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Re: Approved TAG finding: Authoritative Metadata

From: Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2006 16:06:43 -0400
Message-Id: <25609C02-549A-44FE-8CA8-94F08A324A36@w3.org>
Cc: <www-tag@w3.org>
To: Avoid@gmail <avoid.spam.account@gmail.com>

Biblio,

You suggest, in <http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/2006Aug/ 
0042.html>
aka <mid:000701c6bd73$3b1071e0$b28c31c8@enterprise>, that W3C should  
itself lead the development of open source reference code.

This has been a question discussed at various times since W3C started.
The X Consortium, one of the models for W3C, did indeed prodcue the  
definitive production X11 reference code: that was how it worked.

W3C has in fact produced quite a lot of code.  A list of software W3C  
has produced is <http://www.w3.org/Status>.

One example is Amaya, the browser/editor, which was for a long while  
partly funded by W3C, and has been a thought leader for WYSIWYG web  
page editing, style sheets and the integration of HTML, MathML, and  
SVG for example.  After a while, the W3C membership decided that  
really Amaya coding was not within W3C's remit, so it is now done by  
INRIA, under INRIA's own budget and other funding, which is obviously  
a constraint.

But W3C has not lead an open source movement in the style of Mozilla  
or the Gnome desktop.

As you say, there is an argument that it is a huge task, but then  
again the power of open source developers can be huge too.  It does  
also take leadership and management to make an open source project  
happen. Other arguments include the following.

Arguments against W3C doing open source:

1. Organizations should do done thing and do it well."  The Mozilla  
foundation, and OSAF, etc were set up as software foundations to make  
software.

2. This would compete with our membership. Open source software can  
sometimes (not always) be seen as a threat to commercial companies.  
Also, of course, a w3C Open Source project would compete with other  
open source projects in the same area for mindshare, readership and  
the all-important developer pool.

3. Within the W3C process, the one W3C selected open source project  
would be felt  have have unfair position if there were other projects  
with other ideas about how the standards should go.

4. The choices of languages to use for projects could be awkward, and  
whether to add support to a one particular platform or another, when  
there are competing open source projects which could be extended.

5. The staff of W3C are stretched thinner and thinner as the number  
of groups and documents rises. To coordinate open source software  
takes time.

Arguments for W3C doing open source:

1. Open source allows developers everywhere to get up to speed  
rapidly, so that once a standard has ben produced the industry and  
researchers can move on enhancements building on that standard

2. Coordination by W3C could provide continuity where individual  
champions from the volunteer community would hand over after leading  
a given project for a few years.

3. There would be assurance that the software does indeed implement  
the standard.

W3C *does* try to make sure that for every specification there are  
typically several interoperable implementations, of which at least  
one is open source.

Also, we do try to ensure that there is a manifest of test datasets,  
so that it is easy for new implementations (open source or not) to  
test against the tests the working group used in its discussions.

So, all that said, we do look at this issue every now and again.

Tim BL
(unofficially)

On Aug 11, 2006, at 14:23, Avoid@gmail wrote:

>
> I have been following the "Authoritative Metadata" thread at the  
> TAG list.
>
> During the last 8 years (probably more), we have seen the following  
> loop:
>
> Start:
> W3C: "The Web should be like this"
> Vendors: "No"
> Grandma and Grandpa: "Snif"
> GO TO Start
>
>
> I wrote somewhere else...
>
> "The web is an anarchy. Nobody rules. Nobody can enforce anything.
> W3C is *perceived* as a world authority, but isn't."
>
> And...
>
> "In today's standards bodies, nobody represents end-users.  
> Corporations pay
> the bills, instead.
> Hence "open" standards, means just a deal among corporations, but  
> not among
> corporations and end-users."
>
> And...
>
> "Today's standard bodies output specs, but they do not output at  
> least one
> free and open source, platform-independent implementation."
>
> Now let's see them in reverse order....
>
> The obvious solution to the above loop is:
>
> "Let the same people who output specs, also output the soft"
> (particularly true about a web browser (and I'm not talking about a  
> "toy" or
> "experimental" one, but a full fledged, widely deployable, production
> quality one)).
>
> Would W3C do that, and the lion's share of the problems automatically
> vanish.
> But the true questions are: Can W3C do this? And if it can...is it  
> willing
> to do it?
> To answer that, we need to consider W3C's true nature. But first  
> let me wipe
> the first kind of objections.
>
> "Objection! That is a hughe task!".
> This is W3C we are talking about here. It is not the Weekend  
> Programmer's
> Association of Namibia. We are talking W3C. It *does* have the pull to
> summon an army of volunteer top-notch programmers. Same goes for  
> resources,
> if needed.
> Say "Yes" and I can flatten each and all objections.
> All but one...
>
> "In today's standards bodies, nobody represents end-users.  
> Corporations pay
> the bills, instead.
> Hence "open" standards, means just a deal among corporations, but  
> not among
> corporations and end-users."
>
> Would W3C be willing to to do what is absolutely obvious that needs  
> to be
> done, to help Grandma and Grandpa?
> 1) Can W3C do it, at all? Or would there be a conflict of  
> interests? Would
> it crash against it's very own bussiness model?
> 2) If it can...would it be willing to?
>
> Those are the two questions whose answers I need to hear.
> And yes, Mr Berners Lee, I'm asking specifically to you.
> (In this particular case, as I'm sure you'll understand, only you  
> can answer
> this one)
> (Everyone else, please allow TBL to answer first. That's all I ask)
>
> Mr Berners Lee, since this is a very important question, please  
> feel free to
> take your time. Also, if you need any clarification, or need any extra
> details, please feel free to ask, I'll obligue.
>
>
> Like Mulder, I want to believe. Please help me.
>
> Was it fun to make the first browser?
>
> The semantic web is coming. Time to have fun again..
>
>
> Fernando Franco
> (teoriadetodo, hosted at gmail, you all know what to do)
>
Received on Tuesday, 5 September 2006 20:07:05 GMT

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