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Escaping the Singularity


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Originally published in Queue vol. 15, no. 4
see this item in the ACM Digital Library



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(newest first)

Mike O'Dell | Fri, 22 Sep 2017 02:48:25 UTC

JSON is not too bad, except for the infestation of string quotes. I understand why they are there, but if one argues "it's generated mechanically", then symmetric quoting pairs could be generated just as easily with improved error detection ability.

XML is another matter altogether.

The results of using XML are hideously context-sensitive, possibly dynamically so depending on the schema. This means that off-the-shelf parsing technology simply can't deal with it. This should be a BIG HINT that something is terribly wrong. This inevitably leads to ad hoc "shotgun parsers" which attempt to recognize some subset of the language while failing to detect malformed input which can be used to subvert web software into doing very nasty things.

Check out LangSec.Org for deeper considerations of why input languages must have formally verifiable syntax lest they be hijacked for evil deeds.

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