Papers papers papers. Next week a trip to Paris for W3C XML Query face to face meetings, colocated with the XML Schema and XSL Working Groups. These meetings are often highly productive and helpful.
One of the papers I have to write is for IEEE Spectrum magazine, introducing XML to engineers. This interests me because engineers are often more focused on immediate problems than on interoperability (and I say this as someone with at least some engineering background). A solution that appears to be less than optimal for their needs may be rejected, even if in fact using it would give a huge benefit that would outweigh the perceived (or real) inefficiencies.
People, in a way, don't benefit from standardised shoe sizes either: you always end up with shoes that don't quite fit right. But you quickly learn which size is closest, and it's massively cheaper than having shoes specially made, so you see fewer barefoot people wandering about. Actually I wish you saw more barefoot people wandering about, not least since shoes are not necessarily healthy, but that's beside the point.
halcy0n, I'm sorry that you are feeling disillusioned. All projects involving multiple individuals have politics, although I've seen quite a few open source projects in which hostile flame wars are the exception rather than the rule. Both Gnome and Mandriva Linux (cooker) seem to me to fall into the latter category. One thing both projects have in common is outreach, that is, that they aim to provide software not only for themselves but for other sorts of people entirely. Perhaps Eric Raymond might call this scratching someone else's itch, I don't know. Another thing they have in common is having a wide age range of people involved, and again, I think that sometimes helps.
sktrdie, you say, The great thing about advogato is its simpleness and elegancy and then you say, I've been thinking in starting an open-source service such as advogato, in the meanwhile add more features to it. Beware that in adding features you will reduce the simplicity, and your project may lose the thing you most desire, by the very virtue of your work on it.