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Re: Microsoft's responce to XML.com article.>

  • From: "Michael Champion" <Mike.Champion@s...>
  • To: <xml-dev@i...>
  • Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2000 02:01:18 -0500

> With all respect, I think the lack of resources are the fault of the W3C
> membership policies, which seem designed to strongly discourage
individuals > and small organizations and businesses from participating in
the process.
> US$5000 for an Affiliate Membership is beyond the reach of most of us and

But that is small change compared to the amount that W3C member companies
must invest to subsidize the time of working group members, pay for their
travel to meetings, etc. The W3C is what it is -- a consortium of
organizations whose products collectively dominate the Web industry. It
works by laboriously building consensus among competitors.  This is a
significant  weakness, because it slows down the process and leads to less
than elegant results. It is also a great strength, because the results
become "real" standards that tend to get implemented.

> Whether this policy is because the big players want negotiations to go on
> in secret (and secrecy is inherent in the W3C structure so it can't be an
> accident) or because W3C just can't be bothered with the "little people"
> is a matter of speculation.

This subject was thrashed about herelast Fall rather thorougly. The W3C's
secrecy policies are there because it is a treaty organization of
competitors, not a friendly group of collaborators.  Imagine the chaos if
IBM, Oracle, Sun, Microsoft, et al. were allowed to leak each other's
proposals to the press in order to put their own spin on everything to press
a competitive advantage.  Imagine if the technical people working on the
specs had to answer to their PR people every time they posted to a W3C
mailing list! Look at the relatively open US political system, with the
press and pundits and consultants/lobbyists entangled in the whole process,
and nobody willing to take a coherent controversial stand on anything.
That's what a truly open W3C would look like.  It would make the current W3C
look like a thing of beauty by comparison.

This is not to say that there should not be a truly open Web standards
organization.  Such a thing might function well as an association of
individual technical experts (representing themselves rather than speaking
for their employers), e.g. the ad hoc group that produced SAX.  I suspect
that such a process can produce quick and simple standards that put a
minimum amount of order in place where none existed, or to agree on subsets
of existing specs that we can all REALLY support.  But when it comes to the
really nasty questions that are as much political and economic as technical,
such an organization would have no way of getting its result to be adopted.

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