Design by committee

CamelDesign by committee has long been considered a bad idea. Yet it only dawned on me yesterday that this is exactly how we build the spec for the web. From CSS to Microformats, we not only design the spec by committee, but we’ve managed to take the idea of a committee to a whole new level. Now, anyone from the four corners of the world with an internet connection and an email address can contribute.

A camel is a horse designed by committee

Is this wrong? Is it really a bad idea? After all the web is supposed to be a democracy of sorts. There isn’t an internet police and if everyone has a voice, then no one can complain. But it was Molly who asked only a few days ago What are the most critical issues we need to solve regarding the current fragmenting state of HTML (and XHTML)? (emphasis mine). I can’t help but think that eliminating the approach of a design by committee wouldn’t be a good start. After all, Douglas Crockford single handedly wrote the spec for JSON.

So what do we do? Do we lock a few brains up in a room until they come up with the next version of HTML? Or do we watch the community continue to fragment into HTML 5, XHTML 2 and who knows what else? What are your thoughts?

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