Re: Let's talk strategy (was: Re: Web Reliability)

Steve H Rose (
Sun, 30 Jul 1995 11:03:40 +0059 (EDT)

I'd like to make a high-level suggestion about the direction of http/html
and other standards in relationship to proprietary approaches developed
by private companies (Netscape and Microsoft extensions to HTML, Adobe
Acrobat, Sun's Java etc. etc.).

First, it is my belief that a lot of the arguments over standards are
based upon two fundamentally different perspectives.

The perspective of the WWW organization seems to be that it is important
to provide accessibility to the wealth of human knowledge. From this
perspective, standards are critical -- and the primary emphasis is on
<strong>information and its meaning</strong>.

In my opinion, this is NOT the primary perspective of private companies
such as Netscape, Sun etc. It is not just that these companies want to
sell products (which is their business) -- it is that they have a
fundamentally different perspective on what the WWW is about, and what it
can do or should do. From the commercial perspective, the importance of
the WWW is in its ability to offer <blink>controlled
multimedia interactivity</blink>. Advertisers want to be able to present
a message to customers in the way that it will be most effective (whether
the goal is getting them to buy, or just to promote a certain image of or
understanding of the company).

The key here is the goal-directed nature of business communication. It
is intended to persuade, not just inform. The fancier tools that can be
provided, the more persuasive the communication will be (at least in the
thinking of many companies).

So, there are two main groups of people trying to using the same vehicle,
the WWW, for totally different purposes: to provide access to
information vs. using a variety of tools to serve specific needs of
business marketing.

Is it necessary that these two functions be performed using the same
protocols and languages?

Is it possible (and/or desireable) for the international standards
community to "section off" http/html as a protocol for accessing
information, and simply provide the hooks needed for other protocols to be
established for the purpose of buseinss marketing communication? Web
servers currently speak ftp and other protocols as well as http, why not
mitp (marketing information transfer protocol), atp (advertising transfer
protocol) -- or java, acrobat, vrml or whatever the private sector comes
up with next.

Please forgive my possible ignorance of technical issues related to http
etc. and to the status of current proposals in the preceding suggestion.
I have had minimal involvement in the whole process (which might mean that
I can offer a new angle on things, or that I'm just full of it :-) Also,
please note that I am just offering it as a possibility -- I don't know if
it is a good idea or not.

Steve Habib Rose
Clear Nets
The HTML CyberClass
HomePage Associates