The past couple of columns extolling the virtues of Firefox were enough to tell that he was ‘one of us’, but this week Stephen Fry is blogging about the W3C and WHATWG. In fact, this makes a lot of sense, if the W3C’s efforts were to be compared to a gameshow then one, like Mr Fry’s QI, where the contestants regularly end up with a negative points total would be an appropriate analogy.

Recently: Opera takes Microsoft to court, which leads to calls for the CSS Working Group to be disbanded, which is, unsurprisingly, shrugged off by the working group itself, and then Microsoft announces that IE8 passes Acid2.

And as you’d expect there’s been a lot of froth and nonsense across the interested blogs.

My thoughts are that progress is being made, both by people like the the IE team (the current versions of Opera and Safari already pass Acid2 and Firefox 3 will pass it as well) and by the W3C which has made some good efforts this year to be more open and transparent.

It’s good to question the way things are, and Andy Clarke’s post about the working group has certainly made people take a good look at the status quo. But I feel that his proposed alternative would take us back to the time where the W3C created specifications that bore no relation at all to what the browsers were actually doing or planning to do.

As far as Opera and Microsoft goes, this is more about commerical advantage and business models than it is about web standards per se. Opera’s current business model aligns itself with web standards. Microsoft’s business model is so large and complex that it can be both for and against web standards and as the Acid2 result shows the team building IE8 are for them. I think the lawsuit is a sideshow and shouldn’t be allowed to dominate the standards discussion.

For many of us the shenanigans of the CSS working group hold a strange fascination, but I think that Mr Fry is right to point out that it’s in the areas of video and audio that the next big battle will be fought. As such Microsoft aren’t the main bad guys, Apple and Adobe probably are. Going back to business models, these companies are both secretive and fond of closed proprietary solutions. I’m not saying that either of them are evil through and through, but I’d love to see a lot more openness and cooperation from them in 2008.

Anyway, Stephen Fry is blogging about W3C working groups and open source video formats. He’s so one of us.


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  1. Stephen Fry’s blog is a real gem.

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