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Re: Manifesto: Rules for standards-makers by Dave Winer

From: Dave Crocker <dhc@dcrocker.net>
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 2020 16:55:59 -0800
To: Heather Vescent <heathervescent@gmail.com>, "W3C Credentials CG (Public List)" <public-credentials@w3.org>
Message-ID: <fac6b216-68d9-728f-0d90-aa3c3f4efb57@dcrocker.net>
On 12/14/2020 2:55 PM, Heather Vescent wrote:
> Interesting piece by Dave Winer. What do you agree with? What do you 
> disagree with? 
> http://scripting.com/2017/05/09/rulesForStandardsmakers.html 
> <http://scripting.com/2017/05/09/rulesForStandardsmakers.html>

1. Names matter. Often, quite a lot. What is the name of the format 
standard for an Internet email?  You don't know because it doesn't have 
a name other than it's RFC number and you might or might not know the 
current one, since it's been revised a number of times.  In fact, in the 
earliest compendium of Internet standards, it was left off, apparently 
because it lack a name. Seriously.  (And no, it is neither SMTP nor 
MIME.)  Choose a name that is easily pronounceable, to make it more 
convenient to people trying to reference it.

2. When to standardize? That can be a surprisingly challenging 
decision.  These days, the main requirement is momentum: get enough 
community support to make sure it is driven to success in a timely 
manner.  Most standards groups are quite slow and sometimes are, ummm, 
erratic.  You need enough momentum to be able to survive in spite of 
this.  Often that means doing informal, ad hoc community work first and 
then standardizing a later version, when the standards process has no 
ability to kill the work.  Other times, you need the standard in place 
before you can get any field traction; be prepared for a much longer 

3. When to kill it?  When it is no longer practical to enhance it.  
Replacing a large installed base is slow and expensive.  And risky.  
(cf, IPv6.) Don't do it unless there's no choice.

Best bit of Winer's list is the emphasis on users.  In fact, when work 
starts, get everyone on the same page by having them focus on a 
non-technical description of the functional goal and why it is useful 
and who will use it and why anyone should believe they will.  (btw, some 
folk might recognize this as foundational marketing work, but of course, 
one must not call it that, in a technical forum...)


Dave Crocker
Brandenburg InternetWorking
Received on Friday, 18 December 2020 00:56:25 UTC

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