Fire the W3C

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I have to disagree with Dare on his recent post about the troubles at the W3C.

I had to work, quite extensively at times, with the W3C working group related to RDF when I was writing Practical RDF. There were times when I thought I had walked into a lab and was chief rat. In particular, I was concerned about the R & D aspect of the work: where were the ‘practical’ people?

It was only later, as I saw RDF hold up under the challenges that I realized that the model has to be mathematically vetted before practical use could be made of it. For better or worse, the only people willing to take on this kind of effort, and having the background, are the R & D, academic types of folks. They’re not easy to live with at times, but they have more background for this work then the average person.

I know that the W3C has had problems. I do think it needs to connect more with the user base. I agree with Molly that it desperately needs to be diversified. But what are the alternatives?

Dare mentions relying on defacto standards. Would that be like HTML? We’re only now starting to pull ourselves out of the nightmare of inconsistent HTML markup and elements such as BLINK, or worse, FONT.

Dependending on proprietary standards such as RSS? But certain aspects of this syndication feed are imprecise, and this imprecision leads to confusion. All you need do is link two enclosures to see this for a fact, and this is only one of the more obvious. Look also at the fact that RSS has political overtones to it that will always cloud it use. Heck, the one organization ‘picked’ to help document it, was fired by the person who picked them! Excuse me, but exactly how are the W3C efforts worse?

As for the microformats community, are we forgetting nofollow? Well if not that, then ask ourselves something: what purpose does hAtom solve? Considering that the generation of the page is most likely from a data set and is dynamic, then how is hAtom any better than just generating Atom from the same data?

Lately I’ve been really looking at microformats and I can understand the utility of some–such as calendar and reviews–focusing on using specific markup to define business data. Others, though, look to me like an exercise in pushing data around just to do so. Have you ever played with dominoes? Where you line them up just right and then push them down? It’s cool a couple of times, but most people get bored and move on. Some (not all) of the microformat effort reminds me of dominoes.

More importantly, there is no real organization unassociated with a specific company driving out microformats.

The W3C has work to do. But I’d rather have the W3C, than not.

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