W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-sw-meaning@w3.org > October 2003

Re: in defense of standards

From: Peter F. Patel-Schneider <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
Date: Thu, 09 Oct 2003 22:59:06 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id: <20031009.225906.74190609.pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
To: sandro@w3.org
Cc: bparsia@isr.umd.edu, public-sw-meaning@w3.org

From: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>
Subject: in defense of standards
Date: Thu, 09 Oct 2003 22:18:34 -0400

> > > So working back, I end up saying you SHOULD NOT say things like that,
> > > and MUST NOT do so knowingly.
> > 
> > Piffle. Why project your fears and insecurity onto specs? 
> There's "best practices" advice and there's conformance to
> specifications.  Certain constraints in the design of open systems can
> be expressed in either place, often with tradeoffs in ease of
> implementation and likely failure modes.
> Look at any protocol specification, and you'll see lots of statements
> constraining what the parties are supposed to do.  If they don't
> behave according to the protocol, the overall system generally fails.
> In practical open systems, one hopes the failure doesn't affect things
> too widely, and fingers can be pointed.  
> Did you notice in the ICANN threats to Verisign how their contract
> says that Verisign's domain servers have to conform to certain RFCs?
> (Of course purchasers of parts are quite familiar with buying things
> conforming to certain standardized specifications.  MilSpec and all
> that.)  
> Because Verisign is required to act in certain ways, everyone else can
> write software which does cool stuff (resolves domain names!).  When
> Verisign cheats, software around the world breaks!  If there was no
> expectation that Verisign was going to stick to the protocol, none of
> that cool software could have been written in the first place.
> Maybe you know some way to build open systems without protocol
> specifications?
> It may be that my particular suggested SHOULDS and MUSTS don't need to
> be in the spec, but if you're going to argue that nothing needs to be
> said, and you're still going to build an open systems, I think you're
> just arguing for an undocumented protocol.
> > If you don't 
> > like it, communicate with your partners. You're free to say, "That way 
> > of saying this irritates me. I'm avoiding that"
> Negotiating with partners doesn't scale.  That's why we have
> standards.
>      -- sandro

Paraphrasing the above:	


I'm not arguing against the desirability of standards in communication, and
I don't believe that Bijan or Pat are either.  I, and I believe Bijan and
Pat also, are arguing about what should be said and, more importantly, what
should not be said in the standard.  Thus trying to make your point by
arguing that standards are necessary, or that the world will come to an end
if your particular standard isn't adopted, doesn't advance your point of
view one iota in my eyes.

Received on Thursday, 9 October 2003 22:59:15 UTC

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