well-proven technology. XML/XHTML is more useful for creating more complex data interchange applications. I see no reason to stop using one or the other, or claim that either is better, but simply select the best tool for the specific need.
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  13. #13
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    Very well said, NogDog.


    I would say that they are related since XHTML is HTML rewritten as an application of XML.
    Last edited by Kravvitz; 11-18-2005 at 01:00 AM.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by NogDog
    Vacuum tubes still do a great job of sound amplification, using well-proven technology. Transitors are much more useful and practical than tubes for building complex circuits such as those used in computers. I see no reason to stop using one or the other, or claim that either is better, but simply select the best tool for the specific need.

    HTML does a fine job of presenting documents on the web, using well-proven technology. XML/XHTML is more useful for creating more complex data interchange applications. I see no reason to stop using one or the other, or claim that either is better, but simply select the best tool for the specific need.
    Agreed. I see mistaking HTML for being the same as XHTML as like mistaking a cat for being the same as a dog. They have a lot in common: similair physical arrangement, fur, four legs, good for company and so on, but they aren't even the same species.

  15. #15
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    I think using html and xhtml as examples of technology is where the first problem lies. As Charles said, vacuum tubes and transistors could be seen as very similar in functional terms but are very different in the technological means by which they achieve that fucntion, hence a technological detour makes sense as a concept - two totally different technological routes to the same functionality, one becomes a dead end and the other becomes the basis for future advance.

    When you are operating in a virtual world, which is the appropriate analogy for the physics/chemistry side of the technological world?

    Is it a case that function is king in computing and therefore functional equivalence is all that matters?

    Or are rules & syntax the equivalent of physical/chemical mechanism? Or delivery method? Or...?

    Alternatively again is it really about 'parentage' of concepts, i.e. transistors did not utilise the same scientific breakthroughs as vacuum tubes (at least the more recent ones, naturally if you go back far enough...) , so they are not closely related in technological terms? In that case I would say xhtml has xml as it mother and html as it father, so it is not really a detour?

    As far as the 'view it in a browser and you can't see it' argument goes, I can't agree with that - very similar programming languages can't be compiled by each other's compilers, applications can't always open data files form previous/future versions, that is not sufficient to say the two are unconnected/unrelated?

    Likewise 'same' or 'similar' are relative (and often also subjective) terms - no two dogs are the same, but two dogs of the same breed are often more similar than two dogs of different breeds, which depending on your criteria might be more similar than a given cat and dog, or then again may not...?

    Last point, isn't history the only judge of a technological detour, in which case the question should be "will html prove to be a technological detour" - it isn't at the moment as there is no definitive shift from one to the other.

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