A List Apart has a little introduction into HTML 5. They explain the tough process of crafting the standard, how different parties interact, and what they are trying to achieve. It all sounds pretty interesting if you have no idea about HTML 5. Also, it all sounds pretty interesting until you get to one of the final paragraphs (emphasis is mine):
Work on HTML 5 is rapidly progressing, yet it is still expected to continue for several years. Due to the requirement to produce test cases and achieve interoperable implementations, current estimates have work finishing in around ten to fifteen years.
Excuse me? They are working on a standard for the Web, one of the fastest growing, expanding, and developing areas of IT industry, which itself is one of the fastest developing industries of the modern world, and they are planning to finish in 10 or 15 years?!! Hello? Wake up!
Just take a look around. See how this place is different even from two years ago. See how dramatically different it is from five years ago. See how it is unrecognizably different from what it was ten years ago. Try to find a living human being who even remembers how it was fifteen years ago… Guys, what are you doing over there?
No matter how well you plan things today, no matter to how many people in the field you talk today, there is absolutely no way to predict how things will be in ten or fifteen years. Trying to predict this will hard enough job for a single head. Getting a few heads to agree on how this will be is beyond impossible!
If that’s how long HTML 5 will need to come out, we can just drop the effort right now. If it will even come out, it will be totally useless, because people won’t wait for it. If you think that we are moving fast now, you haven’t seen nothing yet. We are just starting. We are in the 1950s of the automobile industry. Web is still a very much foreign concept for our society. Wait a few more years when it will get more natural, and you’ll see what are the real power and speed of development.
Nobody is going to wait for a bunch of guys to agree on something that nobody knows how will come out. People will just come up with their own solutions to their problems. They will aggregate, re-factor, and re-optimize those solutions until they solve the majority of problems. And then they will move on to the next stack of problems. And will go on and on. Forever…
How important is HTML 5? It is needed, yes. But right now. Not in five years, not in ten, and not in fifteen. The problems it tries to solve are the problems of today. If it’s not coming out shortly, you can just ignore it altogether. There will be another solution…