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   Re: Open standards processes

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  • From: Paul Prescod <papresco@technologist.com>
  • To: xml-dev <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>
  • Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 14:31:57 -0400

Paul Grosso wrote:
> At 10:01 1998 05 01 -0400, Paul Prescod wrote:
> >Here are some more thoughts about open standards processes:
> >
> >The XML SIG was pretty wide open, which was admirable, but XSL the DOM,
> >etc. seem to have no equivalent.
> I don't quite understand this statement.
> The open, public www-dom@w3.org mailing list has been in existence "forever,"
> and the DOM work has been receiving some very useful feedback from people on
> that list.

www-dom@w3.org and xsl-list (which is not even a W3C mailing list) are NOT
comparable to w3c-xml-sig@w3.org. The latter has published minutes,
focused and moderated discussions that were carefully watched by
essentially ALL members of the working group. The former is essentially a
"feedback list" with little influence and hardly enough information to be
influential even if it had more. I know, because I have the same role in

> The "problem" with the XML SIG was that everyone on that list had to be 
> an "invited expert" and they were all bound by W3C-member confidentiality 
> regulations.  This was a logistic nightmare, and it actually meant that 
> some important discussion was pre-empted from truly public lists like xml-dev.

So the XML effort had three levels: "Voting members", "Influential
non-voting experts" and "XML-DEV" and the DOM effort has essentially two
levels "voting members" and "non-influential, non-voting experts" and you
see that as more open? How so? Before there were some discussions I could
only have "inside" (based on inside knowledge) and some I could only have
"outside" (based on open knowledge) and now I can only have the "outside"
discussions because nobody except the 20 people on the WG have inside
knowledge. Wiping out a level of quasi-openness does not make the process
more open, it makes it less.

It's like abolishing the congress so that they don't "get in the way" of
the president speaking directly to the people. It's good to give people
more power (in this case information and voice). It doesn't have to be at
the expense of someone else's power, however.

> As far as XSL, if you think you're not seeing something that W3C members 
> are seeing, you're wrong.  We do not have anything yet to show (other than
> the requirements document that we are in the process of releasing to the
> public as we speak).

That the W3C members are as in the dark about what you are doing as we are
is not comforting. I think that anyone should have access to the minutes
of meetings as soon as they are released, as well as mailing list
archives. In other words, the "audit trail" from the first idea to the
last page-break in the rendered version of the spec. should be as
transparent as possible. 

No, we do not achieve that in the XML WG. Yes, we come closer. This is why
so many people in this mailing list who participated in that effort have
warm, fuzzy feelings about the W3C right now. My point is that this warm
and fuzzy cooperative effort was an aberration. As someone wrote in the
Atlantic Monthly not too long ago: "Democracy's moment (such as it was)
has passed."

 Paul Prescod  - http://itrc.uwaterloo.ca/~papresco

"Perpetually obsolescing and thus losing all data and programs every 10
years (the current pattern) is no way to run an information economy or
a civilization." - Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog

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