W3C's 'Moral Majesty'

Ann Navarro ann at webgeek.com
Sat Sep 11 17:09:01 BST 1999

At 03:40 PM 9/11/99 +0800, Rick Jelliffe wrote:

>All standards processes are subject to the same constraints that
>face-to-face meetings require travel, which requires money.  Indeed,
>this fact makes W3C into largely a rich Westerners' club; there seems
>almost no participation from non-residents of Western countries (except
>Japan, which is rich).

I think this is a little misleading. 

A.  You don't have to be rich to be involved in the W3C. HWG is a prime
example of limited budget, yet commited participation. (we're a non-profit
organization (US tax-exempt 501(c)3)) No, we can't send someone to every WG
out there, we choose the ones most important to us, and have participation
in as many non-travelling Interest Groups as we can. Yes, the expenditures
we make are still beyond the means of most individuals, but (for better or
worse, a different argument) W3C doesn't allow individual membership.
Invited experts often have their participation funded, at least in part,
by their employers. It's not impossible to participate for individuals who
have the expertise and work at establishing appropriate contacts to be
recognized as a viable participant. 

B.  If the complaint is about the lack of Australian firms, or Israeli
firms, Indian firms, or some other geographic area being represented, that
in part is a function of how many members there are from those areas. A
50MM company in Australia is no different than a 50MM company in Germany in
terms of being able to participate. You must make the decision to fund the

The W3C is proactively trying to recruit membership in areas that are
"underrepresented" through the process of opening offices in new areas
(Hong Kong now has one, in terms of the Pacific regions, to name just one),
and more are being considered. 

Within individual working groups, the location of face to face meetings is
determined in part by the makeup of the group. If there are 20
participants, 10 are from the US, 5 from Europe, and 5 from Japan/Pacific,
you'll probably have 2 meetings in the US, 1 in Europe and 1 in
Asia/Pacific over the course of a year. Everyone travels. 

If, on the other hand, you have 15 participants from Asia/Pacific, 3 from
the US, and 1 from Europe, the meetings are likely to be concentrated in
Asia/Pacific areas. 

There's no concerted effort to place meetings in far flung locations just
for the hell of it (don't know how many non-WG members have ever travelled
12-14 time zones for a 2 day meeting, but it's not exactly a vacation). 

In the HTML WG, we've had 3 US meetings, and (counting our meeting coming
up in 2 weeks) 2 European meetings. We only have two participants from
Japan, and they're both attached to the W3C, so it doesn't make sense to
have everyone else travel to Asia at greater expense. 

And finally, I must agree with Tim wrt: the value of face to face meetings.
In fact, if we *weren't* so global in nature, I'd argue for *more* face to
face meetings, rather than fewer, as productivity is so greatly increased
during those periods. 


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