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Re: Role of W3C in Open-Microblgging, and standards for the Social Web in general?

From: Peter Saint-Andre <stpeter@stpeter.im>
Date: Wed, 14 Oct 2009 18:23:22 -0700
Message-ID: <4AD6798A.7090302@stpeter.im>
To: Harry Halpin <hhalpin@ibiblio.org>
CC: public-xg-socialweb@w3.org, evan@status.net
Hash: SHA1

On 10/9/09 11:57 AM, Harry Halpin wrote:
> Everyone,
>    Also inspired by the latest invited talk on Open Microblogging,
> Evan (and others!),  what do you think is the role of standards
> organizations around the Social Web? This is an especially important
> question that we need to attempt to provide an answer to in our XG
> final report for the W3C. In particular, it seems to me there are
> three options:
> 1) The W3C: Has a clear, well-defined process for producing
> Recommendations with a clear timeline and formal process [1] and
> support of teleconference call, staff, and infrastructure. It has a
> well-designed Royalty-free patent policy to encourage its standards
> being open [2]. At the same time, except for "Invited Experts" it is
> seen as being the domain of only members,and so its difficult for
> non-members to interact. So far, not much around the Social Web has
> happened at the W3C.
> 2) IETF: The IETF has the advantage of having a totally open process
> for participating, which I could see really appeal to many people that
> aren't W3C members. At the same time, the process is more informal [3]

Describing the IETF process as informal seems a bit of a stretch. More
informal than the W3C, perhaps, although the specifications that are
published by the IETF are just as formal and perhaps more so.

> (I admit not knowing about any patent policy as well) 

The IETF's IPR policy is covered by RFCs 3979 and 5378. With respect to
patent policies in particular, those are usually the province of a given
working group (cf. the ongoing work to form a WG regarding development
of royalty-free audio codecs). However, the IETF (or particular areas
within the IETF) might work to define a more thorough patent policy in
the relatively near future.

> and it seems
> like a few Social Web standards are going to the IETF, such as OAuth.

I think that the "social" technologies worked on at the IETF will tend
to be building block protocols like OAuth, not user-facing file formats.
The recent vCard work at the IETF is a bit of an exception in that
regard. See below.

> 3) DIY: After all, one can just post a web-page up and see if anyone
> implements.This is what has happened with Open Microblogging, FOAF,
> Activity Streams. Others are setting up their own foundations like
> OpenSocial, which has a light-weight process, [4] and OpenID, which
> also is interested in keeping the standard open [5]. Open Web
> Foundation has been pretty mysterious (I say this as a member), but
> some have said that it seems like it not might be more like the
> ApacheProject than  a standards process.

Yes, I see OWF as an incubator or umbrella of sorts (I too am a member
but confess to being slightly mystified about the focus, as well).

> What would you view as an *ideal* social web standards process? What's
> the strengths and weaknesses of the W3C, IETF, and just
> doing-it-yourself?

Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses, naturally. IMHO it is
usually best to start informally in producing a first-generation
protocol or format, as has been done by groups as diverse as Jabber and
OAuth. Once the technology has been deployed for a little while, then
seek greater formalization through the IETF or W3C. As mentioned, I tend
to see the IETF as the more appropriate place for work on wire protocols
that enable communication among entities (especially protocols that have
significant implications for routing, operations, messaging, transports,
and security -- things like XMPP, OAuth, and OpenID if there is interest
in formalizing that), whereas I tend to see the W3C as the more
appropriate place for work on structured payload formats that are
carried over transport / messaging protocols or that function as
standalone document formats (things like XML, SVG, FOAF, and vCard).
However, there's no bright line dividing the two, so I'm sure there are
many borderline cases.


- --
Peter Saint-Andre

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Received on Thursday, 15 October 2009 03:53:08 UTC

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