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Re: New W3C Web Site Launched

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>
Date: Thu, 15 Oct 2009 10:23:18 +0200
Message-ID: <eb19f3360910150123u2fc08645xbfa74dc4d620c5fa@mail.gmail.com>
To: Michael Hausenblas <michael.hausenblas@deri.org>
Cc: Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>, site-comments@w3.org, chairs@w3.org, W3C Members <w3c-ac-members@w3.org>
Hi Michael,

On Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 9:50 AM, Michael Hausenblas
<michael.hausenblas@deri.org> wrote:
> Ian,
> Indeed, very nice job re design and usability. However, I think we should
> also take into account what our 'customers' think [1], [2]:
> "so, are #semanticweb standards too complicated when even the new #w3c site
> doesn't use them? #stopsnakeoil"
> "@iand apparently all of them: No (obvious) RDF export, no SPARQL API. Just
> some (broken!) hCalendar items."
> This is indeed a poor message we send out - why don't we eat our own
> dogfood? We have a couple of nice standards (RDFa, GRDDL, etc.) in this area
> and should well be able to demonstrate that we are able to use them, IMHO.
> Sorry for spoiling the party, but given the broad uptake of semantic
> technologies in the governmental area (US, UK), the eCommerce domain
> (GoodRelations), linked data stuff and Google and Yahoo! processing
> structured data, I can't seriously explain to my colleagues or other W3C
> customers why we don't have structured data (preferably in RDF) available at
> the new W3C site.
> Thoughts, anyone?

I appreciate your passion for SemWeb deployment, but I suspect you
have underestimated the massive amount of work involved in getting us
to this first - major - milestone in the modernisation of www.w3.org.
The team who got us this far deserve only thanks. Perhaps also beer
and cakes.

W3C's site is amongst the older major Web sites in continuous
operation, certainly the only to take link maintainance seriously over
such periods of time. If you include its custody of the earlier
materials from the original CERN WWW site, it is also a gateway to the
Web's earliest days.

The W3C site is a living dinosaur, a treasure trove, and a
maintainer's worst nightmare. This isn't your ordinary Web site
update; it's like trying to plan a party on an archaeological site of
world heritage!

Have a rummage in
for example. You'll find early copies of http://www.w3.org/People
(which is also related to the '94-frozen
http://www.w3.org/People.html). Imagine being the poor soul trying to
figure out what to do with HTTP redirects for a site with this amount
of historical baggage.

Also btw in http://www.w3.org/History/1992/timbl-floppies/TimBerners-Lee_CERN/hype.tar.Z
btw you'll find other treasures hidden away, eg. a paper
'hypertext/Conferences/HT91/Paper/Paper0.html' entitled "An
Alternative Architecture for Distributed Hypertext" by T. Berners-Lee,
R. Cailliau, N. Pellow, B. Pollermann. The last line of which is "We
hope that this situation will allow freer interchange of information
in the High Energy Physics community, and allow de facto standards for
interchange formats to arise naturally."

(...naturally arising standards, eh? :)

The Technical Reports page represents the interdependent and massively
interlinked work of thousands of person hours spanning decades,
records of fragile consensus and painstaking engineering. As the rest
of this thread demonstrates, it is not a site that can be edited
casually or whose many and varied stakeholders will sit quietly by
while things are changed.

W3C being W3C, every tag and CSS style, every use of javascript or
images or selection from competing (X)HTML flavours, is open to
massive and potentially endless scrutiny. The site has never been
backed by a content management system beyond CVS and there has never
been much centralised control of anything beyond the homepage. I have
only admiration for anyone brave and foolish enough to attempt to
bring this amazing pile of chaos up to date.

Obviously there's a lot still to do. It's a Web site, that's always
the case. But this is a huge improvement, and the start of something
very interesting...

Personally I hope the site will gain a bit more RDFa, of course. But I
suspect that's more likely if people like you come with some very
specific scenarios that will benefit users of the site. Perhaps making
some search utility with Yahoo SearchMonkey or Google Snippets, for
example. But there are also other competing priorities for the site,
and a team working with limited resources. I'm glad they shipped
things at this stage so that bugs can be fixed and the basics
stabilised. If RDFa is useful (and it is), it'll find it's way into
the site I'm sure...

And while I'm on my soapbox ---- to those who are routing their
concerns 'officially' via AC reps, I encourage you to just raise the
matters personally here, as individual and lets presume equally valued
members of the Web standards community. W3C is what we all make of it.
If we act as if all concerns need to be bubbled up through a rigid and
official hierarchy of contractually-backed relationships, we'll get a
W3C culture that emphases the corporate over the communal, and whose
structure neglects the individuals who make it special. If we act as
if we're all here because of a shared concern for improving the WWW,
W3C culture (alongside it's Web site) will slowly evolve towards a
more individual-centric approach. I see no evidence that the w3.org
Web team listen preferentially to "official complaints" from AC Reps
compared to those from "mere" members of the W3C standards community,
and every reason to believe that the Web team take every issue on it's
merits, and are doing their best to balance a very tricky set of
competing requirements. So, again, nice work!



> [1] http://twitter.com/bengee/status/4856670048
> [2] http://twitter.com/bengee/status/4856830531

Received on Thursday, 15 October 2009 08:23:56 UTC

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