Re: XML is bloated.
ASN.1 - now there's a bloated pile of crap for you.
"Oh, the BER are ambiguous, so we'll have to use the DER. OK, should I send this string as a PrintableString? A UTF8String? A T61String? An IA5String? GeneralString? VisibleString? UniversalString?"
And that's just DER; there are 8 sets of encoding rules (9 if you distinguish between UPER and CPER). Was that really necessary? And DER, which seems to be the most widely used encoding (it's the one I run into most often, e.g. for accursed X.509), is pretty ghastly, what with its bit-level binary format; it's a pain to decode by hand and a single-bit error in the wrong place often makes it impossible even to guess at what the message was supposed to be. (It's reminiscent of SNA and similar bit-twiddling protocol families in that respect.)
Thanks, I'll take XML. At least it's often human-readable in traces, and possible to process and edit with generic text-processing tools.
Of course there's ASN.1 XER (XML Encoding Rules), which combines the worst of both worlds.
(Also, ASN.1 was hardly the first structured data format. Various CSV variants, GML, and S-expressions all preceded it, for example, and XDR is contemporaneous.)
 While SGML, the standardized version, only appeared a couple of years after the first ASN.1 standard, its predecessor GML had been around for more than a decade at that point.