[foaf-protocols] W3C WebID review

Doug Schepers schepers at w3.org
Thu Aug 19 22:25:21 CEST 2010

Hi, Henry-

Henry Story wrote (on 8/19/10 4:19 AM):
> Thanks Doug for the detailed clarification.
> The purpose of my initial mail was to let the community on which
> WebId depends - which is the living body which makes up the protocol
> - know simply that something was being discussed, and that I was
> involved, so they did not get the feeling that we were leaving them
> out of a process, however tentative that process was.

I'm fine with the project review being mentioned on this list.  It's not 
a secret.

I do take issue with the way you announced it; you stated that it was 
specifically about WebID (it's not), implied that something was getting 
started on the topic at W3C (we don't know that yet), and left open the 
option for people to ask for invitations (it's limited in attendance by 
time and by the number of phone bridge lines we have available).  I 
think you could have been a bit more careful in your wording.

I felt I was put in a very uncomfortable position, and dealing with it 
took hours more of my time (in addition to the time I've already spent 
arranging the project review), which is time I don't have to spare. 
(I'm doing this out of interest in getting something going, I'm actually 
responsible for managing the SVG and WebApps Working Groups, which is 
fairly unrelated.)  A quick courtesy email to me could have saved that 
time while still respecting the community here.

> As a community we need to perhaps build some structure here so that
> we know how to deal with future situations such as this. I have
> always conducted all conversation in the open, from this mailing list
> to the blogs I produced to the wiki at http://esw.w3.org/foaf+ssl .
> It is remarkable that the WebId protocol - the protocol to help
> people conduct business in private - is the one that we would never
> have discovered  had we not conducted our work in public.

I am a strong advocate of openness in the spec development process. 
Like others (Harry included), I push W3C, from the inside, to be more 
open, and this is happening.  While W3C still has a few Working Groups 
that conduct their technical development on member-only telcons and 
mailing lists (at the request of the participants), all of the groups 
that I am involved in are public groups, with all the telcon minutes and 
technical emails on our public lists, with public comments welcome; this 
is the trend with every new WG.

Obviously, you already know that (unlike some other standards bodies), 
W3C insists on Royalty-Free licensing on all of our specifications, and 
we freely distribute them.  So, free speech and free beer (and also free 
puppy... the community has some responsibility to participate if they 
want it done right).

If W3C does start up some work around identity, the work would be 
conducted in the same way, with public participation and accountability.

> At our next WebId meeting we should discuss the issues of how we can
> legitimately represent the WebId community.

Is there some formal organization around WebId?  If not, I would suggest 
that each individual can participate on their own or their 
organization's behalf.

> Thanks for opening a process at the W3C for us,

I'd caution you against jumping to conclusions.  I am pressing and 
focusing the issue of identity at W3C, not WebId specifically.

WebId has some really good features, but as far as I'm concerned, if W3C 
does make a spec based in part on WebId, and that spec doesn't meet the 
needs of a wide enough set of implementers, I'd advocate reworking it or 
even scrapping it in favor of a solution that does satisfy the majority 
of use cases and requirements, and gets widely deployed.

I'm more interested in results than in any particular mechanism.

-Doug Schepers
W3C Team Contact, SVG and WebApps WGs

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