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Re: Design Principles, Section 1.6.1 relationship to HTML 4.01

From: Laura Carlson <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 1 Jun 2009 12:19:22 -0500
Message-ID: <1c8dbcaa0906011019r1075c9a4m147c72b7f61191e2@mail.gmail.com>
To: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>, "Dailey, David P." <david.dailey@sru.edu>, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
Cc: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Maciej wrote [1]:

> If I understand your position correctly, you're saying any rule that
> can't be stated and obeyed in 100% absolute terms is not worth
> writing down.

Leif answered [2]:

> Principles are principles. Stating clear and unambiguous principles is
> one thing. Finding, that in reality, you have to break a principle or
> two, is another thing.

Exactly, Leif.

The introduction of the Design Principles doc states: "To make useful
progress, we need to have some basic agreement on goals for this

Smart goals use SMART[3] criteria:

* Specific
* Measurable
* Achievable
* Relevant
* Time-bound
(Drucker, Peter. Collins Business; Revised edition; April 22, 2008)

Consensus of SMART goals, definition of terms, and a common set of
reviewing questions would have:

1. Aided in communication and understanding.
2. Helped avoid needless arguments and churning of issues.
3. Promoted consistent and fair decision making.
5. Encouraged outcomes that reflect what is important to the working group.
6. Benefited working group progress.

David wrote[4]:

> If the principles are to be taken seriously then I would want to
> undertake a much more systematic study of the nature of principles in
> the evolution of policy and in the way that those principles may be
> used to introduce bias into the evolution of policies.

That would be great, David. Thanks.

But it would depend on the answer to the question you asked:

> In what way are these design principles vital to the task at hand?

In order to apply consistent unbiased decision making throughout the
specification, it would have been critical to come to consensus on the
design principles. Inconsistent principles can lead to inconsistent,
contradictory, and discriminating decision making. As Leif said,
principles are principles. As DanC has said, "their main utility is as
justification in discussions." [5] In other words they are fundamental
value guides used to base decisions.

No agreed upon principles, at best result in decisions (e.g.
dropping/adding changing elements and attributes) without foundation.

At worst they may result in arbitrary, inconsistent, unjust, partial,
wrong-headed, and discriminating decisions.

TBL said, "design principles very hairy...journey of arriving on
consensus valuable; have whole group in on discussion, creates common
vocabulary and trust in one another..." [6]

The problem is, at this late date, for some working group members
trust has gone to ashes [7].

Sam wrote:

> Is it fair to observe that a document that purports to describe "a
> shared vocabulary to discuss various ideas" would attract weaker
> objections than a document that purports to describe "Design
> Principles"?

I'm not sure that the vocabulary is even shared, Sam. A title of "A
Document to Discuss Various Ideas" would be more truthful. The
document contains ideas which the working group has discussed at
length without coming to a mutual agreement.

If it is decided to publish the Working Draft as a note, I previously
proposed language for a disclaimer [8]. David has also asked for a
suitable disclaimer [9]. I think it was Chaals who suggested that  the
group should publish a version indicating the document is no longer an
active work item.

Best Regards,

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009May/0653.html
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Jun/0003.html
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_(project_management)
[4] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009May/0635.html
[5] http://krijnhoetmer.nl/irc-logs/html-wg/20070817#l-43
[6] http://www.w3.org/2007/04/26-html-wg-minutes
[7] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009May/0092.html
[8] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009May/0170.html
[9] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009May/0219.html
Laura L. Carlson
Received on Monday, 1 June 2009 17:20:00 UTC

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