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

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dave Winer [mailto:dave@userland.com]
> Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2001 11:27 AM
> To: Champion, Mike; xml-dev@lists.xml.org
> Subject: Re: [xml-dev] W3C Rants (was: RE: W3C as Golden Goose ...)
> Mike did the BigCo's contribute anything of value to the Web?
> Would the Web have been better off playing hardball when it 
> was driving the growth of  the industry?

Interesting question.  First, the BigCo's contributed *people*
to the "Web", if by that we all mean the de facto standards and
interoperable technologies.  Ultimately it's the people who wrote the specs
and the code, and BigCo's profits did allow them to pay people to do a lot
of hard and thankless work.  

Second, they contributed credibility to the result. Most of us would
probably not be sitting here chatting so amiably about XML if Microsoft had
not been promoting it as the Next Big Thing for the last 4 years or so.  XML
would be leaner, meaner, and cleaner without MS/Oracle/etc. contributing
"complexifying" requirements over the years, but it would probably have
about the mindshare that SGML had in 1996, or Python has today, without
their backing. 

Third, the BigCo's have *not* (at least in my personal experience)
"contributed" very much in the way of overt pressure to do things their way.
Their power really stems from the credibility they offer. I whined, cried,
and threatened to take my ball and go home on occasion in the DOM working
group :~) 
and was politely ignored.  BigCo's could subtly let it be known that a
certain feature could not be implemented in their codebase, or would
inconvenience their customers ... and the room fell silent while others
meditated on life in the pure wilderness vs life in the big city ... and
started looking for a compromise that the BigCo's could live with.  My point
is that they have this power no matter how nice their representatives are,
how democratic the rules are, whether this happens in the ISO, the W3C, the
IETF, or in some ad hoc meeting.  

How do you play hardball with the folks who own the playing field?  All you
can do is either accept that it's more lucrative to be a second stringer in
the major leagues than to be a star in the bush leagues, or to do what the
Linux (and Python, etc. etc. etc.) people have done ... hope that the Voice
in the cornfield is right when it says, "if you build it they will come."