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Re: Update on Web Payments Working Group [The Web Browser API Incubation Anti-Pattern]

From: Steven Rowat <steven_rowat@sunshine.net>
Date: Mon, 4 Apr 2016 10:54:44 -0700
To: public-webpayments@w3.org, Credentials CG <public-credentials@w3.org>
Message-ID: <5702AA64.1080505@sunshine.net>

[Cross-post alert: I'm posting this Web Payments reply also to the 
Credentials list, because Manu's original post was to both lists, 
though with different titles, and I think the discussion is germane to 
both lists].

On 4/3/16 9:39 PM, Pindar Wong wrote:
> I'm sorry Tim, Fabio but onwards and upwards -- really?  You're both
> too polite.
> Silence should not be interpreted as consent.
> As a long-time supporter of the CG's work it's  taken a few days for
> me to cool off after reading Manu's mail.

Like Pindar, I found myself reacting strongly to Manu's post, but 
taking a few days to mull it.  Manu seems to have 'taken the gloves 
off' for this one, and I was impressed by what he said. This feels 
like a large change point. Can the CG continue? If it does, can I 
continue here?

Aside: I went through a similar thing around HTML4/5 with the W3C [1], 
so I can't say I'm surprised that the W3C behaved this way.

But the question to me that Manu's post raised was: what now? With 
this kind of blocking, is there a way forward? This plunged me into 
various high-level speculations, which I think are necessary in order 
to make a decision. They're attempts at understanding how the present 
might lead to the future, globally, in both finance and identity (on 
the Web, and off).

They go like this:
Background assumptions:

1. Finance, front-line, globally, is controlled by companies: which 
are large financial institutions (banks, and increasingly other more 
abstract ones -- hedge funds, Google.) For them, money flows across 
borders, and evades governments. See, for example the serendipitously 
just-released Panama Papers [2] leak, which are laying this out in a 
detail never known before.

2. Identity, front-line, is still controlled by governments. (To get 
across a border: what do they want? They want a government passport).

3. Information publishing, globally, is 'controlled by' the Internet 
-- in a wild and chaotic fashion. (It used to be controlled by large 
publishing companies, but they're in disarray, relative to the vast 
information flow on the Internet.)

4. The W3C is controlled (funded) by companies, as defined in #1, 
whose self-interest is in extending their control over the global 
information publishing, as defined in #3. They are companies who want 
to control information flow, and hence the flow of money into themselves.

5. On top of this context, the Web Payments CG attempted to incubate a 
new standard that would revolutionize how #1 is carried on (money flow 
globally). In the process the WPCG ascertained that Identity was more 
fundamental, and split off into the Credentials CG. It seemed clear, 
in the incubation stage, that Credentials must be solved before the 
new Web Payments global standard could be achieved.

Now, if all of the above is (more or less) accurate, then:

   A. The fact that W3C would either reject, railroad, or co-opt any 
work offered to them about Web Payments is predictable. The majority 
of corporations do not play fair unless required and regulated. That 
is part of their mandate to their shareholders. And in the wild and 
wacky Internet (and W3C) they are not regulated. So their 
self-interest worms its way to the front.

   B. But! that doesn't really matter, if Credentials must be solved 
first; because:

   C. The real question is: can Credentials be solved in an 
open-standard way, thereby creating a playing field on which an open 
Web Payments standard can flourish?

   D. Manu's post doesn't tell us how Credentials can be solved, but 
it does provide strong evidence that the current W3C isn't the place 
to do it.

So I suggest finding another way to approach the standardization of 
Credentials -- other than through the currently-controlled and funded 
W3C. (After that, Web Payments may be solvable along the same path -- 
whatever that is -- or at least be catalyzed by the existence of solid 

Possibilities for a fairer way to continue to standardize Credentials: 
(not exhaustive by any means I'm sure):
   1. Governments. Get the US Fed involved directly, rather than 
through the W3C. Have it legislated.
   2. Re-organize the funding of the W3C (Governments? kickstarter? 
Avaaz? Philanthropists?)
   3. Use a different standards organization that already exists.
   4. Start a new parallel web standards organization for the entire Web.
   5. Start a new single-focus, dedicated Credentials Web Standards 
organization (funded: governments, kickstarter, Avaaz, 
philanthropists, a newly-formed coop charity or equal-income company).
   6. Get directly involved in peer-to-peer versions of the Web like 
Interledger (which has a community group) or CCNx from PARC (version 
1.0 has been released and I'm seeing daily evidence of developers 
attempting to integrate it into their work. It's rough and early alpha 

My 2 cents by Guess Who    :-)

[1] https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/2009Sep/0028.html
Received on Monday, 4 April 2016 17:55:14 UTC

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