“Your information, sir,” the Librarian says. “Are you smart enough to tie that information into YOU ARE HERE?” Hiro says.“I’ll see what I can do, sir. The formats appear to be reconcilable.”
—Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
In computing, it is a fact of life that when information becomes complex enough, it evolves its own “mini-language” in which that information is best expressed. More often, it evolves multiple such mini-languages. We call these file formats or data formats.
Anyone who has used a computer can name many file formats. There are image formats such as GIF, JPG, and PNG; document formats such as DOC and PDF; “universal” formats such as CSV, JSON, and XML; and countless thousands of proprietary data ...