RE: sunshine and standards development
At 12:29 PM 10/14/00 -0400, Jonathan.Robie@S... wrote: > > The W3C is in the business of developing technologies, not legislation. I > think that it is fair to say that the W3C has a leadership role on the web, > and that its standards are widely used. But it is not a legislature. The > "people" did not elect me to work on W3C standards, my company asked me to > represent them in the W3C. De facto, the W3C acts as the rule-making body for the Web. If it had genuine competition, I'd be happy to cut it much more slack on accountability, and wouldn't find its members-only approach or its confidentiality rules onerous. However, there is no real competition, and no clear path forward for such competition to emerge. Given that situation, I think it's worth considering that the W3C needs to be accountable to more than its membership. There was an interesting possibility for competition early on with the IETF, but the W3C and the IETF appear to have a non-aggression pact of sorts. While the W3C has stated that it isn't interested in vertical market applications of XML, it has an effective monopoly over generic Web specification development, notably XML, RDF, and XHTML (not to mention MathML, SMIL, and SVG). Competition with the W3C in those sectors is simply not feasible in a world where W3C Recommendation=Standard. Right now, that simple equation, which the W3C itself officially disowns, is definitely in operation. While RELAX is making a bold move through ISO, I'm not sure whether ISO can compete with the W3C for developer mindshare. The W3C might be wise to acknowledge and address the resentments that a closed monopoly process will raise over time, and consider changing some aspect of their approach - opening the archives if they want to maintain their decision-making role, or encouraging competition if they would prefer to remain closed. > > Does the Web need a legislature? If so, what would you want the legislature > to do? Interoperability requires shared understandings. Building shared understandings seems like a good thing to do. Right now, the W3C effectively holds two positions in that process: creator and approver. It might be wise to find a way to pass the approval process to another body - something like ISO, updated for the Web - and return to the 'business of developing technologies' in an environment where other businesses can compete with the W3C's ideas. In some sense, it would be a step down from the W3C's current level of influence, but it would open a large set of new possibilities. Radical nonsense, I know. Simon St.Laurent XML Elements of Style / XML: A Primer, 2nd Ed. XHTML: Migrating Toward XML http://www.simonstl.com - XML essays and books
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