I remember where I was when I first heard about XML

Talking of rises and falls, my mind also meandered its way to mid-1997. Not sure why that year in particular… though there could be many reasons. Hard Reality had just been set up, the 3 of us were freshly installed in Canary Wharf, we were at the height of our skills and notoriety. Keld directed me to an article on the Wired website about a new technology called XML. It struck a chord with me (which rang in tune with my recent extensive reading on SGML). Wired said that it was the language of the future, would engulf the web sweeping all before it. I could see huge potential, but envisaged a good few years before the tangled mess of browsers and standards would truly catch on. It’s great to be a prophet before the event.

At the same time we were starting to experiment with employing people outside the UK. Actually, not strictly true, we had used Tobias in Sweden a year before, but with our courting of Michael in Belgium and Big Gun in West-coast USA, things moved up a gear. We were working with the best, and we knew it. Unfortunately, nothing lasts for ever. Tobias was the king of the Java applet, and though I’m sure he has taken his experiments beyond pages of real-time rendered experiments, the history of Java has largely overlooked the kind of application which is now the domain of Flash and Shockwave. I am still stuck in the HTML standards of 1997-8, the pressures of programming and management having prevented me from taking advantage of XML or dip my toes into alternative technologies such as Flash as I would have dearly loved to have done. Guy has likewise worn his soul thin on the sharp edges of under-developed web standards, and is ready to return to music and print media. Michael (and Auriea) are still ahead of the game, but that’s because they were always ahead of the game, always more interested in staying ahead of the game than in pandering to trivialities such as money or the greatest good for the greatest number. And the men in suits have moved in, razed the landscape, and put up a parking lot.