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   RE: why distinctions within XHTML?

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  • From: Ann Navarro <ann@webgeek.com>
  • To: "Erik James Freed" <ejfreed@infocanvas.com>, "David Brownell" <david-b@pacbell.net>
  • Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 13:14:32 -0400

At 09:40 AM 8/31/99 -0700, Erik James Freed wrote:
>As I read and listen to more and more of these w3c versus the masses
>battles, I have to confess that the
>missing element is the argument for *not* providing greater
>exposure/accountability. Is it: Exposure of
>proprietary information? Cost? Time? Quality? Personal attacks? Perhaps
>these concerns/realities could be

This is, of course, only my personal opinion. I'm not speaking for the W3C,
or in an official capacity for HWG. 

Primary issues: manageability, timeliness, cost, and the ability to commit. 

I personally have never been involved in an IETF activity. My
understanding, from trusted colleagues that have, is that it is a painfully
slow process, and often highly chaotic. (Speeds, of course, being relative,
if you were to go on and compare it to ISO, etc). 

Manageability: even within the W3C, all members don't participate in each
WG. 10-25 individual representatives do. Members not on the group can see
early work in progress, or interim work that hasn't yet been updated to
public drafts, and comment on those, but it's not significantly different
than the public view, IMO. 

Drafts do indeed change substantially over their lifetime. That's why
they're called drafts. XLink is a recent example of substantial change
based both on internal decisions and general input. 

Working Groups face a catch-22: publish early, and despite disclaimers in
the document, people adopt early and you find broken implementations when
you do make changes. Publish late, and you're pressured to deliver. In
between all that, WGs want to be as complete as they can, so people know
where they're headed (and they don't induce mass panic). 

Cost: running WGs cost money. Teleconferences are held, face to face
meetings are hosted and planned (yes, local hosts pay portions of those
costs), staff salaries are paid, etc. Considerable work is done in these
off-email fora where costs and logistical issues play a big part. I can't
imagine an unlimited number of people in a teleconference or at a face to
face meeting (or even in email work). 

Commitment: Joining a WG requires a 9-24 month commitment of (generally) at
least 20% of your time. A full man-day a week. When you're a representative
of a member company, it is part of your *job* to do this. Your company also
commits to spending the resources required to fund your participation in
teleconferences (the call to the bridge cost), your travel to and housing
at face to face meetings, and any costs associated with giving the group a
day a week of your time. That's not cheap. Invited experts can and do
participate, making the same commitment. So that means time off from work
(and funding) to go to face to face meetings, and at least an hour a week,
normally during US working hours, for teleconferences, plus the remainder
of that one man-day a week. So an invited expert either needs to have the
full buy-in and funding from their employer, or they need to have
sufficient personal funds to pay the expenses (plus be able to get time
off). You can't participate half-way in a WG, say by just doing email and
teleconferences. WGs meet face to face because considerable work gets done
that way. 

That said, Interest Groups are available for many W3C activities where
people *can* participate with a significantly lower level of commitment
(normally just email). I'd urge interested parties to do so when possible. 

If you want to be recognized as a traditional invited expert, WG chairs and
participants need to know about you and your desire to do so. I can't say
pestering a chair or Dan Connolly will get you invited, but they need to
know you exist and are willing. You do, however, need to meet that 'expert'

Otherwise, there are some organizations that can provide for participation.
HWG, when and where apprpropriate, sends members to WGs. You still have to
have the same level of buy-in from your day-job as an invited expert -- you
must be able to participate in calls, go to face to face meetings, etc. We
pay costs, but it's not a free ride. And there's still the proof of expert
status, and our required confidence in your representing us. 

So while the system may have some flaws, I think the W3C as a whole does a
pretty good job. 



Author of Effective Web Design: Master the Essentials
Coming in September --- Mastering XML

Founder, WebGeek Communications            http://www.webgeek.com
Vice President-Finance, HTML Writers Guild http://www.hwg.org
Director, HWG Online Education             http://www.hwg.org/services/classes

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