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Re: Proceeding with [Core] via email discussion (Was Re: Postponed beginning for [Education], agenda for [Core])

From: Crispin Weston <crispin.weston@saltis.org>
Date: Fri, 26 Dec 2014 11:29:18 GMT
Message-ID: <1419593358140.56178.23122@webmail6>
To: "Marcos Caceres" <marcos@marcosc.com>, "Jeff Jaffe" <jeff@w3.org>
Cc: <public-most-important-priorities@w3.org>
Dear Marcos & Jeffe,

Many thanks for your replies. It sounds as if I am more interested in the education group in January - in which case, forgive my premature posting of thoughts to the Core group.

To clarify my education requirement in response to Marcos' email, you are right that I am not asking for new data formats - those we already have are sufficient. The problem for education lies in the lack of common data models. As you say, the recognised way to address this issue in W3C would be to set up a community group. This could happen at the moment but, with a few very marginal exceptions, it doesn't.

I think part of this problem has to do with community dynamics in sectors that are effectively run by government agencies. Standards tend to be imposed by government procurement exercises, which give undue weight to officially recognised but often very conservative specifications, suppressing innovation. And even in more dynamic sectors, I imagine that there is always a tension between the need for innovation and the need to achieve community consensus.

My proposal is therefore for better schema description languages (probably building on existing ones) that allow individual innovators to publish their data models & APIs in ways that promote the easier sharing of data definitions and better mapping between fields in different schemas. This would, I suggest, allow innovative standards to emerge organically as implementers choose, one by one, to share the same definitions, rather than by formal discussions in the digital equivalent of smoke-filled rooms, hammering out a single specification.
But I suspect that the route for such a proposal needs to lead through the education group and then back again to Core - when the proposal has been better defined.

Thanks again,
Crispin


On 26 December 2014, Marcos Caceres <marcos@marcosc.com> wrote:
> Hi Crispin,
> 
> On December 26, 2014 at 5:37:22 AM, Crispin Weston (crispin.weston@saltis.org) wrote:
> > Dear jeffe,
> > 
> > However, what is being proposed with the Application Foundations strikes me as being a sort of developer's toolkit or library.
> > 
> This view is incorrect. We are laying down a *platform* on which libraries, toolkits, and data formats can be built. We are not building toolkits or libraries - and we are only building new data formats where current generation of data formats are shown to be insufficient.
> 
> It may help to read the following to get an understanding of how we are standardizing the web platform: <https://extensiblewebmanifesto.org/>
> 
> > 2. in what senses these foundations will be specific to education.
> > 
> So, let's spin this around a bit. What can you *not* do on the Web platform today to enable the things you need in an educational context using the standards the W3C, and related consortia, already provide? Are there any technical limitations that you have identified in the current generation of specifications (I didn't identify any from your email, but I might be missing something)?
> 
> Reading your email, I get the sense that you are primarily calling for the standardization of data formats that would be built on existing technology? Is that correct? If that is correct, that is great - it might be as easy as forming a community group with the interested parties and getting something standardized that would address your use cases (using, JSON, XML, or even RDF).
> 
> In order to set the priorities in this group, we need to identify demonstrable limitations in the platform: that is, "I can't do X on the platform today because it doesn't do Y'. There is strong/demonstrable interest and benefit to society in doing X as shown by [citations needed] - if only we could do something about fixing Y!
> 
> The Web already affords a rich set of data formats on which other formats can be created and standardized (independently of the W3C in many cases - for domain specific cases, similar to the ones you describe). What would be of tremendous value would be to show that the aforementioned formats are, in fact, deficient in some way at the platform level.
> 
> > For the same reason, I think that if W3C could provide a platform for interoperability and automatic integration of educational apps, it could have a completely transformative effect on the market for innovative ed-tech software.
> > 
> So the challenge is for folks in the Education domain to show that HTML, and friends, cannot do this already. Or, alternatively, where other platforms are doing this but the Web platform is falling short.
> 
> 
> 
> 
Received on Friday, 26 December 2014 11:29:52 UTC

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