W3C's 'Moral Majesty'

Tim Bray tbray at textuality.com
Sat Sep 11 20:34:36 BST 1999

At 01:21 PM 9/11/99 -0400, David Megginson wrote:
>Throwing more technology at the problem probably won't help: with
>e-mail, a teleconference, or a face-to-face meeting, it's really the
>moderator who makes it or breaks it (I'm still a mediocre moderator
>myself, but I'm willing to learn).

Another issue is the size of the group.  A committee with 10 people
can do approximately twice as much work as one with 20.  Some of the
reasons are obvious, others more subtle - in a relatively small group,
after a while, you get better mutual understanding and thus have to
do less work to explain a complicated issue, and in fact you just
get more practiced and skilled at working toward consensus.  This is one
advantage of the W3C process, where you have a small and relatively
productive WG and an arbitrarily-large interest group where all the
shouting happens, that makes sure that you get a really wide range
of inputs.  

People who were along for the original XML 1.0 ride will
remember that on several occasions, the WG took some decision and
the IG basically just wouldn't stand for it, and howled in outrage
until the WG reversed itself.  Sometimes 2 or 3 times on the
same issue.  

Another intangible is that virtually all the (couple of hundred)
people who were on the original XML IG became ardent advocates of XML,
and for my money one of the reasons that XML is doing well is the
existence of this attack team, that may have flamed away at a couple of
the design decisions but basically bought into the shared understanding
of what XML was about.

Now, that might be seen as an argument for a more IETF-like process where
you get a *really* large team of evangelists.  Or maybe not. -Tim

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