HTML: The standard that failed?

HTML is a standard dictated by browser vendors — not an independent body.

Technically anyone can participate in the HTML standardization process, via WHATWG’s mailing list. But those who do so are known as contributors, and their role is much like that of concerned citizens at a city council meeting. Actual membership in the WHATWG is an elite affair, however, and is by invitation only. Currently the total membership consists of three representatives from the Mozilla Foundation, two from Opera Software, two from Apple, one from Google, and one independent developer.

In effect, that’s who’s deciding the future of the Web: four of the leading Web browser vendors, all of whom have incentive to pile ever more features into their products to compete with alternative RIA (rich Internet application) platforms such as Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight. (If you’re wondering where Internet Explorer fits into all this, notice that Microsoft is not a WHATWG member.) What’s more, Apple and Google are both prominent providers of Web content. But hey — surely they all have our best interests at heart, right? — via

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