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W3C openness, participation, innovation, etc. (was re: Web Philosophy)

We go through this debate about twice a year.  I'm sure that I've said
everything below at least once before, but:

- The W3C is a consortium of competitors trying to decide on an optimum
level of interoperability ... it's about co-opetition, not cooperation.
They are not REALLY working for the good of humanity.... don't hold them to
that standard.  On the other hand, humanity is a lot better off with them
than without them, at least until some other organization comes along and
does it better.

- If you really want to participate in W3C activities, there are all sorts
of opportunities even for non-members: participate in the public mailing
lists, wordsmith the prose in the Working Drafts, implement the specs in
code and tell the working group what you learned. If you do become an
"expert" in some area by your work outside the W3C, you probably *will* be
asked to become an "invited expert."   But don't expect to single-handedly
change the course of a W3C spec by your witty critiques on the mailing lists
... The "low hanging fruit" have been plucked. Participation now is very
hard, detail-oriented work. You won't be able to profoundly shape the
evolution of even one spec unless you can devote full-time to the
Activity... and probably not even then unless you are simultaneously a good
designer, implementer, politician, AND writer. Or maybe if you can channel
the ghost of Leonardo da Vinci :~)

- If you want to innovate rather than co-opetate, just DO it. Spin off a
little group of your own.  SAX, RDDL, and Examplatron are perfect examples
of something that a person or small group can do quickly that the W3C would
take years to do.  Good ideas will still find a home (and, someday, a W3C
Activity) if they prove themselves in the real world.  Look at
XML-RPC->SOAP->[XMLP, UDDI, WSDL, .NET, Hailstorm ..., ad infinitum];  I
don't recall the early developers of XML-RPC complaining about the W3C
process or its lack of interest in their vision... they just went out and
did what had to be done to make it real... Microsoft (and others) picked up
the idea, and now the W3C is using its heavy machinery to smooth out the
bumps and get it connected with the rest of the world.