W3C policies (Was Re: an unfilled need)

Hunter, David dhunter at Mobility.com
Tue Sep 7 18:22:13 BST 1999

> From: Matthew Gertner [mailto:matthew at praxis.cz]
> Sent: Tuesday, September 07, 1999 5:36 AM

> I read Lauren's post on this issue with interest and she makes a very
> sensible argument. I hadn't seen things from exactly this perspective,
> so I was glad to be exposed to this viewpoint. But I'm still not
> convinced. The press no longer controls the public's access to
> information. Open access to working group proceedings would presumably
> make it harder for journalists to misrepresent what went on between
> company A and company B, not easier, since anyone with a Web browser
> could surf over to the W3C and check it out themselves. If this forces
> companies to be more aware of how their actions could affect 
> the way the
> public perceives them, isn't this an unambiguously good thing for
> everyone except for a handful of large and/or well-connected companies
> (and in the aggregate, probably for them too)?

I have to disagree with this one point, and agree with Lauren on this issue,
and it's mostly because of my lack of faith in the press.  :-)  We all know
that you can make "facts" and "numbers" say just about anything you want,
even when those facts and numbers are publicly available.  If an issue comes
up in a W3C working group, and a member from company A disagrees with a
member from company B, the press can very easily write up a bunch of
articles about how "Ol' A and B are at it again.  Like cats and dogs, those
two are.".  Everyone will either

a)  Not bother to go and read the archives to verify it.  Why bother?
They're not allowed to LIE when they're writing news stories!
b)  Go to the archives and find out that, yes indeed, A and B did disagree
on that point!  Boy, those two can never get along!

In either case, the net result Lauren described will probably ensue.
Representatives from A and B can no longer feel free to work together
<em>properly</em> in the W3C.

<em>OTOH</em>, summary information is always good.  Don't give out the
minutes of the meetings, or make public all of the emails, because we can
get the results above.  But if the working groups could make things like the
following public:

"There was also [insert issue here] involved in making this decision.  Some
members of the WG thought [insert opinion on issue here], but others [insert
other opinion on issue here].  In the end, we came to this decision because
of [A REASON]."

then we wouldn't get all of the backlash against the W3C that has come up in
the last week on xml-dev.  It's not important who thought what about those
issues, and anyone who feels they need to know is either nosy or a reporter
looking for a story.

Just my 2 <Canadian>cents</Canadian>.

David Hunter
david.hunter at mediaserv.com
MediaServ Information Architects

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