Re: HTML: woes

Eugene Leitl (
Thu, 12 Mar 1998 16:20:40 +0300 (MSK)

On Wed, 11 Mar 1998, Damien R. Sullivan wrote:

> > [...]
> And Sasha brought up smart software which can negotiate appropriate protocols
> before it gets to you, also reflected in Vinge. But as this is a list

The mark of great standards is that they can be stretched, far beyond of
their original application area, while remaining fully upwards-compatible.

There are not many great standards out there.

> practically suckled on Vinge, let us not forget what else appeared in that
> book: an award-winning dramatic presentation of the interesting times which
> active content can bring you.

Indeed. And let us not forget what a sponaneously emerged or deliberately
constructed malignant global worm could do two decades from now... Not
only the marketplace would be ruined, it would probably mean many

> Microsoft is not the Blight, cheap attacks notwithstanding, but the prospect

No attack can be ever cheap enough. M$ may be not the Blight, but a great
paver of ways for one.

But even M$ is not the foe. Widespread human ignorance is the real enemy.
People purchase and employ things without understanding their modus
operandi nor future implications of their actions. Worse, after the damage
is done people don't understand that they are the party to blame. Instead,
a convenient bugbear idol is produced, much yelling & stone throwing is
conducted -- after that ancient ritual things apparently can go on as

This happens an all scales: whether sudden climate changes, reactor cores
gone china, or the secretaries's wedged Win95 PC. After the event, much
finger-pointing at the technical people is done, curiously intermingled
with demands to 'having it all fixed, somehow'.

There is an easy, albeit unpopular solution appearing on the horizont. The
human race is at the threshold of splitting into many species. As the
toolbox to implement such changes is both large and incredibly complex,
the techies should be at an advantage. Will the point-haired ones, and
their secretaries also make it?

> of not knowing what my mailreader is up to is about as attractive as waiting
> longer for a graphical mailreader to load so that it can display the author's
> choice of font and color. Me, I have Netscape 3 set to override document
> colors, although they forgot to catch <font> and table color codes.

Let's hope that the great code cleansing after the release of the Mozilla
sources will very soon result in a stripped, lean, crashproof Netscape

> > will have to make it a standard, and that is obviously tricky
> > (remember MIME?).
> Somewhere recently I saw a contrast of the IETF standards process --
> implement, implement, debug, standardize -- and the W3C process --
> standardize, implement, debug. It was suggested that IETF has a better
> record. The philosophical relevance to us would be an analogy linking IETF to

The IETF guys are great, yet not optimal. Sometimes they also catch the
comitee disease.

> evolutionary rationalism and W3C to constructionist rationalism.