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Re: The Standards Manifesto

From: Simon St.Laurent <simonstl@simonstl.com>
Date: 22 May 2002 15:57:38 -0400
To: Aaron Swartz <me@aaronsw.com>
Cc: www-rdf-interest@w3.org, www-talk@w3.org, Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>
Message-Id: <1022097459.957.297.camel@localhost.localdomain>
I doubt Aaron's posting pleases people who are happy to work within the
W3C infrastructure, but it's not exactly a revolutionary proposal to
those of us who have long worried about the uneasy balance between the
W3C's role as keeper of the Web and its role as a vendor consortium. 
Calls for reform or any notion of accountability beyond its membership
have largely gone unheeded, and even the promise of the TAG appears to
be undermined on a regular basis by insistence that the membership has
final say in the doings of the W3C.

Even as I say that, I wonder if perhaps there's some middle ground worth
exploring.  The concrete projects you suggest - and many of the projects
recently discussed on xml-dev - are projects which would benefit from
synergy with the W3C but are clearly not the W3C membership's core
agenda.  W3C specs are at the heart of a lot of work we'd like to see
done, but the W3C doesn't seem interested in those projects as an
institution.

Perhaps some degree of separation from the W3C would be useful, and
perhaps some recognition on the part of the W3C that their approaches
don't work for everyone would also be helpful.  

Finding some means whereby developers with interest can create specs in
the open, and then have the W3C consider them seriously seems like a
better approach than having the W3C focus exclusively on what its
membership and working groups are doing.  (Yes, they notice IETF work
sometimes, and yes, we did manage to get DDML submitted as a note.  This
does not qualify as a general policy of openness.)

I've suggested a few times that a lightweight infrastructure for
developing and posting specifications might be a useful addition to the
xml-dev mailing list, but Aaron's suggestions make it clear that XML is
just one aspect of a much wider set of needs.  Something IETF-like might
be interesting, and it might even make sense to talk with the IETF. (I
think they have some kind of agreement with the W3C, or at least an
understanding of turf, however.)

Aaron's definitely not the only person who's frustrated.

On Wed, 2002-05-22 at 12:07, 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.

-- 
Simon St.Laurent
Ring around the content, a pocket full of brackets
Errors, errors, all fall down!
http://simonstl.com
Received on Wednesday, 22 May 2002 15:51:47 GMT

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