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Re: The Standards Manifesto

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 15:19:50 -0400 (EDT)
To: Aaron Swartz <me@aaronsw.com>
cc: <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>, <www-talk@w3.org>, Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>, "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0205221429270.7734-100000@tux.w3.org>

Aaron,

Can always rely on you to stir up the lists on a dull day...

Reading...

	[[
	* 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? What if 100000
people felt 'l33t enough to join it? Are you volunteering to help decide
which ones 'really know their stuff'? Or use Google karma? Which ones
might unveil a mischievous patent halfway through the elite concensus
process? Which ones would take the time to read the work of other WGs and
think through the overlaps and issues? Which ones can write as clearly as
they think?

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?

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
shouting can be counter-productive.

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'. Fortunately the
proceedings of RDF Core (mailing lists, irc, meeting minutes, issue list)
are a matter of public record, so readers of your rabble rousing
inspirational manifesto can take a look at how the group has worked over
the last year.

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.

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.

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...

OK, maybe I'm overdoing it on the saracasm front. There are things you say
that I have sympathy with, and points that you raise that are worthy of
discussion. Backwards compatibility, for example, a tricky trade-off. And
while your point about W3C being 'taken over' by companies is emotively
put, www-talk@w3.org might be a good forum for talking about how
non-corporate members of the Web community can continue to contribute to
the standards process. My main dissapointment with your message is that
you touch on several interesting and discussion-worthy topics, but make it
hard for W3C folk to respond positively to your message since it is
couched so aggressively.

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?

thanks,

Dan

RDF IG chair

On Wed, 22 May 2002, Aaron Swartz wrote:

> 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
> Thing.
>
>   * 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
> clearer.
>
> 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 15:19:52 GMT

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