[foaf-protocols] Fwd: clarifying the scope of JSON Activities spec

Melvin Carvalho melvincarvalho at gmail.com
Wed Jan 25 12:27:57 EST 2012


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Will Norris <will at willnorris.com>
Date: 25 January 2012 17:35
Subject: clarifying the scope of JSON Activities spec
To: activity-streams <activity-streams at googlegroups.com>
Cc: Chris Messina <chris.messina at gmail.com>, Monica Wilkinson
<monica.keller at gmail.com>, James Snell <jasnell at gmail.com>, Martin
Atkins <mart at degeneration.co.uk>, Rob Dolin <robdolin at microsoft.com>

Besides some back-channel one-to-one correspondance I've had with a
few folks, I haven't said much on the list lately about Google signing
the OWFa for the JSON Activity Streams spec.  I actually have been
working with our lawyers pretty consistently since before the spec was
finalized, and I think we're getting close to the finish line.

I'm pretty sure this is the first OWFa 1.0 that Google has looked at
signing (I think we may have signed the OWFa 0.9 for something in the
past), so our lawyers have been understandably cautious about it.
That, plus the general climate in the entire industry around patents
over the last year or two, has certainly made this a challenging road.

After reviewing the OWFa 1.0 closely, as well as the language in the
JSON Activity Streams spec itself, I think the only remaining issue
that our lawyers have is regarding the stated scope of the spec.  From
the very beginning, the Activity Streams spec has been pretty squarely
focused on establishing a common data format for representing
activities, not so much on how they are transmitted.  At one point, we
even had a separate "Activities API" draft spec
(https://github.com/activitystreams/activity-api) to handle that,
since it was very explicitly not covered in the core spec.  Our
lawyers have asked that the scope of the spec (the fact that it covers
the data format, not transmission) be clarified in the text of the
spec.  Fortunately, this only requires a minor tweak to the Abstract
at the very beginning of the spec.  For reference, it currently reads:

> This specification details the serialization of a stream of social activities using the JSON format. Activities are important in that they allow individuals to process the latest news of people and things they care about.

I'm proposing that this be updated to read:

> Social activity data is important in that it allows individuals to process the latest news of people and things they care about.  This specification details the serialization of a stream of social activity data using the JSON format.  As this specification only describes that serialization format, the methods used to transmit, receive, or process that data are outside the scope of this specification.

This is still completely consistent with how we always intended the
spec to be interpreted, it's just now a little more explicit.  But I
think this would remove any remaining uncertainty our lawyers have
around the spec.  Given how the OWFa works, I'm fairly certain that
this change would require revving the spec to a v1.1 (or v1.0a if we
wanted to take the OAuth approach).


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