Re: Speaking for myself NOT for others about OI

Mark D. Pesce (
Sat, 10 Sep 1994 19:18:11 -0400 (EDT)

Addressing some more issues here:

On Fri, 9 Sep 1994, Mike Roberts wrote:

> This is not the kind of post I expect from a list moderator in any way, shape or
> form, regardless of provocation (or not, as the case may be). Some calming
> down is clearly **required** here.

True. I have no excuse. I behaved badly. I apologize. I do believe
that I was slandered, and I do practice the zealous defense of my own honor.
*Especially* on the net, where honor is *all* you have.

This list formed as a direct outgrowth of the WWW '94 BOF on VR held in May.
It is a direct outgrowth of the Web community, not out of newsgroups, per se.
I presented a paper on Labyrinth at that conference, and found that I had
touched about a whole host of issues that were swirling, unformed, in
most of the community's minds.

> 2) This list arose out of the opinions of a small number of people who wanted
> input on their ideas. I had a problem accepting this to being with, because I
> felt it constrained the discussion on the list. So, although I was generally
> interested in the area, I saw that the VRML list didn't, and would never be
> allowed to, satify my particular development goals (obtaination of a cross
> platform renderer with an external object maniuplation API, so I can go off and
> write collaborative, distributed, multi-user 3-d development environments).
> The list is contrained towards Mark's (and, to a lessor extent, others) very
> specific view of how to do net.vr, a fairly nebulous entity we know as VRML.
> The nature of this constraint is a contant re-itteration of "well, if we discuss
> that, we'll never get anywhere". There are other places to discuss general
> net.vr, and perhaps the time has come to engage a little more reliance upon
> them. I, for one, would welcome starting discussions of a more general
> nature, elsewhere, as this is certainly not occurring here. Probably Mark etc
> al would, as well. Again, I am open to correction on this.

Actually, I have been restrained from talking about Networking by my
co-moderator, Brian Behlendorf, to avoid confusing the VRML issue (which
is a syntax and definion issue, right now, BTW) with any other issues.
In fact, I *solved* the entire networked distribution problem for
objects, events, etc., and *that* was the focus of the paper at WWW '94.
To read my thoughts on this subject, check out the VMRL home page. It's
there. My main emphasis has always been on multi-platform design (I work
almost entirely under MS-WINDOWS, occasionally Motif, sometimes
Macintosh), and how to make that possible.

I always assumed we'd talk about networking *after* we could talk about
objects, which, by the by, we still can't do. Hmm...

> Good things may emerge from this list (I have already asked Mark for a beta
> copy of his stuff, and I hope he gives it to me, because I **do** have a use for
> it), but I do not believe that this list is not a list in which the general
> list-members really have any say in the direction of the projects being carried
> forwards at a rapid pace. Mark's company (Labarynth) clearly has a huge leap
> forwards in the implementation of a VRML browser, because these are
> fundamentally his ideas we are discussing. As such, Mark, and Labarynth
> clearly have a lot to gain from the adoption of a "standard" which is based on
> (primarily) his work, unless they plan on giving away all they write under the
> GNU public licence. He has been honest about this factor, I believe, but I
> think it intrudes on the function of a list moderator.

LG has had a leap forward in VRML browsers for 8 months, long before
anyone even knew what one was. So what? It means nothing because, once
we have a standard VRML, *any* decent programmer could hack one out of OI
or the CDK or what have you in a few days. We have no lead, except in
that we understand the requirements for VRML better than most people,
which would be true reguardless of my position as list moderator, because
I already have 15 years in networking, 4 in VR, and almost two in the
Web. It'd be hard to find someone better equipped to take advantage of
Web visualization. But I'm not *guilty* because of that. I *planned* it
that way. For four years I've been desging Net-based VR protocols. I do
have some understanding of the requirements of these systems. This gives
me a natural advantage, which I am *freely* sharing with this group. You
get the best part of me here, like it or not.

> I have to say, I find the notion of resticted "beta versions" of a proposed
> "standard" very odd. As I do unannounced negotiations between major
> vendors and list moderators with vested commercial interest in the
> technology. But this is the nature of the "new" net, and we do live in a
> comercial world, and perhaps I am willing to accept it in order to obtain
> things which I don't have the time, energy, or is some specific cases, skill, to
> develop.

I have to say that I too dislike restricted beta versions; but they're much
better than nothing and what I've been *given* to work with. That I
choose to share what I've been given should not be a cause for anyone to
regret. Getting SGI to donate *source code* to assist in the development
of VRML applications is no minor feat, either, and will go far to
leveling the playing field, at least initially.

What does "vested commercial interst" mean? Do I stand to lose money if
we reject SGI's offer? No. Business? No. Time? Probably. But I'll
continue developing our own VRML until we have a standard, so it won't slow
me down much. We can make this decision by consensus, or let it be run by
alarmists who are busy pointing out the obvious; that I would stand to
benefit from the adoption of OI as the VRML standard. Well, to put it
bluntly, I stand to benefit from the adoption of *any* standard, because
that's how I've positioned myself. You can call it self-interested; I'd
call it wise. If I had done anything but *encourage* other people to
begin commercial or PD VRML projects, I could be accused of duplicity, but
it doesn't hold a candle to the facts. I have been boosting VRML to
anyone I can corner long enough, because frankly, there's too much work
here for a tiny little company like LG, so some competitors/cooperators
would be much much better than a tiny LG in a tiny market.

Finally, let me go on record dispelling an old myth; that the Internet was
once a free and happy place where hackers roamed. It's false nostalgia
that makes me shudder. The Internet was formed as a defensive system that
would survive a US *first-strike* nuclear war, and back when I first got
on (1988), it still had a very heavy MIL tilt. Internet was free and
happy? Sure, if you worked for the Military-Industrial complex, or at a
big university, two times of notoriously poorly-grounded organizations.
It wasn't crowded, true, but it wasn't rich either.