How to cite this paper

Usdin, B. Tommie. “Cool versus useful.” Presented at Balisage: The Markup Conference 2008, Montréal, Canada, August 12 - 15, 2008. In Proceedings of Balisage: The Markup Conference 2008. Balisage Series on Markup Technologies, vol. 1 (2008).

Balisage: The Markup Conference 2008
August 12 - 15, 2008

Balisage Paper: Cool versus useful

B. Tommie Usdin

Mulberry Technologies, Inc.

B. Tommie Usdin is President of Mulberry Technologies, Inc., a consultancy specializing in XML and SGML. Ms. Usdin has been working with SGML since 1985 and has been a supporter of XML since 1996. She chairs the Balisage conference and was co-editor of "Markup Languages: Theory & Practice" published by the MIT Press. Ms. Usdin has developed DTDs, Schemas, and XML/SGML application frameworks for applications in government and industry. Projects include reference materials in medicine, science, engineering, and law; semiconductor documentation; historical and archival materials. Distribution formats have included print books, magazines, and journals, and both web- and media-based electronic publications. You can read more about Tommie at


True versus Useful, or True versus Likely-to-be-useful, are tradeoffs we find ourselves making in document modeling and many other markup-related situations all the time. But Cool versus Useful is a far more difficult tradeoff, especially since our world now includes a number of very cool techniques, tools, and specifications. Cool toys can have a lot of gravitational pull; attracting attention, users, projects, and funding. Unfortunately, there is sometimes a disconnect between the appeal of a particular tool/technology and its applicability in a particular circumstance.