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

Liam Relihan (
Sun, 30 Jul 1995 19:54:02 +0100 (BST)

On Sat, 29 Jul 1995, Steve H Rose wrote:

> Possible strategies could include:
> 1. Business as usual -- trying to develop the best possible
> internationally accepted standard through the usual committees in the
> usual timeline, and hope that the standard will be so valuable (e.g.
> style sheets so powerful) that the browser makers will adopt it.

Compared to other standards committees, a hell of a lot has
been hashed out so far. However, most standards committees don't have to
deal with such a lack of cooperation from the implementors. Are there any
useful parallels in the history of standards bodies ?

> 2. Try to speed up the process and release HTML-3 as soon as possible,
> thereby "competing" with other "standards" and encouraging browser makers
> to adopt HTML-3.

I like this.

> 3. Forming coalitions and alliances between different groups (e.g. Mosaic
> and Arena team up to develop and commercialize a really great browser --
> going into direct competition with Netscape).
> 4. Supporting associations that will work for standards

I think this is a good idea.
HTML friendliness should be made a selling point of HTML-aware software.
For instance Intel's "Intel Inside" campaign was a clever (albeit
cynical) attempt to simplify things for the consumer and the vendor; by
buying a box with an "Intel Inside", it is implied that you are buying a
safe, reliable, *compatible* product.

> 5. Trying to scale back proposals so that they provide only a bare
> minimum of critically necessary functionality -- so that we can all at
> least continue "talking" with one another -- even if we don't understand
> everything each other is saying.
> None of these is necessarily a great idea (I probably think the last idea
> is the most realistic, but I really don't know) -- I would simply like
> for people to start talking about what strategy might make sense.

I'm not sure how (or if) implementors like Netscape can be brought back
into line. As it happened, Netscape completely ignored the standards
committees and went straight to the people with their bastardised HTML. It
looks like the people are effectively in control, and if we want to reach
them we have to do it with applications and/or marketing, not standards
documents. I am not totally happy with this state of affairs --- HTML is too
important to be implemented without careful consideration.

> In all this discussion, I think it is important to understand what "our"
> role is. Are "we" trying to define everything, or just the bare miniumum
> needed for connectivity? What is our basic interest in this whole
> issue? Are "we" trying to ensure that everyone will be able to get
> access to some information, most information, or all information. Is
> that realistic?

Maybe we need "mission statements" and such.


 Liam Relihan,                                        Voice: +353-61-335322
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