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"You call that a standard?" and Charter

From: Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 2004 14:01:19 -0500 (CDT)
To: WAI-GL <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.44.0404291352010.25979-100000@socrates.scdns.net>

This interview with Robert Glushko will be of quite considerable relevance
to WAI's dealings with its participants.


I note that the Charter advanced today by Wendy--


-- is of no improvement whatsoever on the specific issue of democratizing
this group. I'm aware that other W3C groups work the same way. The issue
is that the W3C is effectively controlled by corporate *and institutional*
interests who can afford to jet to Cannes and Tokyo for meetings. The Web
Accessibility Initiative deals with a different clientele-- arguably the
most-disadvantaged clientele on the entire Web-- and requires a different

Now, what do we find in this interview? Let's have a look at some direct 

[Q.] IBM and Microsoft have submitted to the W3C and OASIS for development
   many specifications that involve other companies. How is that

[A.] Look, the whole issue of openness is really a red herring. I can say
   that my process is completely open and anyone in the world can
   participate. But let's schedule my meetings every quarter and once in
   Tokyo and once in Berlin and once in Vienna and once in Vancouver and
   once in Washington. Effectively only the biggest players in the world
   can play. So, making it open, but making it infeasible to participate
   means it is, in effect, not open.

   Now think about what that means. That means clearly you are not really
   a volunteer delegate because someone has to pay your way to get to the
   meetings, right? So, occasionally it is a government body, but usually
   some employer would say: "I think it is worthwhile to have my employee
   on this standards body because maybe we can find some way to influence
   the process for our benefits." Everyone has a self-interest here.

[Q.] A New York Times article from February cited people who complained
   about Microsoft paying the travel expenses for U.N. technical
   committee members, which apparently gave it undue influence over the
   standards process. Is that common? 

[A.] I think it is a brilliant idea to try to influence the direction of
   the one legitimate standards body out there. But the problem is
   (Microsoft) did it in a way that does not look good with the lights
   turned on. I mean, everyone tries to influence the process, everyone
   funds different people to participate in these activities--that is
   just how the game is played. Someone has to pay the salary for people
   who are delegates. It is just Microsoft apparently didn't try to do it
   in a way that is very transparent. And that is the problem.
Received on Thursday, 29 April 2004 15:01:28 UTC

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