Saturday, October 28, 2006

Reinventing HTML 2.0

It will be interesting to see if many care about this and who they are if they do. In some ways, this flurry coming from the W3C stalwarts is the reality test of the continuing or discontinuous relevance of the W3C to the evolution of standardized web systems on the Internet.

It is possible that without much fanfare and little notice, the control of web evolution has passed back to the industrialists who quietly sponsored it and insisted on its primacy in major acquisitions. At least in the USA, those institutions passed into the control of MBAs from B-schools whose dominant computer literacy is with spreadsheets.

So the question is, can spreadsheet-augmented intelligence fix the mess made by Tim Berners-Lee et al with the launch of HTML and the Mosaic web browser if Sir Tim and the W3C can't?

This will be fascinating to watch. The mammals are relentlessly innovative in their messmaking and the means they deploy to clean it up or to avoid cleaning it up. In the latter, the well-financed announcement is usually something to the effect that the mess is actually a clever, simple solution and simple is always preferred.

In technology and politics, the best approach is always slow and steady with diplomacy preferred and guns kept unlocked but loaded.


Anonymous said...

I'm thinking the blogosphere is making a bigger deal out of this than is warranted. Isn't the W3C simply acknowledging the reality that the "WHATWG" folks have more credibility than the official XHTML WG for creating the basis for real interop, but they don't want admit defeat and alienate a vocal consituency by taking XHTML off life support?

In typical W3C fashion, when confronted with a choice between A or B (HTML5 or XHTML 2), they are choosing A *and* B. No news here!

Mike Champion

len said...

You're likely closer to this than I am, Mike. Since I resigned Intergraph and left my TAG subscription with that company, I've not paid much attention to standards. I've been building a VRML world and looking for a job. Also composing music for my church, but suffice to say, survival is the top pursuit.

Anywho, I think the future of HTML was put squarely in the hands of the winners and survivors of the browser wars because they have to choose what gets implemented and fielded; so cooperation goes as far as it can then economics takes over.

Once HTML was fielded over a decade ago, the milk was spilt. TimBL's original choice of tag soup was the shape that could not be unforged. Again, low-energy transport economics took over and the evolutionary stable strategies resulted in bifurcations along browser company lines. The customer base doesn't see the need for a change anymore than they saw the need for cars if they could have faster horses.

So my comment is more that these changes if they come about will be slow in coming unless a company puts horses up front because the cart is way overloaded and the guy(s) with their hands on the reins can't hold the reins and feed the horses at the same time.

An overwritten way of saying that HTML not the W3C's to dispose of any longer no matter what they propose. They are the very best now, leading advocates for change.

That is how low-cost transport economics work: once system stabilizes and the large masses assume their orbits, big changes are almost impossible without expending lots and lots of energy (Hohmann transfers). Low cost navigation requires little energy but lots of precise calculations, fuel for small course corrections given noise in measurements, and time. Lots and lots and lots of time.

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