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MoonGroup: The W3C Fork: Coming soon to a net near you!

Oct 05, 2001, 12:01 (27 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Chuck Mead)

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"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 direction.

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 inventory!"

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