HTML5 Renaming Reflects Web Power Struggle

HTML5 Web Trends 2011 Everything-pr


While some might be convinced that Google runs the Web, all references to the standards that power it refer back to the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). In 2004, interested parties from Apple, the Mozilla Foundation,and Opera Software formed a group called WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group) that sought to address what they perceived as a “lack of interest in HTML and apparent disregard for the needs of real-world authors”.

Since then WHATWG has gradually grown into a standards organization in its own right, propelling the development of HTML5. W3C, which had previously focused most of its attention on XHTML, jumped in to support it, and everything seemed to be harmonious.

On Tuesday W3c unveiled a logo for HTML5, labeling it as “an all-purpose banner for HTML5, CSS, SVG, WOFF, and other technologies that constitute an open web platform”, essentially opening up HTML5 for just about anything web-related and open.

Apparently, Ian Hickson, the specification editor from WHATWG, liked the idea a little too much and has declared that HTML versioning should be abandoned entirely. HTML should just be HTML with no number attached to it, he argued. W3C is not convinced, and if the two organizations were individuals sitting face-to-face at a table, you could probably cut the tension with a knife.

People like buzzwords, and although Hickson may have a valid point in terms of technical jargon, calling the new specifications HTML without any indication of something new is just bad PR. HTML5 as a term may be technically meaningless, but the hype has generated plenty of interest.

A power struggle for open standards is still a power struggle nonetheless, and non-profit organizations have to maintain positive PR just as much as commercial businesses. WHATWG has definitely lit a fire under W3C, and maybe,in the long run, a little a competition will be a good thing for those of us who use the web.

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