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Re: Update on Technical Architecture Group

From: Aaron Swartz <me@aaronsw.com>
Date: Sun, 8 Jul 2001 21:37:52 -0500
Cc: www-talk@w3.org
To: Janet Daly <janet@w3.org>
Message-Id: <20010709023753.FEBJ24228.femail18.sdc1.sfba.home.com@localhost>
On Sunday, July 8, 2001, at 08:54  PM, Janet Daly wrote:

> Four weeks ago, Aaron Swartz introduced a thread [0] based on a topic
> presented at the W3C Technical Plenary [1], a meeting that was 
> open only
> to W3C Working Group members, but considered open;

A correction: The meeting was open to members of the public, as 
I was neither a W3C Member, nor a Working Group member at the 
time I attended. (I attended as a member of the RDF Interest 
Group, whose membership is completely open.)

> The first ideas for the TAG actually preceded the creation of the
> xml-uri mailing list [3] [...] However, it's safe to
> say that many of the participants, regardless of the position(s) they
> held, left with a wish for a different way to produce a solution.

I apologize if I've misunderstood you, but it sounds like you're 
saying: "We tried being open with xml-uri and it didn't work, so 
now we're going with something different." I'd suggest that this 
is not the best decision.

xml-uri seems to have been the first time the W3C tried to build 
consensus among the public. I think that it should be expected 
that things didn't go perfectly the first time. Furthermore, 
while I did not participate at the time, but from my 
understanding, xml-uri was tackling some difficult issues 
(relative URIs in namespaces) for which there was no quick and 
easy answer. To make things even more difficult, this is an 
issue that many of the participants felt quite passionately 

While it didn't work out that time, the Web, and indeed the 
entire Internet, has a long history of building things through 
public consensus. The IETF, whose open process does have some 
flaws, has built practically all of the important Internet 
standards in use today. I don't see why the W3C needs to turn in 
the opposite direction and I hope that it does not.

> As W3C has grown, there have been more frequent requests for
> documentation of architectural principles that cross multiple
> technologies. People ask, "How do W3C technologies fit together? What
> basics must people know before they start developing a new technology?"

While I understand that this is an important problem for the W3C 
to face, I hope that it does not forget its motto: "Leading the 
*Web* to its full potential" (emphasis added). While W3C 
technologies are often interesting, and sometimes important, 
lets not lose site of their goal: to build a better Web. I, and 
I think many others, would rather know how the technologies that 
for the Web fit together. Whether these technologies are made by 
the W3C or some other standards organization, makes little 
difference to me.

I hope that the W3C recognizes the importance of this 
Web-centric view. Let's not miss the forest for the trees.

> It is my (personal) hope that we will have a document to share soon; at
> the time we post the TAG charter, we will also be sending out a call
> for nominations for the TAG.

I hope that these events do not occur at the same time, although 
your wording implies that. I would not want the TAG charter to 
be released when it is too late -- when members are already 
being nominated and the process is fully underway. That is why I 
feel this is so urgent -- the charter must have public review 
before it is put in place.

> In addition to Q&A on the www-talk mailing list, you are also welcome
> to talk with the Working Group members you know (if you belong to a
> Working Group) or to your Advisory Committee representative (if you are
> a Member).

But this is exactly the problem! I do not want this discussion 
to happen behind closed doors, I want it public because the 
public should have a say about their Web. I don't think I can 
overestimate the importance of this issue.

I thank you graciously for coming out and commenting about this 
in public, but let's continue the conversation. I understand 
that you are somewhat limited by W3C process, but I wish that 
major decisions like these were worked out with the public at 
large, not sprung upon us as a surprise.

As you may have noticed, this is an issue I feel extremely 
passionate about and I may tend to overstress my concerns. 
However, I ask that you take this in the right way -- I 
appreciate the W3C, and want to try my best to make sure it does 
the right thing.

       "Aaron Swartz"      |              The Semantic Web
  <mailto:me@aaronsw.com>  |  <http://logicerror.com/semanticWeb-long>
<http://www.aaronsw.com/> |        i'm working to make it happen
Received on Sunday, 8 July 2001 22:38:02 UTC

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