This interview with the author of & has some interesting criticisms of :

"The W3C editors haven’t provided a level playing field and I truly believe the specification is now worthless as a unifying force for the free web. [...] Any opportunity for free web unification using a common stack has probably been lost. Ironically, I believe this was ActivityPub’s primary goal, and that makes the specifications [...] flawed — critically."

HT @strypey

@wu_lee @strypey that was interesting ; he has had a pretty amazing career. His perspective on protocol as being merely a "gentleman’s agreement" seems a bit naive given his experience. There are significant social, political & historical dimensions to protocol development, that cannot be simply brushed aside and ignored. The w3c, to their credit, try to work with those messy dimensions.

@edsu @wulee true, but I think his point was that protocols and standards only work if they help achieve consensus between implementers ...
@wulee @edsu standards bodies, even W3C, can't make all apps of a certain type use common protocols simply by publishing a standard.

@strypey @wu_lee no of course not, but that's not really what the w3c is trying to do. they try to bring implementors together agree on what the standards should be. it's certainly not perfect by any means.

@edsu @wulee exactly, which is why @mike is right that protocols are ultimately a "gentleman's agreement"

@strypey @wu_lee I disagree. Implementors do not act merely as individuals, but often as participants in larger social projects. Also, I really bristle at the idea that it is only "gentlemen".

Mike MacGirvin's said: "There’s nothing magic about a protocol. It’s basically just a gentleman’s agreement about how to implement something."

Strictly that statement is about protocols, not standards committees (W3C).

A "gentlemen's agreement" here means one which is loose and/or bound only by fidelity, not literally gentlemen or exclusivity thereof.

Seems uncontroversial to me: standards should not be too loose. But they do need implementation fidelity to be useful.

@edsu @strypey

What I think MacGirvin's trying to convey overall is that protocol standards are often:

a) too vague
b) too specific
c) not strictly followed, both by accident and on purpose.

And thus they don't work as well as they might.

The author and others apparently concur: has some of a), does some of c), and this makes their work harder and less effective.

@strypey @edsu

comes off lightly here because we only hear MacGirvin's side, and I gather it has no W3C support nor 3rd party implementations.

@edsu @strypey


Hmm, case in point: that @ mike mention links to his Hubzilla channel somehow but Mastodon's web UI doesn't open it like a mention...

@strypey @edsu

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