confidentiality in W3C WGs

Reynolds, Gregg greynolds at
Fri Sep 10 19:09:52 BST 1999

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Hunter, David [mailto:dhunter at]
> Sent: Friday, September 10, 1999 10:53 AM
> To: xml-dev at
> Subject: RE: confidentiality in W3C WGs
> Actually, if I understand things properly, the "cloak of 
> secrecy" is not to
> protect the companies who don't want to cooperate, but to 
> protect the ones
> who DO.  Members of the working groups, as things stand now, 
> are free to
> agree or disagree with anything said on its technological 
> merits, without
> having to worry about the political consequences of such agreement or
> disagreement.  (Members from Company A can disagree with 
> points that Company
> B makes, without having to worry about people thinking that it's only
> because they are competitors.  Members from Company A can 
> also agree with
> points that Company B makes, without having to worry about 
> people thinking
> that some kind of battle has been won by B.)

Well, you've lost me here.  Companies don't stop competing just because they
join the W3C.  Maybe it really IS because they're competitors, and company B
really has won a battle.

> Again, who said what IS NOT IMPORTANT.  Nobody in the world 
> needs to know
> WHO it was that said it.  The problem is that nobody knows 
> WHAT was said.  I
> don't need to know who's idea it was to give XHTML three 
> namespaces.  But I
> really need to know why XHTML was given three namespaces.

Here is the best you will ever get without an open process:  the reason
proposition X passed is that it got the most votes.  I'm not making a joke:
that IS the reason XHTML got three name spaces, and its the only reason.
Why doesn't matter.  Nobody knows why participants voted the way they did.
Vendors who choose to "explain" the vote in some way may do so; but for
purely pragmatic reasons the pros and cons adduced by the various parties
involved will never be abstracted out for public presentation.  Think of
what an impossible task that would be.  And you would just end up with
further disputes about the "real" justification - the whole thing would just
get rehashed ad infinitum.

> A lot of people keep viewing the W3C as if Microsoft and 
> Netscape and Sun
> and the other big players were trying to battle for power 
> behind the closed
> doors; if this or that technology gets recommended then 
> Microsoft won, but
> if that one does, then Netscape won...  And yet W3C members 
> tell us time and
> time again that on a working group, nobody is more important 
> than anyone
> else.  They just don't have the kind of clout inside the W3C 
> to make these
> power struggles, even if they wanted to.

And do you believe them?  Look at it from another perspective:  when dollars
control power, what is the meaning of one person, one vote?  When a powerful
company can afford to develop multiple proposals and then flood an
organization with them, what does one seat, one vote mean?  

(My personal opinions only.)

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