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Human Markup Language 224

emc3 writes: "This article at InternetNews says that OASIS, the XML interoperability consortium, has announced the formation of a committee to develop Human Markup Language, 'to promote a specification for conveying human characteristics through XML.' The idea is to codify psychological, emotive, cultural, and physical characteristics in a standardized way. They say that the most obvious application would be for describing phsyical characteristics and actions in virtual reality environments. Other real-world uses could include describing a patient's psychological state for medical records. The OASIS press release is here. No more :-/ for me. From now on, it's <smirk>!"
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Human Markup Language

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  • Great, now we can all be cataloged with a unique ID and all of those wonderful spy cams can have an even easier time keeping track of us. Why does it suck so much to be alive?
    • You think you already aren't?

      I've worked on systems used by police and other organisations to catalogue people. They've already got all the classification methods they need for describing people - height, build, hair colour and length...

      You get mugged, you walk into a police station to report it. They can sit you down in front of a computer, ask you a bunch of questions about your assailant and bring up mugshots of the people on their database who match that description.

      Sounds terrible, doesn't it? Well, one day, I got a call because the system had gone tits-up just as a witness positively identified a man who had carried out a racially-motivated murder. I had no qualms whatsoever about delving in and pulling out the guy's details so they could send a car around to arrest him.

      It's not the technology that's at fault when it comes to invasion of privacy - it's the manner in which the technology is used.

  • I think you meant (Score:4, Informative)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @12:35AM (#2206725) Homepage Journal
    • <comment>That is the comment I was going to use. <sigh>Oh well</sigh>, I suppose I'll have the come up with another funny comment. hmmm....

      <idea>I know I'll just say this:<inspired>I've always liked <smirk /> better myself.</inspired></idea>
  • Fluff (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Swaffs ( 470184 )
    This seems like a whole lot of fluff, a romantic idea that will just end up being emotes in tags, and pretty lame.
    • This seems like a whole lot of fluff, a romantic idea that will just end up being emotes in tags, and pretty lame.

      You forgot to cite your quotation:

      "This seems like a whole lot of fluff, a romantic idea that will just end up being emotes in tags, and pretty lame."

      -- Tim Berners-Lee's mother.
  • by Bryce ( 1842 )
    Shouldn't that be ?
  • We will have a tag for :)
  • by DeltaStorm ( 118517 ) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @12:41AM (#2206750) Homepage
    Maybe now we'll finally get that long sought after <rant> tag...
  • The idea is to codify psychological, emotive, cultural, and physical characteristics in a standardized way. They say that the most obvious application would be for describing phsyical characteristics and actions in virtual reality environments.

    So, since describing physical characteristics is the most obvious application (not to mention probably the easiest), we say "physical" last and throw in "psychological, emotive, cultural" in front of it, just so everybody wonders what this is all about.

  • Are there so few old-time BBSers out that that remember <grin>? :)

    Although perhaps that should now be <grin />...

    • No, no, no! now you're making a rookie mistake. You don't have to harken back to BBSs to remember <grin>. I mean hell, I still use it in email, doesn't everyone else, too?

      Anyway, the point is that html/xml stole the computer science standard characters which denote an encoding. So saying <grin> is a textual representation of some greater description of a grin. That is, the <> characters MEAN "an encoding of what lies within". <grin> was never a TAG, it was a contextual clue suggesting a real grin on the face of the author.

      One so often missed...
    • Are there so few old-time BBSers out that that remember <grin>? :)

      I think it's mostly been replaced by <g>

      Easier to type, I guess. Or maybe I'm just lazy.

      Of course this whole thing is pure silliness. They seem to be expecting that everyone is just going to switch over this weird system over current net-speak. I mean XML is nice and all, but... I kind of doubt a small group of people can come up with a better method of actually communicating emotion/intention than has evolved over the last 15-20 years by literally millions of people. For medical stuff, VR, etc, it could end up having some decent applications, however.

      To put it simply, I read the article, and... LOL. :P
  • why do I feel the urge, more than anything at this moment, to cry just the tiniest bit for each of us, and for the rest of the populace not yet hip to this development.

    The codification of laws was a great advance for humankind.

    The codification of of humankind offers no such benefit.

  • I can see it now. They will come out with a few feel good gestures and then the offensive gestures will contaminate the net. Can you imagine chat programs with these things?
  • Quake/UT/HL bots work fine all by themselves without markups...and some of them are reasonably intelligent (for game bots that is). How is some kind of markup language going to describe the complex interactions or persona that actually makes up an individual??
  • You mean that I may get the tag <psychotic>? And if so, what's the emoticon for it? ;-)

  • Check out that hot babe
  • Fabulous, now all those internet pedophiles can lie about themselves easier! "Sure baby, gigantic....

  • Oasis (Score:3, Informative)

    by smallpaul ( 65919 ) <paul.prescod@net> on Thursday August 23, 2001 @12:47AM (#2206775)
    It is important to understand that OASIS is more of a standards body framework than an ordinary standards body. In other words, any OASIS member can decide to start an OASIS group on any idea, no matter how strange it may seem and no other OASIS member may prevent that. Few OASIS resources are used per group so the only real cost is in keeping tabs on all of the groups that are created.
  • Other real-world uses could include describing a patient's psychological state for medical records.


    <phobias>cats; 2010 a.d.</phobias>
  • It's called a .jpg. Maybe you've heard of them?

  • In a sense this is like the problem of medical informatics and the electronic patient record... how do you organize data about a person so that is private and accessible, and captures all of the important facts about a person.... I can see where this project would have a lot to learn from the effort to create an electronic medical record, and vice versa.

    for stuff about that....
  • I can think of no better use for such a technology than immortalizing the honorable visage of Mr. Gary Oatse in a universal data format. I weep when I think that even after I am long departed, my people will be able to gaze upon Gary's tribute to eternal horror, squeal "Ewww!" and close their HML browsers before their coworkers notice.
  • a link from /. to submit me to a big ugly Microsoft XP ad. For shame...

  • Ummm... (Score:4, Funny)

    by bendude ( 135729 ) <> on Thursday August 23, 2001 @01:21AM (#2206813)
    This isajoke,isn'tit?
    Whydon'tLiam & Noel Gallagherlookaftertheirown emotionsbeforeworryingabout anyoneelse?
  • Maybe I'm not understanding the whole concept of a Human Markup Language, but what's the difference between developing HML, and just coming up with a DTD for human characteristics tags and make it XML?

    My point is, aren't projects like these the sort of thing XML was made for?

  • This sounds just a little bit like the geekcode, although more buzzword compliant.

    And yes, I really wanted to post a link, but it seems that the geekcode site [] is missing.

  • me and my friend were actually just having a conversation over icq in psuedo-xml. we need to make sure that the tags are quite flexible (ie or )

    Oh well. now people will be able to display their emotion icons how ever they want, no more of this silly :-] vers :-) crap hehe.

  • Great, I can just imagine the guys now:

    "Cor, 'ave a look at the HumanML on that one! I bet she validates as well-formed, eh? Eh? *nudgenudge* I wouldn't mind parsing 'er markup, nah wot I mean?"

  • This sort of thing only comes about as a result of our ever deteriorating ability to use written words to effectively communicate. Instead of adding to the language we currently use, we should learn to use what we have more effectively.

    Think of Shakespeare! He had way less words to work with than we do now, yet no amount of human markup language can hold a candle to the richness of content presented in his tragedies.

    I shudder to think of how the graduating class of every subsequent year is more illiterate than the one before it.

    • Actually, AFAIK, Shakespeare had a tremendous
      vocabulary, far greater than an average speaker
      at any time. We have more words today because of
      techno-speak but that has no relation to describing
      states of human existence. For that, most nobody
      can even come close to Shakespeare in richness of

      Your last line (sig?) is so true. It also happens
      to reinforce my point.
    • why does a changing lexicon equal illiteracy? If the usage of the English language (or any other) evolves, what is wrong with that? I can not understand why when anyone alters the language a little people get so uptight. Almost all of us /. posters use abreviations to more quickly express ideas. I think this is a good thing,

      In my humble opinion

    • But Shakespeare is often ambiguous or very difficult, and requires either very smart people or good actors to understand. That's no good for email or chat. Do you have to parse an entire play to depict a VR HAMLET?

      Besides, Shakey used simple markup too: bad people are ugly, good people are cute.

      PS "way FEWER words", and don't split your infinitives. Illiteracy is quite relative sometimes.

  • They say that the most obvious application would be for describing phsyical characteristics and actions in virtual reality environments.

    this sounds like it's going to run into some problems. as far as politically correct langauage is concerned, it's going to be hard to come up with a DTD that doesn't offend a particular minority... are we going to have short or fat tags? do we skirt the issue by leaving those out (and making the standard less descriptive)?

  • where's the research into really necessary new XML markup languages:

    SBML (standards body markup language)
    FDBML (front door bell markup language)
    MSML (markup submission markup language)
    PML (penis markup language)? (oh, wait, that's slashdot)
    WOTPDML (waste of tax-payers dollars markup language)

    I was hoping the one upside to a crappy economy would be the death of all this useless academic research into (ab)uses of XML.

  • What an utterly naïve proposal. These people must surely have spent a little too much time between tags.

    The act of expression is *designed* to be primed with meaning and inference. If you want to distinctly express a feeling, emotion or cultural concern, how you go about it is just as important as the idea itself as far as communication is concerned.

    If you choose to mark up your meaning using this non-sensical and fundamentally worthless tag system, you are declaring nothing save that you have a mark-up hammer and your ignorance of the world is your nail.

    'He speaks four languages and has nothing of value to say in any of them.'
    • 'He speaks four languages and has nothing of value to say in any of them.'


      --kmfdm, Dogma (Nicole Blackman)

  • <human>
    <eyes color="hazel" />
    <nose nostrels="huge" />
    <skin freckles="few" type="greasy" />
    <chin type="protruding" />
    <hair color="brown" />
    <hairline position="receding" />
    <torso length="175cm">
    <clothes cost="minimal>
    <pants type="jeans" />
    <shirt type="button-down" color="white" sleeves="short" />
    <belt color="brown" />
    <bellybutton type="innie" />
  • There's always RPG character notation:
    • Level: 57
    • Race: Erudite
    • Reputation: Great. No enemies, and he has not been played in over 4 months.
    • Guild: Disbanded so you can build your own alliances.
    • Gear: Manna Robe (Same effect as mana stone 60 hp for 20 mana 3 sec cast time) Great for a wizard, Venril Sathir Staff, Eye of Innurrok, Solist Icy Wand, J-boots, Staff of Temperate Flux, Sorcerer's Head, sleeves, pants, and bracer -- and all the extras including resist gear, fishbone earring, and a 10 slot 0% eight bag -- 200 int + 300+ mana gear.
    • Skills: Defense is maxed, Swimming is high, Spell skills are all very high except divination which is almost 200
    Hurry, only one at this price. []
  • When I load up my HML prog, all i get is "ERROR: TAGS ON LINES 2 AND 3 DO NOT MATCH"
    Here is my code:

    Can anyone help me???
    • Upgrade your interpreter, the tag should nullify the previous instance of .
      • Uh, that should have been:
        Upgrade your interpreter, the <GOODLOOKING/> tag should nullify the previous instance of <GEEK/>.
        • Why the hell is the entirely non-sensical parent modded up? Please don't waste our time by recommending comments that don't make sense b/c the author didn't care enough to get it right the first time (Never mind the extra karma). And by the way, comment 2206763 suffers the same idiotic moderation.

  • i think the idea of generalizing human speech sucks. why should we make a standard how people have to speak and so on?
  • This would make it a lot easier for the vocalisation of text, or the use of a synthesised figure Max Headroom? to present it.

    Think of it as stage directions. I can image a number of quite legitimate uses for such a tool.

  • human-male.dtd



    while the range of emotions is close, the causes of different emotions are - ehm - quite different. i assume they'll be marking up emotions stemming from a previous state of mind..
  • I think what is more relevant right now than a "human markup language" is a "speech markup language." Just recently we read about at&t's supposed breakthrough (hype) that will lead to artificially generated speech.

    Think about that though. How are we going to effectively communicate to the program exactly how we want the voice to sound? What needs to be developed is a speech markup language which takes any and every aspect of speech into account, like tone, volume, inflection. Even if a computer voice sounds perfectly pleasant, it won't sound natural if it doesn't stress the proper words. And sometimes stressing another word isn't necessarily wrong, it just means something else.
  • The initiative has, IMHO, no future, because:

    XML is, but some will disagree, a static representation format unfit to represent dynamic human motions.

    psychological traits vary so much that psychologists can't agree on which is what. a standard representation won't solve this at a blink and be widely accepted.

    the actual specs has too much covered under them. characterizing every human trait under one specs is ambitious, but also unrealistic. physical, psychological, motion are very different traits, each should be taken on individually.

  • <skeptical>hmm, I'm not too sure about this. what about my beloved smilies? &frown;</skeptical>
    <resigned>oh well</resigned>

    <face action="puzzled" method="human://savrinor:1337/face.cgi">
    <expression type="eyebrow" left="normal" right="raise">
  • ...but do the standards boards seem to be kinda out of hand nowdays? I mean, sure. I can see the reason for standards. And, yeah. XML is just the neatest, niftiest, coolest thing to hit the planet since Apple ][e BASIC... But, really, is stuff like this really needed?

    I'm sure if someone actually had a use for this, they wouldn't want to wade through some standard to implement it. Standards take forever to hash out. VR programmers are likely to want to extend things beyond what the standards are... And you know where that got Microsoft. ;-)

    Really, what's next? An XML-based markup language that defines life? (And, no, that's not an XML version of /. <smirk />) Just think, you could categorize your life into tags! Yay!

    <years value='2001'>
    <months value='8'>
    <days value='23'>
    <hours value='0'>
    <minutes value='48'>
    <seconds value='22'>
    I thought LML (Life Markup Language)!
    <seconds value='25'>
    Maybe this is a waste of time...

    Sorry to sound cynical or anything... But converting the world into XML is only going to waste everyone's time in the long-run. It's great for what needs it... But, as the saying goes, just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD.
  • Personally, I think this raises severe moral and ethical considerations... for example, is it morally acceptable to write an XSLT sheet to transform one human into a completely different human?
  • I am on the OASIS Human Markup Language committee, and I find a lot of the comments here quite fascinating. I would very much be interested in hearing what people have to say concerning their concerns about misuse of the standard as well as where people see potential applications that should be considered by the committee. I'll try to pass on as many of these concerns as possible. Kurt Cagle, Co-Author, Professional XSL, Wrox
    • I think the general problem Kurt is that the W3 and OASIS are spending huge amounts of time and energy on mental masturbation projects that meet no real need and have no other target audience outside of technical publishers. Without a doubt this project has got to be one of the greatest feats of mental masturbation the standards folks have pushed yet. I would have sworn it was an April Fool's joke you were cooking up.

      Its like some bizarre movie plot where you'll all die if you stop passing standards and specs.

      Look at almost every TR on the W3 site other than XML that starts with X, and you'll find technologies that no one asked for and no one cares about, including your own favorite XSL, which maybe takes the cake as most retarded technology ever devised.

      Congrats! you committee-crazy folks are killing XML that same way you killed SGML, with ridiculous over-specification and needless standards. You should all work for the government.

      Please respond to this here, I would like to know if you understand how ridiculous people think the XML standards groupies have become.

  • ...codify psychological, emotive, cultural, and physical characteristics in a standardized way.

    How can you standardize the conveyance of culture? Huh? For that matter, what's wrong with using regular language to describe someone? I don't see how a computer could usefully apply this info, except for... mmm... blood type and height and stuff.

    • I can't get around /.'s tag filters, and they get lost in my browser, so you get square brackets instead.

      For cultural tags, it would be handy to delimit which nationality you are stereotyping
      [/politically correct]
      [french]I weeel beee wiz yoo in a meeenoot, monsieur[/french]
      [british]Bloody frogs, ignorant of the fact that The Queen's English is the international standard language[/british]
      [scots]Dae ye unnèrstaun, spake, or scrieve tha quains inglais?[/scots]
      [german]This is NOT funny[/german]
      [politically correct]

      the AC
  • Not to be pedantic, but its actually not just :)

    • Damn this HTML stuff.. I posted in POT, but it still didnt show it.

      What I meant to say was:

      Not to be pedantic, but its <smirk/> not just <smirk> cause its malformed :P

  • "...specification for conveying human characteristics through XML" eh? I think they should incorporate this into future transporter technology (a la Star Trek) to cut down on all those crazy transporters "accidents" of the week.

    First "convert" all your crews into well formed HML, then armed with a fully validating HML parser/transporter there is no chance of beaming up those all those shapeshifters, evil twins, etc by mistake all the time :-\
  • Hm, I don't know ... i think almost everybody understands :-) but <smile/>? What about <grins/> (the German word for smile). Isn't this overcomplicating something that works quite well already?

  • Have we all lost our creativity. Do we really need to encode everything in XML just for the sake of using a buzzword. This may be useful in text-to-speech translators for the blind, but is anybody going to fill their webpage with this stuff. Is anybody going to type in <LOL>Ha ha ha</LOL> into an IM program. No.

    XML is a great FILE FORMAT that can be used to exchange hierchical information. Yes, I'm sorry to all the disallusioned out there, XML is ONLY A FILE FORMAT. It's not a programming language. And don't give me the argument that it's "eXtensible Markup LANGUAGE". There's still no "PROGRAMMING" keyword in there.

    So unless you're a congressman gunning for re-election and the major issue is accessibility for the disabled, the standard acronyms and emoticons that have been used for about a decade are fine. Hell, even my parents use LOL and :)
  • by chrysalis ( 50680 ) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @10:07AM (#2207769) Homepage
    What if porn sites were moving to this ?


    It'd be so boring !

  • This ought to be tied in with H-Anim [] and X3d [].

    Otherwise, the will be re-inventing the wheel and conflicting with existing standards.

  • I think the most interesting use of this would be in research psychology. There's been a movement to come up with a good descriptive model for personality for some time now. There's some giant obstacles to overcome, though.

    First of all, the study of personality and human behavior is incredibly young. Freud got the ball rolling little more than a century ago, and he set us off on the wrong foot. Like any new science, we're still at the "darts at a dartboard" exploratory stage. It's really hard to come up with a universal descriptive model when we're still drowning in the data.

    Secondly, what (human) language are they going to base this on? Language is culture, and different languages describe the world (and people) in very different ways. We might come up with a descriptive markup that works very well when applied to Americans in American society but totally breaks down in Japan. How are they going to make sure that it's broad enough to be global without being so vague that it's useless?

    I wish them well, though. Psychology has been badly in need of something like this for a long time, and even if version 1.0 sucks it gives us something to build off of.

  • My first impression was that this is kind of a waste of time. But I suppose this could be useful if you were feeding text into that nifty next-generation text-to-speech [] tool that was posted on Slashdot a while back.

    After all, there's a difference between...
    <sincere>That's a great idea</sincere>
    <sarcastic>That's a great idea</sarcastic>
    ...that no text-to-speech program would be able to figure out without some hints.

    Not to mention all the different ways to say "Dude".

  • For instance, Ranjeeth Kumar Thunga, chair of the HumanMarkup TC and the motivating force behind HumanML, told that in psychology, HumanML could be used to:

    Sort, index, and file patient psychological records based on cultural background, personality, type of pyschological disorder

    Provide containers to embed culturally, contextually specific information that may be relevant in psychological diagnoses

    Provide recommended specifications to express both culturally specific, neurolgically specific, belief specific, DSM-IV specific breakdowns.

    • I don't know what [paranoid]you[/paranoid] think about this but
    • [multiplepersonalitydisorder]I[/multiplepersonal it ydisorder] don't think it's a good idea.
    • No, wait, [multiplepersonalitydisorder]I[/multiplepersonalit ydisorder] do think it's a good idea.
    • [dependentpersonalitydisorder]What do you all think about this[/dependentpersonalitydisorder]?
    • [antisocialpersonalitydisorder]I[/antisocialpers on alitydisorder] really don't care what you think! 8^D

  • I must say that I'm little impressed with these XML folks. Markup -- bid deal. It's been around for decades in various forms. The question is: Which tags, exactly? HumanML? Give me a friggin' break. The AI guys have been making such ontologies for decades. It works, but only to a degree. You can't pre-tag everything because the tags you have now aren't quite right and the tags you don't have...well, you don't have them yet! That's why this article deserves a big YAWN.

    And if this is just a bunch of programmers with no input from psychologists, anthropologists, etc., it's simply doomed to be obvious, groundless, and thus useless.

Air is water with holes in it.