OASIS Mailing List ArchivesView the OASIS mailing list archive below
or browse/search using MarkMail.


Help: OASIS Mailing Lists Help | MarkMail Help



   Re: SAX (Introduction, Recomandations, Future...)

[ Lists Home | Date Index | Thread Index ]
  • From: Jon Bosak <bosak@boethius.eng.sun.com>
  • To: simonstl@simonstl.com
  • Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 13:09:11 -0800 (PST)

| SAX development has been almost completely visible to the world at
| large.  Bringing it behind closed doors (even cheaper closed doors
| with a ticket of a mere $250)

There are no closed doors in the OASIS process.  All OASIS TC
mailing lists are open to public view.  The $250 membership dues
entitle you to *write* to the lists; reading is free to everyone,
and there are no confidentiality rules to prevent open discussion
of what goes on in OASIS TCs in lists such as xml-dev.  (On the
contrary, open discussion of the workings of OASIS TCs in public
discussion lists is an implicit part of the process.)  The dues
are simply what it costs to maintain the lists and keep the
organization running.

| and formalizing the process seems to
| promise very little but a way to cut SAX off from the community
| that has helped create it.

Despite its success so far, the process you've got now for SAX is
not democratic.  It puts all decision-making authority in the
hands of a single person.  The fact that the person in question
happens to be above reproach does not change the fact that this is
a benevolent dictatorship.  I don't buy the benevolent dictator
model of standards development no matter how highly I regard the
dictator of the moment.

The question of whether matters of policy should be decided by
groups or by individuals is, of course, one on which people have
different opinions.  There are tradeoffs either way.  One of the
things you get from a formal democratic process is that
institutions can adopt the products of the process.  In the
current model of SAX development, no really large institution
(government agency or large corporation) can adopt SAX normatively
because there is no guarantee of where SAX will be 10 or 20 or 30
years from now and no guarantee that anyone building
mission-critical systems around it will have any input to the
process that evolves it.  No one who has contributed to the effort
thus far has any control over what happens to SAX in the future,

In the absence of a democratic process, SAX will be defined by
companies like Sun and IBM that build it into their products.  The
first time that IBM makes a change to their version of SAX, the
opinions of this group cease to be relevant.  The notion that you
are somehow in control of what happens to SAX under the current
arrangement is completely illusory.  What I'm suggesting is that
the group that developed SAX take actual control of it in a way
that prevents it from being stolen out from under you.

| If David Megginson wants to put SAX in the hands of OASIS, he is
| of course welcome to, as the keeper of the spec, but the rest of
| us groundling can still have fun with what's public domain, I
| guess.

It's a common misconception that "public domain" makes things
free.  In fact, a paradox of intellectual property law is that
"public domain" means almost exactly the opposite in practice, for
reasons that I'm not legally qualified to explain but are well
known in the open source development community.  This is why all
open source development projects scrupulously avoid the concept of
"public domain" and use a different model based on various clever
kinds of licensing.  OASIS IPR works the same way as IETF IPR and
really does protect collaborative intellectual property
development in the way that most people think "public domain" does
but actually doesn't.



News | XML in Industry | Calendar | XML Registry
Marketplace | Resources | MyXML.org | Sponsors | Privacy Statement

Copyright 2001 XML.org. This site is hosted by OASIS