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

From: Adam Lake <creatinglake@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 4 Apr 2016 17:11:26 -0400
Message-ID: <CAM3qkwoVuOrqNaWBm=HsMKVXMRAeoo=13RGs=N8iCYjWFeadfQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: Steven Rowat <steven_rowat@sunshine.net>
Cc: Web Payments <public-webpayments@w3.org>, Credentials CG <public-credentials@w3.org>
I don't usually comment on this group, but since its gotten big picture and
into issues that I am particularly concerned with I decided to chime in. I
don't have any direct experience with Wc3 so my impression could be off.

Steven, I like the way you think. It is my conclusion that the monied elite
will not consciously support the creation of methods that will eliminate
their revenue sources--their bylaws give them directives that dictate
otherwise. It makes perfect sense that tech monopolies would be an obstacle
at wc3 to creating decentralize alternatives to their whole business model.
This does not mean that Wc3 does not produce a lot of invaluable work, but
that it is partially corrupted and can't produce results in certain areas.
Oligarchy manifests itself in many ways and if we are going to create a
society beyond centralized corporate control the process of web
standardization will have to happen without giving corporate interests any
real decision making power.

As far as your "Possibilities for a fairer way to continue to standardize
Credentials", I like them all. 5 is the most intriguing in the short-run,
and 1 is a great idea, I just think its going to be a while. Although I
have heard two reports of grants being awarded by the federal government
for credential/identity work.

I look forward to seeing where this goes. Perhaps there is an opportunity
following the breakdown.

On Mon, Apr 4, 2016 at 1:54 PM, Steven Rowat <steven_rowat@sunshine.net>

> Greetings,
> [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 Credentials).
> 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 though).
> My 2 cents by Guess Who    :-)
> [1] https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/2009Sep/0028.html
> [2]
> http://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/apr/03/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-panama-papers

Adam Lake
Received on Monday, 4 April 2016 21:12:15 UTC

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