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RE: experts

On 29 Mar 2001, Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:

> (Ok, Lauren; the cult of personality will now begin
> to bronze your shoes....)

Thanks for making me smile, Len. Good way to start the day ;-) 

Any committee has to have a mix of people - those who come up 
with crazy ideas, those who want to keep everything simple, and 
those who I call the "sanity checkers" who keep saying "I don't 
understand, can someone explain why this is important/necessary" 
and keep everyone thinking about just how important or necessary 
anything is. And then you need someone (usually called the chair) 
to ask when the editors will have the next version ready, or when 
someone else will have that sample code ready so we can see 
what he's talking about, or how soon we can make the draft public 
so the rest of the world can throw brickbats. Funnily enough, the 
rest of the world never throws brickbats at the things the WG 
thinks it will.

Invited experts are those who show some understanding of the 
topics under discussion, and some willingness to participate in the 
discussion (by which I mean, also some willingness to listen to 
others), and the time to dedicate to following a discussion through. 
Finding these people can be as simple as seeing who posts to 
www-dom, or turns up at a BOF at a conference. One problem is 
that most WGs have too many members as it is; working with 
more than 20 people at any one time is really hard and some of 
these committees have 80.

Committee work is hard, and getting harder. The specs are more 
complicated and trying to solve problems that weren't thought of 5 
years ago. I think this process will continue for a while, but then 
we'll get some simplifying movements again. If the benefits are 
large enough, people will simplify. We learnt with HTML that one 
size can never fit all; we may need to learn it again with other 
specs. That's why the DOM went modular; if the DOM event model 
(for example) suits you and you need one, use it. If it doesn't meet 
your needs, extend it or don't implement it. Just remember to be 
open about what you do implement, or how you extend it. It always 
surprises me that so few specs out there use this sort of modular 

There's my contribution to the philosophical discussion; I'll shut up 
now and let the rest of you continue ;-)