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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 11:45:38 -0500

At 10:57 AM 11/19/98 -0500, David Megginson wrote:
>Yes, but the status of W3C NOTE has essentially no value -- it's just
>the W3C's way of saying "we've put this up at our web site and posted
>a response, but that doesn't mean that we really have anything to do
>with it."  Some marketing departments like to exploit any confusion in
>the general public and talk about notes as if they were standards, but
>woe to the programmer who bases anything on a NOTE (as with those who
>based implementations on the late and unlamented XML-Data NOTE).
>As far as I understand things, there is no automatic process for W3C
>NOTES -- a W3C staffer posts a response and then they just sit there
>forever, unless some Activity happens to want to use them as input
>(but they can use non-W3C material like XSchema as input as well).
>The only advantage is that NOTEs sit around in a high-visibility
>location, and presumably, the visibility is a perk that the members
>will want to keep for themselves.

I understand that NOTEs have no official value; however, they do serve a
number of purposes.

1) They are part of a central repository of NOTEs, in a location where
people looking for standards information regularly look.

2) The W3C at least reads and acknowledges the things formally. They may
read XSchema and SAX, but those of us outside the 'member-only zone' don't
hear about it, except through occasional question emails.  (Hint: make
mistakes in your spec that have no real effect except to make things sound
really weird.  If W3C XML WG members start writing you to ask about them,
your spec may be getting a good thorough read.  No, that's not what I
recommend, but it's about where I'm at.)

3) They're about as close to a billboard announcing a spec as exists.

>That said, there are a lot of small, $5K/year W3C members -- it
>shouldn't be hard to find at least one of them who would be willing to
>put something like XSchema forward as a NOTE, if someone else is
>willing to deal with all of the bureaucratic overhead and paperwork.

Reaching the small $5K/year members to ask them to post something they
didn't write is a political and bureaucratic task in itself, and pretty
much a barrier to all but the most dedicated (or wealthy.  $15,000, and
you're in for three years.)

I realize that asking the W3C to accept Notes from non-members imposes
costs on them and produces neglible benefits (beyond ego gratification) to
those of us who would like to see a more open process.  Unfortunately, the
options appear to be:

1) Do nothing.  Forget about open process unless it starts growing like
open source is right now. (Probably what the members want most.)

2) Do something small.  Allow submissions by non-members  At least the open
process people won't complain as much, and you can prettify your image by
claiming to be 'the standard body that listens', or something.

3) Do something huge.  Open up the process, and get over the members-only
approach that's so inimical to the open source and open process movements
that are starting to make a dent.  Reconsider the standards process, and
find independent money rather than relying on the contributions of
companies that use your name for PR while selectively applying

I'd love to see #3 happen; unfortunately, going to Cambridge and shouting
"Dr. Berners-Lee, tear down this wall!" isn't going to do very much.  #2
seems like a more likely possibility, however minor it may be.

I think this discussion's moved beyond the realm of XML-Dev, though it
concerns many XML-Dev projects.  Is there a better place for
revolutionaries, counter-revolutionaries, and moderates to discuss these
issues?  Can't say I know of a forum.

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

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