W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-w3process@w3.org > May 2014

Re: Case for/data about elections

From: Charles McCathie Nevile <chaals@yandex-team.ru>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2014 11:50:33 +0200
To: "Larry Masinter" <masinter@adobe.com>
Cc: "Brian Kardell" <bkardell@gmail.com>, "public-w3process@w3.org" <public-w3process@w3.org>
Message-ID: <op.xgiiyjf7y3oazb@chaals.local>
On Mon, 26 May 2014 06:24:32 +0200, Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>  

> Let me suggest you take a look at the AB and the TAG selection from a  
> different point of view:
> Who would be on your "dream team" of leaders if you could recruit them?

And this is where the rubber hits the road.

My Dream Team would be a diverse group, some of whom I would be very happy  
with and some of whom I would think are ridiculous choices, who represent  
interests entirely counter to mine. The key criterion is that collectively  
the represent as far as possible *all* the members of W3C. Not just by  
being great representatives, but by being the set of people that best  
reflects who the entire AC want there.

In other words, my Dream Team are competitively elected, have very  
different perspectives, and each have supporters from different parts of  

I trust the AC to be intelligent enough as individuals to vote for the  
people they believe will best represent what they want W3C to be, if there  
is a decent reason to believe that their vote will influence the outcome.  
This to me is more important than trying to name people - of course I can  
appoint everyone, and expect the results would be great - but others may  
disagree with my choices.

> Ideally what would you have the TAG and AB do?

Work harder. I honestly think that's the number one need at the moment.

Beyond that I think the specific work they should do is reasonably  
described in the Process document which sets out their roles. But I'll  
give some more of my own perspective here:

TAG should advise Working Groups on how the different work at W3C fits  
together in the Web, and help figure out whether there is a clear path we  
can take to resolve thorny questions, or whether a case by case analysis  
is the best approach, in which case they should be bringing their  
knowledge to analysing each case.

Issues like exactly what a URL represents in a vocabulary are actually  
very important to a large number of W3C members. Likewise, many members in  
many groups are grappling with problems like how far we should try to  
ensure that UI is predictable across different products in order to give  
users a fighting chance of understanding when their security is being put  
at risk, or how do we manage security for users who want a range of  
services that don't want to say much about why they need particular  
information or privileges.

The TAG it is generally not an appropriate group for developing  
specifications to use as standards, and TAG members who want to do that  
should join working groups directly.

My personal TAG dream team would be a lot like the TAG, but with more  
experience of i18n and maybe a bit more connected to the large lumbering  
old-fashioned dinosaur businesses that actually provide a lot of the  
critical stuff that makes the Web so globally important.

The AB should serve as a sounding board for W3C team, so when they come up  
with ideas like jumping on some semi-political bandwagon that seems great  
to them, a global set of likely concerns can be presented, to ensure they  
get a better perspective on (for example) whether this really is a serious  
issue or just something that raises heat in the cafes of Mountain View, or  
if they are following a path that will cause problems for those outside  
the US who want to be W3C members.

Members of the AB don't, and IMHO shouldn't, represent the interests of  
their own organisation, but instead draw on their experience and  
understanding of the needs of different types of member to advise the  
Team, in particular in cases where the Team are not comfortable putting a  
question to the AC at large.

I would like the AB to work more transparently, and to involve the AC  
faster and more directly in questions it considers unless they really are  
sensitive and cannot be shared broadly.

It needs to be small enough to trust with really sensitive information as  
a first choice for advice, instead of just "call a friend or 2", and  
diverse enough to provide feedback and not just an echo chamber of the  
MIT-based Team. This is a tough balance.

My personal AB dream team would be at least as diverse as the current AB  
in terms of global representation, and a bit broader in the backgrounds of  
the people and the organisations they understand deeply. They would  
understand the subtle differences between "it's on the record" and  
actually working transparently and openly, and they would be able to  
listen as well as present a case. They must be able to do more than concur  
with the majority, but also have a sense for developing consensus.

> How could you get any of your dream team (or your second choices) to  
> volunteer and commit the time?

By keeping W3C relevant and engaged, and by the elected bodies having a  
reputation for being useful.

In recent elections getting a sufficient number of quality candidates  
hasn't been a big problem.

I predict that if W3C remains relevant and the elected bodies do useful  
work that will continue to be the case.

> The discussion about voting and selection seems to be disconnected from  
> the fundamental gap.

I don't think so. The fundamental gap is getting a diverse group who don't  
just nod and sagely agree with each other, and the discussion about voting  
is because the system we use now is heavily biased toward exactly that  
kind of result.

In my experience of looking for candidates for AB/TAG the only difficulty  
has been convincing people that they have a fair chance. Since our system  
rewards voters who pick likely winners in order not to waste their vote,  
losing an election is unfortunately a worse outcome than it should be.

Nonetheless, we are blessed with a number of people who are prepared to  
take that risk repeatedly, and with high-quality pools of candidates.  
While I believe our current approach gives sub-optimal results in terms of  
electing our *collective* Dream Teams, it is not a worst-case scenario  
thanks to these mitigating factors.

> From my viewpoint, the web platform is enormously over complicated,  
> fragile and insecure, poorly integrated with other (non-web) Internet  
> applications -- architecturally baroque and getting worse every year.


> And W3C isn't poised to lead effectively to fix this or even apply  
> back-pressure.

I disagree. If there is a problem I think it is that we are at risk of  
having a monoculture at the top. On the positive side even to the extent  
that is true I think we have a lot of people there who are also reasonably  
good listeners. IMHO we are poised to lead effectively, and to apply  
back-pressure, and in many cases we manage to do this.

That said, I would still like to see us improve a lot.

> Those are the kinds of problems I'd want them to take on.

Security and integration with other systems are a kind of problem, and I  
agree that we should be taking them on. Not just in the TAG and AB but  
across W3C.

The rest is a degree of difficulty. Luckily we have lots of smart people  
working in our community, to contribute to the solutions for difficult  



Charles McCathie Nevile - web standards - CTO Office, Yandex
chaals@yandex-team.ru         Find more at http://yandex.com
Received on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 09:51:11 UTC

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