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- From: Rick Jelliffe <email@example.com>
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 15:12:27 +0800
From: Gavin Thomas Nicol <email@example.com>
> I'm not flaming your general notion that you have to
> design for and with the users, but saying that "experts"
> are incapable of it is a disservice.
Is it some kind of Noble Savage mythology cropping up here?
Is the Academy ganging together to oppress or exclude autodidacts, talented
amateurs, craftsman, innovators and other prodigies?
It one looks at the RFCs at IETF, many of the significant ones came
The problem is not experts/trenches, but how to have systems that allow
different people with different personalities or cultures to participate.
And the #1 manifestation of this is not that $5000 keeps Simon out of
W3C WGs but that the Web process is utterly dominated by the North-Western
hemisphere: by people who have the skills to use English, relate to men,
argue, and fit in socially with 35+year-old US white male corporate society.
Only a couple of days ago I heard of a Japanese project to create their own
stripped down EDI-in-XML (I think it is TEDI) which is being developed
(prior to but) in isolation of/defiance to ebXML. The impression I got was
that this was being done because of a frustration by those concerned
(Government, large Japanese companies) that "standards" progress was being
centralized in the West (e.g. Microsoft closing research labs outside US now
that they don't need to pretend about the "China Wall").
Now, without buying into the idea that there should be "distinctly Asian"
technology for the web, if we add that to the Chinese government's talk of
having its own IP, and the development of non-ASCII domain names outside
IETF-process in East Asia, if even the Japanese (often the East Asians most
successfully capable of being assertive) have grave troubles, what hope for
the rest of the world who are not even rich? Modernization!=Westernization
How do we support plurality that enfranchises other time zones, hemispheres,
disabilities, genders, personality types, cultures, value systems,
It seems to me that the preconditions for these is not democracy (in the
sense of making ever-larger committees) but insitutionalized humility in the
centre to allow an exchange of ideas with the periphery.
What forms would institutionalized humility take? For a start, schedule
all meetings (face-to-face or teleconferences) entirely based on
(computerized) population densities, for location, time and language. Make
sure the institutionalized world pays as much attention to the world of
individuals as it does to other institutions. Have review processes from the
earliest moments for internationalization, gender issues, disability access,
privacy, social impact, HCI, oligopolization, and "appropriate technology"
(e.g. Schumaker's Small is Beautiful).
The goal is enfranchisement, but the battleground is
steering/limiting/correcting institutional power. I am not saying it is
good to support the techno-hermit who puts out some brilliant hack to
revolutionize the world after a weekends work; but I think it is naive to
think that the techno-hermit can be enfranchised without making sure
institutions are suitably humble-by-policy (or law).