December 13, 2012

I Invented the W3C TAG :)

As a few of you know, W3C TAG elections are upon us. While this is usually a pretty boring event, this year it's been livened by electioneering.  I don't have a long platform document prepared ("stand on my record"), but I'll write some things about where I think web standards need to go.... But first a bit of history:

I invented the W3C TAG. At least more than Al Gore invented the Internet. I was Xerox' AC representative when I started on the W3C Advisory Board, and it was in 2000 that I and Steve Zilles edited the initial TAG charter.  I think a lot of the details (size, scope, term limits, election method) were fairly arbitrarily arrived at, based on the judgment of a group speculating about the long-term needs of the community. I prioritize a focus on architecture, not design; stability as well as progress; responsibility to the community; a role in dispute resolution. The TAG has no power: it's a leadership responsibility; there is no authority.

And the main concern then, as now, is finding qualified volunteers who can actually put in the work needed to get "leadership" done.

In a few future blog posts I'll outline what I think some of the problems for the Web, W3C, and the TAG might be. I'll write more on

1. Governance. Architectural impact of legislative, regulatory requirements.
2. Security. In the arms race, the bad guys are winning.
3. Coordination with other standards activities (mainly IETF Applications area), fuzziness of the boundary of the "web".

Questions? Please ask (here, twitter,

Update 12/16/2012 ... I didn't invent the TAG alone 

Doing a little more research:

It's easy to find earlier writings  and talks about Web Architecture. At the May 2000 W3C advisory committee meeting,  I was part of the discussion of whether Architecture needed a special kind of group or could be completed by an ordinary working group. I think the main concern was long-term maintenance.
By the 6/9/2000 Advisory Board meeting, the notion of a "Architecture Board" was part of the discussion. An initial charter was sent out by Jean-Francois Abramatic to the Advisory Board  8/11/2000 6:02 AM PST.

Steve Zilles sent a second proposed charter (forwarded to the AB 8/14/2000 08:35PST) with cover note:
The attached draft charter is modelled on the structure of the Hypertext CG charter. This was done for completeness. Much of the content is based on notes that I took during the discussion with Larry Masinter refered to above, but the words are all mine. The Background section is my creation.  The mission is based on our joint notes. The Scope is mostly my creation, but, I belive consistent with    our discussion. The Participants section has most of what we discussed.  I tried to capture the intent of what Jean-Francios wrote, but I did not borrow any of the words because I was using a different outline. My apologies if I failed in that respect.
While I contributed to the definition of the TAG and many of the ideas in the TAG charter, others get "invention" credit as well.

An Architecture Working Group... 

Reading the discussions about the TAG made me wonder if it's time to reconsider an "architecture working group" whose sole responsibility is to develop AWWW2.  There's a lot of enthusiasm for an AWWW2,  can we capture the energy without politicizing it? Given the poor history of the TAG in maintaining AWWW, perhaps it should be moved out to a more focused group (with TAG participation encouraged).

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