W3C's 'Moral Majesty'

Tim Bray tbray at textuality.com
Sun Sep 19 21:11:28 BST 1999

At 12:19 PM 9/19/99 -0500, Steven R. Newcomb wrote:
>The W3C process is the (rather unwieldy) tool of the dominant software
>vendors, balanced against the flawed personal vision and absolute veto
>power of its Director, a single human being named Tim Berners-Lee.

This is simply not the case.  The idea of Michael Sperberg-McQueen or
James Clark or David Megginson or Ann Navarro as a "tool of the dominant
software vendors" is laughable.

> Everyone involved primarily serves
>special interests...

This is simply not true.  Fortunately, those of us who are not software
vendors and have been doing pro-bono work in this process have pretty
thick skins, or we wouldn't still be doing it.

>The idea of polluting all information with names from namespaces whose
>semantics and syntactic constraints are expressed by the behavior of a
>particular hunk of software 

The notion that the complete semantics of an element or attribute can
be captured in software is just as silly and limiting as the idea that
those semantics can be captured entirely by a schema or a stylesheet or
human-readable prose.  The latter comes closest in my opinion, but all
are necessary in the real world.

Namespaces are a facility to make names universal, no more, no less.
If we had no computers, generalized markup would be a silly idea.  
Generalized descriptive markup is a consequence of the fact that we
want to enable (unpredictable, non-proprietary) processing of structured
content.  Making the names that populate that markup universal, so that
vocabularies can freely be mixed, simply adds robustness to the system in
the face of the fact that the days of the Great Centralized Committee-Built
DTD In The Sky are over (good riddance). -Tim

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