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   RE: Microsoft's Role in the XML Community (WAS RE: Important: The SAXC+

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  • From: Wendell Piez <wapiez@mulberrytech.com>
  • To: "Bullard, Claude L (Len)" <clbullar@ingr.com>, XML Developers List <xml-dev@XML.ORG>
  • Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000 11:49:40 +0100

Hi Len,

All you say about stimulus/response, makes sense to me. Just to add,

>As for burning Megginson, any organization as large 
>as MS could care less.  As to burning him and a lot 
>of his friends, they care just a bit more.  Measure 
>the response.  Now, pick any individual in organizations 
>of that size and you will see a different response at 
>a different scale.  You can work with that too.

Not to speak of Mr. Megginson personally (I know I started it :-), what
interests me is that the emergence of a public networked culture for
technology development over the last ten-fifteen years (newsgroups, mailing
lists, web sites) has been changing, if not the terms of the s/r equation,
then its coefficients, and so radically that it is becoming a new ball
game. That is, MS or any big entity might not care about any individual --
but maybe they *should*. We seem now to be in a chaotic, hyper-connected
realm where there is extreme sensitivity to initial conditions, and
conditions are always initial: so the loss of credibility with an open
developers' community, or even one influential participant in it, can be
very costly, even to the point of altering balances of power.

I think we are seeing signs that companies are learning this, if only
slowly. Given the nature of channels of power and influence (channels of
rhetoric like this list), what a company does to succeed in the next
century will be very different from what companies did to succeed in the
last. Not only the appearance, but the reality of respect for the interests
of consumers and competitors, may be more of a factor.

The same journalist who made the "MS invented XML" gaffe in the Washington
Post wrote again (I think a week ago), correctly identifying that the core
issue in the MS anti-trust litigation is, who gets to set (and profit from)
standards for emerging technologies. He missed one critical detail,
however, by assuming that standards must always be set unilaterally by a
dominant company. I think history would show it to be more mixed than that
-- for example, the technical standards for the broadcast industry, were
they set by CBS?

Also, given the present state of the world (the earth as an environment and
the populations on it), I submit that we simply cannot *afford*
technological lock-in, to be paying tithes to any single company, and
funneling all development initiatives through its culture, so as to be able
to address problems. I'm not trying to be alarmist -- but the stakes may be
higher than who gets to be called the winner.

I also believe in carrots as well as sticks. My hope is that a seriously
"meta" message like this one, might help to focus efforts on common
interests. Let's all be learning from the various stimuli as quickly as


Wendell Piez                            mailto:wapiez@mulberrytech.com
Mulberry Technologies, Inc.                http://www.mulberrytech.com
17 West Jefferson Street                    Direct Phone: 301/315-9635
Suite 207                                          Phone: 301/315-9631
Rockville, MD  20850                                 Fax: 301/315-8285
  Mulberry Technologies: A Consultancy Specializing in SGML and XML

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