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Fwd: TAG and WWW Architecture

This came up on www-talk@w3.org, but seems to have plenty of relevance 
here.  Given that the W3C seems to see XML as a step toward the Semantic 
Web, these may be some critical issues for developers concerned with XML's 
relationships with web technologies.

>Date: Sun, 13 May 2001 01:34:55 -0500
>Subject: TAG and WWW Architecture
>From: Aaron Swartz <aswartz@swartzfam.com>
>To: <timbl@w3.org>, <process-issues@w3.org>,
>         "www talk w3.org" <www-talk@w3.org>
>CC: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>,
>         "Roy T. Fielding" <fielding@ebuilt.com>, FoRK <fork@kragen.dnaco.net>
>[ This letter is based upon the information given to me as a member of the
>public at the recent W3C Technical Plenary. Notes from that are at:
>http://logicerror.com/w3c-meeting-2001-2-28 ]
>The W3C is working on a proposal[1] for what they call a Technical
>Architecture Group (TAG). The TAG will be like a working-group but remain
>active throughout the life time of the W3C. Members will be voted on, and
>the group will write recommendations and notes. In essence, the group will
>decide and define Web architecture in private. I think this is an awful
>decision for the future of the Web.
>In his dissertation[2], Roy Fielding thanks Tim Berners-Lee, not for
>inventing the Web, but for making it "an open, collaborative project". He
>describes how Web architecture was decided and defined, for the most part,
>on this list (www-talk) and in public IETF working groups.
>TAG threatens to change all that by taking Web architecture behind closed
>doors (W3C Members only) and have the W3C vote on the participants. In
>effect, the Web itself would be proprietary, defined not by any one company,
>but by their conglomeration at the W3C. It would mean the end of the open,
>collaborative Web and instead allow things to be decided by the result of a
>Many people have contributed to the Web and can contribute. Not all of them
>are W3C members, fewer are likely to be voted on to the TAG and even fewer
>will serve their term when they are truly needed. By not allowing these
>people (the vast majority of Web users!) to contribute to discussions about
>Web architecture, the W3C is making a serious mistake.
>It saddens me enough that many important Working Groups conduct themselves
>in private (thankfully many important ones remain public), however, taking
>the entire Web architecture into this veil of privacy is a step too far.
>I insist that TAG not be created without adequate review by the Web
>community at large, and the Web community must be allowed to take part in
>TAG's process. I understand the desire for a small working group that can
>get things done, but that must be balanced with the need of the Web
>community to take part in major architectural decisions. I call upon other
>users of the Web and members of the Web community to join me.
>This issue is so serious that I plead for the W3C not to enact the TAG in
>its present form. To do so may be a blow from which the Web might never
>fully recover.
>[1] http://www.w3.org/2001/02/12-tag
>[2] http://www.ics.uci.edu/~fielding/pubs/fielding_diss.pdf
>[ Aaron Swartz | me@aaronsw.com | http://www.aaronsw.com ]

Simon St.Laurent - Associate Editor, O'Reilly & Associates
XML Elements of Style / XML: A Primer, 2nd Ed.
XHTML: Migrating Toward XML
http://www.simonstl.com - XML essays and books