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   Re: Open Standards Processes

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  • From: len bullard <cbullard@hiwaay.net>
  • To: Paul Prescod <papresco@technologist.com>
  • Date: Sun, 26 Apr 1998 00:31:33 -0500

Paul Prescod wrote:
> Does anyone have a theory as to why some standards still "work" in the
> IETF process?
> Some ramblings:
> I think that big companies will work in an open environment when they are
> forced to. If the W3C hasn't got the staff to take on a particular task,
> then the IETF continues to do it and the big companies grit their teeth
> and "play ball."

Not necessarily.  ISO has been persuasive in some areas of
and not others.  It might be interesting to know which have and have not 
produced standard *technology*.

> It was not openness that made HTML impossible to standardize within the
> IETF. It was a poorly designed/defined standardization process. 

It was inexperience.  I can't think of a precedent for it.  Online 
list work is challenging.  That does not mean it should be closed.  
It takes practice and patience to make it work. 

> The reason
> SAX worked was because there was a benevolent dicator, an "inner circle"
> of implementors and deadlines. In other words, there was hierarchy and
> process.

Yes.  We did IrishSpace the same way.  Question: did you design a
or a technology?  

HTML/HTTP worked because it was a *standard technology* aka, a freebie.  

Short focused application efforts work well.  Recruit a team, do the 
design, etc.  Jon says the big companies won't play.  Well, if you 
are trying to write enforceable law, I guess it helps to have an 
army somewhere to enforce that.  But if you want to develop and 
sell technology, sorry, all you have to do is build to a standard 
technological base.  Right now, for most bets, that means WinTel.

> It might be interesting to see what would happen if a completely open
> organization were to submit a spec. to the W3C (i.e. SAX). Then we might
> have the best of both worlds. TimBL's blessing would encourage vendors to
> implement it, but the process would be open.

Tim BL's blessing? To create technology?  Huh?

VRML simply formed their own consortium and sent the spec to ISO.  Works
The working group lists are all open.   Small groups, lead reasonably, 
work out the details.  Frankly, I'm not sure why XML has to be done 
differently.  We are told because big companies won't play otherwise. 
I don't believe that is generally true.  Big companies play in the 
VRML Consortium and that is a successful effort.  No, I don't accept 

Still, that is Jon's assertion.  Ok.  Where are the big companies 
that want to sit with the director on stage at a press conference 
and explain why work they can do in one consortium under open 
rules they cannot do in another?

len bullard

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