Re: two webs?
Wed, 20 Jul 1994 01:13:39 +0200

|>>Are we seeing the beginnings of a rift in the WWW? Recent developments (W3O,
|>>the commercialization of Mosaic) have led me to wonder if there are two camps
|>>out there, that are becoming increasingly polarized:
|>I too have spotted a little fraying on the web and this is of *grave*
|>concern to me. Once a crack develops it is very difficult to repair.
|>There are, in theory, twenty million or so of us and my experience leads me
|>to believe that orchestrating that many people is virtually (sic)
|>impossible. If a crack exists then I suspect that people are falling into
|>it at the rate of tens every minute. Now, am *I* being paranoid?

You have it completely the wrong way round. The whole purpose of W3O is to
ensure that there is one standard. The problem up until now has been that the
standards have been decided by the first person to get code out the door more
than careful consideration.

This did not happen because people were actively trying to break things. It
happened because we did not have the resources to coordinate things. We did
not have enough people to keep libwww up to date with all the various changes
made outside. The code base diverged. This is being rectified at the moment.
There is no point in four separate libraries being deveoped using the same

|>My two "no's" show that you make a not unreasonable but fundamental
|>mistake. I have no intention of following *anything* other then W3O
|>conventions and reccomendations. My concern is the size of the web. The
|>bigger the better and so two webs is, for me, an unmitigated disaster. If
|>the NCSA conference diverges from W3O then that is *terrible* for all of
|>us. Browsers immediately double in size!

The NCSA conference was proposed before W3O was set up. Its not suprising
therefore that they did not anticipate the W3o world view - whatever that
might turn out to be. W3O does not even officially exist yet.

|>>Now I probably shouldn't be throwing my unsubstantiated impressions ...
|>Well, as long as you know that NCSA/Mosaic is not a tablet of stone but
|>their server is robust and easy. I spent two weeks trying to put up the
|>CERN server.

On what platform? Did you report the problems? When was this?

The server was a complete mess until Ari sorted it out. Now it seems pretty
good. We have it running on VMS and ten UNIXs. Some things may be a little
gcc-centric but its meant to be K&R.

|>>The renaming of NCSA's Mosaic conference to "The Second International WWW
|>>Conference-Mosaic and the Web" and its co-sponsorship by CERN is promising,
|>>but why is NCSA not involved with W3O? Or is it?

Its a bit difficult for anyone to be involved at the moment because W3O
exists only as a domain name I don't think that there has been
any announcement about who is taking part except for MIT and CERN who are
going to give it house room.

As for beating up on Microsoft and the NSA, both are quite wellcome to join
as far as I am concerned. You can hardly be an open standards organisation
and then try to keep them out. In fact given some of the objectives set
for W3O we would be damn fools to try to do it without listening to what
the NSA have to say in particular because they set some pretty important

Phillip M. Hallam-Baker

Not Speaking for anyone else.