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Does the W3C still believe in Tim Berners-Lee's vision of decentralization?

From: Drummond Reed <drummond.reed@evernym.com>
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 2021 23:57:51 -0700
Message-ID: <CAAjunnbR88pHJi_1i6eW7HB=dcxxYOYSmWvay+9T0b14OAqsTg@mail.gmail.com>
To: Credentials Community Group <public-credentials@w3.org>
I want to share this email I just sent to the W3C Advisory Committee
regarding the DID 1.0 formal objection (FO) issue.

The Evernym blog post it links to is here:
https://www.evernym.com/blog/w3c-vision-of-decentralization/

Best,

=Drummond

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Drummond Reed <drummond.reed@evernym.com>
Date: Tue, Oct 12, 2021 at 11:54 PM
Subject: Does the W3C still believe in Tim Berners-Lee's vision of
decentralization?
To: W3C AC Forum <w3c-ac-forum@w3.org>

AC Members,

Let me start by saying I appreciate the extensive discussion about the
Formal Objection process over the past few days. I suspect it has helped
educate many of us who are not involved in the intricacies of the W3C
process (and how it needs to evolve to become "director-free"). It has also
given me, as one editor of the DID 1.0 spec, a modicum of reassurance that
the FO's lodged against it will be handled via a reasonable process.

Assuming that good faith, I'd like to turn the AC's attention to the
substance of those FOs. Specifically, I want to follow the advice Tobie
Langel gave yesterday in response to a suggestion by David Singer:

Anchoring decision-making into shared values and principles is critical for
> W3C’s long-term credibility and for W3C to stay functional once
> “director-free.”


I could not agree more. In the case of these FOs, I believe the principle
at stake is *decentralization*.

Evernym joined the W3C four years ago specifically to work on
standards for *decentralized
digital trust infrastructure*, starting with verifiable credentials and
DIDs. To be frank, we were skeptical that W3C was the right place for that
work. The issue of centralization of the Web was already looming
large—specifically as raised by Mozilla in their 2017 Internet Health Report
<https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/insights/internet-health-report/>.
But Manu Sporny and other leaders of the W3C Credentials Community Group
convinced us that the W3C was serious about decentralization. So we agreed
to contribute our efforts here.

Four years later, the FOs lodged by Google, Apple, and Mozilla against the
DID 1.0 spec have shaken our confidence. It would be one thing if these
objections had serious merit. But we were frankly stunned at how much they
reflected misunderstandings not only about the purpose and design of the
DID 1.0 spec, but also about the other deliverables of the DID WG.

I realize that's a strong statement. So over the past week we worked to
fully document this in a blog post we published tonight
<https://www.evernym.com/blog/w3c-vision-of-decentralization/>.

I urge you to read it and to share your thoughts on the topic
of decentralization with the rest of the AC.

=Drummond

P.S. The conclusion of the blog post raises some questions about the
motivations for these FOs. This is not meant to impugn Google's, Apple's,
and Mozilla's intentions. It is meant to underscore that *decentralization
is about avoiding concentrations of power*. There is no way around that
issue—which is why it is so important that we discuss it here.
Received on Wednesday, 13 October 2021 06:58:15 UTC

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