XML.com anti-awards

Elias Sinderson elias@email.arc.nasa.gov
Mon, 07 Jan 2002 15:23:01 -0800

FoRK'd from http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2002/01/02/taglines.html - Sorry
about the formatting...

<taglines/> Anti-Awards 2001
By Edd Dumbill

As expected, James Clark deservedly scooped up the "XML Cup" for
contributions to the XML industry at XML 2001. To redress the balance in
favor of the usual cynical sniping, I'm happy to present the <taglines/>
Anti-Awards for 2001, intended to burst some overinflated XML bubbles.
The panel of judges had a tough time making the final decisions, having
been overwhelmed by the trickle of nominations received during the
holiday season. If you feel your company, project, or consortium has
been unfairly omitted from the prize winners, please let us know and
amends will be made in next year's awards.

Most Egregiously Oversubscribed Industry Bandwagon

A strong contender for this gong was none other than XML itself. One
reader complained that despite only being a small part of any computing
solution, XML gets all the attention -- probably a disgruntled CORBA
expert. There was, however, a clear and outright winner in this
category: the much-hyped world of Web Services. Congratulations go in
equal measure (like some conference keynotes) to Microsoft, IBM, and

Most Spectacular Incidence of Committee/Project In-fighting

This category was particularly strongly contested. After all, if you
can't dissent, what's the point of being on a committee? Runners-up
include the W3C Advisory Committee for the RAND/royalty-free patent
licensing debate and the ebXML project for, well, just about everything.
In the end, though, the judges decided to bend the rules of the category
somewhat and give the award jointly to the inventors of the host of XML
schema languages -- W3C XML Schema, RELAX, TREX, RELAX NG -- whose,
shall we say, "interactions" have given the clearest signal of the end
of the W3C's hegemony over XML.

Lazarus Award for Seemingly Doomed Yet Surprisingly Persistent

Hopeless causes are plentiful in the XML world, and some of them survive
for longer than anyone could reasonable expect. With such rich pickings,
you'd have thought nominees would abound. However, as most people tend
to be in charge of at least one lost cause, XML.com readers were
reluctant to cast the first stone. The judges, however, had no such
reservations. Honorable mentions go to Cyc, Doug Lenat's project to
describe, umm, everything, which seems to be having a renaissance of
press coverage, and also to James Clark's two year old XSLT processor,
XT, which despite Clark's explicit disowning of it, is still in use.
With this in mind, Clark's recent condemnation of DTDs is expected to
add at least another ten years to their life expectancy.

The winner in this category is the W3C's XLink specification. Conceived
of at the same time as XML 1.0, this carrier of the recessive HyTime
gene persistently refused to emerge from its embattled Working Group.
Despite calls for the WG's membership to be dragged outside and disposed
of, XLink's struggle into maturity in 2001 was met with myriad cries of

Most Technically Deficient Initiative Kept Alive by Marketing Dollars

One person's technical excellence is another's tangled mess of angle
brackets, so the entrants in this category were judged more on their
marketing aspect than a technical evaluation (this roughly translates to
"don't sue us, it's only a joke".) An honorable mention goes to the
Value Chain Markup Language (VCML), "an agreed-to business vocabulary
that takes a vocabulary-based approach to B2B collaboration". If you
like your mission-critical enterprise integration to be seamless, and
your B2B collaboration to be end-to-end and peer-to-peer, it sounds like
VCML's for you. The winner of this category is the much-vaunted UDDI,
whose press-intensive launch depleted entire rain forests, yet somehow
failed to produce anything of any use whatever. The sheer momentum of
the bandwagon has meant a UDDI 2 release was required to fix up the
ailing specification -- a possible contender for next year's awards.

Best Use of Acronyms in XML Initiative

A star has faded from the XML acronym world since the DESSERT recipe DTD
got imaginatively renamed RecipeML(TM), but the web
services world provides new hope. Microsoft has a particularly strong
talent for fun acronyms, proving they are Real Nice People after all and

not at like those dull guys from Sun with their JAJAs (Just Another Java
API). Unfortunately Microsoft's DISCO is now a piece of ancient
history, but they still provide a winner this year with ROPE, the
remote-object technology for SOAP. Soap on a rope, geddit? Never mind.

Most Inappropriate Use of XML

Several readers were rather aggressively opposed to the new W3C
Recommendations SVG and XSL-FO and nominated them as winners in this
category. Perhaps if the category was named "Most Cunning Use of XML as
a Trojan Horse," the judges might agree, but SVG and XSL-FO remain
<taglines/> darlings for the time being. The W3C doesn't go away
empty-handed from this category, however: the award goes to RDF, a
syntax so mangled that its prime advocates have invented a non-XML
syntax for it just to make it usable. (Judges' note: if anyone had
actually been able to understand it properly, an XML serialization of
the XML Infoset would have easily won this category.)

Most Liberal Interpretation of Specifications in an Implementation

In a buzzword-crazy industry there's a strong temptation to do just
enough to add another acronym onto your marketing checklist. In that
vein, there was no shortage of potential entrants for this award.
Several correspondents felt rather strongly about Microsoft products,
with notable mentions for Microsoft Office's "XML support". Rather more
innovative in the judges' opinion, however, is XMML.com which, not to be
outdone by XML.com getting to the dot-com domain name first, introduces
the "eXtensible Markup Meta Language, sometimes called XML." You
probably can't be more liberal than that!

HyTime Award for Specifications with Secret Hidden Powers

This category is also particularly hotly contested. Brave runners up,
with powers so secret nobody's quite figured them out yet, include Dave
Winer's OPML (following on the success of XML-RPC, OPML is going to be
Winer's Big Thing for 2002) and Topic Maps, the darling of many a recent
markup conference -- they will change the world, honest. Changing the
world is, in all seriousness, the aim of the winner of this category:
HumanML. The HumanML project intends to bring an end to global
misunderstanding by providing encoding for "emotions, physical
descriptors, proxemics, kinesics, haptics, intentions, and attitude".
Perhaps they should start by enforcing global usage of the <title> tag
in HTML documents, a hard enough task.

Bluestone Award for Aggressive Press Releasing

Any editor's email box is crammed with the latest information that other
people want them to know, and this award category is an indulgence for
the hours wasted by your editor sifting out the chaff from the chaff.
The award is named in honor of the company who, had these awards been
made in 2000, would have won by a wide margin: one easy way to tell it
was a Monday used to be the regular arrival of a couple of press
releases from their earnest PR team. A consolation prize goes jointly to
the now defunct Camelot Communications and their rival conference
company SYSCON, for the rather bitter war played out in public over the
fate of the XML DevCon conferences. The outstanding winner in this
category this year is VoiceGenie, which has at least four sparkling new
news items on their VoiceXML products for me every week.

XML Conference Give-Away Most Unrelated to Product

There's always a scrabble for neat toys on every conference show floor,
which all delegates promptly grab to give to their kids, honest. Top
marks for innovation this year goes to the insulated beer-bottle holder
which prevents your hands getting cold as you wobble around the show
floor during the evening reception. Supplementary gongs go to the 36"
fluorescent foam giraffes much in evidence earlier in 2001, but which
seem to be losing out to razor scooters at the recent XML Asia Pacific.

Best Practical Use of the Semantic Web

Unfortunately this award must go without a recipient this year, as no
nominations were received.