The web wasn't lost by people posting baby pictures to Facebook. The web was lost when Google leveraged market dominance to enact a complete abrogation of web standards -- since the HTML 'standard' is now a 'Living Document,' the standard is "do whatever Chrome does," which is an unattainable goal.

There are four voting members of WHATWG. Two of them use Google's web rendering engine. A third is entirely financially dependent on Google. The other one is Apple. Who speaks for you? Nobody.


The trick to this seems to be to gain a majority share of a given committee, then release an updated set of standards that nobody on Earth has the labor availability to enact.

Once your competitors fall behind your breakneck feature pace, look around and say "oh well, we're the only ones who matter, since nobody else is doing this!" and declare the matter closed.

Anyone who isn't rich enough to keep up can be safely ignored. Anyone who is rich enough to keep up can be bought out.

I don't really buy it.
I mean Chrome controls HTML not through the committee, they control HTML because everyone uses Chrome (except iOS, where Apple outright forbids it).

Also MS using Chrome engine doesn't mean they have no say at all, if Google pushes out a feature MS doesn't like, they can just disable it in their version.

Point is, standards aren't made by committee, they're made by pushing out "experimental" features, land-grabbing market share, then documenting them ex-post.

Risk is that they'll create a "DRM webpage" feature where ad-blocking is impossible. Then web developers will use this so they can monetize websites easier. But even with overwhelming market share there are still a million things that can go wrong with such a plan as that.

@cjd @khm I don't know if you're referencing "Web Bundles", but in case you aren't: It's the latest Google thing to block the blockers.

Previously, Google's WebExtensions Manifest v3 causes problems with uBlock Origin and all other tracker blockers:

@garrett @khm
Thing is, a Googler with a spec sheet and a deadline is no Tim Berners-Lee, or dare I say, Theodore Nelson. While he's desperately trying to convince himself that his overlords will NOT just bolt DRM to his creation the moment it gets traction, he's not going to do amazing work.

Which gets to the heart of Google's problem, they're creatively uninspired.

@cjd I agree with your last point, but that only works once you've broken the standards committees. Google tried to ignore them, then wound up having to go back and form WHATWG anyway, because the W3C wouldn't be distracted from standards-based protocols.

Microsoft won't devote sufficient labor expenditure to deviate from core Blink features, in my estimation. If they tried it, there would be a user revolt once Youtube got slow, or GMail glitched, or any of the other tricks Google pulls.

@khm As a friend said 25 years ago: "Whomever cheapens the standards first, wins".

He was speaking more of an embrace and extend strategy, but regulatory capture as you've outlined here is even better, then your embracing and extending can actually be part of a standard and still serve as a barrier to entry.

@khm thank you for describing the problem, I agree. What is the solution? How we slow down the web standards approval?

@af I'm not sure the web is worth saving and I don't know how we could if we wanted to. All we can do to prevent this sort of thing from happening to other protocols is participate in the standards process and demand adherence to the standards we have.

@khm I remember when "embrace and extend" was associated with Microsoft, not Google.

Same difference these days.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Mastodon @ SDF

"I appreciate SDF but it's a general-purpose server and the name doesn't make it obvious that it's about art." - Eugen Rochko