Disclaimer: This post does not reflect the opinions, thoughts, strategies or future intentions of my employer. These are solely my personal opinions. If you are seeking official position statements from Microsoft, please go here.

Earlier this week, David Recordon announced the creation of the Open Web Foundation at OSCON 2008. His presentation is embedded below

From the organization's Web site you get the following outline of it's mission

The Open Web Foundation is an attempt to create a home for community-driven specifications. Following the open source model similar to the Apache Software Foundation, the foundation is aimed at building a lightweight framework to help communities deal with the legal requirements necessary to create successful and widely adopted specification.

The foundation is trying to break the trend of creating separate foundations for each specification, coming out of the realization that we could come together and generalize our efforts. The details regarding membership, governance, sponsorship, and intellectual property rights will be posted for public review and feedback in the following weeks.

Before you point out that this seems to create yet another "standards" organization for Web technology, there are already canned answers to this question. Google evangelist Dion Almaer provides justification for why existing Web standards organizations do not meet their needs in his post entitled The Open Web Foundation; Apache for the other stuff where he writes 

Let’s take an example. Imagine that you came up with a great idea, something like OAuth. That great idea gains some traction and more people want to get involved. What do you do? People ask about IP policy, and governance, and suddenly you see yourself on the path of creating a new MyApiFoundation.

Wait a minute! There are plenty of standards groups and other organizations out there, surely you don’t have to create MyApiFoundation?

Well, there is the W3C and OASIS, which are pay to play orgs. They have their place, but MyApi may not fit in there. The WHATWG has come up with fantastic work, but the punting on IP is an issue too.

At face value, it's hard to argue with this logic. The W3C charges fees using a weird progressive taxation model where a company pays anything from a few hundred to several thousand dollars depending on how the W3C assesses their net worth. OASIS similarly charges from $1,000 to $50,000 depending on how much influence the member company wants to have in the organization. After that it seems there are a bunch of one off organizations like the Open ID foundation and the WHATWG that are dedicated to a specific technology. 

Or so the spin from the Open Web Foundation would have you believe.

In truth there is already an organization dedicated to producing "Open" Web technologies that has a well thought out policy on membership, governance, sponsorship and intellectual property rights that isn't pay to play. This is not a new organization, it actually happens to be older than David Recordon who unveiled the Open Web Foundation.

The name of this organization is the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). If you are reading this blog post then you are using technologies for the "Open Web" created by the IETF. You may be reading my post in a Web browser in which case the content was transferred to you over HTTP (RFC 2616) and if you're reading it in an RSS reader then I should add that you're also directly consuming my Atom feed (RFC 4287). Some of you are reading this post because someone sent you an email which is another example of an IETF protocol at work, SMTP (RFC 2821).

The IETF policy on membership doesn't get more straightforward; join a mailing list. I am listed as a member of the Atom working group in RFC 4287 because I was a participant in the atom-syntax mailing list. The organization has a well thought out and detailed policy on intellectual property rights as it relates the IETF specifications which is detailed in RFC 3979: Intellectual Property Rights in IETF Technology and slightly updated in RFC 4879: Clarification of the Third Party Disclosure Procedure in RFC 3979.

I can understand that a bunch of kids fresh out of college are ignorant of the IETF and believe they have to reinvent the wheel to Save the Open Web but I am surprised that Google which has had several of it's employees participate in the IETF processes which created RFC 4287, RFC 4959, RFC 5023 and RFC 5034 would join in this behavior. Why would Google decide to sponsor a separate standards organization that competes with the IETF that has less inclusive processes than the IETF, no clear idea of how corporate sponsorship will work and a yet to be determined IPR policy?

That's just fucking weird.

Now Playing: Boyz N Da Hood - Dem Boys (remix) (feat T.I. & The Game)


Saturday, July 26, 2008 4:45:07 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Ah, found the comment icon. I think it goes at the bottom. I do read the posts before wanting to comment. Never thought to scroll back to the top! (I guess the best case is top and bottom, sort of like there being no best answer for the next and prev buttons on forums, newsgroups, and other structures.)

Meanwhile, the FriendFeed chatter we've been having is at

(I am beginning to lust for one of those scripts that pulls friend feed threads back out to the corresponding blog post. I know I've heard of such a thing. Wonder if it is something worth an OpenWeb specification. Heh. Probably not.)
Saturday, July 26, 2008 5:27:39 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
If different competing standards were not enough, now we have this.
Saturday, July 26, 2008 6:20:27 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
There is nothing wrong with a next-gen, reboot of the IETF, which by now has a lot of its own crud and accumulated baggage.
Sunday, July 27, 2008 10:32:45 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Except that the OWF is not a standards body, nor has intentions to become one. We span the gap between community-driven approaches without formal IP practices/policies and ones that do (W3C et al) if anything, we're complementary and should help community projects generate specifications with clean IP, lining them up for later industry-wide standardization.

As well, we're trying to prevent the creation of yet more foundations. Time will tell if we're successful.
Sunday, July 27, 2008 11:43:55 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I know you've been blogging a long time but I just recently stumbled across your blog. I've been missing out. I've really enjoyed the last few entries and this is a great one.

IETF works for me, too.

Monday, July 28, 2008 3:46:16 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
@Chris Messina,

So you're a filtration system? In other words, come to the Open Web Foundation, present your ideas, develop momentum, ensure any and all IP is documented, checked for duplication, etc. and, if all goes well, take things to the next level whether that be the IETF, OASIS, W3C, ECMA, ISO, etc.?

Are legal services provided?
Monday, July 28, 2008 9:09:03 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
@M David: in some senses, the effect may be a type of filtering or perhaps preprocessing... Moving on to full standards-body acceptance is beyond our scope or mandate; in many cases it may not be necessary or even advised (for example with oEmbed).

We're trying to take what we've learned with (and the money that's been spent on) OAuth and OpenID and OpenSocial and generalize our approaches and results so projects with similar DNA can lower their costs and ultimately avoid the creation of yet additional foundations.

If we prevent the creation of an two more foundations, we'll be on our way to success; our goal is not wide in ambition but focused on a narrow and tractable source of pain.
Monday, August 4, 2008 6:32:10 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
We referenced some of your thoughts from this blog post in our most recent edition of "The Bungee Line," in which we interviewed Scott Kveton about the OWF.
The show is available here:

Ted Haeger
Tuesday, August 5, 2008 9:30:29 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I wonder where this "open" foundation is based? The U.S. i suspect. I know for a fact i'm not the only one getting little frustrated at the creation of these foundations in the US, sponsored by US corporate companies, that seem to want to manage the affairs of the rest of the world and come down on anyone that disgrees with them.

The IETF is well established and its members are international. The US doesn't have ownership over the entire Internet and some of these guys seem intent in making names for themselves. If things need changed, why not say to the IETF and bring them up to date - soon we'll need an organiation to manage all the organizations!
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