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

Re: Current TAG election

From: Brian Kardell <bkardell@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2013 11:44:51 -0500
Message-ID: <CADC=+jdf5Vv_dgi8-cWs6ui7U9br35sRvvRrocgUy=ir2uX17A@mail.gmail.com>
To: Michael Smith <mike@w3.org>
Cc: Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>, "www-tag@w3.org" <www-tag@w3.org>
Excellent history Mike, I guess I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that www-tag
subscribers are fairly well versed and able to fill in the gaps in my
comments....  It's made me worry now though that my  own statements could
be taken in a manner other than what I intend - so let me add some bits....

On Dec 31, 2013 3:58 AM, "Michael[tm] Smith" <mike@w3.org> wrote:
> > 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
> 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
> the technologies end up becoming a footnote in history over the longer

Certainly what you say is true:  A lot of people benefited, including me.
In fact, this is part of my case - developers like myself are the best
PR/evangelists for standards and the tools and products that member
organizations make.  Understanding/following the XML family made me money -
and most of it didn't happen in the browser.  I helped.  I've had a lot of
time to re-evaluate though, and how I think of standards has changed...

My claims are less grandiose than a total indictment of absolute failure
and I want to make sure they are understood in the proper vein.  As a
"whole" and despite theoretical goodness - the wider vision and approach
pursued by W3C during this period didn't work out.   In addition to a lot
of it just not getting implementation/adoption/lasting acceptance, it led
to fracturing and frustration in a whole lot of ways - some of the most
critical commentaries come from former editors/chairs/etc - not just
regarding the core browser technologies, but especially there.  There has
to be something we can learn from this.

Please understand that I am not finger pointing or assigning blame, it's
easy to view things in retrospect with the benefit of history -- instead I
am asking "now that we have some hindsight - how can we do better?"  This
is a question we're always asking and it's not the first time it's been
asked in relation to W3C or standards more generally.  That's what excites
me about the TAG candidates I write about: I think that they share (a
really excellent) vision that helps not only address problems of the past
and help establish a really long term strategy for success, health and

> It seems like the work on CSS at the W3C continued through that whole
> 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
> 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

A few notes here:

1) The first draft of CSS 3 was published in 1997, CSS 2.1 went in and out
of statuses for almost 14 years.  That's longer than the careers of a lot
of people using the Web today and it's maybe 1/2 an "era" in computing.
 Some things that were in the CSS 3 spec then have been booted for L4 or
beyond.  We've gotten better at that in *some* ways after self-evaluation,
but maybe worse in other ways too.. CSS is now *really big* - full of
high-level answers to fairly specific questions, and despite lots and lots
of discussion in the group, lots of output leaves actual developers unhappy
or frustrated.

2) Actually - a *lot* happened on the Web in these years, it just all
happened in the developer community.  Thousands of ideas bloomed and
evolved and eventually some of them got pretty good and filtered back into
the platform itself, others died out.  As you mention, lower-level things
like XHR or a scriptable DOM getting implemented in browsers opened almost
unimaginable doors for the Web community to dream with.  This, again, is
one of the major reasons why I support these candidates and why I think
others should too - their shared vision of how to use, rather than fight
these observations and help balance to build out healthy, layered and
explainable declarative forms that help us avoid pitfalls and snares of the
past and yield a sustainable, adaptive and competitive future.

> > 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.

I didn't mean to imply otherwise.  Description of WHATWG as a "break away"
from W3C based on disagreement or dysfunction seems pretty common.  I am
thankful to those who began WHATWG for doing so and - as you describe - I
participate in neither exclusively.  Neither is without problem IMO and I
only mention it here in respect to why members felt it was necessary to do
so in the first place.  Seems to me that regardless of whether you judge
their current existence as "good" "bad" or "indifferent", one can
dispassionately consider what made them do so and think "it is a little
disappointing that this was necessary".

> 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
The W3C also has impressive funding, infrastructure and global ability to
educate and evangelize.  Together, I think we can help it do great things
if we can work together:  Vote for Dave and Domenic in 2014 :)
Received on Tuesday, 31 December 2013 16:45:21 UTC

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