SGML2

Open Letter to Charles F. Goldfarb, Tim Berners-Lee, and to the Thinking of the world

Dear Charles, Dear Tim, dear ISO, dear ITU, dear Thinking of the world,

my name is Lothar Seidel. I am a 66 year old student of Aristotle, Karl Marx, Charles Goldfarb, and Tim Berners-Lee. I live in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

For about ten years I have been working on a project called "SGML2". The first publicable results can be found in ame-nde.de under "Goldfarb". Its aim is the re-occupation of the Word by the Thinking in the Web to prevent them to become speechless in the Web.

SGML2 gives an answer to the question "What could have happened if Charles Goldfarb, the inventor of the markup languages, and Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, would have met personally some decades ago?" They would have woven the web of knowledge together. Charles would have been responsible for the inner affairs, Tim for the outer affairs. And four http’s would have hold together the inner and the outer affairs.

They would have taken their document type definitions (DTDs), the general.dtd and the html4.dtd and would not only have used the common element names separately, and would not have tried to make translations from one DTD to the other and vice versa, but they would have made a unification of both DTDs in which each would have given its strengths to the other, and in which translations are not necessary anymore.

With this unification of two different classes of document types I have realized in 2017 for the first time what the W3C tried in vain with XML, the SGML for the WWW which each normal browser understands without additional support other than CSS.

This unification does not only work with the mentioned two DTDs but with any two DTDs of that types. Four or five united pairs can be found in ame-nde.de under "Goldfarb".

In one way SGML2 can be compared with XML, because it excludes about a quarter of the syntax productions from SGML like the markup minimizations. In the other way it cannot be compared with XML because it leaves the corpus of SGML as it is.

The investigational part of SGML2 are the types of relations between the html.dtd and other SGML DTDs: This investigation had been given up too early (after html4) in what is called "the old way" (Der alte Weg) in ame-nde.de. There are three general types of relations between the html.dtd and other SGML DTDs in "the new way" (Der neue Weg).

One of them is the SGML for the WWW, the unification of two different document types belonging to two different classes of document types.

The second is html as an SGML application. An example can be found in ame-nde.de/apps/HT/ent.html#t.1): All about 30 text entities of the documentation of html4 of the W3C can be manipulated as a unit with a text-editor in markup with regular expressions, can be reimported into the SGML editor manipulated there with its tools, again be exported to markup (html) and so on, each export or import in a few seconds. Round-tripping works for the first two classes.

The third class is the one-way-translation of documents marked up with a "normal" SGML DTD to documents marked up with the html.dtd. This was the only one in the days of SGML and also in the days of the crowd of XML Standards. This translation type will be used in future only for a certain period of time and for special purposes like the structuring of digitized books and for old documents like the lenghty documents of Aristotle. After that period the non-translating document types will devide the document entity on export to markup into text entities and will re-unite them on import to the document entity.

The document instances in SGML2 are much the same as they are since html2 up to html5. So the friends of the web of joy (httpe) do not have to be scared about SGML2. Nothing changes for them, except that they have to spell out their full real names when writing html code to the web of thought httpd (see below).

The declarative part of SGML2 contains

In SGML2 almost everything is a document type definition, DTD, that is the product you create with SGML. So the name of SGML2 should have been "DTD2". But as SGML itself is also a DTD in SGML2 its name is justified.

The legislative part of SGML2 is something to be realized within the Web with or without SGML. It divides the Web into four parts analog to the four desires of mankind. The four desires should be the four governing goods of all written law in their appropriate relations to each other. In these divisions certain rules apply. This part is at the moment somewhat utopian, like Platons trial of the division in his "Laws" was, like the ideas about the desires of the philosophers before the French Revolution (Holbach) were, like your Design Issues are, Tim, or your formal public identifier is, Charles. But each revolution has to start with a Utopia. The four desires are eating, thinking, having, and might. Platon and Aristotle found three of them (for eating they said the bodily desires, we might call them enjoying in the industrialized countries). They forgot the might, because they were too much involved in it, and because in the days of slavery might and having were not separated like they should be in the days of democracy.

The reason for this division is the nature of the Web.

The Web is the first space of law in history, where not only the laws for a certain person apply, a certain class, a certain nation, but the laws of all classes, nations, and individuals simultaneously. The existing and future problems are not solvable with the traditional legislative instuments as you can see in the most ridiculous actual laws regarding the Web. They are like the tail of the Hare and Hegehog (Hase und Igel), each beginning is too late.

There must be an order. When you leave your house and go to the barber or to a concert, you expect scissors here and violines there, and not the reverse. There must also be an order you can rely on in the places of the World Wide Web you visit. To define the order, that places have to be defined first. The places are the desires

  1. httpe (Essen, to eat, food, enjoyment)
  2. httpd (Denken, to think, thought)
  3. httpk (Haben, to have, sell and buy, k for the Russian coin Kopeke or the German Kaufen, to buy)
  4. httph (Herrschen, might, power)

The realization and organization of the four goods of right (Rechtsgüter) and their relations to each other are far beyond markup languages and the WWW. The Four expect a global economical, political, and legal agreement which does not exist now. The WWW is the place where their realization, organization, and their relations to each other can be anticipated.

As an example for one of the Four take httpd. If you go to httpd, the Enigma is not necessary, only the 26 letters of the latin alphabet and some special characters in markup and/or the characters of the other scripts in data. Reading access is open for everyone. Writing access is open only under spelling out the full real name of the writer. Selling and buying are not possible. Competition is competition of thoughts. Advertisment is advertisment of ideas.

The rules of httpk (which is also called https) are well known and are accepted worldwide. Here the Enigma is necessary. Its language consists of the two words debit and credit, which have exactly one balance. The rules of httpk are only one of four worldwide rules, because other languages tend to have more than two words and have different balances. httpk needs its borders in relation to the other three as they do to httpk.

The rules of httph will be a mixture of httpd and httpk. And the rules of httpe will have the lowest borders and the most freedom.

SGML is a Public Good, because you incorporate thought with SGML.

"Die Gedanken sind frei."

I ask

SGML is a meta language whose instances not only people with little education, but also machines with no education can understand and act upon. The two decades before the actual one have proven this with the SGML document type everybody knows more or less. If mankind does not re-occupy SGML as the tool for forming The Word in its broadest sense, the language on the Web will soon be that of a machine with no education.

Lothar Seidel, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, April 2019

Pettily most introducing and commenting texts in ame-nde.de are in German because of my awkward English. But as SGML2 consists mainly of DTDs, the language is international.