W3C's 'Moral Majesty'

Steven R. Newcomb srn at techno.com
Mon Sep 20 17:49:21 BST 1999

[David Megginson:]

> Rather, Steve is arguing that universal names should not be an end in
> themselves -- and that's a very reasonable argument -- but that hardly
> disproves the claim that Namespace-qualified names are
> universally-distinguishable.

Thanks David.  You're right.  When Tim Bray said "universal", I
understood it in the general sense of the word, not in the sense of
"universally distinguishable."  I do believe that namespaces make
names universally distinguishable, and, in fairness, that is all that
the namespace spec claims.

Tim Berners-Lee's universalistic claims for namespaces and RDF,
including his interpretation of the namespace spec, are what I take
issue with.  He is creating expectations for reliable information
interchange on which he cannot deliver, but which are crowding real
solutions out of the public mindspace.  When W3C does not deliver
something that works, and instead delivers something that does not
work, the official explanation is, "This is part of the solution, so
use it, trusting us when we tell you that rest of the solution is
coming Real Soon Now."  It's very dominant-software-vendor-ish
behavior: when you don't have anything, occupy the market space with
promises, thus starving the competition for business.

My point is only that the W3C is a software-vendor-dominated group,
and it behaves as such.  "By their fruits ye shall know them."  That's
neither good nor bad; it's just a fact that should be borne in mind by
those who are thinking about looking to the W3C for technical
leadership.  For some people, including the largest software vendors,
the W3C is a good choice.  For many, it is best to regard the W3C as
just one leadership resource -- one that has much to offer.  I believe
that some of its gifts are Trojan horses, and I can't be silent about
that, even if I have to play the role of Cassandra.  "Look inside the
horse before taking the horse inside your city walls."  That's all.


Steven R. Newcomb, President, TechnoTeacher, Inc.
srn at techno.com  http://www.techno.com  ftp.techno.com

voice: +1 972 231 4098
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