W3C's 'Moral Majesty'

David Brownell david-b at pacbell.net
Sun Sep 12 06:04:58 BST 1999

David Megginson wrote:
> Rick Jelliffe writes:
>  > [ folk other than first world are "disenfranchised" ]
>  >
>  > There are four approaches:
>  >     * "that is the way of the wor[l]d": it cannot be helped;
>  >     * positive discrimination, e.g. subsidies;
>  >     * reduce the reliance on face-to-face meetings;
>  >     * universal enfranchisement.
> The third is by far the best solution.  Face-to-face meetings are
> generally more useful for working out political problems than they are
> for technical problems,

I tend to agree -- "reduce".  This is the 1990s after all, at least
for another few months, and it's OK to use technology to improve the
decision making of an organization like W3C !!

Of course there's a real issue that there DO exist political problems
that need working out.  There are real dollars (whoops, sorry Rick ;-)
riding on this stuff, and those decisions filter into technical stances
too.  And those political problems can relate to focus and direction
(as Mike Champion has noted).  F2F meetings of a core constituency can
be great enablers; though of course they can also be overdone (just like
the secrecy of W3C is clearly, IMHO, overdone).

On-line communities work best if they're adjuncts to offline ones,
and I think XML-DEV reflects that:  there are key players who know
each other off-line to various degrees.  Outside of W3C, I know that
a main function of F2F meetings is to facilitate the personal side
of things -- be it pub crawling a new city, or hammering out issues
when you've got real person-to-person bandwidth, or whatever.

That's also an issue with W3C's intended role, which isn't quite
the role it actually has.  The intended role (per that article)
is essentially "advanced development" (AD) ... the sort of thing that
in a group like the IETF is done in very open working groups and
without any particular commercial timetable in mind.  That sort of
AD work is easily (perhaps habitually) done on open mailing lists;
that's often how academic folk work, and it's the best way to see
what the important issues are (vs having companies tell you what
their pet issues are).

The reality of W3C's role is that it's putting out specs that get
used in commercial products as "the Next Big Thing" regardless of
the fact that, in the big scheme of things, they've not been well
cooked.  (That helps the marketing folk a lot more than the techies
who are well represented on this list!)  Plus, there's no real
expectation that two vendors can just just the W3C spec when they
create implementations -- there are no conformance "teeth" as in a
real standards organization, again displaying a marketing bias.

That is, the W3C academic/AD role isn't its real world role.  And
that's another reason to call attention to the expense of F2F level
participation:  it reflects the real world role, not the chartered
"advanced development" sort of role.

- Dave

xml-dev: A list for W3C XML Developers. To post, mailto:xml-dev at ic.ac.uk
Archived as: http://www.lists.ic.ac.uk/hypermail/xml-dev/ and on CD-ROM/ISBN 981-02-3594-1
To (un)subscribe, mailto:majordomo at ic.ac.uk the following message;
(un)subscribe xml-dev
To subscribe to the digests, mailto:majordomo at ic.ac.uk the following message;
subscribe xml-dev-digest
List coordinator, Henry Rzepa (mailto:rzepa at ic.ac.uk)

More information about the Xml-dev mailing list