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   Re: Followup: OASIS and W3C

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  • From: "Frank Boumphrey" <bckman@ix.netcom.com>
  • To: "Jon Bosak" <Jon.Bosak@eng.Sun.COM>, <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>
  • Date: Mon, 25 May 1998 22:07:21 -0400

Jon ,
    I would like to thank you for your interest and the detailsed message
that you provided.
Much appreciated,

-----Original Message-----
From: Jon Bosak <Jon.Bosak@eng.Sun.COM>
To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>
Date: Monday, May 25, 1998 7:13 PM
Subject: Followup: OASIS and W3C

>About a month ago, I responded to a thread on the xml-dev list about
>ways in which independent developers could get access to the W3C
>process by suggesting that people interested in participating in an
>industry consortium related to XML should instead investigate OASIS,
>the industry consortium for companies committed to product-independent
>document and data interchange.  Several responses to my suggestion
>expressed the belief that xml-dev participants could gain access to
>the W3C Member Area through devices such as the formation of
>non-profit W3C member organizations, and one in particular asked about
>the status of OASIS as a W3C member organization.  I said that I would
>try to find out what I could about these questions and report back
>what I discovered.
>In the time since then, I have reviewed what the W3C itself has said
>about its membership policy and have discussed these matters with both
>OASIS and with one representative non-profit organization that has
>joined the W3C in an attempt to gain access for individuals.  This
>report summarizes what I have been able to learn.
>As far as I can tell, there simply is no way for individuals to gain
>access to the W3C process as individuals.  A handout prepared by the
>W3C that I picked up at the WWW7 Conference in Brisbane says:
>   W3C is unable to accommodate individuals as members.  Our
>   processes are designed for organizational participation, and we do
>   not have the support structure to handle large numbers of
>   individual members.
>It is possible to form a non-profit organization and join W3C (the
>HTML User's Group is possibly the clearest example).  But access to
>the W3C Member Area is given only to specified staff members of the
>organization, not to the membership of the organization itself:
>   Membership is open to other "membership organizations", but in
>   this case the benefits of W3C membership only extend to the staff
>   and officers of those organizations, and do not flow through to
>   their own members.
>Obviously it's possible to push the boundaries of this requirement,
>but my guess is that you would hit a limit at somewhere around a dozen
>people.  I don't know how W3C would react to applications from a
>number of non-profits that just happened to consist entirely of a
>dozen staff members apiece, but I suspect that additional processes
>would be put into place to prevent this from happening.
>The bottom line, in other words, is that W3C conceives of itself as an
>industry consortium in the classic sense, not a user forum like the
>IETF, and the impression that I'm left with is that it will resist
>attempts to get around its basic mission to represent the interests of
>major WWW industry players.  There is nothing unusual or surprising
>about this.  (Try joining the Air Transport Association on the grounds
>that you have a personal interest in aircraft design.)
>So while I certainly don't want to discourage anyone from trying
>whatever clever or devious way they can think of for getting access
>for individuals to the W3C process -- in fact, I wish them luck -- I
>don't come away from my investigations with a very hopeful estimation
>of the odds.
>On the other hand, I am more convinced than ever that OASIS is the
>right consortium for those xml-dev participants who intend to make
>products or market services someday (whatever their licensing and
>distribution strategy might be).  Here's why:
>1. OASIS is the only industry consortium in the world whose charter is
>to promote open document and data interchange in general (both on the
>internet and off it).
>2. OASIS is specifically organized to satisfy the marketing and
>technical needs of commercial enterprises (even individual
>consultants) whose business case is based on the interoperability of
>structured information -- in particular, of XML, SGML, and HTML
>It's true that OASIS is open only to companies, not individuals, but a
>"company" can simply be a sole proprietorship (for example, a
>single-person consultancy).  In other words, you don't have to be
>incorporated, you just have to join under a business name.  If your
>company is small -- five people or less -- then you can join as an
>"associate contributor" for $800 US per year or an "associate
>participant" for only $400 US per year.  The difference is basically
>how much marketing support you want.
>If you join as an "associate participant" then you and your employees
>(if any) get to participate in the technical work of the consortium,
>which is primarily focused on interoperability issues.  Two important
>interoperability issues that will be getting a lot of attention in
>OASIS are DTD/schema/namespace registration and XML compliance (OASIS
>is collaborating on this with NIST, the U.S. Government agency
>responsible for commercial and scientific standards, and I think that
>it could benefit from the active participation of some members of the
>xml-dev list).  Besides access to all of the technical work, you also
>get the right, even at this lowest level of membership, to vote for
>the OASIS Board of Directors, guaranteeing a minimum level of
>accountability of the organization to its members.
>If you join as an "associate contributor" then you also get, for a
>very reasonable price, some essential basic marketing support --
>inclusion by name in consortium press releases and public relations
>materials; press releases from your company and descriptions of your
>company and its products or services on the OASIS web site; use of the
>OASIS logo (branding your company as a supporter of interoperability);
>the ability to submit, review, and distribute OASIS white papers and
>educational materials; access to OASIS mailing lists; and most
>importantly, the opportunity to participate in OASIS seminars,
>conference panels, and exhibits at carefully targeted industry events
>throughout the year.  OASIS maintains a presence at these events that
>can represent your services and products even when you can't be there
>in person.
>At the September Seybold Publishing Conference in San Francisco, for
>example, OASIS will have a prominently located booth that can not only
>distribute your product or service descriptions but can also rent
>workstation demo space for the conference.  OASIS also runs panels at
>selected events (Documation, for example) and even holds its own "XML
>Open for Business" expos to promote XML and related standards and to
>showcase the offerings of its members.  In the coming year there will
>be two "XML Open for Business" shows in Europe (the first one is
>scheduled for the Netherlands in November) and two in North America
>(including New York City in July).  While the most interesting
>speakers available are selected for these events in order to maximize
>attendance, speaking priority is given to OASIS members and tabletop
>space for members in the expo area rents for as little $200.  Finally,
>OASIS is co-chairing most of the big GCA XML events (such as the
>just-ended XML/SGML Europe '98 conference in Paris), which gives them
>considerable influence over program selection.
>Now, W3C representation through OASIS is an interesting question.  I
>raised this at the OASIS meeting following the XML/SGML Europe
>conference last week and was told that OASIS has applied for W3C
>membership as a non-profit.  Assuming that the application is granted,
>OASIS will presumably fall under the rules already alluded to and be
>granted Advisory Committee representation by one person (probably a
>member of the OASIS Board) with access to W3C member forums limited to
>members of the OASIS staff as in the case of other non-profit W3C
>member organizations.
>Clearly there will have to be processes put in place for certifying
>interested OASIS members as representatives to W3C working groups.
>Board approval would seem to be the simplest and most direct way to do
>this, but no one is sure at this point what the actual process will
>be; my impression is that there just haven't been that many requests
>from individuals who can support the rather stiff resource demands for
>W3C WG participation to make this an issue yet.  But in any case, I
>think it's fair to say that any qualified member with the means to
>participate in a W3C Working Group that was still accepting
>participants would find it relatively easy to become the OASIS
>representative to that working group.
>It's possible that the people on the xml-dev list who have indicated
>their intention to form shell organizations to gain W3C representation
>will find a better solution, but until this is demonstrated, I still
>believe that the best way for xml-dev subscribers who really want to
>participate in W3C working groups is through OASIS.  It's cheap, any
>qualified consultant can join, you get lots of side benefits, and once
>the processes for working with W3C are in place, it looks to me like
>this will be the best avenue for people with the resources to meet W3C
>participation requirements to get into W3C working groups.
>Contact recruit@oasis-open.org for further details if you want more
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