Back from TPAC
Monday, November 9, 2009 8:20:48 PM
It must be almost a decade since I was in a teleconference talking about setting this thing up, standing behind a pub in the dark in Melbourne. I don't recall when the first one was, but around 2000 I think. originally it was just the "Technical Plenary week", a gathering of W3C working groups in the same place all at once, plus a day in the middle where everyone was together, and we could talk about a collection of topics.
It has changed a bit. From early in the year to late, it has included a W3C "Advisory Committee" meeting for a few years, and the makeup of groups there has shifted. In particular, the fact that W3C is working on HTML again, and the importance of that work, means that there are too many things which attempt not to happen in parallel, so one side of the week is slightly unbalanced. Fortunately, less so than people who think W3C is just HTML would think - there is a lot more that happens there. It was also in the Bay area (Santa Clara - Silicon Valley) for the first time, having always alternated in the past between Boston and Cannes, France.
But it has always been an exhausting week. It is exhausting to set up, it is exhausting to participate, at least for me. As with a number of people who have Web standards as a major part of their work, there are more meetings than I am able to attend (and W3C meetings are generally far more productive than those of any other group I have ever met).
Among the novelties this year was a video accessibility workshop organised by John Foliot of Stanford and Dave Singer of Apple. Because it was on the Sunday before, a number of important folks managed to be there. SO while I found in one sense that there was too much time taken up by demos (also known as "getting to know each other so next time we will be able to work more effectively"), there was a lot of useful stuff in there, and drawing the threads out has been efficient and pleasant.
As co-chair of the Web Apps group at W3C, I had to manage a series of somewhat disjointed discussions - the group works on a collection of specs whose unifying theme is that they are APIs for the Web (except that some of them aren't). It's interesting - balancing two days to get as much progress as we can on a wide range of fronts is a bit different from what a lot of working groups do. And it means that I get to talk to a lot of different people (even if some of it is only "ok Jo, you are next to speak" ).
As a member of the Advisory Board (the 9 ring-wraiths^W^Wpeople elected to represent all the Members as a board for the W3C Management to talk to frequently) I spent the last 2 days in Sekяet meetings (well, relatively. W3C is amazingly open as an organisation, but any group that employs people has some obligations for real confidentiality).
And I talked to a number of people about a number of different things in the middle, gave a lightning talk on Opera Unite using a build I downloaded on the day, was drafted into a replacement panel at the last minute, and of course played Werewolf.
Werewolf is a game that people at W3C play a lot, and with good reason. There are many variants of it, but other than the one we have there ("Loups Garoups") which Dom introduced, I have played it as "Mafia" (in Russia, in russian, which made it challenging), and as "Murder in the Dark" whe I was a kid, before Wikipedia claims the game even existed. So much for Wikipedia - although its explanation of how the game works is reasonable. There are a few people who have written about it already, and for stnadards folk it is worth playing.