June 12, 2007 01:46 | WebTech

Well said, Tim

Tim Berners-Lee, in a public mailing-list discussion about a very specific technical thing, elucidates something that so many people forget...

Your grandfather would perhaps have suggested that an attempt to define the meaning of common words, as the Académie Française is set up to do, were a 'vain task'. Many would agree. But given that his water came to him through pipes connected, possibly, by half-inch British Standard pipe-thread connections, and he rode on rails set a certain distance apart by some committee, and his TV came for better or worse in 525 or 625 lines as decided by other committees, he may have respected that the creation of standards is a very valuable function, and an essential to progress.

When people meet to define W3C specifications they are not doing it out of vanity. They are performing coordinated effort of the parties who would like to be able to use the symbol. They are, in general, users and representatives of users of the symbol. They come together to allow those who follow them to use it. They often work long hours, receiving inadequate recognition for either products shipped or papers published, the conventional metrics of performance, so I would not call it vanity.

Note also that W3C (IETF, etc) specs have achieved a lot, made a lot of interoperable systems, and formed with each layer a foundation for building new layers. So I would not say that the work as been in vain either.


I would add that the W3C is a totally open and participatory organization. Any one of us, you included, can and should participate.

Aside; I really feel like I am watching re-enactments of Medieval society and it's wars. The Internet is rife with feudal struggles on every layer of the stack, it'd be funny if it weren't so scary.


Or, more briefly, "what part of uniform don't you understand."