Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ An Easy Way to Pay

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Jun 14, 1999

Posted to Jesse Berst's Anchor Desk 14 June 1999

For an open standard, Electronic Commerce Modeling Language isn't very open. There are no links in the Berst article. Searching Microsoft, AOL, and the web at large turns up nothing. I am not about to pay $59 to the Wall Street Journal just to confirm a rumour, yet the WSJ is the only cited source.

So if there is anything to the article (and I have my doubts), then the partners are going about it exactly the wrong way. We understand how important standards are for everything from web pages to multimedia interation to extensible markup. All these standards are derived from standards bodies, who in turn publicly post proposals and requests for comments.

Any standard developed in-house and in secret, even if by Microsoft, will not survive the plausibility test. Microsoft has tried to tweak the e-commerce button before - click for a retro look - but with limited success. It, along with AOL and other partners will have to bite the open standards bullet on this one.

That said, there is a need for a standard. As a previous commentator noted, standards already exists for non-internet commercial transactions via networks such as Interac and non-credit sources such as our debit cards.

The trick will be to devise an application which resides on the users computer and which will release information - such as credit card number or debit card PIN - but only with the permission of the user. This would make transactions a lot easier; the user would select 'approve/disapprove'.

Were such a system to be devised, it would depend on a common language, an Electronic Commerce Modeling Language, if you please. We're waiting - anybody got a link?

Addendum June 16, 1999: see this article from Forbes: "A consortium of credit card and Internet companies announced an initiative today called the Electronic Commerce Modeling Language (ECML)". There are still no URLs... I'm not happy. I'm just not happy.

... and when I'm not happy I do some digging. See my update in One Wallet Fits All.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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