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Re: Group merge?

From: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2011 16:47:49 -0500
Message-ID: <4ED2B005.8010001@digitalbazaar.com>
To: public-colloquial@w3.org
WARNING: mildly off-topic.

On 11/20/2011 11:22 AM, Marcos Caceres wrote:
>> Unfortunately, that's a simplification of the current situation.
>> Google has their standard that they're pushing (Microdata) and we
>> (W3C and RDFa Community) have our standard that we're pushing
>> (RDFa).
> I thought the W3C was to remain neutral on these matters? Are you
> sure the W3C itself is pushing these standards? I thought they
> learnt to keep out of these things in the whole XHTML/XHTML2 debacle
> that brought about the WHATWG (and microdata and micro formats) in
> the first place?

Yes, I should be more careful in my wording. W3C is neutral on these
matters - that is the public statement that you will see made over and
over again. By "W3C", I meant "a number of people from a diverse set of
companies at the W3C". By "Google", I meant a very small group of people
from Google.

So, yes, W3C is staying out of this mess, as best as they can...
however, if you look at the groups behind both RDFa and Microdata, you
can see where each spec is getting it's support from.

>> So, it's not simply a matter of "democracy" as both are going
>> through the standards process. The problem is that when a large
>> company backs one of the standards with a "study" and then doesn't
>> release the data or methodology.
> Google was under no obligation to release anything, so I would be
> thankful that they did release what little they did.

I disagree - if you are going to do a study and say that you have data
to back up your position - you should be prepared to publish that data.
Anything else is not science and when we go away from data and science,
we delve into politics. So, while nobody is under any obligation to
release anything, it's bad form to say that you have a study that proves
something and then refuse to share the methodology and the data behind
the study.

To put it another way, you wouldn't accept the argument from a small
team doing research... so why should you accept the argument from Google?

Trust, but verify.

> Also, Google (and any other company) is free to back any technology
> they want. Wether its a W3C specification is irrelevant (IPR of RDF
> WG VS HTMLWG aside): there is no law that any company needs to use a
> W3C spec. It's the reason the W3C is a "consortium" and not a real
> standards body (like ISO, which does have legal implications).

I don't think I was expressing anything to the contrary?

>> In that case, you have a large company (with skin in the game)
>> saying "trust us, we have the data"... and a loose community (with
>>  skin in the game) saying "we'd like to see the data, because it
>> goes counter to the data that we have".
>> Ultimately, this is about making the right decision in a
>> scientific way.
> Science won't win here, I'm afraid… only the market and rough
> consensus/running code. One decision can't be seen as more valid
> than another, there are just technological choices.

I don't understand why Science is cordoned off into it's own area and
the market / rough consensus / running code is cordoned off into another
area. I see all of those as inputs into the process.

> I'm wondering, what will you do if you find Google was right (i.e.,
> 70% people are screwing up RDFa)? And even if you find the opposite,
> I don't think it will prove much. Remember this is not the first
> "study" Google has done [1] about this (see my comments at bottom of
> that page, and my own outrage about that particular "study").

We are proceeding with the understanding that Google is right by
publishing RDFa Lite (the "Trust" part). We are doing our own research
to ensure that they are correct (the ", but verify" part).

If we find that Google was wrong, we will have to see if the changes
that they're proposing would do more harm than good.

> What might be more interesting (and scientific) is to see how many
> people screw up RDFa vs Microdata vs Microformats (or other control
> group). That way, you have a scientific basis on which to draw some
> valid conclusions from. E.g.,

That's what we're proposing to do... so we're on the same page here. :)

> And, of course, "screw up" would need to be defined (i.e., invalid
> format or whatever). Anyway, proving Google wrong won't really
> settle the matter. It might just come down to implementers personal
> choice and perception about the technology:

This isn't about proving /Google/ right or wrong... it's about
collecting data so that all of us can make more educated decisions when
it comes to authoring standards.

-- manu

Manu Sporny (skype: msporny, twitter: manusporny)
Founder/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
blog: Standardizing Payment Links - Why Online Tipping has Failed
Received on Sunday, 27 November 2011 21:48:28 UTC

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