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Re: W3C, responsibility (Re: Why the Infoset?)

  • From: "Winchel 'Todd' Vincent, III" <winchel@m...>
  • To: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@s...>,John Cowan <jcowan@r...>, xml-dev@x...
  • Date: Thu, 03 Aug 2000 23:01:54 -0400

poor social responsibility
> >The W3C is just a lousy industry consortium.  Nowhere is it written
> >that it should or must be all things to all persons.
> Nope, it's not written anywhere.  In fact, in some ways, it's supposed to
> be pretty much the opposite, though many of us prefer to think otherwise.

There is no quesiton that a corporation has a responsibility to its
shareholders.  There has always been a question as to whether a corporation
has a social responsibility to non-shareholders (i.e., the community).  The
W3C is not a for-profit "corporation".  My understanding is that it is a
partnership between three universities from three different countries.
These three universities collect dues from international membership.  This
very unusual structure clouds the waters as to what the W3C really is and
probably coulds the waters as to what is has a responsibility to do and not
to do.

It is interesting to note that, at least in the U.S., there are laws that
exist, and recent precedent that enforce, punishment against corporations
that show especially poor social responsibility, even though those
corporations are pursuing the best financial  interest of their
shareholders.  For instance, there is the recent Microsoft anti-trust
judgement and the recent tabacco judgment -- both of which are more than a
small slap on the hand.

I am not saying that the W3C is misbehaving like Microsoft or Malboro, et
al.  I do, however, tend to agree that some of the W3C's behavior is
questionable, at best, self-serving, at worst.  Further, whether or not "it
is written anywhere", it is in the W3C's best interest to be many things to
many people even if many of those people are not its paying members.  The
W3C is in the business of creating "standards" (even if they don't have the
force of law).  Standards must be widely adopted and used if they are really
to rise to the level of standards.  Anything else causes fragmentation and

Some of the W3C's big lies (bad behavior) follow:

1. XML is backwards compatible with SGML

DTDs are no longer supported by the W3C, in favor of XML-Schemas.
XML-Schemas are not backwards compatible with SGML.  So, as a practial
matter, the statement "XML is compatible with SGML" really isn't true,
although this was the W3C promise in 1998 and much of 1999.

2. XML is nearly as powerful and a lot simpler than SGML

This was the promise and the marketing hype.  We've all read the following .
. . SGML has been around for a long time, but has always been too
complicated for the masses.  HTML is very simple and, therefore, gained
wide-spread acceptance among the masses.  XML, because it simplifies SGML,
yet is technically superior to HTML, is the next step in the development of
the web.

As it turns out . . . we have . . . Namespaces, XML-Schemas, RDF, XLink,
XPointer, XPath, XSL, XSLT, XSLT-FO, XML Query, XML-Signatures, Canonical
XML, SVG, Infoset, etc. . . . whew! . . . and all of these are consistent,
by the way, and work well together, and the W3C has done a great job to
explain how they all fit together in harmony . . . hmmmm . . . where is the

3. Namespaces

Consensus on this list is they they don't work.  Certainly, DTD validation
and Namespaces don't work.  Nowhere is this stated in the W3C Namespace

4. XML-Schemas (and the tools) are right around the corner

Good to know, since XML-Schemas purportedly solve all problems and DTDs are
no longer supported.

Microsoft gets flamed, among other things, for such behavior -- so should
the W3C.



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