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RE: [xml-dev] W3C Rants (was: RE: W3C as Golden Goose ...)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Sebastian Schnitzenbaumer [mailto:schnitz@mozquito.com]
> Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2001 6:29 AM
> To: Bullard, Claude L (Len)
> Cc: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
> Subject: [xml-dev] W3C Rants (was: RE: W3C as Golden Goose ...)
> You're arguing that the W3C should become an
> "ex post facto" standards body again, standardizing
> "technology fully understood and available for
> implementation". Giving that thinking today we would 
> never have XML, XSLT, XPath or even HTML and the Web 
> itself in our hands. Someone has to pioneer this 
> stuff! This is XML-DEV, right? Who came up with XML,
> Microsoft? Oasis? The Pentagon? Shall we wait for
> them to develop "best practise" industry approaches
> and then have the W3C just put a stamp on it?

Uhh, a case could be made that XML *is* the best practices
evolved from 10 years' experience with SGML.  The original
XML WG did a lot more than "put a stamp on it," but I'm sure
this was true of the ISO technical committees that standardized
screw thread specifications as well.

> To recall, the whole idea behind the W3C is exactly
> to have the industry come together and share their
> collective experiences and requirements from the
> markets and then develop something universal based on 
> that. Worked pretty well so far, I'd say.

I have a somewhat less romantic view of the origin of the W3C.  My
impression is that the the Web technology vendors were caught between a rock
 -- the ISO's national-level, extremely slow-moving standardization process
and a hard place -- the IETF's individual-level organized anarchy.  They
needed something that operated at the vendor level, could quickly produce
common Recommendations on how they could overcome the practical problems of
the day, and basically to exploit the network effect so that everyone could
profit rather rather continuing a lose-lose situation of fighting over which
sites supported which proprietary tags. This collaboration made a world a
better place, but let's not pretend that the W3C membership are a bunch of
John Lennon clones sitting around in their hippie beads trying to Imagine
living life in peace! 

The collaborative standardization of web technology worked very well for a
few years, when the "internet revolution" was providing the rising tide that
floated all boats, and while the intellectual capital of the academic -
government - scientific internet collaboration was laying on the ground
waiting to be harvested.  The W3C process has bogged down very seriously in
the last couple of years because of IP concerns, because the ".bomb" made
the people who can actually do standards work effectively badly needed for
more lucrative work (or they just plain burned out), and because the
technology is getting into terra incognita. XML, XSLT, XPath and HTML were
"laying around waiting to be harvested" from seeds sown by SGML, DSSSL,
filesystems/string matching, and various SGML document DTDs.  Technologies
for typing, inheriting, querying, rendering, linking, adding semantics to
syntax, etc. have to be grown from seed (or hybridized from lots of diverse
sources) and it's an open question whether the W3C process will work for