What are the political underpinnings of the internet and can they have an impact on the wider political discourse?
Looking at the efforts Dave Winer is undertaking in terms of getting OPML to become yet another standard, I’ve been thinking about how formats get adopted. The key insight I came up with is that standards are actually a form of social contract and increasingly, data formats is following the same path. Looking at the history In order to look forward, it always pays to look back. The dominant standards for the web today are undeniably HTML (or its variances like XHTML) and HTTP. More recently, XML has emerged and, increasingly, RSS is becoming the dominant type of XML for sharing a variety of data. How did each of those standards become a standard. It is obvious now (hindsight is always 20/20) that standards bodies have relatively little bearing when it comes to influencing the succes of a format. Take, for example, SGML, which was the dominant standardized format for document formatting. It was quickly superceded by HTML which, at the time, was not considered a standard. The same is true of RSS and other standards for syndication. Formats like ICE, CDF, and NewsML were touted as the future when they were first introduced. However, they’ve recently been superceded by…Read More