W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-tag@w3.org > December 2013

Re: Current TAG election

From: Michael[tm] Smith <mike@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2013 17:58:11 +0900
To: Brian Kardell <bkardell@gmail.com>
Cc: Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>, TAG List <www-tag@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20131231085808.GC55481@sideshowbarker>
Brian Kardell <bkardell@gmail.com>, 2013-12-30 10:47 -0500:

> On Dec 30, 2013 10:24 AM, "Melvin Carvalho" <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> [snip]
> > Agree with much of what you write.  However, I am unsure I would 100% go
> as far as:
> >
> > "Over time, we’ve collectively watched the W3C and, more generally,
> standards become increasingly dysfunctional"
> >
> Let me add perspective to this comment as it is difficult to simultaneously
> keep it short/succinct and still express the full thought.  W3C was humming
> in the mid to late 90's.

I guess it's not real hard for a new organization to keep humming in the
handful of years after it's first created, when it's creating new
technologies for a completely new platform, and things are really exciting.

It's a lot harder to keep the excitement and momentum going as the
organization matures and gets bigger -- and because as it gets bigger, its
overall focus necessarily starts to be spread out across more areas.

> Somewhere between then and a couple of years ago it feels like it lost
> its way a bit.

I think the degree to which people agree with that depends on the degree to
which they believe it's important for the W3C to remain focused on core
technologies for the Web platform itself as a priority -- especially on
browser-engine technologies. Certainly in the years in between there was a
lot of work done on other things. And some of those other technologies
brought benefits to a lot of people during that time in other ways, even if
the technologies end up becoming a footnote in history over the longer run.

That said, it's exciting to see a genuine re-focusing of priorities at the
W3C on core Web-platform technologies, and cool to see more new people
stepping up to help make it happen.

> The aims were valiant and theories were good, but at the end of the day
> we lost the momentum and, i think, direct connection with devs that
> ultimately makes a standard.  In terms of the browser, not much actually
> happened for a good span of time.

Well, as long as we're talking about ancient history...

It seems like the work on CSS at the W3C continued through that whole time.
But that aside, to be fair, I think the reason that nothing much else
happened with browser technologies at W3C during that time was more because
nothing much else happened anywhere during that time:

  http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/History
  http://platform.html5.org/history/

The biggest thing that happened in Web technologies during that time was
XHR getting implemented across all major browsers, and that happened
without any kind of standard specification for it being developed anywhere.

And back then before actual use of XHR took really off, "Web applications"
meant something significantly different than it does now. And nobody
talked much about specifications for Web applications until the beginning
of 2004:

  http://ln.hixie.ch/?start=1074466808&count=1

And it wasn't until later in 2004 and that the really interesting Web
applications (as we know them now) started to come along, and not until the
end of 2004 that anybody anywhere attempted to create an actual spec for
new Web-platform/browser technologies for those kinds of Web applications -

  http://web.archive.org/web/20041009144718/http://whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/

> That WHATWG broke off speaks to this,

Again, as long as we're talking about ancient history: The WHATWG in 2004
wasn't really a complete breaking off from the W3C. While it's true that
there were other people at the W3C during that time more focused on other
things, the same people who formed the WHATWG also continued to remain
actively involved in helping to drive development of specs at the W3C too
-- in the old WebAPIs WG and WAF WG and then in the HTML WG and in the
current WebApps WG.

(There's since been a more serious breaking between the W3C and WHATWG, but
that's come about less due to outright technical disagreements and much
more due to differences in philosophy and practice with regard to process
and decision-making, along with consequences due the W3C document license
continuing to not be a good fit for the needs of people writing and
implementing the actual specs.)

> as do numerous other things you can point to.  The article in smashing
> linked from that post contains numerous examples of how, despite a new
> thrust of excitement, standards have left us wanting and been, as i
> argue, dysfunctional.

To end my reply on a positive note: I think everybody should be happy that
we have the WHATWG and that we still have massive energy and experience
going on behind it. It's an absolutely unique resource that even after all
these years I think a lot of people involved in the W3C still greatly
misunderstand and undervalue -- especially as a place to really focus on
the core technologies for the Web platform, but also as a force to put some
pressure on the W3C to keep itself honest. And I even hope going forward we
see some similar groups springing up to help keep the technical work
focused where it should be. Because there's still room for more.

But I also think it's encouraging that 20 years in, we still have the W3C
too -- among a lot other reasons, for providing a place to try to get the
widest representation of people together to discuss the whole range of
problems we need to deal with for the platform, and to work on fixing them.

And I think during the coming year we should look forward to seeing the
pressure on the W3C keep up, and the momentum continue at the W3C on
re-focusing on core technologies for the Web platform as a priority.

  --Mike

-- 
Michael[tm] Smith http://people.w3.org/mike
Received on Tuesday, 31 December 2013 08:58:25 UTC

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