[foaf-protocols] W3C WebID review

Manu Sporny msporny at digitalbazaar.com
Fri Aug 20 16:01:31 CEST 2010

Hi Henry,

Thanks for the clarifications of your intent - it helps to shed some
light on your thinking. I understand a bit more where you are coming
from and have only picked out the bits that I disagree with below - so
while this e-mail may seem negative, it is not intended to be - rather,
I think we have some understanding at this point and can move on.

On 08/20/2010 06:24 AM, Henry Story wrote:
> not sure what all the fuss is about.

This is a demonstration of one of the issues I'm attempting to highlight.

There have been a number of issues raised on this list and elsewhere
where the response from a few participants in this community have been
dismissive. I don't think that is healthy for the community as it
marginalizes those that are providing constructive criticism.

I don't think this is being done intentionally. Everyone here wants to
see WebID succeed and I'm sure is intellectually honest enough to want
to pull in constructive criticism. However, when an issue is raised and
it seems to be dismissed, possibly because the issue has a solution
which fails to be outlined in the response, then it seems as if the
community isn't listening.

> The issue is not about the Openness of the W3C but about what it is
> to represent the community here in a discussion with the W3C which
> sometimes is taking place behind closed doors.
> And I just suggested it was a topic worth discussing. A suggestion
> for example would be that all the implementors of WebId should be
> kept in the loop. So this mailing list may be a bit too large a forum
> to update on such an issue.

There is no intent to keep people out of the loop here, at least, I
haven't seen any.

To put it another way,

A few weeks ago, our company had an internal discussion about whether or
not we wanted to engage the WebID community and put financial and
development energy behind this community. I would have felt put out if
someone had posted on a public mailing list that we were talking about
it internally and made it seem as if we were already going to support
WebID and made it seem as if the discussion on how to spend /our/
financial resources and development energy became the matter of public
debate. Doubly so because by us not choosing to support WebID, it may
come across as disinterest in WebID, when in actuality, it's that we
temporarily didn't have the resources to do a good job with WebID.

Does that help highlight why publicly announcing company resource
allocation discussions isn't a good idea?

>> 2) Creating an undertone that there is a "situation" here when
>> there is not, and
> The situation is perhaps just that I need some principled guidance on
> what to do.

Don't announce organizational resource allocation discussions to the
public until the resource allocation is approved - it puts the
organization in a very uncomfortable position.

> Well what is clear is that tensions are high in the W3C about WebID. 
> I tell the list something and people feel everything is about to
> crumble over there.

No, that is absolutely not correct. You should be more careful when
speaking for parts of companies with which you are not involved.

Personally speaking, if you had said "Well what is clear is that
tensions are high at Digital Bazaar about WebID... everything is about
to crumble over there", I would be livid - because you are making a
false claim about something you know nothing about, but claim to know
about on a public mailing list.

The only thing we know so far is that W3C is interested in discussing
the possibility of exploring identity on the Web, of which WebID is a
part of the discussion.

>> I feel that some of his concerns are repeatedly being downplayed or
>> ignored.
> What were those concerns? If you can list them carefully and 
> succinctly please do.
> Did they express those concerns on this list? What are they? Perhaps
> we can respond to those concerns. If they did not express them of
> course it would be difficult to respond.

I'll place them into the github bug tracker later today along with some
of the other issues raised by the large companies I've been talking with
and other feedback from our engineering/design team.

> Don't you see the slight weirdness of the situation here? I tell the
> group about a meeting at the W3C, then get told off for saying so and
> wasting people's time, then I suggest we have a process, then people
> write huge emails about how W3C process is great and open and how we
> have no process, and ???

No, this is not what happened - there are three separate issues at play

1. Announcing private resource allocation discussions to a public list
   is generally considered bad form.
2. The insinuation that W3C is "less than" re: openness
3. Discussion about process issues in the WebID community.

I feel as if the stuff above answers #1, I attempted to address #2 in my
last e-mail, and #3 was an elaboration on #2.

However, I did not intend to imply that we (the WebID community) needs
more process other than the very narrow item of tracking bugs in this
community a bit more tightly. I'm not a fan of "big process" - as it
destroys creativity.

Getting people in this community used to logging bugs against the spec
when they have issues instead of throwing it out to the mailing list and
it not being tracked may improve our ability to let the general public
know that we're listening. That way, when the bug is resolved, we can
point to the bug tracker so that we don't have to repeat ourselves on
the list.

> So there is a place for process, but usually it is not in the
> birthing stages of an idea. Just imagine me going to the W3C with
> WebID and no implementation and asking them to standardise it. Do you
> think we would have even had a hearing?

No, of course not, but those are not the issues, some of the issues are
what I outlined above.

> Did Doug get a lot of emails? Sorry. It is true we are a vibrant
> community here... I'll be careful next time.

Thank you :)

> (Not sure how this massive email of yours is going to reduce the work
> on his lap. But anyway...)

Passive-aggressive jab... not a fan of those.

> it is important for us to keep this community in the loop.

Nobody that I have spoken with has disagreed with this statement.

> Could some of the criticisms be put forward clearly? You could put
> them up as issues and not name the company that made them perhaps.

Yes, I think this is a good foundation to proceed... I'll try to log the
bugs that have been mentioned to me in private on the bug tracker as
bugs against the spec. Perhaps we can discuss some of those during the
telecon next week.

> Perhaps one issue, though I don't think it should necessarily be on
> the telecon is to clarify the issues you have brought up as being
> problematic with these external bodies. Describe them here, and we
> can put distilled answers up on the Wiki.

Sounds good... I'll try to incorporate what I've discovered over the
past two weeks re: technical/usability WebID issues.

-- manu

Manu Sporny (skype: msporny, twitter: manusporny)
President/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
blog: WebID - Universal Login for the Web

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