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The Standards Manifesto

From: Aaron Swartz <me@aaronsw.com>
Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 11:07:32 -0500
Cc: Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>, "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>
To: www-rdf-interest@w3.org, www-talk@w3.org
Message-Id: <05B9592E-6D9E-11D6-A14A-0003936780B2@aaronsw.com>
I'm fed up.

The W3C has been taken over by corporations with only selfish interests 
at heart. The Web services people swallow resources for an goal 
antithetical to Web Architecture. The XML people shoehorn data into a 
format meant for documents and reinvent several wheels doing so. The RDF 
people are afraid to do anything worthwhile with the power of their 
technology and instead worry for no good reason about 
backwards-compatibility. And the W3T sits quietly, afraid to do anything 
to remedy the situation.

I'm not going to take it anymore.

W3C-style standards bodies clearly aren't working anymore. Perhaps they 
made sense in the old days of the browser wars, but we're no longer 
getting innovation from Working Groups who have so many members that 
they have to form subgroups to decide what they're going to do about 
deciding what they're going to do.

I humbly suggest a solution, based on comments from TimBL, SimonStl and 
many others:

  * Desiging the specs are a small independent core team of people who 
really know their stuff and are concerned about simplicity and the Right 

  * Assisting them is an open group who contributes to the spec-writing 
and application-testing, letting the core team focus on the design.

  * Overseeing things and making "arbitrary" decisions is a 
widely-respected member of the community.

This is, perhaps, the way W3C originally worked, but most of the time it 
doesn't work like this anymore. I've left out the details of the process 
to keep this message short. If there is interest I will make them 

Things I'd like to see developed in this model:
  * RDF-Model (a clean version of N-Triples)
  * RDF-Logic (a FOL system with URIs)
  * RDF-Query (a standardized API and syntax for managing RDF)
  * RDF-Sites (an outline for how RDF fits with HTTP).

Each of these should be relatively simple specifications, and easy to 
make if this plan works out how as I imagine.

While such groups may use W3C (or any other group's) resources, like 
web-space and telecon-bridges, it must be clear that they are not bound 
by W3C process and are not responsible to the membership.

I am willing to invest a my time into making this happen and am 
interested in collaborators. Please your feedback to me or <www-
talk@w3.org> and thanks for your time.

Aaron Swartz [http://www.aaronsw.com/]
Received on Wednesday, 22 May 2002 12:07:36 UTC

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