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Re: ACTION-78: Suggestion text for 1.5.4

From: Philip TAYLOR (Ret'd) <P.Taylor@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2009 15:55:18 +0000
Message-ID: <4974A266.5080001@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
To: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>
CC: 'Robert J Burns' <rob@robburns.com>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>, Sam Ruby <rubys@us.ibm.com>



Sam Ruby wrote:

> Robert J Burns wrote on 01/18/2009 05:51:06 PM:

> So let me ask this: Is there *anybody* who *can't* *live* *with* this 
> proposal (namely removing section 1.5.4)?  If so, why not, and what do 
> you propose instead?

Although this is addressed to those that "can't live with this proposal",
the statistics will be seriously skewed if only their replies are
considered.  I therefore wish to go on record as saying that not only
can I live with the proposal, in addition I believe that the proposal
(if adopted) would lead to a significant improvement to the draft
specification, by removing prose that is both inflammatory and
unnecessary.

As to whether Larry's semi-humorous alternative is actually
better, I reserve judgement (for now).  Certainly, as Sam has
already noted, the WHATWG have done themselves few favours in
the realm of Public Relations, and it is therefore hardly
suprising that someone has read into their actions motives that
are at best debatable and at worst entirely ego-centric
and self-perpetuating.  As one who has both observed and
participated in this W3C WG virtually from its inception,
I can honestly say that Larry's analysis resonated deeply
with my own feelings.  In particular

> Others believe that this specification was the product of a 
> self-selected cabal of browser implementers, with a closely 
> held decision process in which technical decisions are made 
> by a single individual and dissent shouted down by his accolades. 

Apart from emending "accolades" to "acolytes", I would have
difficulty in faulting this analysis; whether it is accurate
is another matter, but certainly one could be forgiven for
reaching this conclusion on the basis of events to date.

> They believe that it is equally likely that this specification is 
> intended to preserve the hegemony of proprietary search engine 
> providers and walled-garden handset operating system makers by 
> stifling any innovation in the web that is outside of their 
> control.  

Possibly.  There may be other motives.  It's a conjecture
that may or may not be an accurate reflection of reality.

> This specification reifies and promotes current 
> poor practices of web authors who have taken advantage of 
> previous proprietary extensions and implementation accidents 
> in previous browsers, and permanently mandates backward 
> compatibility of web browsers with current desktop PC 
> applications in a way that forces a processing model that 
> is inappropriate for many otherwise legitimate contexts 
> for delivery of web content.

Even if we assume that the motives of the WHATWG's founders
were (and perhaps are) entirely benign, the immediately
preceding paragraph is a 100%-accurate reflection of my
own views on the weaknesses of the current approach. It is
(IMHO) by far the most important part of Larry's prose,
and is well worth debating in its own right.

Philip TAYLOR
Received on Monday, 19 January 2009 15:56:03 GMT

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