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All fun stuff and the rules of genetics and ecosystems applied
metaphorically to human behavior and even computer systems have
a certain appeal and even revelatory power.
Simpler: human behavior operates in human time and the scales
of genetic systems don't apply very well to human time. In
other words, we die individually before we get results. Because
we want results we can touch, hold, see, use, etc., we focus on
systems that work in human time. We like to choose our fates
and even if the stuff we are made of limits certain choices,
being humans, we like to ignore that and push on anyway.
When ISO and SGML were slagged, technical and political issues
were conflated. SGML was in fact, flawed in some aspects. ISO
is a slow moving organization: by design. XML claimed it could
be the simple solution, but five years later, the XML framework is
quite complex. The W3C claimed it was an organization designed
to work in Internet Time, but five years later, it is just as
bogged down and in some ways, less predictable. There are no
magic solutions, no magical people, and no single group that
can make the Internet cohere or architecturally whole. Humans
in the loop, my friends, they is us.
We need options. In fact, today in human time, we are all
working with multiple authorities. ISO, W3C, IETF, OASIS,
even ECMA and NIST are all playing a role in shaping the
Internet systems. The W3C may own the names that define
"The Web" but that's it. There are overlaps in the missions
of some of these groups that cause tensions and conflicts,
but the alternative is to put all the decisions in one group,
and that is a fatally flawed approach. Empirically, would
RNG, DSDL and so on be in organizations other than the W3C
if we could make that work all the time for everyone equitably?
No. So some of the same key people who worked on XML are doing
follow-on work in other organizations. That's good.
XML-Dev is not just a sailor's bar. It is by acclamation,
by individual self-selection through subscription, the
XML commons. What is accepted here after the hard and
wandering debates typically thrives. What is rejected
here by a large consensus, doesn't. What is offered but
has divided support has a divided market. We don't have
to be very analytical or deep to understand why. The
best and brightest in our industry tend to hang out here,
not in an elitist forum, but in a junkyard dog debating
society. That is communication. It works well. We
are a well-informed lot. Information drives intelligent choice.
So when we slag off an ISO, revise our history for short
term gains, or reject a heritage that is clearly documented
and authoritatively still in place, we screw ourselves.
Worse, we screw our industry, our heirs, and our chances
of achieving some fairly noble goals for systems interoperation
and information sustainability.
What is at issue in this debate is our learning curve. Do
we accept and will we defend the evidence of our own eyes?
Can we keep our goals in front of us, understanding that
yes, as Matt says, we are representatives of lots of little
teams locked in competition, and find the common goals and
establish the means to achieve them?
I think we can, not by charitable view, but by empirical
view. We have a good track record of figuring these things
out. We have very strong and talented individuals who take
on the responsibility to test and implement ideas from this
list and from these organizations. The balancing act mentioned
in this thread occurs here as well as in those organizations.
Our comraderie is part of the reason we can do that, but our
tolerance and our hunger to learn, to use the information
provided, and our commitment to explore without reservation,
the implications of information and ideas, are even more
important. Balance comes of letting go of force and finding
and feeling equilibrium.
So for me, capitalism, socialism, communism, these are all
systems of thought. But in human time and for XML, what
we do here matters. We do it each for our own interests
whatever they may be and whatever we say they are, but in
the end, we are what we make of ourselves, not what we
consider ourselves, and XML becomes what we practice, not
what we sell.