I'm horrified.

First, a little history about me and how I got interested in the World
Wide Web.

I had been a user of bulletin board systems (BBSes) since early 1991
when I was still in high school. I soon got into FidoNet and quickly
grew tired of the exclusionary political games that were played between
the "good old boys" who had been there for years.

I got my first Internet account in 1996 on a local ISP and quickly
found this World Wide Web I had heard about but hadn't had the chance
to experience for myself. At the time I was running OS/2 and using a
browser called WebExplorer (not to be confused with Microsoft's
Internet Explorer, which had either just been released or had yet to be
released). The disastrous effects of proprietary extensions to HTML
became quickly obvious as a good number of sites I viewed showed up as
rectangles with red X's through them followed a demand to "upgrade to
Netscape (Navigator) now." This was how frames sites showed up in
WebExplorer until Netscape ported a version of Navigator to OS/2.

It was not until months later on the
comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html newsgroup that I had learned what
happened to the HTML 3.0 draft, and that it had failed in essence
because browser authors were already doing their own thing, and in the
process undoing the work of some of the people who had helped make the
World Wide Web what it was.
Fast forward to today. We are just now recovering from the fallout of
the Microsoft versus Netscape "browser war." The biggest casualty from
this war is that a fantastic standard -- Cascading Style Sheets -- went
largely unimplemented until fairly recently, and in its place we got
garbage like the FONT element (which as I understand was standardized
in HTML 3.2 only because there was no impartial third party reference
for what current browsers supported, and since deprecated).

The Internet simply would not exist the way it does now if there were
patents on technology like TCP/IP, DNS, and FTP. Allowing patents to
work their way into World Wide Web technology would set the industry
back to the "bad old days" that Tim Berners-Lee referred to in 1996
when "Best Viewed With Browser X" labels were all the rage.

In summary, there is nothing non-discriminatory about RAND. It
discriminates against free software and is a slap in the face to the
roots of the World Wide Web.

Shawn K. Quinn

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Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 15:59:14 UTC