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Re: Comments on draft charter [Was: Agenda: Verifiable Claims Teleconference - Tuesday, March 8th 2016]

From: Steven Rowat <steven_rowat@sunshine.net>
Date: Thu, 10 Mar 2016 15:11:18 -0800
To: public-credentials@w3.org
Message-ID: <56E1FF16.8000807@sunshine.net>
On 3/10/16 2:01 PM, Ian Jacobs wrote:
> However, they don’t sound like goals to me. They sound like deliverables:
>   * Data model
>   * Syntaxes
>   * Analysis.
>
> I have in mind something like we said in the WPWG charter, where the goals were the ultimate benefits of the
> standards (e.g., better checkout, easier adoption of payment instruments):
>   https://www.w3.org/Payments/WG/charter-201510.html#goals

Ian,
I have some trouble with your use of "ultimate" in this comparison, 
and would like to comment. First, I'll quote those WPWG goals that you 
linked; only these four goals were given in that WPWG document:

   " •  A better checkout experience for users, particularly on mobile 
devices. The standards should facilitate automation, one approach to 
improving the user experience.
   " •  Streamlined payment flow, which is expected to reduce the 
percentage of transactions abandoned prior to completion ("shopping 
cart abandonment").
   " •  Easier adoption of payment instrument improvements (e.g., 
related to security) or new payment instruments.
   " •  Added value through machine-readable digital payment requests 
and payment responses."

Agreed that those goals are at a higher level than "Data Model, 
Syntaxes, Analysis", but I don't agree that they're a high enough 
level to conclude that they are "ultimate benefits".

All four of those goals could certainly be improvements in how 
existing large actors -- banks and large browser companies and 
computer companies -- provide payment services. Yet it's clear that 
the change in technology -- ledgers, Bitcoin, encryption, linked data 
-- is at least *potentially* able to provide payment services at such 
a different cost and via such a different security model that we 
simply *don't know* if the banks, browsers, and search engines will be 
*necessary* any longer, at least for some types of payments, and 
particularly for digital assets that can be downloaded.

So, to quality as an "ultimate goal" for the WPWG, or at least one 
that reflects what the majority in the Community Groups have expressed 
a wish to see, I think you'd have to add something about the 
capability of the standard for avoiding unnecessary and redundant 
middlemen actors where technically feasible. Leveling the playing 
field, in other words, whenever the technology allows it.

In other words, if you want ultimate goals for WPWG, then add this:
  "The Web Payments standard will, to the extent currently technically 
feasible, level the playing field for Web Payments so that small 
actors or individuals can make use of the emerging Payments technology 
on the same basis as larger corporations, government, or institutions, 
without undue or unnecessary barriers."

So to compare with Credentials: Manu has already rewritten the 
Credentials goals while I was drafting this reply, but I think my main 
point still holds, even with his new Credentials list at:
http://w3c.github.io/webpayments-ig/VCTF/charter/vcwg-draft.html#goals:

  " • Enhancing website usability by removing the need to manually 
enter verifiable claims.
  "  •  Reducing online fraud, such as identity theft, by establishing 
a standard way to cryptographically verify 3rd party claims.
  "  •  Reduced operating costs for verifiable claim issuers and 
inspectors as a result of a common set of technology for expressing 
and verifying claims.
  "  • Enhancing some aspects privacy and unlinkability for the 
subject of a verifiable claim."

Again, these are agnostic about who uses them. But if they're to be 
developed by a body -- like the W3C -- which gets its funding largely 
from institutions and companies, there is potential for them to be 
developed in such a way that they are achieved but the 'ultimate' goal 
is the maintenance of the status quo.

So again, if they are to be treated as "ultimate" goals, and to 
reflect what those in the Community Group who developed them is 
interested in, I suggest adding:

  "The Credentials standard will, to the extent currently technically 
feasible, level the playing field for Credentials so that small actors 
or individuals can make use of the emerging Credentials technology on 
the same basis as larger corporations, government, or institutions, 
without undue or unnecessary barriers."


Steven Rowat
Received on Thursday, 10 March 2016 23:11:45 UTC

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