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XML data representation


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If I take data (1,2,3,a,b,c,..) and I put it in XML form (<a>, <b>, <c>,..), does that mean that data becomes information because of XML? Does XML turn data into information by representing it in tags?I am also reading here in a slideshow: "In JDOM, every XML tree is approached as a document even though the content has nothing to do with documents". I looked up the definition of 'document' on dictionary.com and it states that a document is meant as being informative. 'informative' means 'to convey information'. Then, if the purpose of XML is to represent data into information, why does the content of an XML tree supposedly not have anything to do with a document and therefore nothing to do with information? This is confusing. Perhaps the author of that slideshow was using different semantics than I have in my mind right now.Any thoughts on this?Thank you.

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Philosophers might make a distinction between data and information, but as a developer I would not find a distinction useful. What I can say is this. Information is very hard to work with when it does not have a predictable structure. When information has a structure, you can use standardized methods for accessing any chunk of information you want. A table is a common way of giving information a structure. XML is another way of giving information a structure. It doesn't turn anything into information. It's a way of helping you access information. From what I understand from their web page, JDOM is a special Java interface for reading XML. Your slideshow is discussing the way JDOM works, not the way XML works. I would not use that explanation of JDOM to try to learn anything about XML. That would be like trying to understand a potato by reading the instructions for using a potato peeler.

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But if you take information and you represent it by giving it a structure, that structure conveys new information to the brain. As the psychology of gestalt (confere: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestalt_psychology) postulates, the brain sees everything in entities and not in seperate pieces. Structuring information is ultimately representing it. Well, that's what XML does, yes. I disagree that XML does not turn anything into information because our brain associates e.g. <age>26</age> 'age' with '26', therefore tying semantics to data. And after all, data given semantics becomes information (as you can see from the link below). Giving structure to data is what is turning data into information. In practical terms, I would agree. XML gives information a structure so that you can access it more easily, but I was more thinking in metaphysical and ontological terms.If information has no structure however, then it is no longer information. Then it is (raw) data and that is where the distinction of data versus information matters, especially in a developer's mindset. See here: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110803173846AA6IEbh In conclusion, data has no structure. XML gives it a structure and therefore turns it into information for our brain that translates this data into information by associating the data with the structural patterns. It helps our brain because we think in patterns. Programmatically speaking, it is then easier to access this information because there are standardized tools for accessing it. I will do some more thinking on this.

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As I said, I was specifically NOT answering as a philosopher. I do that as my day job (college English professor) but I usually take off that hat when I come to this board. The best place to have that discussion would be focused on topics like information theory, linguistics, artificial intelligence . . .

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