Lotsa laughs

Chris Lilley chris at w3.org
Tue May 25 17:21:35 BST 1999

Didier PH Martin wrote:

> c)W3C is a consortium of several companies and produces "standards".

Generally, we claim to produce specifications. Some of thos
especifications become Recommendations. Some of those Recommendations
become standards (for example, the PNG Recommendation is undergoing
standardisation at ISO).

> However the W3C composition is mostly American.

Certainly, there are a good number of American members. Taking full
members, there are currently 44 from the Americas (including South
America and Canada),  31 from Europe and Africa, and 14 from Asia and
Pacific. Of affiliate members, there are currently 148 from the
Americas, 62 from Europe and 30 from Asia and Pacific. The list of W3C
members is publically available [1]

The demographic seems to be that membership outside the Americas
continues to increase. But equally, where are the places with free local
phone calls, unmetered access to ISDN, and significant government help
in establishing a network infrastructure? It is hardly more surprising
then that there is much greater uptake of the Web in the USA than in,
for example, France and Germany. And thus, more members of W3C.

> Could we say that W3C produces international standards?

Our French and Japanese host institutions and our international offices,
who gather new members in their respective countries, are certainly
helping to redress the balance in terms of international participation.

And the Unicode consortium, with which we have close links and at whose
conferences I and other W3C staff have spoken on numerous occasions,
also seems to think we produce well-internationalised specifications.

I don't think it is fair to say that no Americans can help produce
internationalised specifications. People like Francois Yergeau, Glenn
Adams and Gavin Nicol (three of the four authors of RFC2070,
"Internationalization of the HyperText Markup Language") are all based
in the Americas (USA and Canada). [The fourth author was Martin Durst,
who is Swiss and works for W3C, out of the Japanese host institution.]

> d) ISO is an international organism with representative from different
> countries. But ISO weight seems to be less and less significant.

ISO represents governments, not the international community at large.
For example. Tibetan is a language, but was not added into ISO 10646
because Tibet is ruled by China. Only when the Unicode consortium became
involved were the characters needed for non-governmental scripts added.
(By way of an example).

I don't think ISO is insignificant, but it does seem to work best when
taking existing well implemented specifications and performing editorial
clarifications rather than de-novo technical work.

[1] http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Member/List

British, based in France
helping make internationalised specifications for the Web.

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