Posts Tagged "Standard"

WebGL and the future of the web

What is WebGL and why is it important?

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Standards as social contracts

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 It was quickly superceded by HTML which, at the time, was not considered a standard.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 However, they’ve recently been superceded by…

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The Microsoft logo

Microsoft Loves RSS

A major win for RSS as Microsoft announces support for the format

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A matter of Style

The WTH Remix contest has ended and the winners have been announced, showing that sometimes, the net community can do better than standards creator. The grand prize winner is a visually arresting page (compared to the original) that has only a few small things missing in order to make it perfect. First of all, I would ensure that all the links have proper titles, something that a lot of people tend to forget when designing pages but which can be useful for disabled users. Second, I would replace the validation logos with a much friendlier CSS only alternative, similar to what some have done with the XML button. Second, I would put the A-to-Z elements in a list, as they should properly be. This would also take care of clearly differentiating them instead of using a CSS trick to hide special characters. The descriptive text about the consortium is needed on the page and could go above the news section in that design in order to match the existing information available on the page and the proper RDF tags would need to be reinserted in the page to ensure its continued progression with the semantic web. Last but not least…

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Mind the Gap

According to recent research, the digital divide may include people who are not interested in getting online. The implication of this are enormous, impacting areas like E-government initiative. The idea of providing more services online allows corporations and government to reduce costs by encouraging self service. However, if a number of people decide that there is no value in being online, how does one offer them service? Would prodding, in the case of corporations through increased fees, work? And how would governments, which are supposed to offer services for free (well, almost, since those services are paid for by tax dollars), reduce costs. These are issues that need closer attention and I believe there is a need to better understand why people drop out. According to the wired article, some of the reasons have to do with complexities related to going online. In order to resolve those issues, the industry needs to play closer attention to user experience and start figuring out how to make things easier. Return on investments in technology will increase if more people use a system. More people will use a system if it’s easier to use. However, few companies pay close attention to those kinds…

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Much Ado About XHTML 2

There has recently been much grumbling about XHTML 2 in general and its deprecation of the IMG tag in favor of the OBJECT one. While XHTML 2 is indeed a departure from the existing standards instead of being an evolution, it is important to realize that some of the things the workgroup is trying to do is fix old issues and help improve the overall development of the web. While I agree with Zeldman’s assertion that IMG should be deprecated in this version instead of being completely tossed out, I believe that the tag should never have been in HTML in the first place. The argument for an OBJECT tag date back to the early days of the web (circa 1993) when things broke down into two camps: one that wanted a quick and dirty way to show images on the web (the IMG crowd) and the other that looked forward and wanted any type of media to be embedded in a page (the OBJECT crowd). We are now paying for the decisions that were made back then and, much like tables are still in use for layout on most sites instead of being replaced by CSS, we will continue…

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How new features appear

Today’s release of Beta 2 of the Safari browser heralds the introduction of tabbed browsing in the much talked about browser. This is an interesting development which shows that sometimes, the influence of a particular browser goes beyond its existing market share. Safari’s tabbed browsing is a result of an implementation that first appeared in Opera, a browser used primarily by developers. Mimicking the Opera tabs, the Mozilla project introduced a browser which popularized the feature (the browser is Mozilla, and also serves as the core engine for the Netscape browser). When Safari was introduced, there was an outcry from the developers’ community over the browser’s lack of tabs. With this release, Apple shows that it is listening closely. All these developments are happening among browsers which have a combined market share equivalent to one fourth to one fifth of the one engine enjoyed by IE, the leader (in browser market share) offered by Microsoft. However, they point to an interesting scenario about how new features go from being enjoyed by a small but vocal minority to a wider audience. Tabbed browsing was one of the big innovations that Opera introduced in the marketplace but it wasn’t until Mozilla’s implementation…

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Blog, Internet, and Marketing

For the past week, I’ve been posting a fair amount about the raging cow and about establishing trust in a market where marketers are trying to get in side by side with other bloggers. Chris Pirillo makes some good points about the raging cow campaign: Is it so bad if they are trying to engage us in a conversation? If markets are conversations, as a popular book says, is Dr. Pepper doing the right thing? It’s a tough question to answer. After all, they are trying to do what we told them they should do. On a related matter, the blog world is now abuzz with a description of the Internet as an agreement. While the document provides an interesting set of concepts that are sound from a purely technical standpoint (yes, the underlying standards of the Internet are based on an agreement), it does not cover the variety of choices of what is on the Internet. If the goal is to say “hey, the Internet is just an agreement to tie networks together” then World of Ends succeeds. But the contention that this makes a difference does not really matter much in today’s world. What world of ends does…

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Trust, truth and networks

The raging cow incident shows that there’s a need to establish trust in the blogging (and maybe the web) world. Tim Bray demonstrates that most bloggers have relationships to products, concepts, companies, and other bloggers. His declaration of truth is a good start but there are a number of things that still need to be done. Meanwhile, Scott Johnson asks the important question: How will we establish the current level of trust we have for blogs?. It is an important question that requires much thought. In the discussions surrounding my suggestion of how we can level the playing field, I’ve learned a couple of things: First, whatever solution we come up with must be easy to implement. It is easy for those of us who are more technical to come up with XML rules and complex structure to represent the world. However, most people neither have interest nor experience in experimenting with such thing. Hence the first rule of any answer is that whatever solution is implemented, it needs to be simple. Second, trust is a very large issue and some portions of it are being addressed. For example, FOAF allows you to establish trust between friends. But what about…

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Internet in France 2002: An overview

Last week, I was in France for a short vacation. During that time, I got a chance to talk to people locally and get a better idea as to what was going on within the Internet market in France. Here are a few observations based on my understanding of what is going on. Strong Growth France had been a leader in terms of establishing an information society but was starting to get trapped by its legacy Minitel tool. The Minitel was introduced in France in the late 70s as essentially a precursor to the web. The service allowed users to read online versions of magazines and newspapers, shop in online catalogs, chat, play games, and have access to every government office. In the early 80s, Minitel penetration became so high that the government-owned phone company decided to drop printing of phone books and move that service to the Minitel. Fast forward to the late 90s. France is still on the Minitel and the Internet has gotten wide acceptance in the United States. At that point, Internet penetration in France is sluggish as few people see any value in it. As a result, the French government issued an ambitious plan to…

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