The social function of XML



Like Linux and Gnome, XML has a political agenda: freedom from vendor control.

  • (1996) We knew that HTML could not support data exchange in general
  • Without XML, HTML would have been replaced with a binary, proprietary format controlled by a single vendor
  • The alternative was SGML (international, open, text-based standard, ISO 8879-1986)
  • XML put SGML on the Web. Result:
    • Users can define their own data exchange standards
    • There are many inexpensive, robust tools
    • Data belongs to the people who create it rather than to the software vendors

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