Re: W3C, responsibility (Re: Why the Infoset?)
----- Original Message ----- From: "John Cowan" <jcowan@r...> To: "Michael Champion" <Mike.Champion@s...>; <xml-dev@x...> Sent: Friday, August 04, 2000 11:11 AM Subject: Re: W3C, responsibility (Re: Why the Infoset?) > > > Ruthless elimination of complicating > > constraints will be much more effective than attempts to eliminate > > self-serving behavior, even if such a thing were possible. > > Unfortunately, discarding Real World constraints produces the beautiful > product that nobody uses. "Worse is better." Therein lies the rub. Which real world constraints are truly necessary, and which are checklist items that everyone thinks they care about but don't really need? Obviously I'm not suggesting something like LISP, which was elegant but simply didn't meet the requirements of the Real World. I'm more trying to warn the W3C away from inventing something like Ada, which was well thought out but had far more than the Real World really needed. I think the only historically supportable answer is to start from a simple core, let various innovators add pieces more or less freely, and let natural selection pick and choose what requirements are truly necessary and which approaches truly meet them, sometimes adding, sometimes removing. To use examples in the area of procedural programming languages, that's how we progressed from FORTRAN through Algol, Pascal, C, C++, Java, .... As desireable as it might sound for some large organization or committee to set standards before the practical knowledge of what is truly useful has been painfully acquired, that path has led mostly to costly evolutionary dead ends such as PL/I and Ada. Or in networking protocols, natural selection brought us IP, TCP, and ultimately the Internet; a committee brought us the OSI networking model. One can of course argue that SGML/HyTime/DSSSL, LISP, Ada, and the OSI reference model are in some abstract way superior to what evolution hath wrought ... but I think the Real World has spoken quite clearly on the subject. So I think the answer is to start simple (as XML more or less has), and add additional constraints (or remove unncessary ones) one at a time, via different activities in parallel rather than as one big blob of interdependencies, and let the marketplace (of products and ideas) sort out the winners and losers. The W3C could clearly play a useful role in such a world, but probably less as an engine of innovation (at which it is doing progressively less well lately) and more as a neutral judge blessing victorious innovations and deprecating the ones that don't truly prove their worth.
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