Re: Generic Tagging: A Modest Proposal

From: John Cowan (
Date: Tue Jul 15 1997 - 12:28:18 EDT

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Kenneth Whistler wrote:

> The currently
> active proposal is called the "Plane 14" proposal,
> and has been in active discussion between the UTC
> and members of the IETF.

How can I get a copy of this proposal? I find it
quite reasonable as you describe it, EXCEPT:

> 3. Rather than introducing a completely generic public
> tag scheme, with a path characters, reversed domain
> names, and then arbitrary tags per domain, we concluded
> that there was really only a clamor for a couple of
> kinds of tags: language tags and character source set
> tags. Maybe one or two others might be useful. So we
> introduced particular tag types rather than a completely
> open mechanism.

I think this illustrates a great lack of foresight.
As Michael Everson has said several times, 10646 should
last for centuries: if people have only clamored for
two types of tags so far, that is because we are
essentially in the pre-implementation phase still.
When Unicode/10646 is really pervasive, new types of
meta-information will be popping out of the woodwork,
and at that point we will have three choices:

1) retrofit a registry scheme, grandfathering
   whatever tags are de facto in use;
2) use the slow, slow process of amendment to
   get more "particular tag types" embedded in the
   character set;
3) breathe a sigh of relief, because we PLANNED AHEAD
   by making sure that an open tag-creation
   mechanism existed from Day 0.

Unicode is a brilliant example of what can be done
if we don't plan too conservatively. Having a few
kinds of tags violates the "Zero-One-Many" design
pattern ("Allow none of, one of, or as many as
possible of a given thing", roughly speaking).

I urge the UTC, or the members of it present on this
mailing list, to consider this point. I will be happy
to make this a formal submission if someone will tell
me how to go about it.

John Cowan
			e'osai ko sarji la lojban

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