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


Help: OASIS Mailing Lists Help | MarkMail Help



   Re: Anti-Ranti

[ Lists Home | Date Index | Thread Index ]
  • From: "Matthew Gertner" <matthew@praxis.cz>
  • To: <xml-dev@XML.ORG>
  • Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2000 09:30:27 +0100

Title: Re: Anti-Ranti


Some comments on your anti-rant:

1) Consensus in the XML development community
I made this statement without any statistics to back
it up, and it should be interpreted as such. It is
just a feeling on my part. Nevertheless, it seems
implausible to me that the frequency of complaints
about the W3C's structure can be put down to
professional journalists with an agenda and wannabees
who couldn't scrape together $5000 to join.

Just to give one example, every XML developer whom I
have spoken to, the vast majority of whom do not
participate in this list, is unhappy with the
complexity of the current XML schema draft. I don't
want to pick on the schema group; considering the
breadth of requirements that they were expected to
fulfill, they have done a truly outstanding job of
coming up with something that can even come close to
being all things to all people. But if you are
suggesting that only a few grousers with time on their
hands have a problem with the W3C, I would strongly
dispute this.

2) Involvement of women and non-Westeners
You get a lot of sympathy from me on this front. We're
not in West either and it is easy to feel separated
from the action. In addition, I am a big fan of
diversity at all organization levels, and it is
frustrating to work in groups that 90% of the time are
composed of all men. In my 8 years of working as a
professional programmer, I have never had a colleague
who was a female programmer (i.e. working for the same
company as me), despite working in groups that
sometimes included up to 20 developers. This has both
intanglible effects (e.g. reducing the diversity of
ideas and viewpoints) and tangible effects (e.g. some
of our programming brethren bathe less often than they
might otherwise :-).

But what does this have to do with the issue at hand?
If we consider changing the world to be a prerequisite
to changing the W3C, we are all but eliminating our
chance of succeeding (or at least slowing down the
process tremendously). None of the issues you mention,
although they are all valid, discount any of the
suggestions I made for opening up the W3C.

3) Plurality and competition
I'd stay away from denouncing people's strong opinions
as proof that they are against plurality. People know
that they are well-advised to argue their point of
view as strongly as possible if they want it to be
taken into account. This certainly doesn't mean that
they aren't willing to accept a democratically
determined outcome that goes against them.

Take the SMLers for example. Simon may claim that
their attitude is "let a thousand flowers bloom", but
I don't believe that it is, nor should it be. You'd
have to be seriously unsatisfied with XML to go to all
the effort they are going to, and I personally have a
lot of sympathy for them (bring back attributes and
I'm with you guys). But having a strong view on this
doesn't mean that anyone involved disputes that
general acceptance will be the final guide to who uses
SML, if anyone.

You argue rightly that plurality is essential, but
object to contributions coming from "*ML-Dev" lists.
Why is this? I guess your comment on your making
contributions to the schema effort explains this, but
surely you can't expect everyone who wants to
participate in this effort to invent their own schema
language first! Believe it or not, you aren't the only
one implementing this stuff. The desire to have more
access to information and to give more feedback stems
from a real need to make sure that standards cooked up
in the lab will work in real-world software.

To take a look at the big picture: the world is
changing, and we need to be vigilant in making sure
that we change with it. Even the advent of democracy
and the dominance of the nation-state are relatively
new phenomena. Recently people have begun to examine
the role of NGOs more closely. Why? Because
governments are starting to cede power to them and
people want to have a say in the workings of
organizations that have power over their lives.

The same applies to standards organizations. XML is a
different beast from HTML. It is shaping the way that
companies will do business with both consumers and
each other, and making quite a few billions for some
in the process. Competition in the standards world is
a good thing, but a body like the W3C has a tremendous
amount of power by simple precedent and the combined
weight of its members. When governments begin to
notice this, they may even take action themselves if
organizations like the W3C (i.e. the new breed of
standards body made up of companies rather than
governments) don't go out of their way to be more open
and inclusionary.



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

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