Misc (was: [uf-discuss] Disambiguation Conventions? (wasCommentsfromIBM/Lotus rep about Microformats))

Joe Andrieu joe at andrieu.net
Tue Dec 12 23:28:04 PST 2006

Benjamin West wrote:
> Joe, nicely said, and I agree with much of it.  However, I 
> thought I would just point out that the the group of 
> administrators does no't consist of just Ryan and Tantek. The 
> administrators of the forum, wiki, and IRC channel are now a 
> wordwide group of volunteers.  This is a recent, relatively 
> quiet change, and done to address some of the things you mentioned.
> Ben
> PS: Kevin Marks has always been an administrator, but is 
> frequently overlooked.

Thanks, Ben. I'm glad to hear of the development.  I've been through the
growing pains of more than one community-based non-profit and it can be
a delicate situation. And as someone who has his hands too full right
now to do more than shout out a few (hopefully) helpful comments now and
then, I particularly appreciate those of you who have stepped up to
contribute on a more meaningful level.

Thanks for the pick up on Kevin, also.  I didn't mean to leave him out;
rather, I was simply echoing Tantek's response to Andy:

Tantek wrote:
>Andy wrote:
>> If there is an autocracy (or some other non-community based
>> system) here, then surely it should be openly and honestly
>I am an admin on this list/site as is Ryan King.

I've been in situations where the hand over from autocratic founders to
community/democracy/mob rule happened way too soon.  Given your comment
Ben, I'd say perhaps microformats isn't as far behind the curve as I
thought.  One of Clay Shirky's [1] observations is that once a group
grows beyond its consensus cultural norms, it needs a mechanism for the
body politic to formally define and modify how it makes decisions, in
part so that those norms can evolve with the community.  Microformats
has avoided formalizing such mechanisms, but I believe they will
eventually become necessary to transfer from the autocracy through the
cabal to a true community representative governance.  

I know a lot of folks don't want to think about that, but Shirky makes
compelling arguments that well-crafted governance is better than the
collapse of a dictatorship grown beyond its moral authority. To reach
that well-crafted governance will take effort and time. I believe it
would be effort invested wisely, especially if we take the time to
openly evaluate and consider different alternatives, rather than rushing
in to a solution in the face of a crisis or arbitrarily without
community input. Not that there is a crisis, just that taking our time
to figure out a fair, effective, and lightweight governance mechanism
will, IMNSHO, pay long term dividends. And the work itself--figuring it
out sooner rather than later--can provide balm for those who would like
to see the end result of a more democratic system and are currently
frustrated when our benevolent dictators seem more heavy handed than one
might desire.

Actually, we are seeing this happen as we speak in the Identity
community, where at least two new non-profits are forming from
previously ad-hoc collaboration: OpenID[1] and Identity Commons[2] are
formalizing into non-profit corporate entities. It is a cool thing to
see some concrete, legal bodies forming out of that wellspring of
community effort. If I may be so bold to say so, perhaps something
similar lies somewhere in microformats' future.

A second pitch for Shirky[1]: It's an easy read and might provide
productive food for thought.



[1] http://www.shirky.com/writings/group_enemy.html
[2] http://openid.net/
[3] http://www.identitycommons.net/

Joe Andrieu
joe at andrieu.net
+1 (805) 705-8651

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