My name is Michael Sperberg-McQueen.
(Or, in formal contexts, “C. M. Sperberg-McQueen”. The form “C. Michael Sperberg-McQueen” occasionally shows up in conference programs, but it is not a form I use: it puts me in mind of my first-grade reading primer. “See Spot. See Michael Sperberg-McQueen. See them run. Run, Spot, run!” In less formal contexts I often use one form or another of my initials: MSM or CMSMcQ.)
Oh, and the hyphen is there because when my wife and I married, we hyphenated our last names.
The Enrique referred to occasionally (once briefly known as Skippy) is my evil twin.
I am a freelance consultant for Black Mesa Technologies LLC, a consultancy specializing in XML, SGML, and the longevity of data. This klog (short for ‘worklog’) mostly concerns topics that interest me in connection with that activity. (If some of them seem remote, then I encourage meditation on the deep and elusive interconnectedness of all things. No, I don’t know how prime number theory and descriptive markup are related. I only know that they are.)
For several years, I worked as member of the technical staff at the World Wide Web Consortium, in W3C’s XML Activity.
The opinions expressed here (whether by Enrique or by me) are not necessarily those of Black Mesa Technologies LLC, its clients, or anyone else. I don’t even guarantee that I’ll agree with them myself, from one day to the next.
Comment spam: Depending on the weather, I vacillate between using an array of spam filters and moderating every comment. When I use spam filters, every now and then they make mistakes; they allow comments which appear to be spam, or they block things that ought not to be blocked. I try to correct these errors, but they may wait for several days to be cleaned up. When the filters appear to have become completely ineffectual, I sometimes switch to manual moderation of all comments. I try to deal with the queue regularly, but I don’t derive a lot of satisfaction from the daily deletion of a few hundred messages left by spambots advertising payday loans, plagiarized term papers, and virility aids, so I sometimes put it off. (This is effectively punished by having twice as many to delete, the next day.) So if you comment, you may wait a bit before your comment appears. Actual back-and-forth discussion is difficult under those circumstances, which is a shame. (Another reason to be angry at those who pollute the net this way.)
Moderating comments requires judgement calls. The judgement applied is my own, for better and for worse. I reserve the right to delete comments which seem to me inappropriate or insufficiently relevant to the topic at hand; generic sentiments like “Nice blog!” have become to seem more characteristic of spambots than of human readers, so if you want the comment to stay, say something that suggests a human has read the blog post and thought about it. (And note that excess subtlety can be confused with absence of thought, and vice versa. There were a couple of quotations from Chinese poetry that I had to think about for a few days before concluding that they were more likely to be spam than the sign of a devastating analysis of the topic which my limited horizon did not allow me to understand. So if you make any more remarks like “The wheat bends in the wind, but is not broken”, you might want to supply a gloss that explains how the wheat and the wind are relevant to XML or whatever the post was about.) I have left a few spam messages on this page because they come close to asking a realistic question (to which the answer is “yes, I’ve considered it; no, I don’t want to do it”) and for the moment I find it amusing to have them around.
The image currently used as a header image for this blog is a detail of Glass Bead Game, copyright 2009 by Darren Kirby and used by permission (Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 2.0).