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Re: The Standards Manifesto

From: Aaron Swartz <me@aaronsw.com>
Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 14:57:44 -0500
Cc: <www-talk@w3.org>, www-rdf-interest@w3.org
To: Dan Brickley <danbri@w3.org>
Message-Id: <2E7B19A7-6DBE-11D6-A14A-0003936780B2@aaronsw.com>
[trimming cc list again]

On Wednesday, May 22, 2002, at 02:19  PM, Dan Brickley wrote:
> Can always rely on you to stir up the lists on a dull day...

Any time, my friend. ;-)

> 	[[
> 	* Desiging the specs are a small independent core team of people who
> 	really know their stuff and are concerned about simplicity and the 
> Right
> 	Thing.
> 	]]
>
> And how exactly would this elite core team be assembled?

So, there are obviously a couple of ways to do this. One way, which I 
think will work well, is that the chair invites people who she thinks 
will work well together, and the rest join the interest group, possibly 
being invited into the core team if they demonstrate good work.

But the better argument is this: you've long advocated the scruffy 
approach to coding: let's start hacking and we'll solve problems as they 
come up. Why not do the same for working groups? Sure we could sit here 
arguing about every possible eventuality or every spec corner case. Or, 
we could start working now and deal with these things when, and _if_ 
they become issues.

> Which ones might unveil a mischievous patent halfway through the elite 
> concensus process?

I don't see what that has to do with consensus. Someone could unveil a 
patent then or now, as a member of the WG or not.

> Which ones would take the time to read the work of other WGs and
> think through the overlaps and issues?

If they don't do that then I'd hope you'd be so kind as to point it out.

> And if members of the elite core group for some reason felt 'fed up',
> should they talk to the chair(s) of the group, or send a cross-posted
> grumble to 100s of developers proposing a revolutionary New Way Forward?

[giggle] If they were fed up with a working group then they should 
clearly talk to the chair first. However, in my case the whole problem 
is that the working group doesn't exist yet.

> There is no right way to do this. No process is perfect. W3C's process,
> however, is both documented and evolving in response to change. These 
> are
> both fine qualities. If you have specific feedback on your experience 
> as a
> working group member and/or interest group member, there are 
> non-megaphone
> ways of bringing them to the attention of W3C and the W3C Team.

Sometimes it's easier to start anew rather than to tear up an entire 
system. I didn't see any way to fix the W3C, since process decisions are 
made by the members and my goal is to write the members out.

> Sometimes shouting can be counter-productive.

Apologies if you saw this as shouting. I was sure I turned the caps lock 
key off first...

> Your message below reads uncomfortably close to a direct attack on your
> RDF Core WG colleagues, who I would assert already 'know their stuff',
> share a 'concern about simplicity and the Right Thing'.

Ouch. If that's how you interpreted it then I sincerely apologize since 
I meant no offense to them. RDF Core is doing what it's chartered to 
do -- and very well, I might add --, my issue is simply with how its 
chartered. I'd sincerely hope that many of my RDF Core colleagues would 
do me the honor of helping out with these projects. They're great 
people, but I fear their talents are being wasted by their 
backwards-compatibility mandate.

> Many of the things you aspire to (docs on APIs, query languages) are 
> things we could being drafting and sketching in the RDF Interest Group.

And that is exactly what I propose. A lightweight structure for interest 
group members (and other interested parties) to begin building these 
things.

> The big difference is that RDF IG is a big messy list full of lots of
> people with differing opinions. You propose a small core team of
> super-experts. I'm not sure how we'd get there from here: hold a mental
> beauty contest? Or get TimBL to hand-pick such a team? Both options have
> major flaws.

Those options apparently have their benefits -- the TAG used both! 
Personally, I'd like to work through these problems with a team of 
dedicated people I get along with. Call that process what you like, but 
I think it's how a lot of great work is done.

> Next time you're fed up with our process, consider offering constructive
> feedback before proposing revolutionary manifestos. We might be able to
> get mostly where you want to go through gradual change. Less exciting
> than the 'plucky heros against The Man' approach you're advocating, but
> this is standards work, we're not supposed to be here for the 
> adrenalin...

I'm open to suggestions, and I've been trying for a while, but I just 
don't see it happening.

> Since this is the RDF Interest Group list, I've a suggestion. Could you
> take the time to recast your manifesto as a proposal for making the
> RDF Interest Group a more effective, useful forum to complement W3C's
> existing Working Group machinery? Or do you really believe the whole 
> thing
> is rotten and needs replacing wholesale?

I've no problem with the RDF Interest Group, but I think the W3C process 
needs replacing wholesale. (Note I said the process -- I still believe 
in the stuff, the software and the people.)

--
Aaron Swartz [http://www.aaronsw.com]
Received on Wednesday, 22 May 2002 15:57:46 GMT

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