Re: Open Standards Processes
Rick Jelliffe wrote: > > People have been saying that the W3C process is not open. > I was invited to join the SIG as an outside expert, and not as a > spokeman for any group. <snip> > . . . they can only use whatever experts are available. > For markup languages, there are not a real lot. And I (and I am sure > many other newcomers to the XML SIG) found that many issues > being discussed are so complicated that it would hinder progress > if issues had to be re-discussed every time a new person came along: > to be actively involved requires that you study up on what has already > been done, as much as possible. > I can't help wondering if the standards under discussion don't differ qualitatively from your garden-variety standards like how big and yellow a banana must be to cross a border. Standards like XML and her sisters may well be a flash in the pan, to be replaced by the Next Great Thing in a decade or so; or, as I think more likely, they may well have an impact and longevity more akin to Gutenberg's printing press. Absolutely impossible to predict what cultural and political consequences will follow, once the huge investments have been made embedding these standards into our material (electronic? cyber? information?) culture. The experts involved do indeed possess very impressive technical expertise, but perhaps it's too important to leave to the experts. OK, so it's not exactly human cloning; but I have this nagging suspicion that 103 years from now the political scientists and historians will be writing about how the Web (in spite of honorable intentions of its Western designers) managed to serve, without anybody noticing, as yet another subtle instrument of Western/Northern domination rather than as the liberating force so many hope it will be. I hope this doesn't sound too alarmist; but consider the cultural impact of a monopolistic operating system company in the first era of widespread personal computing. People on this list don't need reminding, but the vast majority (at least in the US) have never even learned the there are other ways to compute. If I've misunderstood something I hope somebody will correct me, but if I'm not mistaken pretty much everybody involved is from the the "developed" world, mostly the West. This observation is not to be construed as a slam against the W3C or the people involved, whom I respect a great deal. The W3C has no doubt made excellent good-faith efforts to internationalize the standard; but is there any input from, say, an Indian librarian? An Egyptian computer scientist? An Ugandan Web-site operator? Has the W3C made an effort to seek out qualified professionals from "the South"? I don't see how it's possible for a truly "world"-wide-web to happen without such input. Case in point: in spite of the excellent work that has been done to extend support to non-European languages, none of the current standards, as I understand them, properly support right-to-left writing systems. They may support *content* in Arabic (or Farsi or Hebrew), but the many 10s of millions of people who use the Arabic writing system need to be able to access all aspects of computation in their native languages. It's fine to be able to operate *on* another language; what's needed is the ability to operate *in* that language. Then "they" will not be dependent on "us" for their software. I understand it's no easy matter to rewrite gcc to support c programs written entirely in Urdu, but XML (and XSL and etc) is another matter. It's entirely reasonable (IMO) to write the spec in a way that supports multiple writing systems. Well, if you've read this far, thanks for indulging me. To tell you the truth, the whole reason I got involved in SGML etc is because I wanted to have hypertext versions of the great classics of Arabic literature. Now the possibilities of these technologies are so intoxicating that I get a little excercised at the thought of my 2nd favorite language being passed by. And isn't the thought of contributing to a profound and widespread expansion of freedom more exciting than the prospect of a making a few bucks? xml-dev: A list for W3C XML Developers. To post, mailto:xml-dev@i... Archived as: http://www.lists.ic.ac.uk/hypermail/xml-dev/ To (un)subscribe, mailto:majordomo@i... the following message; (un)subscribe xml-dev To subscribe to the digests, mailto:majordomo@i... the following message; subscribe xml-dev-digest List coordinator, Henry Rzepa (mailto:rzepa@i...)
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