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Re: [xml-dev] Standards and Antitrust

On 11/16/2013 06:38 PM, Pete Cordell wrote:
> My experience of standards processes is not dissimilar to trying to
> agree things on this mailing list!  The only real difference is that
> they have to come up with a deliverable.  The "conspiracy" is more that
> each participant tries to get in their particular wish, and there's a
> lot of "I'll support your proposal if you support mine."  I'm not even
> convinced that most standards bodies are populated by the brightest
> people!  Why would you send your smartest person to help other people!

The answer is that those other people include all of your descendants.

> I'm sure in some cases it's the one you want an excuse to get out the
> office!  And they are told to get X in the standard and that's what they
> are appraised by.  

Not always.  Some people do the work just so there can be a standard,
perhaps in order to clear some sort of hairball out of the path of
civilization's progress along the alimentary canal of human history.
That's why I did such work, and I know several other people, whose names
you probably know, who have made significant and costly contributions
while acting from the same motivations.  (They are their own toughest
appraisers, by the way.)

> Not by preventing some other person's dumb idea.  The
> result is that there are often too many cooks.  It's surprising anything
> sensible comes out of these bodies and when it does it's usually as a
> result of a particularly gifted chair.

Yeah, it's an artform, and their are greater and lesser artists.  Here
we agree, Pete.

The cathedral and the bazaar are both necessary.  Cathedrals should
enable and empower bazaars, and bazaars should enable and empower
cathedrals.  When that happens, it's called "prosperity".  The
constraints imposed by the cathedral enable the so-called "free" market
that then pays keep the cathedral's roof from leaking.

A standard, like all legislation, should be designed to seek prosperity
for *everyone*'s descendants, and therefore it must be based on an
understanding of, and some sort of agreement about, what prosperity
actually means.

A standard that gives an anti-disruptive advantage to any class of
existing rent-seekers is suboptimal by definition.  If those rents were
allocated to productive purposes, prosperity would increase.  But the
legislative process is an ugly sausage-making procedure, and the results
are always suboptimal.  That's why it is called "the art of the
possible".  It's a high calling, and it's humiliating for every serious
practitioner of it, too.  One must not expect anything, except possibly
an opportunity to sacrifice oneself on the altar of prosperity.

The problems we have, and are having, I think, come from the idolatrous
"free market fundamentalism" that it's somehow a virtue to be
exclusively interested in private monetary gain.  That it's virtuous to
ignore, exploit, or even damage, rather than strengthen or create,
cathedral/bazaar systems.  That to win the game of life is to find a way
to install a private tap on some artery of civilization, and then to
gorge oneself on its blood.  But that road does not lead to prosperity,
as everyone can plainly see in the current unemployment epidemic.  The
legislative process should be arranged in such a way as to reward the
opposite attitude.  Alas, it does not.  It's urgent that we do something
about it.  We need some heroes and hero-artists now, and some are
popping up, here and there, but there is never an oversupply of such
people.  Personally, I'm watching.

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