Brendan Eich brendan at mozilla.org
Sun Aug 17 10:44:25 PDT 2008

On Aug 16, 2008, at 8:58 PM, Peter Michaux wrote:

> On Thu, Aug 14, 2008 at 12:33 AM, Brendan Eich  
> <brendan at mozilla.org> wrote:
>> That's fair, and Doug made the point at the first meeting he  
>> attended. We
>> have included folks like Alex Russell and now Kris Zyp from Dojo;  
>> also Adam
>> Peller of IBM, a Dojo committer.
> How are members of the committee chosen? Given the there must be
> consensus, it seems that adding just a single member could make a
> large impact to the process.

That's true. The members invited as experts generally come from not- 
for-profits and universities, which Ecma invites to join in a  
lightweight fashion (so far, all Ecma required was a letter on the  
foundation or university's letterhead; I understand that this may  
change for NFPs but not for universities).

Standards bodies are not democracies. They suffer from at least two  
kinds of bias: 1. vested interests who can pay to play, indeed pay to  
have sometimes undue influence; 2. small players and marginal or even  
kooky factions can gain undue influence, either by paying or (in the  
case of the NFP for free Ecma deal in place till this year) by  
forming a not-for-profit.

Of course, big players support standards bodies precisely because of  
item 1. I'm thinking of a five letter acronym starting with OO and  
ending with L here.

This is not a perfect world, and you could argue that it needs reform  
(I do, but in separate forums).

Given the nature of standards bodies (Ecma is not uniquely challenged  
in this regard), the process of making standards is like making  
sausage. Don't look too closely, but do insist on hygiene and good  

That means design by committee, inevitable to some degree, should be  
a matter of hammering out compromises on secondary issues: bike- 
shedding the best name for a new method, e.g. The primary design  
elements should come from actual implementations, general created by  
individual design/implementation leads, and already proven to some  
extent with non-trivial user communities.

There's no natural law that says all invention must come from  
startups or big, monied interests, however. It's perfectly plausible  
that a university research team, an open source project, a lone super- 
hacker hobbyist, etc., can invent something great. So long as it has  
enough users who are not in a silo cut off from all other users of  
the proposed or evolved standard, it is fair game. ("Enough users"  
has no absolute numeric bound, but one generally knows it when one  
sees it.)

That's why to the extent possible, I've pushed for inclusion of  
heretofore-uninvited folks from the Ajax world and from academia. But  
it's impossible to include everyone not sufficiently "invested" or  
otherwise advantaged. De-jure standardization is not a wide-open field.


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