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Re: A proposal for establishing an RDFa IG

From: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 00:00:20 -0400
Message-ID: <4A56BCD4.2030809@digitalbazaar.com>
To: RDFa Developers <public-rdf-in-xhtml-tf@w3.org>
Sam Ruby wrote:
> Manu Sporny wrote:
>> You're opposing a concept that not one of us have put forward... the
>> purpose of the RDFa IG is so that we /can/ work together... not so we
>> can go off into our own little world and give people "advice".
>>
>> The RDFa IG would have a direct hand in editing each language/WG using
>> RDFa - that is, if the WG wishes to work with us. Personally, I was in
>> agreement with a number of the constraints that you and Doug placed on
>> the RDFa IG.
> 
> I like the word "would" above (much better than "perhaps" from emails
> past, and it was the proposal in those emails that I object to).

Good, then let's use the word "would".

> In this email, I have issues with the words /can/ and "us".
> 
> Help me do the math.  Mark Birbeck is a member of the HTML working
> group.  I suspect that if he expressed even the slightest bit of
> interest, Doug would induct him into the SVG working group before he had
> an opportunity to change his mind.  Let's further posit that he is
> interested in doing some of this work (in fact, I picked Mark's name
> because it is listed first on [1])...
> 
> Lets look first at the word /can/.  From this, I can only conclude that
> you and Ben believe that it would not be possible for Mark to do this
> work without a separate IG.  I am curious as to why you might believe
> that.  Any reason I can figure out ends up being one that I would object
> to.

Ben and I have slightly different opinions on how to proceed, as do
Shane, Mark, Ralph and Steven. We're feeling this out publicly before
proceeding to allow everyone the opportunity to provide feedback on a
direction that would best optimize everybody's very constrained
schedules and time. You're the one that asked if you could do anything
to help, I responded with a proposal, and here we are... discussing the
possibilities in an open forum.

As far as I am concerned, it would be /easier/ for Mark and the rest of
us to carry out the work in a separate IG. We /could/ do it in HTML WG -
but there have been concerns raised about whether that is the correct
framing for the RDFa work since it involves not just HTMLWG, but SVGWG
and WHATWG (and ODF).

>From my understanding, the RDFa Task Force evaporates at the end of the
year and it would be nice if we had a "home base" of sorts that could
coordinate RDFa among the various WGs listed above.

It's not a matter of "not possible" - it's a matter of "best mode" or
"ideal framework". As you allude to below - we only have so many hours
that we can volunteer our time. Unless somebody would like to pay us to
do this standards work (which would not only be appreciated, but would
accelerate the work), we're stuck trying to scrap together bits and
pieces of time to donate to W3C. All this while attempting to keep our
respective companies afloat in this tumultuous economy.

I don't want to waste my time working on RDFa in the HTML WG only to
find out that our hands are tied by W3C process when attempting to port
the work to SVG. Or finding out that HTML WG's mission has changed due
to another XHTML2-like event.

For a long time we could not work on HTML+RDFa because we weren't
chartered to do so - in fact, we still aren't. We're just doing the work
and hoping that HTML WG doesn't have a change of heart in the mean time.

> Now lets look at the word "us".  Can I join the RDFa IG?  Mark is
> already a member of the HTML WG.  Who is this "us" (and by implication,
> who is the "them") in your world view?

I try not to have an "us" vs. "them" world view. Of course you'd be able
to join the RDFa IG - everybody on here would be able to participate,
contribute, etc.

The "us" I was referring to in the e-mail was "The RDFa Community" -
most everyone on this mailing list. Just because you use the word "us"
in a paragraph doesn't necessarily mean you need a "them".

> These groups are merely labels.  There effectively isn't any limit to
> the number of labels a person can have.  Mark can simultaneously be in
> the HTML WG, the SVG WG, and even the RDFa IG should one ever come into
> existence.  The number of labels Mark accumulates doesn't give him what
> he really needs, which if he is like most of us, is simply more hours in
> the day.

The bottom line with the RDFa IG is that we're trying to create a home
for the RDFa work that is stable and lightweight enough to focus on the
technical work without having to worry too much about some of the other
things that go on that have nothing to do with RDFa (W3C Process,
discussions about HTML unrelated to RDFa, etc.).

For example, if the RDFa work was absorbed by the HTML WG, does that
mean we should discuss all things RDFa on the main HTML WG telecon?
Would there be an HTML+RDFa Task Force? What happens if we want to work
on some SVG-related stuff?

If we had to share telecon time with HTML WG, that could be very
damaging to progress. We easily fill up our hour-long weekly telecons.

This is about hours in the day and focusing on RDFa - it would be harder
to do that with HTMLWG/non-RDFa-related e-mails filling up our inboxes.
Some of us have the time to keep up with 3-4 WGs, others don't.

> The prevailing feeling in PHP land at the
> time was that if people screw up, that's what CVS is for.  I'd like to
> see a little more of that attitude here. 

What do you mean by "here"?

> Some people will succeed, some
> will fail, but I would much rather have people try and fail than to tell
> people that they aren't allowed to try.

Good - that sounds healthy. I believe that most of the RDFa community
wants that as well.

> Tying this back into HTML... what the HTML WG needs is more individuals,
> and in particular, individuals who are willing to do the work (be it
> writing bug reports to writing spec text to writing test cases to
> whatever). 

Sure, that's what every WG needs more of - HTML WG is not alone in that
need.

> It doesn't need more labels.  And in particular, when Mark
> participates in the HTML working group he does so as a member of the
> HTML working group.  Any other labels he may also have are irrelevant in
> the context of that work.
> 
> I'll close with saying that there are valid reasons to have an IG.  I
> merely submit that "perhaps", /can/, and "us" aren't a part of those
> reasons.

I agree, those words (perhaps, can, and us), used in the way you defined
them, aren't good reasons to have a separate RDFa IG. My point is that I
don't think that I was defining them as you were. I hope the text above
clarifies that position.

This conversation is getting very meta - by focusing on single words
used in paragraphs, I feel that we're moving away from discussing the
requirements of an RDFa IG. I don't know if that option is completely
undesirable to you at this point, or if the text above clarified what I
was proposing to make it a viable path forward?

-- manu

-- 
Manu Sporny (skype: msporny, twitter: manusporny)
President/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
blog: Bitmunk 3.1 Released - Browser-based P2P Commerce
http://blog.digitalbazaar.com/2009/06/29/browser-based-p2p-commerce/
Received on Friday, 10 July 2009 04:00:58 GMT

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