RE: Some Questions About VRML

Claude L. Bullard (
Mon, 27 Mar 1995 12:36:44 -0500

[Jan Hardenbergh]

| VRML is becoming a standard. That, by definition, means parts of it
| do get frozen. The parts that get frozen should be designed for the future,
| how far into the future defines the lifespan of VRML.

[Brian Behlendorf]

| But Wisdom has a role in the development of new technologies, Wisdom
| learned from getting burnt when the design of a system precluded a set of
| functionality which became more necessary as time progressed.

Yes. This avoids the tactics that hamstring WWW/HTML to this day.
They are being overcome by commercial products in light
of the increasing number of HTML variants. You have the difficult
choice of scoping prototypes to a weakly defined capability. There
should be no problem with strengthening it by citing the capabilities
the language will not have. Otherwise, be careful with the term
*standard*. It is a legal term which includes the provenance of
the organization which publishes it. You are creating a candidate
for a standard. This may seem to be quibbling, but it can save
a lot of hassling later.

[Gavin Nicol]

| On an ordinary day, I'd be tempted to respond to this in a vitriolic
| manner. Today, I simply cannot be bothered.

Good. So far, my original questions fetched about four *cooperators*
to every *grudge*. Extinction runs toward the grudges. More cooperation
and *manners* could go a long way toward slowing down moves
in the US Senate to *govern the net*. I doubt that anyone here is a bigot.
I grew up in a land of *real bigots*. These comments reflect
*prototype fever*. Very normal and not pathological.

[Andrew C. Esh]

| Precisely why we can't be concerned with trying to predict what VRML will
| be used for.

Are you familiar with the story of the man who invented a flying machine
for an ancient king of China? I do understand the need to get on with it,
but a little bandwidth dedicated to *what* can save a lot of *why not* later.
If you aren't a parent, it is hard to understand why those who are
object to certain forms of content. But, today, most of us can understand
why posting the formulae and procedures for producing nerve gas is not
a wise choice. Yes, the issue is a Pandora's Box with
no bottom, but some scientific communities have their own ethical
standards about what they will and will not do with their technologies.
This isn't the forum to create that, but you should give it some thought
and time at one of your conventions. As I note above, better you than
the governments of our countries.

In general terms, I am very satisfied with the majority of answers
I received to my original questions. Only one reply was a bit unpleasant,
and it was sent privately and responded to in kind.

Len Bullard