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Re: Why Standards?


standards useless
Jonathan Robie wrote:
> This is, of course, the standard propaganda technique known as poisoning 
> the well. Here are two good descriptions of this technique:
 >
 > http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/poisoning-the-well.html
 > http://seercom.com/bluto/skepticism/criticalthinking/irf.poiswell.html

I've re-read my message and Jim Waldo's blog entry a couple of times, 
and I can't seem to figure out what prompted this reaction. Perhaps you 
can explain in what sense my posting (or Waldo's post) is an example of 
poisoning the well? Quoting from your first link:

"This sort of "reasoning" involves trying to discredit what a person 
might later claim by presenting unfavorable information (be it true or 
false) about the person. This "argument" has the following form:

    1. Unfavorable information (be it true or false) about person A is 
presented.
    2. Therefore any claims person A makes will be false."

I'm not quite sure what unfavorable information you're referring to, or 
what person it was directed against. I respect your contributions here 
on xml-dev and to the larger community, so if I have inadvertantly given 
offense, I apologize.

> The fact that something is developed by a standards body says little 
> about its relevance to a market or its future adoption.

Agreed. In fact, I'd go further; individual companies or developers are 
MORE likely to produce bad solutions to technological problems than 
standards bodies are. But see below...

> XML, XPath, XSLT, DOM and CSS were all developed by standards bodies, 
> and have been widely accepted. 

My purpose in posting the link to Waldo's post was not to insinuate that 
standards are useless, or that standards bodies are incompetent. 
Instead, I thought I'd bring an interesting article by a person whose 
opinion I respect to the attention of the xml-dev community. I also was 
attempting to propose some of the XML standards as a counter-example to 
his simple description-good/invention-bad dicotomy.

> RELAX NG has not achieved widespread 
> adoption, but the standardization of RELAX NG core has not hurt its design.

Agreed again. But, it's possible that the standardization of XML Schema 
may have hurt the adoption of RELAX NG and led to a less-optimal 
situation than if neither had been standardized (or standardized at such 
an early stage).

I said above that individual companies or developers are more likely to 
produce bad solutions than standards bodies are. The difference is that 
the cost of non-standardized bad solutions are borne by those who 
produced them, while the costs of standardized bad solutions tend to be 
propagated to a wider community. Of course, the benefits of standards 
are spread wider as well, and can be magnified by network effects that 
are much harder to gain where multiple competing solutions exist.

I agree with your advice about deciding when to use standards. I'm still 
  looking for the answers about when and what to standardize.

Jim


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