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More of a statement for the AB election

From: David Singer <singer@apple.com>
Date: Thu, 16 May 2013 13:15:34 -0700
Message-id: <808B0C97-30BE-496D-A6F2-44648A6E8EA0@apple.com>
To: www-archive@w3.org

since the nomination statement I supplied was perhaps rather brief, I thought I'd follow up (following Chaals' lead) with a little more.

Why serve on the AB?  Because I think we need to work harder at determining what works, what doesn't, and how the world is changing -- and use that to tell us how to tell the difference between what we need to reform or change, and what we should preserve.  To stay healthy we need to stay alive, adapting, reforming, changing, and questioning: What's working? What's not?  What are the goals? Can we improve?

I like finding solutions that are not only 'right' but can be seen to have the desired effect: a pragmatist; and solutions that can get support and the community behind them: a consensualist (if that word exists). Each point of view needs to be heard and respected. The world-wide web is a place of change -- change in how it works and hangs together, change in what it does to society, and change in the environment it lives in.  

Example where I feel that we have issues include: 
1 setting dates  notably when our estimates include things out of our control (going from recognizing a need or problem and having ideas, or going from a spec to getting implementations);
2 charter review; it seems to be a difficult process to get a charter out, and then sometimes we get surprises from the resolution of the objections; can it be both more streamlined and more open?
3 elections; are AB and TAG elections working for us? (see the recent thread on the AC Forum)
4 do community/business groups bring us opportunities to streamline other parts of the process? have we had them long enough to know if they are working?
5 licenses (document and software); are the models working for us, and do we need to explore wider options?
In general, how do we measure how effective a process is? Can we modernize, streamline, enhance efficacy, while keeping what works, and improving adherence to principles (such as openness, level playing field, low barriers to entry, and so on)?

On 1 (dates):

The W3C is notorious, alas, for setting dates and then missing them.  It means that people can't rely on when they can reference or use a stable W3C document.  I think this comes from a number of factors, some fairly readily addressed, others less so.

* There are aspects of the current WG process that are out of the control of the W3C, the chairs, and so on:
-- going from 'we need a spec in this area' to having an accepted basis of the spec. in working-draft form.  I think we should consider saying "use community/business/interest groups to do the exploration, idea-forming, and consensus-building around direction, and we'll start a WG once you have a WD"
-- getting test suites, and particularly 3 interoperable implementations.  I think we should consider jointly funding test-suite development, and that the end-of-WG milestone should be at the end of the W3C-controlled process -- the document, test suite, and supporting material.  I see nothing wrong in hovering there, like the IETF does in RFC state, for arbitrary periods, as long as the document is stable (implementable) and referencable.

* We need to have a better process for spec. maintenance.  I rather suspect that we need 'area meetings' and that once a spec. has been published, maintenance falls to the area.  Indeed, having the areas meet as a body, and discuss maintenance (the past) and cohesion (architectural views) would be good, I think.  Don't perpetuate groups just to maintain a spec., and don't orphan specs just because their WG has closed.

On 2 (charter review): 

* I am less sure how to achieve these two goals at the same time, but debate is needed.  Perhaps we need to require that to formally object, you had to have informally objected during the informal AC review, and not been satisfied with the result?  We need to move the 'editing the charter to get consensus' out of smoke-filled rooms and back into the limelight, perhaps.

On 4 (CGs etc.):

* I think we need to look at what we've got, and work out what metrics we can use to see if they are working:  members, activity, results, and so on.  As you can see above, I think they provide an excellent complement to the WGs and should be used in that way.

On 5 (licenses):

* it's clear that the HTML document license debates are not about HTML but points of principle and practice. It's clear that the 'old model' (we develop a spec., copyright it, walk away) fits very badly with the internet we have.

* * * *

A bit about myself:  My standards work started because of work I did in internet streaming, and I find the cross-pollination of ideas, and the flexibility that comes from different backgrounds, experiences, and vantage points stimulating. I have worked in the contexts of a wide variety of 'standards bodies' -- not only the W3C, but also formal ones such as MPEG, trade associations such as Blu-ray (I was on the board) and 3GPP, technology-focused associations such as the Internet Streaming Media Alliance (I was board chair for a while), and others. This experience has taught me that there is no 'right' model or way, and that a lack of introspection  and resulting stasis  are bad for any association.  I believe (passionately) in open, level, playing fields with the lowest possible 'cost' of entry: it is good for society, and good for innovation. 

At the W3C, I have worked mostly in the areas of continuous media and the specifications that touch on them  HTML (particularly the media work there), Timed Text (TTML and VTT both), CSS (particularly interested in the time-based work such as transitions), accessibility (again, particularly of continuous media), privacy (the contentious Do-Not-Track work), and so on.  I've been on the AC since July 2008; it's been an exciting ride, and I see my role not as trying to diminish the excitement but to enhance the productivity and outcomes. 

I spend enough time with marketing people, lawyers, and so on, to be aware of their concerns and perspectives, as well as those of engineers. I enjoy working with the staff and AC representatives (and indeed, the whole W3C community) and I would consider it a privilege to serve on the AB.  I am aware that I bring not only my own opinions and those of my colleagues, but the experience and insights I glean from all of you, and a perspective that we are building something for society as a whole -- everyone -- that, if we continue to do it right, will be powerfully enabling and transformative. I would be honored if you vote for me.

I hope if you have questions for me, or hopes, or concerns, you'll feel free to contact me. Email is a good place to start, but I'd also be happy to chat over the phone.

David Singer
Multimedia and Software Standards, Apple Inc.
Received on Thursday, 16 May 2013 20:16:06 UTC

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