— Doug Schepers (@shepazu) June 3, 2014
W3C Advisory Board elections are getting lots of traction from W3C members. Questions, suggestions, initiatives are multiplied and when being part of the candidates, you need to take position, agreeing disagreeing… For example voting system discussion (see the W3C public process mailing list thread). But there is behind this voting question, the question of W3C participants. Who are they ? Do they really represent the web ? Do they really represent the web developer comunity.
But first, why would we need more web developers ? Actually, we do have some smart and brilliant ones. But most of the time, the ones working for big companies, big structures or universities. But they might not represent the actual developer who will be torturing the features and APIs embedded in browsers. Some of them are present, but a majority is not.
As a tourist. Since I entered the web community, I am going into web developers conferences to learn, meet people, evangelize also security. And each time I am explaining I am representing my company in W3C, I can see stars in the eyes of my interlocutor. “Such a great job, so lucky to be there ?”. And I am always thinking. “Well, if I can do it, you should be able to do it, especially because you have already designed a super-nice-smart-cool web app, something I have never done in my life, but which is on my to do list “.
As a chair. In the working group I am chairing, we are in theory 50 people, but 10 of them are driving the work. They are mainly browser vendors and there is one service provider. Off course all those guys are educated and connected with web developers community. But it happens that W3C needs also to design APIs which is not going to be used by the 3 or 4 use cases that group participants are thinking about, for them, and for their own developer community. And it happens also that sometimes we miss a feedback from the real life (as an example, in the web crypto API, we asked, please mister or mrs web dev, give me your opinion on the best design, but reviews are always hard to get).
What I think. I think that W3C needs to interact more with the web developers community, not only during events and conferences (which is already something great, see http://www.w3.org/Talks/), but also *in* W3C. We need fresh blood. To review and challenge the spec. To make sure the feature designed will be actually widely used, wider than initially thought. To help in prioritizing the features we want to develop (we may call our mate, our mum, our brother to decide which feature is the most urgent, but they may have exactly the same opinion as ours). To edit specifications (see the very good post from Robin Berjon explaining how it is difficult to have editors). To beta-test API prior it is shipped. To counter balance the opinion of the super-hyper-expert who maybe lost his or her freshness.
How to have more web developers ?
With a 2 steps approach.
One. Make sure that all working group participants, chairs, editors are always ambassadors of the W3C. Getting traction from web developers they meet, convincing them to look at the spec, comment, be involved. This is very easy for popular specifications like EME (everyone has something to say about EME, right ?), WebRTC (which is so powerfull that it pulls entire conferences), Service Workers (which is promoted by charismatic people). This can only happen if all W3C participants are educated on a regular basis on what is going on, by receiving training, regular reviews on domain activities. The quest here is information for all,…
Two. Make sure there is a structure to welcome the web developers. W3C has different members status. You can be a startup, you can be an invited expert, but the individual membership is not yet available. When Brian Kardell pointed me on a group of people in W3C setting up the basis of a web developer individual membership, I realized that it was exactly the missing piece. This ‘webizen’ task force https://www.w3.org/wiki/Webizen will share the result of its thinking in June 2014, during the W3C Advisory Council meeting, where all W3C members representatives meet. Webizen brainstorming is open to anyone, so if you feel you have ideas, do not hesitate. The quest here is W3C membership for all.
I really hope that W3C and its current members will succeed in lowering the entry barrier to W3C and benefit from having all players around the table, including web developers. Integration of web developers into W3C circles, getting them more involved in discussions and decisions, as candidate to AB election, I support that !
Note : picture ‘Gamme’ by Romain https://www.flickr.com/photos/xyotiogyo/
May is the season where W3C organizes election for its Advisory Board, the group of 10 people representing W3C members and helping improving W3C process and advising W3C management on strategy. My regular readers know that last year I was part of the candidates, and they may be happy to know that I’ll try again this year. Talking with my colleagues from gemalto, they were challenging me.
“Why are you doing that ? Representing gemalto in different W3C working groups may be enough, isn’t it ?” Well. Yes. And no.
That is true that I am spending more than half of my time supporting W3C activities. That includes my chairmanship position in web crypto and web security IG (a public security experts community), monitoring W3C deliverable to report to my colleagues when there is something interesting happening, supporting W3C workshops (automotive, payment and soon security related). Believe me, that job is not always easy, especially in a company which is not directly getting revenues from web applications and services, yet. In other words, if you don’t like that job, you can’t make it.
So that is said, I like W3C. Why ?
I have been in standard for a while now, experiencing different governance, different group size, involved with different positions (observer, contributor, editor, chair), always in technology and international contexts. And after all those years I must confess that W3C has been the most welcoming house, with a goal and framework that really makes sense to me. Supporting W3C development and helping to transform the open web platform into a widely adopted platform, suitable to any services is a great objective, to my opinion. Process and governance questions are part of that challenge, as more and more members are joining, and more an more members are needed to make that platform relevant.
And I want to be part of that move.
Well, once you say ‘I wanna join the party’, you have to think about your own value proposition. Who am I to run for AB ? Well. I am experienced in standards. I am a hard working person. I am a consensual person, listening to problem, looking for advice and conflicting opinion, and always targeting decision making (I hate vague and unknown status and I know it’s sometimes terrible for my relatives and colleagues).
And I have a plan.
Based on what I have seen those last two years and half in W3C, I have drafted a kind of program, things I believe would benefit from my energy. Like everyone, I want a better world, but more precisely, I ‘d like to :
(1) Increase visibility of W3C deliverables for members and non-members, by supporting the creation of dashboard (I wrote about it, yet)
(2) Improve web developers community feedback, involvement and representation in W3C (leveraging openness of W3C with public event and webizen-like project)
(3) Maintain motivation of contributors, including education and supporting tools, with a specific focus on editors and chairs.
(4) Ensure that securing the web sits at the core of the evolution of the consortium, as required by device manufacturers and security-sensitive companies
All is said. Let’s see if this plan looks good enough for the 389 W3C members to vote for me and help me to get one of the 5 open seats in the W3C Advisory Board. The voting period is all May and results are in June. If you know some of the voters, and like the idea to see me elected, just tell them.
If you just want to encourage me, you can advert that post or leave comments, suggestions …
I will keep you informed about the results, for sure.
Note : picture Runner and Dancer by Claus Tom, under creative common license https://www.flickr.com/photos/claustom/
What’s up ?
Those days my friends are suffering conversations with me related to W3C, W3C and W3C. One of the reasons for that is that there is a nano-event happening (nano at the scale of the boiling web planet) : W3C is currently trying to renew part of its Advisory Board. Advisory Board members are 9 people interacting with W3C management on the questions of process, strategy, conflict. Even if ABs do have a limited power, there are part of the mechanics to make sure that W3C office stays connected with their membership.
Election. So what !
Where this election is becoming interesting is that there are 12 nominees in total for 4 available seats, a record in the history of W3C. Demonstrating the traction of that organization. Most of them are experienced smart people from big corporations. Some of them made public their application, such as Tantek from Mozilla, Chris from Google, Chaals from Yandex, and David from Apple. And I am part of the ones who would like to seat there. My two years in W3C planet, representing my company, and also chairing Web Crypto Working Group were such an experience that I would be delighted to use it to support migration of W3C.
What is at stake ?
To my point of view, W3C is getting transformed: it is getting bigger, welcoming so much members every year, it is getting more ambitious, covering more market such as mobile, automotive, payment, and members are bringing more and more ideas… In such changing time, it is key to stay a solid, delivery oriented, flexible organization. Challenges for the next team will be to progress on the evolution of W3C process (everyone is blaming W3C to be a slow delivery machine), dealing with open licensing of W3C documentation, potentially rethinking the AB itself (as some member do require it), and listen to the W3C members ideas to make that organization better. There will be also effort to maintain on the learning curve of new members, capturing the innovations in specifications, keeping the W3C culture (collaborative, sharing), and of course being the guardian of the open web platform ‘openness’.
Why me ?
I have heard a lot of enthusiasm around my application – actually more then expected. Here is a list of funny things I heard about the quality people believe I have : I am new to W3C and can have a fresh look, I am a chair (understand a chairperson, not an object), I am a woman (yes, I am representing a minority in W3C), I know well the mobile industry (one of the major playground area for the web), I am European (while W3C is highly US centric), I am interested in document open licensing, I am representing an industry that may save the web (which lacks of security we-all-know-that).
All of this may be true, but I must confess that those were not the first skills I thought about when running the election. I am firstly committed to *contribute* to the AB. I do want the W3C machine to become efficient, progressing on all the items mentioned above. Being reasonably connected to the web community and members, I am able to report the good ideas, actually transforming it efficiently in W3C arena, making the best effort to roll out the promise of the open web platform.
When will this end ?
The adventure of politic is really interesting and even by trying to play that game I learnt a lot of things. Election results will be announced beginning of June. Will keep you informed about it.
By the way, If you want to join the @poulpita fanclub, just share that post on your favorite social media networks and tell any AC Rep in W3C you meet that they should choose me in their top 4 candidates !
Note : if you want to know more about open licensing document, here is a good summary of the situation, by David Baron from Mozilla http://dbaron.org/log/20130522-w3c-licensing