"Recently there has been a great deal of noise made on
the Internet and the on-line press about the World Wide Web
Consortium's (W3C) consideration of a program to accept patented
technologies as standards. Many of the better known members of the
Open Source and Free Software communities have raised their voices
in opposition to this idea. Luminaries such as Professor Eben
Moglen, Richard Stallman, Bruce Perens, Tim O'Reilly and others
have all written publicly that they are opposed to this move on the
part of the W3C. Perens, in an interview with on-line news site the
Register has openly called for a fork if the W3C goes in this
In my opinion a fork should be instituted in any event, and now.
A standards fork would be an excellent choice at this juncture.
Here's why I think so.
For some time now the portion of Internet usage devoted to web
enabled technology has been growing more and more commercial in
nature. In and of itself this isn't good or bad but what is
happening is a little difficult to define. In general terms I think
that malaise should be used for lack of a better descriptive term.
Perhaps a better explanation would include the use of the word
stale, I don't know for sure. What I am sure of is that shaking
things up is sometimes a very good thing and I believe a fork in
standards would go a long way toward shaking things up! When was
the last time something truly innovative happened with respect to
web enabled technologies? Frankly I don't remember... wireless
claims to be it but it's really nothing more than an extension of
pre-existing technology. What else is there? Nothing, so far as I
can see, and therein lies, at least a part of, the problem.
Patented technology and patents themselves are causing a good bit
of the problem... the exclusivity is oppressive and it is
destroying what has been a wonderfully enriching tool! The World
Wide Web. Look at the fights over the gif file format... look at
what has been happening with the RIAA, and the MPAA as they have
fought to maintain exclusive delivery rights over art. Yesterday,
on Declan's Politechbot, I read a report about what the RIAA was
planning to do to continue their fight against P2P technologies and
then this morning I see it reported on Linux Today. Is there no end
to greed? So why not shake things up? What do the Free and Open
Source Software folk have to lose by forking? Let's take