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Re: Apple comments on the W3C's proposal

From: Simon Brooke <simon@beesianum.jasmine.org.uk>
Date: 15 Oct 2001 16:18:49 +0100
Cc: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-ID: <87r8s56iee.fsf@gododdin.internal.jasmine.org.uk>
The following message is a courtesy copy of an article
that has been posted to comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html,alt.html as well.

Arjun Ray <aray@nmds.com.invalid> writes:

> Simon Brooke <simon@jasmine.org.uk> wrote:
> 
> | The battle is not, however, in my opinion, won,
> 
> What battle?  If it's to preserve the prerogative to ballyhoo the
> hothouse products of the W3C as "standards", then you have found the
> enemy... 

We need standards, because without them it's hard to create robustly
interoperable systems. If we are to have standards, we have to have a
mechanism for establishing them which has some degree of perceived
legitimacy - which people are prepared to buy into and respect.

The separation out of the W3C from the IETF has always seemed to me an
unfortunate move; for the IETF to once again take on the role of
standards setting body for the Web would seem to me a good thing. But,
from what I know of the personalities and history involved, that seems
to me not wholly probable.

So we're left with two alternatives: to increase W3C's legitimacy, or
to replace it.

Replacing it is not a trivial thing to do. A large collaborative decision
making process of any kind takes a lot of energy to actually make it
work, and a standards setting body for the Web is necessarily
large. That means organisation and a secretariat, and a lot of work
getting it set up and getting the necessary buy-in from as many as
possible parts of the Web constituency.

W3C already has the organisation and the secretariat, and it already
has buy in from a wide section of the constituency (although that's
been shaply damaged by the RAND debate). It seems to me that it is
less difficult to reform W3C than to replace it.

I'm still of the opinion that we should be prepared to replace it, if
necessary.

> | and won't be won until membership of W3C is open to ordinary people 
> | at a reasonable rate; until then the W3C must remain a rich corporates
> | club 
> 
> It has always been that, and nothing more.  
> 
> The W3C is an industry consortium.  
> 
> The W3C is not a standards body.

That's entirely a semantic argument, akin to and as valid as arguments
about angels and pinheads. The W3C produces recommendations, and, up
until now, most of the technically competent parts of the community
have attempted to comply with those recommendations. If it walks like
a duck and it quacks like a duck, as far as I'm concerned it's a
duck. The question is, is it a good duck or a bad one?

-- 
simon@jasmine.org.uk (Simon Brooke) http://www.jasmine.org.uk/~simon/

                 'You cannot put "The Internet" into the Recycle Bin.'
Received on Monday, 15 October 2001 11:19:26 GMT

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