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Re: What is a standard and why standards bodies won't sue you

At 12:24 PM 8/3/2001 -0700, Lisa Rein wrote:

>The fact that a specification comes from the W3C or IETF or ISO does mean
>something, to me.  It means that, for instance, a single company cannot
>control it -- why Sun wasn't allowed to make Java an ISO standard, for
>example.  XML Digital Signatures are another example -- where two standards
>bodies -- W3C and the IETF -- had to work together to ensure a fair and
>technically feasible result that could be trusted and implemented by all
>with everyone's interests represented.

Lisa points out something important here. Standards bodies exist so that 
the people who have a stake in a standard can help design it. No standards 
body is perfect, and each has a different set of flaws, but all three 
standards bodies Lisa mentions do a good job of ensuring that it is very 
difficult for one company to dominate the process.

That does not mean that the result is always good. I've been involved in at 
least six W3C Working Groups, and have been an editor for at least one 
document on three of these, and while I've generally been reasonably 
satisfied with the result, the quality of standards within one standards 
body vary significantly. That's not just true of standards bodies - I think 
that the quality of legislation, charitable programs for those in need, and 
public education also varies significantly. Any time you get a lot of 
people involved in trying to do something good, the quality of the result 
is somewhat unpredicatable. But all of these activities are important, and 
though I have gripes about all of these, I would not want to do without them.