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Re: W3C Input to the United Nations "Enhanced Cooperation" Study

From: Jose M. Alonso <josema@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2009 17:05:19 +0100
Cc: eGov IG <public-egov-ig@w3.org>
Message-Id: <79341AE5-D53F-42EA-9DB6-1D64841AC4A0@w3.org>
To: Robin Berjon <robin@berjon.com>
Hi Robin,

Sorry for late response, crazy week with F2F, FPWD preparation plus  
some CTIC projects.

El 23/02/2009, a las 12:21, Robin Berjon escribió:
> Hi Jose, all,
> sorry for taking so long to reply, as you know I can only contribute  
> to this group on my own time, which sometimes makes it a little bit  
> difficult to be responsive.
> On Feb 8, 2009, at 00:02 , Jose M. Alonso wrote:
>> Overall, I don't see any opinions contrary to what is written in  
>> the document but comments about its lack of explicitness.
> Largely, yes. In case I wasn't clear, I have no doubt that W3C's  
> heart is in the right place, and I know that you are doing an  
> excellent job on a shoestring budget. My issues with the document  
> were along two axes:
> - Concerning the form, I really don't think it was clear and self- 
> affirming enough. As you have no doubt seen in your outreach  
> efforts, W3C is still largely perceived as a geek-house, a place  
> more or less disconnected from reality (often called "academic" in a  
> derogatory sense) that miraculously produces very useful technology  
> on a regular basis. I am firmly convinced that that is not true (as,  
> I guess, others on this group) and while I don't think that more  
> efficient and more concrete rhetoric would suffice in changing that  
> misperception I nevertheless think that it's part of the picture.
> - Concerning content, I think it reinforced the policy v. technology  
> barrier more than it bridged it, and furthermore placed W3C too  
> strongly in the latter. One of the biggest challenges in technology- 
> related policy today is its intrinsic transnational nature. That is  
> something with which W3C has extensive experience. Also, from the  
> very first day W3C has made technology that followed a social  
> agenda. While it certainly does not endeavour to take over actual  
> final policy implementation, it certainly has much more to say about  
> such topics than just what shape angle brackets should have.

Points taken. I trust you've seen my recent email about what the  
deliverables of the next stage of our work should look like, i.e.  
maybe smaller and more focused notes. In any case, we need to identify  
issues we should work on for phase 2 and maybe this could be one of  
them in close collaboration with Daniel/Int'l Relations.

As an example, we are asked from time to time by governments and other  
stakeholders about this and that, most frequently about how and why a  
government should use open Web standards. We might want to have some  
deliverables on that front. Same applies to Owen's comments a while  
ago on how to influence the reference models in the U.S.
Just a thought.

>> EU-Commissioner Viviane Reding (Information Society&Media) held a  
>> remarkable speech in Strasbourg, Feb 3, 2009. Some strong points  
>> she raised:
>>  "Indeed, the architectural principles that underlie the Internet we
>> have today, namely the principles of openness, inter-operability and
>> neutrality do not only create an environment that enables  
>> innovation in
>> services and applications, more importantly they allow for an
>> environment where users can express themselves freely without
>> discrimination by their service provider. Therefore, those basic  
>> design
>> principles need to be preserved."
>>  "I believe that every one of these opportunities must be used by the
>> European Commission and by the EU Presidency to promote freedom of
>> speech and fight against censorship. In addition, we must ensure that
>> nothing in the agreements we negotiate with third countries,  
>> including
>> its bilateral trade agreement, could be used to constrain or limit in
>> any way the freedom of speech."
>> The language is not much more explicit, is it? ;)
> A little bit more :) And besides, just because others aren't always  
> explicit doesn't mean we have to use the same template!

Yes, and no. When they are the ones you talk to, you should. You will  
be understood much better.
Side example: I don't like suits and business attire very much , but I  
have to use them depending on the context ;)
More to the point, I use different wording when I have to explain our  
work to a CXO than when I do to a developer.

>> In short and, according to the EC directive 98/34, only CEN,  
>> CENELEC and ETSI can develop official standards, hence a W3C  
>> recommendation is _not_ an standard in Europe. The draft European  
>> Interoperability Framework (EIF) 2.0 is calling standards those  
>> released by the three official bodies and technical specifications  
>> all the rest. You can find more info at -- http://www.ictsb.org/
> Yes, that's precisely why I think that there could be strength in  
> numbers here. There are several other SDOs that share the W3C's  
> definition, more or less, and we could make our case together.
> I think there are several possible goals here:
> 1) We decide that having W3C and others' productions recognised as  
> standards (de jure) is not important, if they're good and useful  
> they'll be used anyway (which is by and large the case today);
> 2) We could lobby to have those included in the list (as described  
> above);
> 3) We could reach an agreement with CEN or ETSI (I'm guessing the  
> latter, mostly) to fast-track W3C Recommendations as standards.
> Option (1) may be okay but in my experience it causes friction now  
> and then with requirements that specify the necessity to procure  
> standards-based solutions and people disagreeing on what those are.
> Option (2) is interesting but I would have concerns that it might  
> have nasty side-effects (though I do not know which ones).
> Overall, option (3), at least as a first step, would seem to me to  
> be the most interesting. I know there have been experiments with  
> such things (notably putting Recommendations on ISO, e.g. for PNG)  
> and that they weren't always deemed worth the effort. Have new or  
> different attempts been considered?

This one has very specific issues in Europe. DG Enterprise is  
currently preparing a white paper and W3C is providing input. My  
colleague Rigo Wenning is working on this front since long time ago.  
We could invite him to join one of our conferences later in time. For  
now, those interested can spend some time at http://www.ictstandardisation.eu/

Some countries are doing (1) as you say, and W3C and others are  
focused on (2) for the time being.

>> Then, there is the issue about defining "open".
> I agree that the word "open" is loaded, and we probably don't want  
> to make a landgrab on it. We can sidestep the issue by picking  
> another word (or just the name of the city in which the agreement  
> was reached) and giving it a definition. Off the top of my head:
> "The Boston Covenant is a group of SDOs that believe ICTs must  
> enable human communication, commerce, and opportunities to share  
> knowledge and make these benefits available to all people, whatever  
> their hardware, software, network infrastructure, native language,  
> culture, geographical location, or physical or mental ability.
> As such, standards we produce are defined to be royalty-free,  
> accessible, internationalised, and device independent. Furthermore  
> these standards are to be made available worldwide free of charge in  
> standard document formats. (...)"
> I'm handwaving a lot here, the exact declaration can be worked out  
> later, what I'm interested in is what others think of the core idea  
> itself?

If we could agree on a definition as group, that would be an  
interesting exercise. If we could convince others that our definition  
is the right one, that would be close to being called a miracle ;)

I think the definition should be clear and _measurable_ enough to be  
useful. Maybe Owen, who has expertise in this area (i.e. StratML)  
could give us some tips.

Not completely sure this is not out of scope for this Group for now,  
unless we tie it to the document somehow.

-- Jose

> -- 
> Robin Berjon - http://berjon.com/
>    Feel like hiring me? Go to http://robineko.com/
Received on Friday, 27 February 2009 16:06:01 UTC

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