W3C to be involved in DataPortability?

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Chris Saad

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Jan 15, 2008, 11:21:14 PM1/15/08
to DataPortability Workgroup
Harry Halpin (former chair of the GRDDL Working Group) contacted me
today. He has been speaking with Tim Berners-Lee and other colleges at
the W3C.

Harry suggests that the W3C would be happy to get involved with the
DataPortability workgroup in some fashion (via their Incubator
initiative http://www.w3.org/2005/Incubator/about.html). I imagine
either joining the Workgroup, consulting to the Workgroup, setting up
a Workgroup inside the W3C or absorbing DataPortability into the W3C
all together.

This is a pretty important question while we are still finding leaders
in the group to step up and the management structure is still being
worked out...

So my questions are:

1. What sort of involvement would you like to see from the W3C?

AND

2. Would such involvement:

a) Unnecessarily slow down the process we have started here?

OR

b) Add weight to DataPortability and improve our decision making going
forward?


Welcome your thoughts.

Chris

Ben Metcalfe

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Jan 16, 2008, 12:21:32 AM1/16/08
to datapor...@googlegroups.com
I think this is at best a pointless move and at worst a really bad idea.

One of the criticisms of many observers about the DP.org group was
that "it was just like the W3C and would get nothing done".  Well, we
will get stuff done, but if the group joined the W3C then... well, it
would be just like the W3C and much of the other shit that goes with
it - increased red-tape, etc.

But I also think it could be a bad move because membership of W3C
groups is limited to W3C members (which is how it pays for itself).
Harry made some point about Chris not having to be a member, but it's
not clear whether the group would be open to just anyone to join
formally.  I'd be concerned that whilst Google and maybe Facebook are
members of the W3C, other companies and startups are not.  We'd miss
those folks.

I just don't see what joining the W3C brings us.  And if Tim BL
thinks that we're doing some valuable work then I would love to
extend to him an invitation to join *this* group.

Jon

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Jan 16, 2008, 12:22:20 AM1/16/08
to DataPortability Workgroup
This is fantastic news Chris.

Backing from the W3C would certain add more credibility, ideas,
resources, and weight behind the movement. However, all benefits
aside, it does raise some potential concerns.

DP.org, arguably, is still in its infancy and working hard to define
itself and its goals. Deep involvement from any bureaucratic
organization may stifle our momentum and growth. "Absorbing
DataPortability into the W3C all together" at this point in time would
no doubt repress the remarkable progress made thus far.

Jon

David Novakovic

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Jan 16, 2008, 12:29:22 AM1/16/08
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Agreed with Ben here:

The DP stack is getting the attention it deserves. While it would be
great to have the credibility of W3C on our sides I think DP should
remain independent until at least a solid 1.0 style release of the stack
has been done.

As suggested, Tim should be joining this workgroup as a representative
from WC3.

I think the response should be "WAIT"

David


Ben Metcalfe wrote:
> I think this is at best a pointless move and at worst a really bad idea.
>
> One of the criticisms of many observers about the DP.org group was
> that "it was just like the W3C and would get nothing done". Well, we
> will get stuff done, but if the group joined the W3C then... well, it
> would be just like the W3C and much of the other shit that goes with
> it - increased red-tape, etc.
>
> But I also think it could be a bad move because membership of W3C
> groups is limited to W3C members (which is how it pays for itself).
> Harry made some point about Chris not having to be a member, but it's
> not clear whether the group would be open to just anyone to join
> formally. I'd be concerned that whilst Google and maybe Facebook are
> members of the W3C, other companies and startups are not. We'd miss
> those folks.
>
> I just don't see what joining the W3C brings us. And if Tim BL
> thinks that we're doing some valuable work then I would love to
> extend to him an invitation to join *this* group.
>
> On Jan 15, 2008 8:21 PM, Chris Saad <chris...@gmail.com

Danny Ayers

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Jan 16, 2008, 4:24:28 AM1/16/08
to datapor...@googlegroups.com
I'll give my opinion in a separate post, but to answer Ben's points:

Re. Membership - it isn't necessary for someone to be working for a
W3C member company to be on a Working Group, there's the Invited
Expert mechanism. This has been used for the HTML group -
[[
# 499 group participants,
# 499 in good standing,
# 72 participants from 28 organizations
# 427 Invited Experts
]]
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/

I'd also note that DP already has two tiers, the DP list and the public lists.

Re. Getting Things Done - I don't know where the idea that the W3C
doesn't get things done comes from, half the specs we use on a daily
basis have come through the W3C.

As a recent concrete example, the GRDDL WG (of which Harry was chair)
took just over a year to tackle a fairly tricky generic problem (the
automatic conversion of microformats-style HTML and *any* XML to RDF).
While this may seem a long time, the deliverables include two
Recommendations (the main spec and test cases) together with two Notes
(primer and use cases). Concurrent with this, 4 independent
implementations were developed in the community, acting as test
systems.
http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/grddl-wg

The GRDDL group was a regular Working Group, but Harry's proposal is
for an Incubator Group, and they're expressly designed to get things
done quickly:
[[
The W3C Incubator Activity fosters rapid development, on a time scale
of a year or less, of new Web-related concepts. Target concepts
include innovative ideas for specifications, guidelines, and
applications that are not (or not yet) clear candidates as Web
standards developed through the more thorough process afforded by the
W3C Recommendation Track. Advantages of the Incubator Activity
include:

* Rapid start of work in an Incubator Group (XG)
* Lightweight process, initiated by W3C Members
* Rapid finish to produce an XG Report in under one year
* Smooth transition to the W3C Recommendation Track, if desired and approved
* Use of W3C infrastructure (mailing lists, communications tools,
Web site) and consensus-building within W3C culture.
]]
http://www.w3.org/2005/Incubator/#About

Cheers,
Danny.

Danny Ayers

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Jan 16, 2008, 5:12:09 AM1/16/08
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On 16/01/2008, Chris Saad <chris...@gmail.com> wrote:

> 1. What sort of involvement would you like to see from the W3C?

I like the Incubator Group idea, I believe it could help this group a
lot. It offers a coherent framework in which the development of
guidelines and resources needed for DataPortability can take place,
without messing up what we've got already.

Ad hoc development is good, but lasting solutions need some formal
basis as well. We do need to maintain compatibility with existing
specifications wherever possible, we need to be sure there aren't
obscure legal issues waiting to trip everything up. The DP group may
have the technical expertise to get work done, but it simply doesn't
have the resources of a standards org.

This can happen without disrupting what we've got already.

The WHAT WG is doing fine since it's 'merger' with the W3C HTML group,
and that's quite an extreme case - browser vendors are big
stakeholders in that community, and their aims don't necessarily
coincide with what's best for (users of) the Web.

Although they went with the IETF rather than the W3C, the Atom working
group is a good example of how a community project can benefit from
what a standards org has to offer. It was able to get significant
input from a broad range of sources, keep focus on what was needed and
reach consensus, without losing its community roots.

> AND
>
> 2. Would such involvement:
>
> a) Unnecessarily slow down the process we have started here?

I believe it will speed things up, by helping us to be clearer about
aims and having a process for ensuring decisions are made that are
consistent with these.

> b) Add weight to DataPortability and improve our decision making going
> forward?

Yes. While this group has significant support from key players around
social networks, to anyone directly not involved, this group can be
perceived as a "ragbag" (see http://blogs.zdnet.com/Howlett/?p=277).
Association with the W3C will show the group's proposals as credible
to the enterprise and other potential users of the technology.

I should add that while I'm more than happy to go with consensus as
far as this group is concerned, I do also support Harry's proposal for
a W3C Incubator Group, even if it would have to operate completely
indepedently of this group (well, I doubt it would be completely
independent, there would be bound to be some crossover no matter
what).

Of course ideally everyone will be working together on what are
seriously important issues. But because of the importance of the
issues, I do think it necessary for the W3C to consider them,
irrespective of any community initiatives like ours, as part of it's
stated goal of "leading the Web to its full potential".

Cheers,
Danny.

--

http://dannyayers.com

Paul Lamere

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Jan 16, 2008, 6:11:21 AM1/16/08
to DataPortability Workgroup
One thing that the W3C road offers, that DataPortability.org lacks is
a clear member agreement that eliminates any questions about who owns
the IP in the specs. All participants in a W3C working group must
sign the member agreement that gives ownership of contributed IP to
the W3C. This reduces the risk of a company or individual asserting
IP rights after a spec has been released. The W3C can release specs
with a royalty-free, irrevocable right and license to implement.

DataPortability (and APML) have an informal IP policy that leaves it
open to future IP issues. Imagine if some DataPortability working
group member managed to get some of their intellectual property
included as part of the specification and after DP was released tried
to collect royalties. (This actually happened to the W3C VoiceXML
spec: http://www.news.com/2100-1032-5162070.html )

I don't have a strong opinion one way or another about the whether we
should join the W3C, but I do think we need a more formal approach to
intellectual property would reduce risk that the spec would be
encumbered.

The W3C member agreement is here: http://www.w3.org/2005/03/Member-Agreement

Paul

Matthew Rothenberg

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Jan 16, 2008, 1:28:20 PM1/16/08
to datapor...@googlegroups.com
On Jan 16, 2008 3:11 AM, Paul Lamere <paul....@gmail.com> wrote:
> One thing that the W3C road offers, that DataPortability.org lacks is
> a clear member agreement that eliminates any questions about who owns
> the IP in the specs. All participants in a W3C working group must
> sign the member agreement that gives ownership of contributed IP to
> the W3C. This reduces the risk of a company or individual asserting
> IP rights after a spec has been released. The W3C can release specs
> with a royalty-free, irrevocable right and license to implement.

Bear in mind, agreements like these can be nightmares to get approved
in large organizations, since typically employees cannot sign a legal
document without the legal team's approval.

I think they are definitely good in the long run, but I'd hate to see
in the short term having people's participation stalled based upon it.

Perhaps it might make sense to keep the overall DP Working Group as a
more ad-hoc institution, but as more concrete deliverables emerge,
moving some of the technical standards finalization into more formal
W3C groups over time.

W3C participation is also more significant for certain parts of what
the group wants to accomplish (e.g. technical standards) and less so
for things like best practices documents.

(In addition, part of the strength of the group now is the speed with
which we can try new things out and iterate on them, prior to making
them "standards.")

-mroth

Paul Lamere

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Jan 16, 2008, 6:34:46 PM1/16/08
to DataPortability Workgroup
"Bear in mind, agreements like these can be nightmares to get approved
in large organizations, since typically employees cannot sign a legal
document without the legal team's approval. " - Agreed, but also it
works the other way too. Companies may be reluctant to participate if
there isn't a clear IP story. This is certainly the case with Sun.

Chris Saad

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Jan 16, 2008, 6:58:20 PM1/16/08
to DataPortability Workgroup
I tend to think that emerging consensus course of action is something
like this:

1. Encourage individuals from the W3C to participate in the Workgroup

2. Look toward submitting things to the W3C one we have a much firmer
grasp on any standards work

And in the mean time...

3. Adopt a firmer IP story (maybe borrow a template from W3C?) to
ensure participants understand their rights

4. Clarify our own decision making processes (which I have started
doing here: http://groups.google.com/group/dataportability-public/web/workgroup-roadmap)

How does this sound?

Chris

Robyn Tippins

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Jan 17, 2008, 1:03:44 AM1/17/08
to datapor...@googlegroups.com
Sounds good to me.  Do you have anyone specific in mind at W3C to invite?

--
Robyn Tippins
408-718-0886
PM, Developer Tools Yahoo! Platforms
Sleepyblogger.com | Gamingandtech.com

Sleepyblogger.com | Gamingandtech.com

Harry Halpin

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Jan 19, 2008, 7:51:52 PM1/19/08
to DataPortability Workgroup
Hi,

I'm Harry Halpin, from University of Edinburgh (i.e. *not* an
employee of the W3C). However, I have been very active in their rather
bureacratic process by virtue of being chair of the GRDDL Working
Group and member of the W3C Semantic Web Co-ordination Group. I'm
happy to help liason to the Semantic Web Co-ordination Group as well
as other Working Group Chairs on the progress of the Data Portability
Group. My feeling is that the W3C process is best when it double-
checks and ratifies an already existing solution made by a smaller
group of people that is on the way to being widely deployed, and helps
push it among W3C members, who tend to be large companies and
universities. The W3C also has a tighter process as regards IP, and
while it's story as regards authentication if not so good, the W3C's
story about the social graph is much more detailed.

In order to garner support among large companies for a standard in
this area, as well as to provide a way for the Data Portability Group
to communicate to the W3C, I think an XG (Incubator Group) could form.
It cannot make official W3C Recommendations like a Working Group, but
allows us to "recommend" that a working group be formed and that
certain solutions go through a working group process and that a
working group be formed within a year or so. Therefore, in about a
year, if the Data Portability Group comes up with a solution using a
more "OpenID"-like process, a data portability standard could move
quicker within the W3C.

Here's something I wrote up as a draft charter. It's very loose and
open for feedback, changing, and (if you are an employee of a W3C
organization and can get approval from your rep) approval.

http://www.ibiblio.org/hhalpin/homepage/drafts/soccharter.html

The main issue I see being brought up is to make sure that
communication lines remain open between the data portability group and
the W3C, and there is not a duplication of effort. I think this is
possible, and so this could be a great thing for both the data
portability group and the W3C. The more people and companies that sign
onto data portability, the better.

I'd love to hear what people think.

thanks!

harry

On Jan 17, 1:03 am, "Robyn Tippins" <robyntipp...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Sounds good to me. Do you have anyone specific in mind at W3C to invite?
>
> --
> Robyn Tippins
> 408-718-0886
> PM, Developer Tools Yahoo! Platforms
> Sleepyblogger.com | Gamingandtech.com
>
> On Jan 16, 2008 3:58 PM, Chris Saad <chris.s...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
> > I tend to think that emerging consensus course of action is something
> > like this:
>
> > 1. Encourage individuals from the W3C to participate in the Workgroup
>
> > 2. Look toward submitting things to the W3C one we have a much firmer
> > grasp on any standards work
>
> > And in the mean time...
>
> > 3. Adopt a firmer IP story (maybe borrow a template from W3C?) to
> > ensure participants understand their rights
>
> > 4. Clarify our own decision making processes (which I have started
> > doing here:
> >http://groups.google.com/group/dataportability-public/web/workgroup-r...
> > )
>
> > How does this sound?
>
> > Chris
>
> > On Jan 17, 9:34 am, Paul Lamere <paul.lam...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > "Bear in mind, agreements like these can be nightmares to get approved
> > > in large organizations, since typically employees cannot sign a legal
> > > document without the legal team's approval. " - Agreed, but also it
> > > works the other way too. Companies may be reluctant to participate if
> > > there isn't a clear IP story. This is certainly the case with Sun.
>

Ian Forrester

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Jan 24, 2008, 8:08:07 PM1/24/08
to DataPortability Workgroup
I spoke to TimB today and he's certainly aware of the DP group. He
seemed quite keen about it too.

I think the W3C should be involved, but like others have said... as
like any company or person. I don't think the effort would be slowed
down by the W3C but I understand what other people's views are and
being too closely will certainly be negative in the short run.

Harry Halpin

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Jan 25, 2008, 9:17:39 AM1/25/08
to DataPortability Workgroup

On Jan 24, 8:08 pm, Ian Forrester <cubicgar...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I spoke to TimB today and he's certainly aware of the DP group. He
> seemed quite keen about it too.
>
> I think the W3C should be involved, but like others have said... as
> like any company or person. I don't think the effort would be slowed
> down by the W3C but I understand what other people's views are and
> being too closely will certainly be negative in the short run.

It should be noted that the W3C is a standards body, not a person or
company - i.e. it is composed
insitutitions like companies, and so it can in general only do things
its members ask for.
It does have a small paid staff, but after conversation with Ivan
Herman, it does appear they are all tied up with other standards work,
although they are very supportive of DataPortability.org. So, it's
unclear if a W3C staff member can actively contribute to
DataPortability.org. Right now I just chime in and e-mail Ivan and W3C
staff when something interesting is going on so it stays on their
radar.

W3C Staff can only justify using their staff resources if the member
institutions indicate they want this to go forward.
Ivan and myself thought an "Incubator Group" would be the most "low-
budget" way to show this, as well
as to make sure going-ons here get forwarded to the right people in
the W3C. The "Incubator Group" would basically
have a year to monitor developments on the Web at large (including
DataPortability.org) and then would propose
that the W3C officially, if needed, fast-track a Rec. on this topic.
Again, any thoughts?

David P. Novakovic

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Jan 25, 2008, 8:28:53 PM1/25/08
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It should be noted that the W3C is a standards body, not a person or
company - i.e. it is composed
insitutitions like companies, and so it can in general only do things
its members ask for.

That's how DP is running at the moment, except there are company representatives in DP, not companies themselves.
 

It does have a small paid staff, but after  conversation with Ivan
Herman, it does appear they are all tied up with other standards work,
although they are very supportive of DataPortability.org. So, it's
unclear if a W3C staff member can actively contribute to
DataPortability.org. Right now I just chime in and e-mail Ivan and W3C
staff when something interesting is going on so it stays on their
radar.

Sounds like we have the ideal situation now then.
 


W3C Staff can only justify using their staff resources if the member
institutions indicate they want this to go forward.
Ivan and myself thought an "Incubator Group" would be the most "low-
budget" way to show this, as well
as to make sure going-ons here get forwarded to the right people in
the W3C. The "Incubator Group" would basically
have a year to monitor developments on the Web at large (including
DataPortability.org) and then would propose
that the W3C officially, if needed, fast-track a Rec. on this topic.
Again, any thoughts?

As I understand it, the DP community is the leading voice in tackling this particular problem in the new web. The ActionGroups are open for anyone to join and contribute to, the workgroup as it stands now will be taking more of a back seat. This has opened up the conversation to anyone who has something useful to contribute.

In my mind this is far more in line with the problem we are trying to solve and the mentality of users/contributors to the new web. The original workgroup members will oversee and contribute to the proceedings, people will look to the natural leaders, and the right direction will generally emerge.

Taking the above into consideration I think anyone who is interested in the WC3 is welcome to join the conversation like anyone else from the public is. I'm sure WC3 will be interested in the proceedings, and it is great that you are keeping them informed.

The big question is, do we really need to change this for now? In my mind, the answer is "not yet."  I suspect when the DP stack has matured somewhat and is ready to go for official standardisation with a group like the WC3, the WC3 themselves will be the first port of call.

These are my thought and mine alone, though I have a suspicion that it somewhat echos the thoughts of others in the workgroup.

David Novakovic


Ben Laurie

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Jan 25, 2008, 8:45:03 PM1/25/08
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I would argue against using the W3C because they represent their
member institutions rather than being open to all.

I also don't get this obsession with standards bodies - if a group of
people agree that it is a standard, then it is a standard.

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