[8 August 2009]
Just read a long interviw between Ian Jacobs of W3C and David Ezell, the chair of the W3C XML Schema working group and the representative of the National Association of Convenience and Petroleum Retailers (NACS) on the W3C’s Advisory Committee.
I may be biased, since I’ve worked closely with David for several years, but what he says in the interview seems to illustrate well the advantages for user organizations to be involved in standards development, instead of just leaving the standards work to their vendors. User organizations are woefully underrepresented on pretty much every standards group I know about; I wish more organizations took the enlightened approach NACS has taken in participating in W3C work and in supporting David’s work as chair of the XML Schema working group. Boeing deserves kudos, too, for their participation in XML Schema work. But if we had had even more users, and a less pronounced dominance of the group by vendors, I think the spec would have been better for it.
If your organization can join W3C, or other standards bodies relevant to your work, think about doing so.
Even without being a W3C member, of course, any member of the public is invited to comment on published drafts of specs, and the comments are typically taken very seriously. If you can’t afford the commitment of membership and working group participation, commenting on drafts is a good way to influence the specs. But if you can join, I encourage you to do so!