Can Marc come out and play?

My musings about the dangers of Protocol Poisoning seem to have hit some kind of nerve right in the center of Marc Canter's head. Ka-pow!

Of course I wasn't arguing with Tim Bray over protocols. I was trying to deal with his legitimate question about the size of the WS specs. The fact that he works for Sun didn't enter into the equation. He's a smart guy and I was intrigued by his question.

But this isn't Marc Canter's main point. He wants to drill into some kind of essence: that “we don't want standards controlled by Microsoft or Sun. It's that simple.”

I understand the gut feeling. I was in a small company most of my life. Microsoft was a force we always had to contend with, whether we liked what it was doing or not.

So I know there is a lot of baggage.

But I look at it differently. First of all, I don't think Microsoft can “control a standard.” Microsoft can put forward a set of proposals, but they will only become “a standard” if a bunch of players adopt them. And people will only adopt them if they see the proposals as generating good for the consumer and the industry.

The question thus becomes one of whether Microsoft can adopt – and put forward – proposals which generate enough good. If we can, Microsoft becomes a force that can be harnessed to speed the technology's incarnation in reality, helping to create a new environment that will potentially benefit all players. That's why I work there.

I'm not used to speaking in the royal we. But I think there is enough that is good in proposals like WS-trust and InfoCards that we should have a conversation rather than serving up bottles of vitriol laid down in past lives. Let's look at some of what you could do at the application layer if a fully interoperable infrastructure were in place that made the application platform work in a distributed way.

After all, that's where a new world of possibilities could open up for a certain brilliant (if attractively belligerent) innovator.

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Kim Cameron

Work on identity.