Early last Saturday morning, the trusty blue Bug motored me 45 miles north to Silver Spring, Maryland, where I instructed 14 writers and editors on a scripting language called XML. I have worked with this group before, and their collective smarts and willingness to learn makes sacrificing a Saturday worthwhile.
I have taught this subject for some time now -- from beginners through advanced -- but for some reason on Saturday, I finally heard myself say, "Every XML document must have a root element, and all the content it holds must be nested correctly within it, or it will fail."
I have said that sentence hundreds of times to hundreds of people, and only now, finally, heard it.
Life lesson here.
I don't want to get too technical, as that causes most people's eyeballs to start rolling around to the backs of their heads, but you see, XML is a language that allows us to structure information any way we like.
If you were to type XML manually, it would look like this:
It only holds information, and when I look at it, I think it is a beautiful structure because it is so plain. All the prettiness and noise of formatting fonts and colors and margins and type-sizes are stored in external files. You don't have to link to them if you don't want to. XML is like going to Baskin-Robbins and ordering a good old vanilla cone, 'cause you've always liked that plain cold taste, and it's your choice to avoid the fancy flavors.
And it got me to wondering: if our lives could be viewed as XML, what structure and content would they hold in order to have meaning?
Is it this?
The best part about XML is you can create, in this case, a life document of your very own. But that scares folks, methinks, 'cause it's safer to stay right where you are, with external styles formatting how you look and how you live and what you think you know.
How 'bout this?