Required Reading (was Re: Who needs XHTML Namespace?)

David Megginson david at
Wed Sep 1 16:05:18 BST 1999

Paul Prescod writes:

 > You didn't address my main point: XHTML mixed with other namespaces is
 > not ready for prime time. There is no definition of conformance for
 > either documents or processors. Until it is ready for prime time
 > namespaces are superflurous. They don't tell you anything you couldn't
 > have got from the DOCTYPE.


Essentially, Paul and I are arguing two classic positions, both of
which are better described in the section "The Rise of Worse is
Better" in Richard Gabriel's "LISP: Good News/Bad News/How to Win
Big".  Paul's position is what Gabriel calls "The MIT approach" and my
position is what Gabriel calls "The New Jersey approach".

The MIT approach ("the right thing") dominated standards, software,
and systems development from the IBM days of the 50's and 60's until
the late 80's, and the New Jersey approach ("worse is better") became
the clear leader by the mid 1990's when the Internet and the
worse-is-better Web so thoroughly trumped the entire computer
establishment.  Who knows what the next decade will bring?

The MIT approach tends (perhaps unfairly) to be associated with
waterfall development and with top-down management; the New Jersey
approach tends to be associated (again, perhaps unfairly) with
incremental development and bottom-up innovation.

In any case, it's unlikely that Paul and I will be able to change
each-others' minds, so anyone who would like to see what we would have
written if we had continued this thread is encouraged to read
Gabriel's article; it's one of a tiny handful of paper's that
essential reading for anyone working with the Web.

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at

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