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Standards bodies position themselves to address different areas. As a rough guide:
* ISO/IEC to look after specs where there is need for an international consensus,
or to rubberstamp some national or UN specifications, or for establishing
multi-application vocabularies, for product-related standards, for artificial
languages, and for non-Internet/non-WWW technology
* Unicode Consortium to look after character properties and universal encodings
* IEEE to look after the lowest layers, such as ethernet
* IETF to look after Internet protocols and specs, just past the transport layer:
so MIME, and TCP/IP belong at IETF
* W3C to look after WWW protocols and specs to bring the web to its full
potential,: so HTML, XML, RDF belong at W3C
* OASIS to look after applications built on top of the WWW and ISO: so
DOCBOOK and ebXML belongs at OASIS.
Then this is complicated by history: IETF has old RFCs for HTML. It is further
complicated by using XML in protocols: should SOAP and BLOCKs be at
IETF, W3C or OASIS? It is further complicated by party spirit: if someone
is comfortable working in one standards body and has relationships there, it
is natural to continue working out the ramifications of some base standard
there (hence XML Schemas and even more tenuously XQuery?). Often there
is more than one good way to do something: if one body puts out a spec that
others feel is not up to scratch or misses the mark, an alternative standards
effort will start perhaps at a standards body which is not really the nomimal best fit.
I think in our virus and spam-ridden world, there may be more sympathy to the
idea that we need to encourage viable "second-stream" technologies. Even
though standards bodies should focus on certain areas, there is no need for
rigid demarcations which inhibit second-steam technologies.
 "Standards are documented agreements containing technical specifications
or other precise criteria to be used consistently as rules, guidelines, or definitions
of characteristics, to ensure that materials, products, processes and services
are fit for their purpose."