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   Re: XPointer's sleeping ???

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  • From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998 10:38:43 -0500

At 07:21 AM 11/19/98 -0800, Tim Bray wrote:
>There is some reasoning behind the rather-less-open
>W3c process.  After the IETF HTML process went off the rails, some
>people who were there (I wasn't) felt that one of the reasons was
>that open processes in areas where there are all sorts of billion-dollar
>bets on the table are highly fragile in the face of attack-trained
>marketing departments.  The great virtue of the W3C process is that
>the marketeers are more or less muzzled until consensus has been
>achieved.  Which is pretty important.  In fact, engineers from
>companies who are mortal enemies can demonstrably carve out 
>mutually beneficial progress if they are allowed to do so out
>of the marketing spotlight.
>If someone came forward with a proposal that made the W3C process
>more transparent while keeping the debate, as much as possible, on
>technical grounds, that would be a clear step forward and I suspect
>would be welcomed by everyone. 

I've spent far too much of the last two days pondering this issue, and the
only thing I can come up with (besides opening the W3C to the entire planet
minus the sales and marketing staffs of the world) is the W3C taking a less
exclusive approach to its work.  The W3C already accepts notes from members
that are the work of non-W3C processes - in other words, maybe six people
from one company and some guy from another company were talking at a bar,
and a proposal came out... without all the overhead and approval processes
of the W3C.  

Maybe if the W3C were more willing to accept Notes from non-members (or if
a member would sponsor Notes on such a basis), 'open-process'
specifications could be developed outside the W3C, in the bright light, and
submitted if and when they're finished.  This would allow projects like SAX
and XSchema to germinate, have a target for completion, and potentially get
some kind of official 'acceptance' from the primary WWW standards keepers.
The W3C could still accept, reject, and set up WGs, but at least there
would be an open door.

This would put the responsibility for process management on those foolhardy
enough to initiate such projects (which devour time, believe me) while
still keeping such avenues open. SAX and XSchema have definitely had an
impact on W3C-sanctioned projects, but more official acceptance might
encourage further potentially useful projects. It might also make it easier
for engineers from W3C members to contribute to such projects without
feeling like they're undercutting their more official responsibilities to
the W3C.

In the case of XLink, this is probably too late; nonetheless, it might not
be such a bad idea to open discussion on that to a larger field, since
there are plenty of non-invited experts with HyTime experience.  I don't
think there's much marketing to be done there, either.  (Come get your
fresh links!  Fifty cents a piece, mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, and chili
extra!  Onions are free with purchase of a link and condiments!)

>At a deeper level, there is also a really tough issue at work here.
>Simply put, smaller committees can get *way* more work done than can
>larger ones.   On the other hand, such groups are by definition
>much less open/democratic than larger ones.  So we have two virtues,
>get-some-standards-built-quick vs make-sure-we-get-all-the-input,
>which are in direct competition with each other.  Not an
>easy nut to crack. -Tim

The mythical man-month still lives...

Simon St.Laurent
Dynamic HTML: A Primer / XML: A Primer
Cookies / Sharing Bandwidth (November)
Building XML Applications (December)

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