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RE: first rough draft of 2nd charter

From: Sharron Rush <srush@knowbility.org>
Date: Tue, 09 Jun 2009 09:34:56 -0500
To: "eGov IG" <public-egov-ig@w3.org>
Message-Id: <20090609141241.2C40B583C0@prnetwtsv020.primusnetworks.com>

Hello all,

My general comments about the charter draft can be summarized in two 
points.  You will not be surprised to know that I strongly believe 
this document needs:

1. shorter sentences
2. clear concise statement of mission and goals

The document we delivered under the first charter was opaque and very 
hard to follow and/or make sense of.  I have shared the "Improving 
Government..." doc far and wide and have yet to get anyone who is not 
part of the W3C - not one person - to read the whole thing.   They 
get bogged down in jargon and circular arguments.

If we are serious about having a global impact, we must dedicate 
ourselves to modeling the kind of communications we encourage from 
governments.  To me that means clarity above all. Open language - by 
which I mean statements that are focused, pointed and as jargon-free 
as possible - is every bit as important as open data.  In this case 
it really is important that we "talk the talk" of open communications 
that are understandable to all citizens.  And the bonus is that we 
will think more clearly as a result.

Here are examples of mission statements from other groups:
- The mission of the Protocols and Formats Working Group is to 
increase the support for accessibility in Web specifications.
- The mission of the HTML Working Group is to continue the evolution 
of HTML (including classic HTML and XML syntaxes).
- The mission of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working 
Group is to develop guidelines to make Web content accessible for 
people with disabilities.
- The mission of the Semantic Web Health Care and Life Sciences 
Interest Group, is to develop, advocate for, and support the use of 
Semantic Web technologies for life science, translational medicine, 
and health care.

Here is ours:
The mission of the eGovernment Interest Group is to explore how to 
improve access to government through better use of the Web and 
achieve better government transparency using open Web standards at 
any government level (local, state, national and multi-national).

There are too many subclauses, in my opinion and the entire statement 
is far too qualified.  Is our ultimate goal - our mission - really 
only to "explore how to improve" these things?  and do we have a dual 
mission...we also want to achieve "better...transparency"?   Are we 
assuming that transparency is in place and we only need to make it 
"better"?  My preference would be to express these two things in one 
unified mission statement.  And do we not at some point want to 
develop recommendations, best practices, educational materials, 
shared models, etc?

The mission statement is only the most obvious place where clarity is 
needed.  I know that many will think that I am harping on the same 
old point about language, and I am sorry to be so tedious.  But we 
ignored the need for clarity in the "Improving Gov..." document and I 
do not think we want to go forward without making a strong and 
serious commitment to plain language as a principle.  I also think 
that one of our first goals must be to rewrite the first document 
with that principle in mind.

In 2007, I worked with a group of government, academic and technology 
advocates to develop a ten point statement of principles known as the 
"Manifesto on Usability and Accessibility for Mexican Government 
Websites"    Read it here 
http://www.uaweb.org.mx/en/documents/manifesto for an example of how 
we might model our approach to promoting the use of the web as a tool 
to support more truly democratic and open government processes.

Thanks for your consideration,

At 07:43 PM 6/8/2009, Novak, Kevin wrote:
>As Jose mentioned, please try to take a look at the draft tomorrow 
>(Tuesday) and share your thoughts via email. I would like to discuss 
>with you all on the call Wednesday.
>Kevin Novak
>Vice President, Integrated Web Strategy and Technology
>The American Institute of Architects
>1735 New York Avenue, NW
>Washington, DC 20006
>Voice:   202-626-7303
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>Twitter: @novakkevin
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>Email:    kevinnovak@aia.org
>Website: www.aia.org
>America's Favorite Architecture Tops the Shortlist for International 
>Honor for the Web
>The American Institute of Architects is the voice of the 
>architectural profession and the resource for its members in service 
>to society.
>-----Original Message-----
>From: public-egov-ig-request@w3.org 
>[mailto:public-egov-ig-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Jose M. Alonso
>Sent: Monday, June 08, 2009 6:40 PM
>To: eGov IG
>Subject: first rough draft of 2nd charter
>It's available at:
>    http://www.w3.org/2007/eGov/IG/wiki/Charter2
>Thanks Kevin for drafting this one.
>This is still a very rough draft and needs discussion. Please, do not
>edit in place just yet but discuss in the mailing list first.
>Jose M. Alonso <josema@w3.org>    W3C/CTIC
>eGovernment Lead                  http://www.w3.org/2007/eGov/
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>06/08/09 17:59:00
Received on Tuesday, 9 June 2009 14:35:31 UTC

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