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   Re: Open Standards Processes (WAS Re: Nesting XML based languages and

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  • From: "Steven R. Newcomb" <srn@techno.com>
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Sun, 26 Apr 1998 20:03:42 -0500

This note is about the ISO republic vs. the W3C principality, so just
skip it unless you want to know how happy I am to be at peace with
both of them.

Tim Berners-Lee, bless his heart, made some very good early guesses on
behalf of all of us, and, as far as I can tell, he continues to do so
today.  It looks to me like he has (inadvertently or deliberately, I
don't know which) created a position for himself not unlike that of
Machiavelli's _Prince_, or perhaps the Philosopher King in Plato's
_Republic_.  This is a crushingly demanding role, and, while I admire
his accomplishments, I do not envy him.  Let's enjoy him while we can,
and thank our lucky stars while he remains both willing and competent
to fulfill that role.  In spite of my deep and well-founded suspicions
about vendor consortia, I've been forced to conclude that the W3C has
been a great thing; by their fruits we know them.  

Even though the ISO did not and could not accomplish what Tim BL and
his cohort did with HTML, I still urge my clients to rely on the ISO
as the stablest, most broadly based and representative organization of
all the economic interests on this planet.  The ISO (or some eventual
successor organization) will always necessarily exist.  Therefore, it
will always be there to inherit whatever drops from the nerveless
grasp of shorter-lived, less broadly-based organizations.  It's
important to remember that, even if the Web touches everything, the
Web isn't everything.  A happy victim of its own success, the Web is
in the process of being assimilated by everything.  The Web's
leadership will not always be so influential.  The Web is just one
natural step in a networking process, one earlier step of which was
the invention of the postage stamp.  Today, nobody expects the
U.S. Postmaster General to be a world-beater; only the title still
reflects the former grandeur of the position.

As for XML, I am inclined to withhold all comment except praise for
the way the XML thing has been handled.  It's really quite an
extraordinary example of "recruited public cooperation", and it
reflects very well on both the recruiters and the participants.  If
all we can see is the political structure that allowed this XML
crystalization to occur, we can't see what really happened.  It's so
much more than that, the political structure pales to insignificance.

In the XML matter, I find particularly praiseworthy the care that has
been taken, by many on all sides, to keep XML and its ISO bases in
harmony with one another.  You Know Who You Are, and regardless of how
things turn out, may future generations bless you for your hard work
and thankless commitment to the longterm success of humanity's
Civilization Experiment.  I'm pleasantly astonished to discover that,
as near as I can tell, we're pretty much all fighting on the same side
here.  We might as well recognize this fact for the miracle that it
is, and take maximum advantage of it.

Thanks, Len, for making me pinch myself hard enough to realize that,
after our years in the wilderness together, things are really pretty
damn good and getting rapidly better.


Steven R. Newcomb, President, TechnoTeacher, Inc.
srn@techno.com  http://www.techno.com  ftp.techno.com

voice: +1 972 231 4098 (at ISOGEN: +1 214 953 0004 x137)
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