Please vote for me as your first choice for the W3C Advisory Board

I’m here, in my nearly-abandoned long form web home, to ask for one simple thing.

If you are able to influence the decision-making at a W3C Member company, please vote for me as your first choice in the current Advisory Board election.

I believe the W3C is slipping toward irrelevance.  The situation is not hopeless, however, and I have ideas that I believe can reverse that trend.  I also believe it is critically important that the W3C and Google continue to collaborate to improve the processes where our common interests are evident.  (If you believe Google helps the web platform move forward, think of this as “we need to work more closely together.”  If you believe Google is not a force for good in the web platform, well, I’d love to discuss why, and how we could improve in making our web investments and driving new capabilities for the web platform, and how Chrome and Blink can be even better web platform engines. Until then, I suggest you consider this “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” ) 

What do I specifically want to impact in the next year or two at the W3C?  

  • The path to experimenting with new web platform standards needs to be better defined. We’ve learned a lot about how software should be built and how features are best developed since the W3C formal process was written.  As co-chair of the WICG, I spend part of my time working to create a functional process for feature developers that’s largely outside official W3C support channels, in order to make graceful failure an option. We should rationalize that further and make it part of the W3C Process, and I’m one of the people who can best advise on how to make that happen without destroying the value the community group process is currently delivering.  To gain more experience in preparation for this, I’ve been driving the partnership between the Immersive Web Working and Community Groups as co-chair of the former, as well as working together with my co-chairs to structure the work done in the Web Incubation Community Group (which I also co-chair) and working on refining Blink processes to improve openness and other vendor and developer participation.  
  • The “end game” of standards and maintenance needs to be fixed.  The prevailing view of the W3C in the past has been that once transitioned to a Recommendation, the work is done.  Unfortunately, experience has taught us that very few standards are done the first time around – in fact, that they must continue to evolve over time.  I believe not only that the Evergreen Standards effort is critical to make Living Standards a path at the W3C, but that it should become the norm for W3C standards and working groups.
  • The current host structure has led to a multi-headed, largely direction-less beast.  When the Director was strongly involved, this was mitigated by his moral and technical authority, but the Director hasn’t been involved in the day-to-day for quite some time now; this leaves a vacuum which the Process cannot currently fill. Transitioning to a better “legal entity” structure is the clear answer, and I believe I am personally suited to help drive this to conclusion.
  • The W3C and the WHATWG need to work well together. I’m uniquely positioned to help normalize and improve the working relationship between W3C and WHATWG communities driving the development of HTML and DOM.  I was an early skeptic of the lack of structure at the WHATWG, and spent a lot of effort to put in place common sense processes and structure there over the past few years.  I was the stand-in WHATWG Steering Group representative for Google while my colleague Shruthi was on leave. At the same time, I have good long-standing relationships with communities at the W3C that have historically not worked well with the WHATWG, and will continue to work hard to bring them closer together.

I’m specifically asking to be your top choice because of the way Single Transferable Voting works, rather than any delusions of personal grandeur. Under the rules adopted in 2017, each member only gets a single vote, and good centrist candidates (such as me) tend to be devalued in this system.  The best way I’ve found to explain how I believe you should vote in STV is this:

“You get ONE vote that really matters.  Your first choice should be your desert-island candidate.  If NO ONE else you believe in gets elected, who do you choose?  Do they really represent everything you need, if no other candidate is selected?  Okay, that’s first choice sorted. Now for your second choice – imagine that your first-choice candidate is suddenly ineligible or unable to serve – that’s really the only case when your second vote makes a lot of difference.  Who’s your second choice, IF no one else you believe in gets elected? Lather, rinse, repeat until you run out of candidates you believe can represent all your interests. Most importantly, don’t ever expect that other peoples’ votes will elect the other good candidates.”

Thus, I have to explicitly ask you to consider putting me first on the ballot.  That said, there are many excellent candidates for the Advisory Board this time, and an unprecedented seven seats open – so I will recommend a few alternatives for your subsequent choices.

  • Tantek Çelik (Mozilla).  I’ve worked with Tantek on Web Standards for more than twenty years now.  He would be my second choice for restructuring the W3C, and I also believe it is critically important to keep Mozilla deeply involved in evolving the structure the W3C, as I value their core tenet of openness (and Tantek’s personal role as champion of openness).
  • Leonie Watson (TetraLogical).  I worked with Leonie on the Advisory Board for several terms, and her consensus-seeking is some of the strongest and best I’ve known, and I value her input most highly.  Completely aside from her critical role in Accessibility, her roles co-chairing the Web Platform and Web Applications WGs has been exemplary, and I can think of no better way to strengthen the W3C’s inclusion and diversity culture than to include in the Advisory Board the co-chair of that Community Group and well-known past champion.
  • Elika Etemad (Invited Expert).  Elika has long been a critical member of the CSS WG.  Every discussion I’ve had with Elika has impressed me with her core values of collaboration and openness, and I believe she will play a strong role in leading the W3C to a better place.

I should be very clear that there are several other candidates that I would be delighted to serve with – Alan Stearns (Adobe) and Judy (Hongru) Zhu (Alibaba) for example – and every candidate running would add something positive to the Advisory Board.  I believe the four candidates above (including myself) are most critical to the future of the W3C at this pivotal time.  (On a personal note, no matter what I will miss the presence of my former colleague Mike Champion on the Advisory Board.)

Voting is open to W3C Advisory Committee representatives until the end of May.  Please encourage all W3C Members you know to vote.

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