XML is also a commercial
Thursday, March 5, 1998 by Dave Winer.
I've been in the loop on the upcoming XML conferences, and I don't like what I see.
The conferences have sponsors. Their logos are upfront. I guess that's what you get for being a sponsor. But there's more. The conference programs are closed, the software and ideas and proposals are being presented by people who paid for the priviledge. How do you get airtime? Pay them money.
The software industry conference world has been edging up to this level of commercialism, but the practice is crossing new frontiers. There is no separation of editorial from advertising. There is no guarantee that anything interesting will be said because the message is paid for. In other words, to me, these conferences are so commercial that they are just commercials.
Two of the biggest names in the industry, Microsoft and Seybold, are participating. I am not impressed, especially with Seybold, where I hold the honorary title of Seybold Fellow. Seybold's name is synonomous with credibility in this industry. To sell this name so cheaply is really disturbing.
I'd like to see another kind of XML conference, where speakers are paid to be there, or work for free, and get to do little or no product promotion. I'd like to see a conference where the thinkers talk and share ideas. It wouldn't be about positioning, it would be about learning and building and planning.
I believe XML is too young and too important to be sold out so cheaply. The rush to make easy money is defeating the potential. The software industry has to grow, overcome commercialism that's so shallow.
If the conference promoters change their programs, flatten the field, make sponsorship mean much less, I will participate.
No matter what we'll keep pushing new XML technology thru the web, and work with other developers. Our interest is in developing and deploying software for our users. I think ultimately that's where the value is.
Remember Push, the hysteria of 1997 that turned out to be an air show, an empty bag.
If XML is nothing more than a commercial, it will be nothing more than Push.
PS: People remind me that I sometimes forget to define the acronyms.
PPS: IPO stands for Initial Public Offering, a sale of stock that makes the founders and backers of the company rich, and provides the company with capital to grow.
PPPS: XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language. It's a rigorization of HTML, which is a very loose language that a lot of people understand. XML is beautiful, but it's getting really complex, which is a turnoff for the kind of people who were attracted to HTML.