On the W3C and Openness...

On the W3C patent proposal - My comments

At some point several years ago a whole battery of folks were mad enough
about the mess of standards support that we formed the Web Standards
Project. I think that that kind of grassroots development was something
that *was* listened to because dammit, we don't *want* to have to write
MS-HTML, Nescape-HTML, Opera-HTML, Whatever-HTML, etc - we'd much prefer
for the browser makers to support a core functionality that we can use -
and the w3c Recommendations are a great starting point. My hope is, that
they will continue to be.

In my estimation, companies are free to continue making proprietary
extensions to html and css (page transitions, <blink>, <marquee>,
scrollbar-face-color, <spacer>, etc), and I'm completely free to ignore
them, or use them if see fit. But the web as a platform makes the best
sense when there are standards that anyone who wants to play can use

It occurs to me that the W3C has earned a reputation for being the bearer
of recommendations that anyone can use, no questions asked. the way I
understand it, this policy will open the door for specs which not everyone
can use. There are other standards bodies for that, why have the W3C take
that on? To take some examples of proprietary formats folks use regularly,
but which are not part of the W3C - GIF, Quicktime, RealMedia, Flash, PDF,
Windows Media. These are doing fine without the help of the W3C, why open
the door.

I will admit, that despite having read lots of the discussion here, on
w3c.org, in the register, etc, I still don't have a firm grasp on the
potential impacts.

Given that, my words carry less weight - but I *can* say that if the new
change allows for me to one day browse to w3.org and find an interesting
new file format or protocol - and I then find that I can't write software
that uses it without paying some fee or agreeing to some license agreement
which allows some patent holder to *withdraw* the standard at will, I
think the w3c will have failed in its' mission to provide a web:

  "to all people, whatever their hardware, software, network
   infrastructure, native language, culture, geographical location, or
   physical or mental ability."

If the W3C can reconcile the new policy with this stated goal, then it's
win-win for us all. If they cannot, our web, the web of the individual,

I hope the W3C will consider very closely the role it has taken in
fostering a web for everyone, and see that it is in its interest to
continue in that role as a standard-bearer for all, and not merely some.

There are other bodies better suited for exclusionary technical

Thank you for this opportunity to voice my opinion.

	- Joe
...........  Joe Crawford : thinking and design about the web
.... enigmatic narcissism and miscellany : http://artlung.com
.... community instigator : http://WebSanDiego.org
.... San Diego, California, USA .....................AAAFNRAA

Received on Thursday, 11 October 2001 23:01:30 UTC