October 3, 1998
It's been a while since we spoke... seems like the industry got depressed in late summer, then the depressive-to-manic phase transition lagged a bit. I'm back though, with a bulgin' mailbox and cynical grin. -X.McL.
The Falling Interleaves of Autumn
The biggest industry news in recent times is Interleaf having snapped up some part of SoftQuad. (Blind leading the blind? Cannibalism? Saprophytism? Necrophilia? Get your nearly-new metaphors here!) Now this is what I call really puzzlin' evidence, let's see:
- Buying into display technology just as the Web browsers approach XML-readiness?
- Buying into a licensing relationship with Inso? (typical Inso licensing arrangements are said to be reminiscent of the part of Amistad before the rainstorm)
- Buying into an unpatched-for-years SGML authoring system that was getting wiped out by ArborText and Frame anyhow?
- Buying into SGML and leaving the XML and HTML technology behind?
Well, I'm puzzled, anyhow. But there may be an explanation: another group that's suffering a certain amount of puzzlement is industry conference conveners, who are reporting that Interleaf people are showing up to give speeches where SoftQuad people were on the program. Maybe that's it, buying some SoftQuad was a way to get on the program (Note to Interleaf: there are easier ways).
Unseasonable Northwest Winds
That gentle breeze wafting through the trees just east of Seattle isn't meteorology, it's wagging tongues, heavy rumor traffic going on up there. For example, we hear that a well-known XML parser author is getting ready to bail from a Bellevue-based heavy-FOX company.
And even bigger breezes: that same rumor-mill also says that another little software company based in Redmond is getting a new XML generalissimo, someone said to be a FOB (and that's not Clinton). Maybe we'll start getting some straight answers about XML and IE? Probably too much to ask...
Winter in Chicago, and Other Cruelty
Getting a paper rejected by a conference is always kind of painful. It's even worse when it happens twice. It seems that's happened to at least one luckless victim at XML '98; they'd submitted a paper to SGML/XML Europe '98, had it turned down, and then, out of the blue, received notice that their (un-submitted) paper had been refused entry to XML '98.
As my correspondent says:
One hopes there was a higher purpose in re-rejecting papers than merely inflating the total number of submissions (surely after being rejected once, it's dead, not just submissive), and I'm sure that any correspondence between the quoted number of submissions for XML'98 and the number of submissions for, say, SGML/XML'97 is purely coincidental.
Speaking of cruelty, have a look at that conference's web page: will somebody please give the organizers a team brain transplant? Start with 90k of graphics, the most prominent being a picture of a bird's head emerging from a colossal pair of buttocks. Then add prominent misuse of the <BLINK> tag (please, people, everyone civilized stopped doing that, with good reason, in 1995). For a special thrill, look at the list of keynotes:
Of the four keynote speakers, no two have their names, titles, and affiliations typeset in a consistent way. GCA is supposed to be a publishing-oriented interest group? (By the way, note the presence of a new Microsoft name... could he be that new FOB?)
I got the following in the mail from the chair of a W3C working group, who thought it was just too good not to share. This is 100% for real, nobody could make it up:
From: <XXX (removed-to-protect-the-idiotic)> To: <XXX@w3.org> Subject: About I've just joined this list, I'm organizing lists in my computer by topics... what's the topic of this list? Thanks