Alternatives to the W3C

Len Bullard cbullard at
Mon Jan 17 17:23:08 GMT 2000

Simon St.Laurent wrote:
> Given that the W3C's 'real' authority seems to be moral - Tim Berners-Lee's
> historic moment creating HTML and HTTP gives him enough authority to lead a
> consortium of feuding vendors, 

No.  They members join the consortium and sign the papers giving him 
or the position of Director that authority.  

> and that the W3C does virtually nothing to
> enforce standards conformance on vendors, I think this last sentence can be
> safely ignored.

There is no possibility of enforcement except conformance testing.  NIST
worked on this issue exhaustively.

> The main difficulty with any non-vendor organization purporting to set
> standards of any kind is getting them adopted.  In the IETF model, this is
> pretty much accepted as a problem for individual standards to deal with -
> running code is an important part of the process, as is the need for two
> different interoperable implementations.

Right.  That is the key:  willingness to sign the papers of membership
for the 
W3C, but moreover, resources to implement recommendations.

> Some amount of wasted work is unavoidable - see, for instance, the very few
> implementations of SMIL 1.0 (vendor resistance, apparently), the halting of
> http-ng, and a few thousand other pieces of roadkill along the side of the
> Internet.

I note that SMIL is in one form in RealMedia.  So is XML.  RealMedia is
combination of propritary and open standards that produces an extremely
and pervasive application.  The importance of the RealMedia player which 
operates outside the HTML-centric web browser shows both the potential
different application development strategies and a business model that
without being under the domination of any member of the consortium.  RM 
is as brilliant a strategy as I have seen.  
> Is there any chance of forming the ad hoc group that Michael describes
> above, using as open a model as possible?  The IETF and the W3C appear to
> have moved beyond their cease-fire to a peace treaty, so I don't think the
> IETF is an option for such work.  Similarly, it's not clear that OASIS
> (which charges fees, but at least the level is much lower) would be
> interested in work that might well compete with W3C initiatives.

Stop.  Quit trying to outspec the specHeads.   It is a waste of effort.  
Create companies and compete with products.  A good tactician uses the 
strength of the competitor by "embrace and extension".  We can hate 
MS tactics, but they beat everyone and the only way they have been 
curtailed is by the force of a government.   Call it what you will, 
running code that does something demonstrably useful for the community 
of web users who really don't give a damm about the specs is a winning 
strategy.  If you look at the email, you are being 
told to your face to join up, pay your dues, or quit whining. 

It's a clue.  This is the tone of those whom so many of you seem 
so desperate to help.  Face it, Simon, you got a lot further just 
taking a group and creating a schema design.  Then you decided to 
go along with the W3C in a spirit of cooperation.  Now we have a 
baroque overbuilt draft for a schema that even XHTMLers have 
yet to include in a design.  

> The kinds of projects suggested above - subsetting and filling holes in
> existing specs - seem like a good place to get started, and see what
> happens from there.

Why not fill those holes with running code built over proprietary and 
practical solutions which can be patented and by which your companies 
can profit?  This is working remarkably well for MPEG. 

The future is outside the web browser.


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