As well as having glitzy graphic features, I think the web has
had a technical advantage in the form of protocols that have made
more use of existing standards and new standization that has unified
various features of the existing net.
The reason our institution has addopted first gopher and then www
was that they offered a cross-platform standard for electronic
publishing. (Unfortunately gopher+ was so seriously hacked
that it was pretty hard for third-parties to develop effective
implementations.) One development team no matter how brash,
daring, and inspired can't be the sole basis for a cross-platform
I'm not a major figure in the standards development process, but
I have been on the working group lists for a bit now. I'd
feel better about Netscape et. al. if they did something
to introduce things to the IETF working group and get comments
before unleashing them on thousands of users or at least
before taking them out of beta. Talking to people at conferences
doesn't mean as much to me as mailing proposals to the
working group mailing list and particiating in the discussions
there. As it is, the working group is presented with a choice
of standardizing on Netscape's ideas or ignoring them: the
large base of users makes it harder to make constructive
changes after they have been let loose. In the same vein,
I wish Netscape paid more attention to the SGML issues...
getting these right is important for standardization.
I think the entry of new web browsers from providers like AOL
is going to make evident the problems in relying on "defacto
standards" and ad-hoc "extensions".
-- Albert Lunde Albert-Lunde@nwu.edu