Some notes on process: F2F & telcon & email

Tim Bray tbray at
Sun Sep 19 21:11:24 BST 1999

Just data points, to help fuel this (useful) discussion.  I'm particularly
impressed by contributions that contain proposals for change that are 
concrete and achievable in the real world, particularly unimpressed by
w3c-is-the-empire-and-Berners-Lee-is-Darth flames.

1. XML 1.0 was developed by email and telecon almost completely without
   benefit of face-2-face meetings.  Both modes of communication were
2. XML 1.0 was a guerilla project by a bunch of people who'd known each
   other for years and very few of whom had management that understood
   what it was really about.
3. The DOM makes heavy use of face-2-face meetings.
4. The DOM WG is largely populated by senior engineers who are totally
   overcommitted and find difficulty, when at work, focusing on anything
   not about work.
5. Don Park's characterization of a WG face-2-face runs strongly counter
   to my experience.  What was your sample size, Don?
6. The heaviest rudeness and the highest level of bad behavior and
   time-wasting take place in email.
7. It is ethically unacceptable to have all the f2f meetings in North
   America, and insanely costly (in money and person-time) to have
   them elsewhere.
8. Wide variance in dynamics and work style from WG to WG is the rule,
   not the exception.
9. The personality and style of the chair, W3C contact, and editors has
   a strong influence on dynamics and work style.
10. The #1 problem in the process is lack of bandwidth from key people.
11. People who first show up in the public mailing lists regularly graduate
    to IG membership, WG memership, and chair/editor status.  Examples 
    without thinking too hard would be David Megginson, John Cowan, and 
    James Tauber.
12. 2 or 3 years ago, most WGs had chairs and editors who were W3C
    staff.  These days (particularly in the XML activity) the chairs and
    editors come from the membership, and to a disproportionate degree,
    from the ranks of invited experts.


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