Re: Working Within the System

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Sun Apr 30 2000 - 06:07:28 MDT

Adrian Tymes wrote:
> Billy Brown wrote:
> >
> > Just because a bunch of companies get together and issue a 'standard' does
> > not mean that their work should have any special protections, or that
> > everyone should immediately adopt it.
> HTML was not made by a company. It was first written by a scientist
> looking for a better way to share information, and freely given away.
> There was no commercial incentive - at least, not until Netscape came
> along. A number of other widely-supported computer standards - HTTP and
> Linux, to name a couple of the more popular ones - similarly had no
> corporate backing before they became popular enough for companies to
> take notice.

A government is a monopoly corporation, and that scientist worked for a
government institution.

Of course that picking nits, but the HTML standard created by CERN would
never have gotten anywhere outside of CERN if some companies had not
jumped on the bandwagon. Netscape has had tremendous influence on the
evolution of HTML (now in its version 4.0 implementation, I believe, a
far cry from CERN's version 1.0), as have other companies. These other
companies all decided to cry and whine when Microsoft came in and
developed its own standards and its own variations on interpreting the
standard tags (just as ALL browsers do. none display the same page in
exactlyt he same way) microsft came out with ActiveX, and all of the
Mac=heads who hated microsoft who worked in these new browser companies
(i.e. mostly students right out of school, where they used macs almost
exclusively) automatically rejected the standard, rather than embracing
it, just because it came from microsoft.

> > Portability standards, like Java, HTML or POSIX, are essentially marketing
> > efforts launched by coalitions of companies who do not have enough market
> > share to be viable competitors by themselves.
> > Interoperability standards, like TCP and HTTP, are another matter. Because
> > their purpose is to allow products from different vendors to work together,
> > it is usually in everyone's best interests to fully codify and support them.
> I submit the up-and-coming Wireless Application Protocol as a
> counterexample. It's an interoperability standard that, at its start,
> was launched by Unwired Planet (now and whoever it could beg
> into supporting. WAP is sufficiently unstable that, aside from
>, practically everyone who officially supports WAP also
> supports WAP's competitors - for instance, UDP/IP.

So we should all support an 'unstable' standard simply for the sake of
keeping competition around? The point of competition is to determine who
is best in a particular market segment. Losers should not be kept around
except in a Museum of Innovation Losers. Keeping poor alternatives
around creates economic drag.

> > No one is *entrusted* with anything in a free market. Commercial entities
> > can only control a vital technology if they are actually doing a decent job
> > of managing it, because the moment they begin making mistakes they create an
> > opportunity for rivals to make big money by fixing things.
> So long as the screw-ups haven't placed so many barriers to leaving -
> for instance, holding the domain name they bought for you even after you
> send notice to NSI that the ISP no longer has your business and thus no
> longer has a right to your trademark, or just plain buying up the ISP
> you were going to switch to - that switching becomes financially
> infeasable.

If you were dumb enough to have your ISP register your domain name for
you, and they paid for it and put it on your bill from them, then you
deserve to get screwed. I always find out the DNS numbers for my ISP,
then register my own names and point them at my ISP's servers. I notify
the ISP I am doing this, and I create a domain directory for them on my
portion of their servers. THus I remain in control.

> > > (such as because Microsoft's are buggy and insecure).
> >
> > Ten years ago this remark would have been on target. Five years ago the
> > matter would have been arguable. Today it is simply ignorant prejudice.
> > Microsoft's current performance in both these areas is in the top 25% of the
> > industry, and still improving at a steady rate. They aren't the best in the
> > world, but they are much better than average, and unless the Unix vendors
> > get their collective act together they *will* be the best in another five
> > years or so.
> virtue of having bought up or run out of business all competition
> that did have their act together.

If the competition did not beleive in the validity of their product, and
only cared about money, then their technology and their business
practices obviously did not 'have their act together'. If you know your
product is best, you shouldn't surrender until you are living in a shack
(been there, done that). Someone who takes the money and runs is not the
kind of advocate for their technology that is likely to get them to the
top to begin with, and their product deserves to be under the control of
someone who will put it to its best use.

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