‘Accessibility at the Edge’ W3C CG Is an Overlay Smoke Screen

Another post where I lay it all out in the title. What follows is why I am making this assertion (with a handy table of contents).

Timeline

A brief timeline of its rapid formation followed by its public inactivity…

26 May 2022 at 10:58am ET

The Chief Operating Officer of UserWay proposed an overlay W3C Community Group in the morning. For a W3C Community Group to be formed, anyone with a W3C account can propose it and then five (5) people must show their support by activating a button. In the Community Group model, the W3C acts as nothing more than a host for an email discussion list and wiki.

26 May 2022 at 7:56pm ET

The same day the Community Group was proposed, the UserWay COO, The UserWay CEO, two UserWay Advisors, and an Accessibility Evangelist at AudioEye all signaled their support and the group was formed nine (9) hours later. This was announced on Twitter via an automated tweet from the W3C. None of the 15 replies nor 22 quote tweets seemed to think this was a good idea. At launch, the group had only two of the people who signaled their support, plus one other person, for a total of three (3) participants.

27 May 2022 at 7:38pm ET

The automated tweet directed users to the seemingly auto-generated Call for Participation in Overlay Community Group, asking for people to join. I left the following comment on the Call for Participation where it awaited approval:

Full text of my comment

I think it is crucial that a W3C Community Group is founded with accurate information, especially when soliciting participation.

Some notes on the premise of overlays as stated in this announcement:

> These function by adding a snipet of javascript into a web content provider’s page.

The “snippet” is a script reference to a library of code that comprises a good deal more functionality than a snippet would imply. That script reference is then loaded by the end user’s browser and applied to the web page by the end user’s browser.

> Typically, this single line of additional code functions to enable, on each page load, additional content processing, delivered through the overlay provider’s servers, before the content is delivered to the end user.

Again, this “single line” is a reference to a URL where a much larger library of code lives (even if it has been minimized to have no line feeds).

The “content processing” is not done on page load. It is performed after the script has been fetched, parsed, and applied to the web site DOM by the end user’s browser.

The statement that this happens “before the content is delivered to the end user” is inaccurate since the page (content) must load at least enough for the end user’s browser to fetch the overlay provider’s library of code and then the end user’s browser must parse the DOM, which is after the content has been delivered. Then the end user’s browser can apply the overlay provider’s script.

To reiterate, all “remediation” is done in the end user’s browser by the end user’s JavaScript JIT compiler, at the user’s expense in energy costs. If the overlay provider’s script does not load for some reason (network error, firewalls, ad blockers, etc) then no remediation is performed.

> …informed by sober analysis of what technological innovation at the edge can offer.

I am not sure this is “the edge” given the sentence that precedes this one which reads “…this routing paradigm is by no means unique to accessibility applications…”

Finally, in the interests of full disclosure, this is the provided list of names of those who supported creation of this community group but with their overlay vendor affiliations added:

Lionel Wolberger (UserWay COO), Jeff Kline (UserWay Advisor), Janina Sajka (UserWay Advisor), Allon Mason (UserWay CEO), Alisa Smith (Accessibility Evangelist at AudioEye).

28 May 2022 at 5:04pm ET

My comment was never approved. In fact, not only was my comment never approved but when I checked the next day, I discovered the Call for Participation had been deleted completely. No new Call for Participation was generated to replace it. No statement about the Call’s removal was made.

23 June 2022

The Overlay Community Group changed its name. If you go to w3.org/community/overlay you will be redirected to w3.org/community/a11yedge. The new name is the Accessibility at the Edge Community Group. At least 20% of its then five members did not know (and that person is not an impartial observer).

19 August 2022

Nearly three months after deleting its original call for participation and a month after changing its name, the Overlay / Edge Community Group posted a new call for participation (comments are disabled). Also, the group chair has been swapped from the UserWay CEO to a UserWay advisor (who has a long and positive history contributing to W3C working groups). Also also, still no public email or wiki activity (other than one or two unrelated GitHub commits if you dig). This is clearly being coordinated not in the open.

Other Nuggets

Outside the timeline I want to call attention to two nuggets that I feel make its intention a bit more clear. I also embed public community feedback from Twitter, something the organizers have disallowed on the Community Group page.

The Rebrand

The original description of the Community Group was clear on its grounding in overlays:

Lately a set of web based accessibility remediation services has been made available to web content providers under the term: Overlay. These function by adding a snipet [sic] of javascript into a web content provider’s page. Typically, this single line of additional code functions to enable, on each page load, additional content processing, delivered through the overlay provider’s servers, before the content is delivered to the end user. While this routing paradigm is by no means unique to accessibility applications, it does introduce accessibility opportunities and tradeoffs. In this community group we seek to clarify overlay technologies when applied for accessibility purposes, informed by sober analysis of what technological innovation at the edge can offer.

Given that probably all seemed a bit too obviously self-serving, I can only assume some conversation (not public) lead to the rebranding of the group:

The mission of the Accessibility at the Edge Community Group is to examine improvements to internet accessibility via “edge computing”, a relatively new paradigm that focuses on performing tasks at the edge of the network. Unlike cloud computing, edge computing emphasizes activities that occur closer to the user; these could include accessibility oriented user-agent extensions, applications on content delivery networks, JavaScript-enabled capabilities, AI or ML. The group is a forum for discussing both currently available products, potentially new applications not yet commercially available, as well as objective measures of the quality of any one of these. Our tasks can include inventorying both opportunities and challenges, drafting and incubating Internet specifications for further assessment, standardization, prototyping and testing of reference implementations.

Nowhere in the new description does the word overlay appear, not even as a reference to its original name.

Compare that to the original mission — the one which garnered support from its original overlay vendor members, approval from the W3C, and was changed seemingly without informing either. That feels like a dramatic change in scope.

The Edge

I found its definition of edge computing interesting as well: …edge computing emphasizes activities that occur closer to the user; these could include accessibility oriented user-agent extensions, applications on content delivery networks, JavaScript-enabled capabilities, AI or ML.

Three layers. Cloud layer on top, showing servers talking to databases. Middle layer is groups of servers and databases talking to the cloud servers, labeled as edge nodes with tasks of service delivery, computing offload, IoT management, and storage & caching. Bottom layer is end-user computers connecting to ISP enpoints which in turn connect to the edge nodes.
The Wikipedia definition shows the edge computer layer is nowhere near the end user’s computer. Graphic by NoMore201, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Wikipedia definition says edge computing brings computation and data storage closer to the sources of data. Which seems weird, because the source of the data of a web site an overlay wants to remediate is the web server, not the web browser.

But my digging shows the Edge (née Overlay) Community Group definition is based on Cloudflare’s definition, pulled from a marketing page that helpfully lists some drawbacks at the very end:

Public Community Response

I don’t know how many other people tried to leave a comment on the original call for participation; I only know at least one (mine) was deleted. The current call disallows comments.

But we can get a measure of sentiment from users, experts, practitioners, and more from the responses to the automated tweet.

Reply tweets
Quote-tweets

My Opinion

A narrow winding road on a lengthy outcropping ends in a cliff, off from which a car is driving to its demise; There is a road sign in the foreground with an image of a cliff and the text “WARNING: OVERLAY at the EDGE.”
Road sign image by Jangra Works, adapted, CC BY 2.0. Cliff symbol by Roulex_45, CC BY-SA 3.0. I release this image under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0.

My opinion is that this Community Group was never meant for genuine use. It seems more likely to me that UserWay and AudioEye (but mostly UserWay) are using the W3C brand to provide a veneer of credibility to their own ongoing marketing efforts. As evidence I point to the UserWay-heavy supporters, the lack of activity, the removal of the call for participants, and the decision to delete my comment after claiming the group was intended to foster “sober analysis”.

Most people don’t understand that W3C Community Groups (and Business Groups) are nothing more than mailing lists and forums. They do not set standards. They have no formal standing. They are like holding your club meetings in the basement of the local church and hoping people think the pope has your back.

But the W3C brand brings credibility, which is what overlay vendors want.

Call to Action — Upcoming Forum

The Accessibility at the Edge (née Overlay) Community Group will be hosting an in-person and Zoom breakout session at TPAC on Wednesday, 14 September 2022. This is happening at W3C TPAC 2022. It will be facilitated by the UserWay CEO and a UserWay Advisor. Panelists include Manu Sporny, CEO of Digital Bazaar and chair of a couple Community Groups, Ken Nakata of Converge Accessibility, and Alisa Smith of AudioEye. Three (3) of the five (5) are overlay vendors.

Time and Zoom URL are still to be announced. The session runs 11:15–12:15PT in Port McNeill (North Tower 4th floor), in IRC channel #A11yEdge, and also on Zoom. TPAC is being held in Vancouver (UTC−7) and UserWay’s people will be there in person, so you can make a best guess about the window of time until it is announced.

Per the W3C TPAC Breakout Session page:

Breakouts that are requested to be public will be open to anyone to join remotely, free of charge, without a TPAC registration. The public can (but doesn’t have) to register online to be kept up to date on new information about breakouts (including when their schedules will be finalized).

And per the Accessibility at the Edge (née Overlay) Community Group call for participation:

Please share this invitation with anyone you believe would want to participate.

Looking forward to our spirited and productive conversations.

Obviously if you attend, don’t be a jerk. The only rule, per the call for participation, is to adhere to the W3C Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.

Added 2 September 2022: John Foliot commented and provided some great context for the W3C’s role in this — which is essentially none. While I thought I had been clear about that in this post, if John did not pick up on it then I did a poor job. So to reiterate here, if you attend the TPAC breakout session please limit your spirited and productive conversations to overlays and UserWay’s / AudioEye’s output objective. This is not a forum to beat up the W3C. Frankly, it is not a forum to beat up UserWay and AudioEye, though their prior actions are absolutely on the table for framing your feedback.

Wrap-up

The Edge (née Overlay) Community Group has a Twitter account at @a11yedge with zero followers (so far). If you are interested in seeing what they might share, then follow it or add it to a list.

I also expect it will use the #a11yEdge hashtag on Twitter, having seen it used in its other writing. Perhaps you could watch that hashtag for any news if you do not want to follow the account.

The Community Group also has a GitHub account, w3ca11yedge. If you see it contributing to your projects just understand it is not a W3C account, only an account using the W3C Community Group platform in its name.

Otherwise, be wary of anyone who suggests that overlays, or this new “accessibility at the edge” rebranding effort, are an official or sanctioned W3C effort. You may need to help them understand both the W3C Community Groups model and the long history of problems overlays create for users (and many of the overlay vendor’s own customers).

Update: 14 September 2022

I attended the TPAC breakout session. It was recorded and I also made an audio recording. No idea when the W3C recording will be available, but I will look at timing for getting a transcript from my recording.

The format was essentially people queuing for the microphone after the four panelists spoke. The UserWay CEO spoke twice more from the queue, and Manu (also a panelist) also spoke once from the queue. Judy Brewer did a good job of setting the expectation up front that panelists should not respond after each comment, but instead the forum was for them to listen. Even if they did not quite honor it.

In the meantime, the meeting minutes are posted and were generated from the IRC channel:

DRAFT – Accessibility at the Edge (née Overlay) TPAC minutes

adrian: will it be recorded?

janina: any objection to recording the meeting?

janina: than you all for coming. We hope to bring some clarity and document the reasons why people have had such strong reactions to overlay technology
… and highlight the benefits of the technology

JudyB: a reminder that community groups are different from W3C chartered work.
… a CG is not an endorsement of any work by W3C, but sometimes it is an opportunity to explore a topic in the web community

<MichaelC> https://www.w3.org/Consortium/cepc/

JudyB: please treat people with respect. We’re very aware of the controversy of this topic.
… there there’s a document that labeled ‘draft community group report’ but there hasn’t been CG discussion yet. We hope that this meeting will clarify how people can comment in the CG. but we hope that this discussion will start the needed process
… we’re under rules of ethical professional conduct

janina: we will have brief statements from a panel
… I’m the facilitator. I have a consultation role with UserWay. We’re here to talk technology and problems that technology can both solve and create
… I’d like to frame the discussion of technology as tools devoid of a moral orientation (not good or evil but how it’s used and implemented)
… we’d like to itemize the ways in which the technology can help and how it maybe shouldn’t be used
… I invited Ken Nakata from IAAP to speak

ken: there is an ethical side and IAAP was focused on that

<shawn> International Association of Accessibility Professionals: IAAP https://www.accessibilityassociation.org/s/

ken: I just hate dealing with this topic because it seems impossible to not get caught in the crossfire
… I was asked to help develop a feedback process and technical guidance draft

<shawn> [ Axel = Axel Leblois, Chief Executive Officer, G3ict https://www.accessibilityassociation.org/s/about/team ]

ken: we delivered a draft in August and IAAP would take it forward
… one of the principles was to follow the W3C if they create guidance
… in the terms of the ethical perspective, some of the concern was to make sure there’s truthfulness in the statements made by people and companies
… folding that into the IAAP code of conduct

<aardrian> oops… present+

ken: misleading statements can follow the grievance process
… this applies to statements made to a customer by a vendor as well as what is disclosed to users

janina: next on the panel is Manu

Manu: verifiable credentials is a set of technologies that allows you to store and represent certifications
… we can also use verifiable credentials for people, relationships, item provenance, etc.
… it’s all the documentation, digitized, and placed on the internet
… when it comes to accessibility we see benefits and dangers
… we must make sure there’s consent and privacy considered with verifiable credentials
… when thinking about user preferences on a site, VC can help but there’s a concern about fingerprinting users
… we don’t want to do the wrong thing. There’s a meeting later tomorrow to unpack the requirements from the accessibility community

Lionel_Wolberger: it grew from a CG, can you expand on how this connects

Manu: it started out as a small community of 6 people, it’s now grown to about 500 around the world.
… it’s a success story of W3C being inclusive and growing an idea toward a standard
… in the beginning it was chaotic. It was an “evil” technology but we identified how it could be used for good and point out the ways in which is should be managed responsibly
… there’s a lot of similarities between the early days of VC and “overlays” from accessibility
… with the end goal of benefiting society

janina: last on our panel is Lionel Wolberger as an active participant of W3C and a representative of a company who produces “overlays”

<AWK> +AWK

Lionel_Wolberger: what we have in common is a goal to provide access to people with disabilities to the web
… Ken mentioned that he hates to talk about this and Manu spoke of a lightning rod.
… I’d love for everyone on get involved with W3C to help build toward consensus on the useful parts of the technology

janina: there will be full CG available for this discussion, more information will come. If you have comments or questions use the queue

wendyreid: I am one of those people who signed that letter and have strong feelings about overlays. I’ve run into issues with overlays distracting me or causing issues with my use of the web on my computer or phone
… I think the investment in overlays could be redirected to how to improve tooling for developers and experiences for small/independent creators who don’t have the expertise to develop a user experience
… I wonder if the people being served are not the people with disabilities but the business owners
… I’ve had people tell me “it’s accessible, see the button?”

tamas: I work in the web accessibility space. My bigger concern is with the AI aspect.
… things like live regions I don’t think overlays will ever be able to solve that

<wendyreid> +1 to Tamas, humans are important

tamas: human nature won’t be solved by it

Fazio: to expand on what Wendy said, any technology could be useful but it’s in the messaging. We need ethical messaging not marketing speak.

Fazio: let’s make sure we’re being authentic, clear, and ethical. It’s not a one-stop-shop to fix everything

shadi: at the AGWG there’s a definition of an overlay
… browsers already fix a lot of bad code. Is that an overlay?
… if I have automatic captioning, it’s not a replacement for human captioning, is that an overlay?
… I think people think their site is accessible when they have an accessibility statement.
… the work we’re doing is not just technical but also social

adrian: I’ve been very vocal about this topic
… technology can be used for good but it comes down to how it’s used, how it’s pitched, and how it affects users.
… all the evidence shows it’s not good. When you focus on the outcomes, I can’t support it. It’s not the technology, it’s the outcomes. That’s what matters.
… if the CG doesn’t discuss the outcomes, people won’t get behind it.
… it’s about users not a company settling complaints.

Lionel_Wolberger: imagine a company called Vague Links who can enhance “read more” links for people with disabilities
… image that the technical implementation wouldn’t be that difficult. “read more” becomes “read more about…” based on the context
… they sell it or give it away it will end up on thousands of sites. Wendy mentioned the “button” annoys them. But this technology has no button but it’s called an overlay
… we want to separate the issues to have an honest discussion.

alistair: +1 to Adrian’s comments.
… if a solution applies uniformly and isn’t customized wouldn’t that be better suited for the user agents
… if it is customized, then it should be baked into the construction of the website

<CurtBellew> +1 to Alistair

<jamesn> +1 alistair

sarah_h: this talk of separating technology from politics worries me because technology is inherently political. To me it’s extremely important.

<wendyreid> +1000

<aardrian> big +1 to Sarah

sarah_h: there is no “only technical” solution. Where is the accountability to disabled people instead of society and marketing pressures?

<Zakim> manu, you wanted to ask about applying “five star” Linked Data to a11y, and modifying existing compliance programs?

<wendyreid> +1 to strongly considering the needs of the community

Jennie_Delisi_: I want to clarify the terms and definitions that apply to this group. This will benefit those who are new to the technology as well as those with disabilities including anyone with newly acquired disabilities. I’m a member of COGA and want to ensure people with congitive and learning disabilites can participate in this discussion

Manu: getting more specific about each item will serve the group well

<Fazio> Yeah we heard Lionel give examples of different kinds of what are perceived as overlays. Important to have a common definition

Manu: I am hearing some level of agreement. Why can’t we build better tools for authors?
… if we target them as developers instead of the end user, maybe we do a better job than the overlay.
… issues need to be broken apart and avoid using all-encompassing terms.
… Fixing the problem upstream is worth talking about.

<shadi> +1 to defining the terms we are using because they mean different things to different people

Manu: at one point with linked data, there was a shift in how it was discussed to be progressive and iterative. I wonder if there are ways of breaking down the problem into bits for the low bar, then the higher bar, and then higher again

<Makoto> +1 to shadi

Manu: so when someone reaches for “an overlay” they have step-by-step approaches to improve their site and avoid the nightmare scenario

jasonjgw: it seems to me the challenge is how to integrate ML/AI into the processes of content creation and presenting it to the user.

<Irfan_Ali> I agree with the idea of defining the term properly in-order to make it clear to everyone.

<Irfan_Ali> +1 to Shadi

jasonjgw: in some situations it is impossible for a person to intervene in real time with autocaptions but it could be used in the first phase of a production then later corrected
… I think it raises a series of questions about transcoding technology for assistive technology
… how are we going to integrate this into the experience of authoring and consuming content

JohnRochford: “nothing about us without us” any solution or technology as to be co-developed by people with disabilities. I’d like to see evidence from companies that they’re doing that.
… and that it’s successful for the end users

Lionel_Wolberger: 2-3 very different products were mentioned and they were lumped together. Automated remediation, user selected enhanced presentation, and developer tools and monitoring

<aardrian> -1 to product pitch

Lionel_Wolberger: we make multiple products and you may not if these are in use
… i’m just pointing out that this disambiguation is important for the industry to develop this technology

Wilco: I think the need for overlays came from remediation. Tools could be better. Browsers could step up to improve on accessibility. What worries me is putting the decision in the hands of the website owners rather than the people who actually need these technologies.

shadi: I wish more ATMs were easier to use. (inaudible)

janina: we have more to discuss. But this was productive to get the process started.

<mbgower> Thank you, everyone

<shawn> [ lots of “thanks for the discussion” in IRC ]

janina: we will make the recoding available. Thank you all.

janina: we’re done for today but we’re not done.

I also captured the raw IRC dump:

Raw IRC log
#A11yEdge: (no topic set)
[14:17] == aardrian [~aardrian@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #A11yEdge
[14:17] == MichaelC__ has changed nick to MichaelC
[14:17] <CurtBellew> present+
[14:17] == JoeAndrieu [~JoeAndrieu@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #a11yEdge
[14:17] <JoeAndrieu> present+
[14:17] <PaulG> zakim, list questions
[14:17] <Zakim> I see no questions
[14:17] == atai [~Andreas@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #A11yEdge
[14:18] == JeffS [~JeffS@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #A11yEdge
[14:18] <PaulG> janina: any objection to recording the meeting?
[14:18] == alastairc [~sid186938@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #A11yEdge
[14:18] == jasonjgw [~Jason@71dc0f22.publics.cloak] has joined #a11yedge
[14:19] == FredrikFischer [~FredrikFischer@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #A11yEdge
[14:19] <Travis> q?
[14:19] * Zakim sees no one on the speaker queue
[14:19] <jasonjgw> present+
[14:19] <FredrikFischer> present+
[14:20] == Fazio [~Fazio@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #a11yedge
[14:21] == jamesn [~uid290110@71dc0f22.publics.cloak] has joined #A11yEdge
[14:21] <Fazio> present+
[14:21] <atai> present+
[14:21] <PaulG> janina: than you all for coming. We hope to bring some clarity and document the reasons why people have had such strong reactions to overlay technology
[14:21] == cyns [~cyns@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #A11yEdge
[14:22] <PaulG> ...and highlight the benefits of the technology
[14:22] <PaulG> JudyB: a reminder that community groups are different from W3C chartered work.
[14:23] <PaulG> ...a CG is not an endorsement of any work by W3C
[14:23] == Jem [~uid487285@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #A11yEdge
[14:23] <MichaelC>     Port McNeill, North Tower 4th floor
[14:23] <MichaelC> https://www.w3.org/Consortium/cepc/
[14:23] <Jem> present+ JaeunJemmaKu
[14:23] <MichaelC> s/    Port McNeill, North Tower 4th floor//
[14:23] <PaulG> ...please treat people with respect. We're very aware of the controversy of this topic.
[14:24] == Tamas [~Tamas@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #A11yEdge
[14:24] == rh_ [~rh@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #A11yEdge
[14:24] <PaulG> ...there hasn't been a report from the CG yet but we hope that this discussion will start the needed process
[14:24] <PaulG> ...we're under rules of ethical professional conduct
[14:24] * wendyreid reminder for those joining irc to present+ themselves :)
[14:25] <PaulG> janina: we will have brief statements from a panel
[14:25] <JeffS> present+
[14:25] <PaulG> ...I'm the facilitator. I have a consultation role with UserWay. We're here to talk technology and problems that technology can both solve and create
[14:26] == mbgower [~mbgower@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #a11yedge
[14:26] <mbgower> present+
[14:26] <alastairc> present+
[14:26] <JudyB> present+
[14:26] * Travis don't burn the house down!
[14:27] <PaulG> ...I'd like to frame the discussion of technology as tools devoid of a moral orientation (not good or evil but how it's used and implemented)
[14:27] <Tamas> present+
[14:27] <Tamas> present+
[14:27] <Tamas> present+
[14:27] == Tamas [~Tamas@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has quit ["Page closed"]
[14:27] <PaulG> ...we'd like to itemize the ways in which the technology can help and how it maybe shouldn't be used
[14:28] <JudyB> s/any work by W3C/any work by W3C, but sometimes it is an opportunity to explore a topic in the web community/
[14:28] <PaulG> ...I invited Ken Nakata from IAAP to speak
[14:29] <PaulG> ken: there is an ethical side and IAAP was focused on that
[14:29] <shawn> International Association of Accessibility Professionals: IAAP  https://www.accessibilityassociation.org/s/
[14:29] <PaulG> ...I just hate dealing with this topic because it seems impossible to not get caught in the crossfire
[14:29] == jcraig [~sid363695@71dc0f22.publics.cloak] has joined #A11yEdge
[14:30] == julierawe [~julierawe@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #A11yEdge
[14:30] <PaulG> ...I was asked to help develop a feedback process and technical guidance draft
[14:30] <shawn> [ Axel = Axel Leblois, Chief Executive Officer, G3ict https://www.accessibilityassociation.org/s/about/team ]
[14:30] <PaulG> ...we delivered a draft in August and IAAP would take it forward
[14:31] <PaulG> ...one of the principles was to follow the W3C if they create guidance
[14:32] <PaulG> ...in the terms of the ethical perspective, some of the concern was to make sure there's truthfulness in the statements made by people and companies
[14:32] <PaulG> ...folding that into the IAAP code of conduct
[14:32] <JudyB> s/hasn't been a report from the CG yet/there's a document that labeled 'draft community group report' but there hasn't been CG discussion yet. We hope that this meeting will clarify how people can comment in the CG./
[14:32] <aardrian> oops... present+
[14:33] <PaulG> ...misleading statements can follow the grievance process
[14:33] <PaulG> ...this applies to statements made to a customer by a vendor as well as what is disclosed to users
[14:34] <PaulG> janina: next on the panel is Manu
[14:35] <PaulG> Manu: verifiable credentials is a set of technologies that allows you to store and represent certifications
[14:36] <PaulG> ...we can also use verifiable credentials for people, relationships, item provenance, etc.
[14:36] <PaulG> ...it's all the documentation, digitized, and placed on the internet
[14:37] <PaulG> ...when it comes to accessibility we see benefits and dangers
[14:37] <PaulG> ...we must make sure there's consent and privacy considered with verifiable credentials
[14:38] <PaulG> ...when thinking about user preferences on a site, VC can help but there's a concern about fingerprinting users
[14:38] <PaulG> ...we don't want to do the wrong thing. There's a meeting later tomorrow to unpack the requirements from the accessibility community
[14:39] <PaulG> Lionel_Wolberger: it grew from a CG, can you expand on how this connects
[14:39] == mbgower [~mbgower@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has quit [Client closed connection]
[14:39] == mbgower [~mbgower@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #a11yedge
[14:39] <PaulG> Manu: it started out as a small community of 6 people, it's now grown to about 500 around the world.
[14:40] <PaulG> ...it's a success story of W3C being inclusive and growing an idea toward a standard
[14:41] == dlibby [~dlibby@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #A11yEdge
[14:41] <PaulG> ...in the beginning it was chaotic. It was an "evil" technology but we identified how it could be used for good and point out the ways in which is should be managed responsibly
[14:41] <PaulG> ...there's a lot of similarities between the early days of VC and "overlays" from accessibility
[14:41] <PaulG> ...with the end goal of benefiting society
[14:42] == takashi_ [~takashi@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #A11yEdge
[14:42] <jamesn> q?
[14:42] * Zakim sees no one on the speaker queue
[14:43] == shadi [~shadi@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #a11yedge
[14:43] <shadi> present+
[14:43] == jeanne [~jeanne@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #a11yedge
[14:43] <PaulG> janina: last on our panel is Lionel Wolberger as an active participant of W3C and a representative of a company who produces "overlays"
[14:43] == AWK [~uid371467@71dc0f22.publics.cloak] has joined #a11yedge
[14:43] <jeanne> present+
[14:43] <AWK> +AWK
[14:44] <PaulG> Lionel_Wolberger: what we have in common is a goal to provide access to people with disabilities to the web
[14:44] == JeffS [~JeffS@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has quit [Ping timeout: 180 seconds]
[14:44] <PaulG> ...Ken mentioned that he hates to talk about this and Manu spoke of a lightning rod.
[14:45] <PaulG> ...I'd love for everyone on get involved with W3C to help build toward consensus on the useful parts of the technology
[14:46] <PaulG> janina: there will be full CG available for this discussion, more information will come. If you have comments or questions use the queue
[14:46] <MichaelC> ack a
[14:46] * Zakim sees no one on the speaker queue
[14:46] <wendyreid> q+
[14:46] * Zakim sees wendyreid on the speaker queue
[14:46] <mbgower> q?
[14:46] * Zakim sees wendyreid on the speaker queue
[14:46] <MichaelC> ack w
[14:46] * Zakim sees no one on the speaker queue
[14:46] <julierawe> present+
[14:47] <PaulG> wendyreid: I am one of those people who signed that letter and have strong feelings about overlays. I've run into issues with overlays distracting me or causing issues with my use of the web on my computer or phone
[14:47] <MichaelC> q+ tamas
[14:47] * Zakim sees tamas on the speaker queue
[14:48] == dmontalvo [dmontalvo@2092a32a.team.cloak] has joined #a11yedge
[14:48] <PaulG> ...I think the investment in overlays could be redirected to how to improve tooling for developers and experiences for small/independent creators who don't have the expertise to develop a user experience
[14:49] <PaulG> ...I wonder if the people being served are not the people with disabilities but the business owners
[14:49] <Fazio> q+
[14:49] * Zakim sees tamas, Fazio on the speaker queue
[14:49] <PaulG> ...I've had people tell me "it's accessible, see the button?"
[14:50] == manu [~manu@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #a11yedge
[14:50] <mbgower> q?
[14:50] * Zakim sees tamas, Fazio on the speaker queue
[14:50] <manu> present+
[14:50] <MichaelC> ack t
[14:50] * Zakim sees Fazio on the speaker queue
[14:50] <PaulG> tamas: I work in the web accessibility space. My bigger concern is with the AI aspect.
[14:51] <shadi> q+
[14:51] * Zakim sees Fazio, shadi on the speaker queue
[14:51] <PaulG> ...things like live regions I don't think overlays will ever be able to solve that
[14:51] <JudyB> q?
[14:51] * Zakim sees Fazio, shadi on the speaker queue
[14:51] == MarkMcCarthy [~MarkMcCarthy@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #A11yEdge
[14:51] <wendyreid> +1 to Tamas, humans are important
[14:51] <PaulG> ...human nature won't be solved by it
[14:51] <MichaelC> ack f
[14:51] * Zakim sees shadi on the speaker queue
[14:51] <aardrian> q+
[14:51] * Zakim sees shadi, aardrian on the speaker queue
[14:52] <PaulG> Fazio: to expand on what Wendy said, any technology could be useful but it's in the messaging. We need ethical messaging not marketing speak.
[14:52] <MichaelC> ack s
[14:52] * Zakim sees aardrian on the speaker queue
[14:52] <Lionel_Wolberger> q+
[14:52] * Zakim sees aardrian, Lionel_Wolberger on the speaker queue
[14:52] <PaulG> Fazio: let's make sure we're being authentic, clear, and ethical. It's not a one-stop-shop to fix everything
[14:52] == sarah_h [~sarah_h@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #a11yedge
[14:53] <PaulG> shadi: at the AGWG there's a definition of an overlay
[14:53] <PaulG> ...browsers already fix a lot of bad code. Is that an overlay?
[14:53] == takashi_ [~takashi@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has quit [Ping timeout: 180 seconds]
[14:53] <PaulG> ...if I have automatic captioning, it's not a replacement for human captioning, is that an overlay?
[14:54] * MichaelC laughs at the gentle finger-point :)
[14:54] <PaulG> ...I think people think their site is accessible when they have an accessibility statement.
[14:54] <PaulG> ...the work we're doing is not just technical but also social
[14:54] <MichaelC> ack a
[14:54] * Zakim sees Lionel_Wolberger on the speaker queue
[14:55] <PaulG> adrian: I've been very vocal about this topic
[14:55] * shadi lol@michael, i didn't say any names :-)
[14:55] <PaulG> ...technology can be used for good but it comes down to how it's used, how it's pitched, and how it affects users.
[14:55] <alastairc> q+
[14:55] * Zakim sees Lionel_Wolberger, alastairc on the speaker queue
[14:56] <PaulG> ...all the evidence shows it's not good. When you focus on the outcomes, I can't support it. It's not the technology, it's the outcomes. That's what matters.
[14:56] <PaulG> ...if the CG doesn't discuss the outcomes, people won't get behind it.
[14:56] <sarah_h> q+
[14:56] * Zakim sees Lionel_Wolberger, alastairc, sarah_h on the speaker queue
[14:56] <MichaelC> ack li
[14:56] * Zakim sees alastairc, sarah_h on the speaker queue
[14:56] <Jennie_Delisi_> q+
[14:56] * Zakim sees alastairc, sarah_h, Jennie_Delisi_ on the speaker queue
[14:56] <PaulG> ...it's about users not a company settling complaints.
[14:57] <PaulG> Lionel_Wolberger: imagine a company called Vague Links who can enhance "read more" links for people with disabilities
[14:57] <Wilco> q+ to talk about browsers
[14:57] * Zakim sees alastairc, sarah_h, Jennie_Delisi_, Wilco on the speaker queue
[14:58] <PaulG> ...image that the technical implementation wouldn't be that difficult. "read more" becomes "read more about..." based on the context
[14:59] <PaulG> ...they sell it or give it away it will end up on thousands of sites. Wendy mentioned the "button" annoys them. But this technology has no button but it's called an overlay
[14:59] <PaulG> ...we want to separate the issues to have an honest discussion.
[14:59] <MichaelC> ack al
[14:59] * Zakim sees sarah_h, Jennie_Delisi_, Wilco on the speaker queue
[14:59] <manu> q+ to ask about applying "five star" Linked Data to a11y, and modifying existing compliance programs?
[14:59] * Zakim sees sarah_h, Jennie_Delisi_, Wilco, manu on the speaker queue
[15:00] <PaulG> alistair: +1 to Adrian's comments.
[15:00] <PaulG> ...if a solution applies uniformly and isn't customized wouldn't that be better suited for the user agents
[15:01] <MichaelC> ack sa
[15:01] * Zakim sees Jennie_Delisi_, Wilco, manu on the speaker queue
[15:01] <PaulG> ...if it is customized, then it should be baked into the construction of the website
[15:01] <Wilco> q-
[15:01] * Zakim sees Jennie_Delisi_, manu on the speaker queue
[15:01] <CurtBellew> +1 to Alistair
[15:01] * Wilco my point has been made :-)
[15:01] <jamesn> +1 alistair
[15:01] <PaulG> sarah_h: this talk of separating technology from politics worries me because technology is inherently political. To me it's extremely important.
[15:01] <wendyreid> +1000
[15:02] <aardrian> big +1 to Sarah
[15:02] <MichaelC> ack je
[15:02] * Zakim sees manu on the speaker queue
[15:02] <Lionel_Wolberger> q?
[15:02] * Zakim sees manu on the speaker queue
[15:02] <PaulG> ...there is no "only technical" solution. Where is the accountability to disabled people instead of society and marketing pressures?
[15:02] <Jem> q?
[15:02] * Zakim sees manu on the speaker queue
[15:03] <jasonjgw> q+
[15:03] * Zakim sees manu, jasonjgw on the speaker queue
[15:04] <MichaelC> ack ma
[15:04] <Zakim> manu, you wanted to ask about applying "five star" Linked Data to a11y, and modifying existing compliance programs?
[15:04] * Zakim sees jasonjgw on the speaker queue
[15:04] <wendyreid> +1 to strongly considering the needs of the community
[15:04] <PaulG> Jennie_Delisi_: I want to clarify the terms and definitions that apply to this group. This will benefit those who are new to the technology as well as those with disabilities including anyone with newly acquired disabilities. I'm a member of COGA and want to ensure people with congitive and learning disabilites can participate in this discussion
[15:04] <PaulG> Manu: getting more specific about each item will serve the group well
[15:04] <Fazio> Yeah we heard Lionel give examples of different kinds of what are perceived as overlays. Important to have a common definition
[15:04] <PaulG> ...I am hearing some level of agreement. Why can't we build better tools for authors?
[15:05] <PaulG> ...if we target them as developers instead of the end user, maybe we do a better job than the overlay.
[15:05] <PaulG> ...issues need to be broken apart and avoid using all-encompassing terms.
[15:06] <Lionel_Wolberger> q?
[15:06] * Zakim sees jasonjgw on the speaker queue
[15:06] <PaulG> ...Fixing the problem upstream is worth talking about.
[15:06] <shadi> +1 to defining the terms we are using because they mean different things to different people
[15:07] <PaulG> ...at one point with linked data, there was a shift in how it was discussed to be progressive and iterative. I wonder if there are ways of breaking down the problem into bits for the low bar, then the higher bar, and then higher again
[15:07] <Makoto> +1 to shadi
[15:07] <JohnRochford> q+
[15:07] * Zakim sees jasonjgw, JohnRochford on the speaker queue
[15:07] <Lionel_Wolberger> q+
[15:07] * Zakim sees jasonjgw, JohnRochford, Lionel_Wolberger on the speaker queue
[15:07] <MichaelC> ack ja
[15:07] * Zakim sees JohnRochford, Lionel_Wolberger on the speaker queue
[15:07] <PaulG> ...so when someone reaches for "an overlay" they have step-by-step approaches to improve their site and avoid the nightmare scenario
[15:08] <PaulG> jasonjgw: it seems to me the challenge is how to integrate ML/AI into the processes of content creation and presenting it to the user.
[15:08] <MichaelC> q+ to give time warning
[15:08] * Zakim sees JohnRochford, Lionel_Wolberger, MichaelC on the speaker queue
[15:08] <Irfan_Ali> I agree with the idea of defining the term properly in-order to make it clear to everyone.
[15:08] <Irfan_Ali> +1 to Shadi
[15:08] <PaulG> ...in some situations it is impossible for a person to intervene in real time with autocaptions but it could be used in the first phase of a production then later corrected
[15:09] <PaulG> ...I think it raises a series of questions about transcoding technology for assistive technology
[15:10] <JudyB> q?
[15:10] * Zakim sees JohnRochford, Lionel_Wolberger, MichaelC on the speaker queue
[15:10] * Travis notes how awesome the transcription to this meeting is (AI powered?)
[15:10] <MichaelC> ack jo
[15:10] * Zakim sees Lionel_Wolberger, MichaelC on the speaker queue
[15:10] <MichaelC> q-
[15:10] * Zakim sees Lionel_Wolberger on the speaker queue
[15:10] <PaulG> ...how are we going to integrate this into the experience of authoring and consuming content
[15:10] <PaulG> JohnRochford: "nothing about us without us" any solution or technology as to be co-developed by people with disabilities. I'd like to see evidence from companies that they're doing that.
[15:11] <PaulG> ...and that it's successful for the end users
[15:11] <MichaelC> ack li
[15:11] * Zakim sees no one on the speaker queue
[15:11] <Wilco> q+
[15:11] * Zakim sees Wilco on the speaker queue
[15:11] == mbgower [~mbgower@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has quit [Client closed connection]
[15:11] == mbgower [~mbgower@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #a11yedge
[15:12] <PaulG> Lionel_Wolberger: 2-3 very different products were mentioned and they were lumped together. Automated remediation, user selected enhanced presentation, and developer tools and monitoring
[15:12] <aardrian> -1 to product pitch
[15:12] <PaulG> ...we make multiple products and you may not if these are in use
[15:12] == Amanda_ [~Amanda@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has quit [Ping timeout: 180 seconds]
[15:13] <MichaelC> ack wi
[15:13] * Zakim sees no one on the speaker queue
[15:13] <PaulG> ...i'm just pointing out that this disambiguation is important for the industry to develop this technology
[15:14] <shadi> q+
[15:14] * Zakim sees shadi on the speaker queue
[15:14] <PaulG> Wilco: I think the need for overlays came from remediation. Tools could be better. Browsers could step up to improve on accessibility. What worries me is putting the decision in the hands of the website owners rather than the people who actually need these technologies.
[15:14] <MichaelC> ack sh
[15:14] * Zakim sees no one on the speaker queue
[15:14] <Irfan_Ali> rrsagent, make minutes
[15:14] <RRSAgent> I have made the request to generate https://www.w3.org/2022/09/14-A11yEdge-minutes.html Irfan_Ali
[15:15] <MichaelC> zakim, close queue
[15:15] <Zakim> ok, MichaelC, the speaker queue is closed
[15:15] <PaulG> shadi: I wish more ATMs were easier to use. (inaudible)
[15:15] == Amanda [~Amanda@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has joined #A11yEdge
[15:16] <matatk> rrsagent, make minutes
[15:16] <RRSAgent> I have made the request to generate https://www.w3.org/2022/09/14-A11yEdge-minutes.html matatk
[15:16] * shawn asks if Shadi wants to fill in the minutes? /me curious what she missed
[15:16] * mbgower Thanks for the topic. Interesting discussion!
[15:16] * JudyB thanks all for their discussion today
[15:16] * matatk Thanks for the discussion, and for the excellent scribing, PaulG.
[15:16] * wendyreid thanks for the discussion everyone
[15:16] <PaulG> janina: we have more to discuss. But this was productive to get the process started.
[15:16] == ShawnT [~textual@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has quit ["My MacBook has gone to sleep. ZZZzzz…"]
[15:16] <mbgower> Thank you, everyone
[15:17] <shawn> [ lots of "thanks for the discussion" in IRC ]
[15:17] <PaulG> janina: we will make the recoding available. Thank you all.
[15:17] * JudyB and thank you to Paul for scribing this meeting
[15:17] == shadi [~shadi@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has quit ["Page closed"]
[15:17] <PaulG> janina: we're done for today but we're not done.
[15:17] * shawn thanks all!
[15:17] <matatk> rrsagent, make minutes
[15:17] <RRSAgent> I have made the request to generate https://www.w3.org/2022/09/14-A11yEdge-minutes.html matatk
[15:17] * JudyB reminder that people can comment on the CG mailing list
[15:17] == gpellegrino [~gpellegrino@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has quit [""]
[15:17] == mbgower [~mbgower@11c9e7f5.public.cloak] has quit [Client closed connection]

From Alastair Campbell:

Update: 24 October 2022

On 9 October at 2:08pm ET I left a comment on the TPAC breakout announcement, which was never approved, asking when the video would be available.

A “TPAC Breakout Report” went live on the Overlay CG page dated 7 October. It linked to a YouTube video of the session dated 12 October, or 5 days after the post that links it (though it does not link the report promised in the headline).

On 20 October, the UserWay COO (and former Overlay CG chair) posted in the A11y Slack and tagged me to let me know the video is live. Less than half an hour later, I posed the following questions and have not heard back yet:

  • So when did the October 7 post (with the October 12 video link) actually go live?
  • Are these posts being edited after posting?
  • Are these posts back-dated?
  • Is there some kind of history on posts to show what is changing?
  • Will my comment ever be approved?

I have embedded the video below. You can hear that everyone who attended who was not invited by the overlay vendors was critical of overlays as a concept, in practice, and in general. You can hear me weigh in at about 36:11 for under two minutes, which prompted a curious three-minute thought experiment follow-up from the UserWay COO.

If you needed evidence the Community Group may simply be a vehicle for overlay vendors, the UserWay COO explicitly promotes UserWay at 25:33 and again at 52:47, and again at 53:15, barreling on for another minute before Wilco Fiers was allowed to speak.

The Overlay Community Group former / de facto chair (the UserWay COO) invited two others to speak besides he and UserWay’s consultant.

Despite the Overlay CG chair’s (again, a UserWay consultant) effort to frame the conversation (for 2½ minutes) around the idea of technology being ethically neutral, Sarah Higley refused to accept that:

This talk of separating the technology from the politics worries me because technology is inherently political. Especially when you get to things like technologies that impact disabled people… Looking at the […] politics around that is to me extremely important and should always be part of a discussion. […] There is no talking about the technology without talking about where it fits in, and how it’s marketed, and what are the the societal pressures around it, and commercial pressures.

Like it or not, accessibility is political.

6 Comments

Reply

I am truly saddened that you don’t seem to understand the role of the W3C, W3C process, or how and why Community Groups exist, and/or what they can (and cannot) do. It’s really easy to say “Oh, Overlays? The W3C doesn’t care, they *support* them”, when that is simply false.

First, any interested group of people can create a Community Group at the W3C – Community Groups are non-normative, do not produce actual specifications (at best they can propose something – as the group that worked on < picture> did – but then they need a sponsor to advance that work), are open to all participants (no need to be an actual member, nor apply for Invited Expert status, and it costs nothing to sign-up), and by my experience, 90% of Community Groups die on the vine – people sign up and then lose interest (or fail to engage/invest any time). I know, because I looked it up: https://w3c.github.io/cg-monitor/. Just because a couple of employees at one company think it’s a great idea to form a Community Group in no way ensures that any work that comes from that CG will advance any further. Community Groups are, at best, a half-step up from creating a new Slack Channel…

Second, the W3C is a technical standards organization – they are not exclusively involved in digital accessibility. Instead they produce technical standards related to the World Wide Web* (some related to digital accessibility, lots more that aren’t) that, when used (properly) will make web-content more accessible. But nothing the W3C produces is “mandated” (just ask Apple about @l.ongdesc), and organizations can adopt, modify, or ignore any standard produced at the W3C. As such, the W3C are not able (nor interested in) becoming the web police – if you or anyone else thinks this is the role of the W3C you have been misinformed.

Finally, as I have posted previously at both FB and LinkedIn, there are legal considerations that the Consortium must be mindful of, such as the legislation administered by the US Federal Trade Commission:
“Anticompetitive practices include activities like price fixing, group boycotts, and exclusionary exclusive dealing contracts or trade association rules…”
https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/anticompetitive-practices

It’s easy to stand on the sidelines and tsk tsk the W3C on the topic of Overlays, but they neither were developed at the W3C, nor are they “promoted” there. At best, one or two companies who manufacture Overlays are taking advantage of the “open source” tools the W3C offers to any web professional who wants to explore a standard/potential standard, or any other aspect of web development.

Finally, as an active participant on multiple working groups in the W3C, I can state that the majority of web professionals who routinely show up to develop and advance standards related to digital inclusion at the W3C are of mostly similar mind – in fact many of the signatories at OverlayFactsheet.com are the same folks who do show up to do the hard work. Standards development, like sausage making, isn’t for everyone, but before you start to denigrate the W3C over this topic, how about walking a mile or two in their shoes? It’s not as simple as saying “Go away, we don’t like what you are doing” (as much as many wish it was that simple).

(* there is a semi-famous photo of Tim Berners-Lee and Vince Cerf wearing t-shirts: Tim’s reads “I did not invent the internet” and Vince’s reads “I did not invent the Web”
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CqkJwTWWcAA88PL.jpg)

John Foliot; . Permalink
In response to John Foliot. Reply

It’s really easy to say “Oh, Overlays? The W3C doesn’t care, they *support* them”, when that is simply false.

John, I am sorry that I left that impression. I tried to avoid that by qualifying the CG model a couple times in my post:

In the Community Group model, the W3C acts as nothing more than a host for an email discussion list and wiki.

And:

Most people don’t understand that W3C Community Groups (and Business Groups) are nothing more than mailing lists and forums. They do not set standards. They have no formal standing. They are like holding your club meetings in the basement of the local church and hoping people think the pope has your back.

My call to action is meant to boost the call for participation from the CG, not as a forum to denigrate the W3C. I will adjust that to make it more clear.

As an aside, I was there for the longdesc debate you reference in the HTML WG and the HTML Accessibility Task Force. I am very much aware of how the industry tends to do what it wants regardless. One of my goals is to avoid an industry bad actor that does what it wants from soiling the W3C name.

Reply

My call to action is meant to boost the call for participation from the CG

Hmmm… wouldn’t that just legitimize the CG even more? Better it suffers the same fate as most other CGs and just fades away from lack of participation. I see the creation of this CG as an attempt to engage and start a dialog, and from my perspective there is nothing more to talk about – overlays is and always will be a bad solution: overly simplistic in its approach, and in some instances explicitly harmful to end users. I have nothing more to say to those vendors, and I would surely not show up to what amounts to their “open house” under the W3C flag.

The thing is, they cannot be stopped from setting up a CG (ref: legal reasons), but there is nothing that says that we or anyone else has to *actively promote* the CG of it’s ‘goals’ (whatever they may be). Starving the CG of oxygen is the way forward IMHO.

John Foliot; . Permalink
In response to John Foliot. Reply

If the overlay vendors continue their ongoing efforts to legitimize their products through astroturfing, then documented valid dissent in the very venues their marketing materials may reference is one thing I am happy to promote. I won’t cede them their use of the W3C name.

Reply

Again, you seem to be very misled on how the W3C works, which is a shame.

The W3C does not endorse or “approve” anyone, or any specific technology. You speak in hypotheticals (…marketing materials may reference…), yet it is you who is now directly associating their brand to the W3C, not them. (Well played)

The facts:

  • accessibility professionals understand that overlays are actively harmful.
  • court cases are now confirming that solutions such as these are NOT acceptable, and do not solve all problems (but they do introduce new ones).
  • attempts by some overlay companies to silence critics are also failing (more on that in due time – I am waiting for clearance to say more – but more is coming).
  • the W3C is limited in what they can do, due to legal reasons already presented here. You cannot ignore one law in the advancement of another – it doesn’t work that way.
  • the W3C is NOT the place for Social Activism, it is a technical standards body.

All of your ranting and finger pointing will not change a thing: this kind of reminds me of when social activists – including the EFF – tried to block the W3C from working on EME. That failed too because, again, the W3C focuses on technical standards, not social issues. And despite EFF’s attempts to vilify the W3C in that case, the spec advanced because it was a good technical standard, and the majority of the W3C Membership essentially decided that taking a “Social Issue stand” on the use of DRM was outside the scope of the W3C.)

But, hey, keep on doing as you wish. I will continue to assert your fight is for the right cause, but you’re fighting the wrong actor. In the end, your activism against the W3C will change nothing.

John Foliot; . Permalink
In response to John Foliot. Reply

I think we are in agreement on how the W3C works, though again, my post must have done a poor job of saying so even after my update. Either way, your comments say it far more explicitly.

I remember the EME situation, and EFF’s (well, one person at EFF) effort to block it by joining the W3C. I wrote about it extensively (and was interviewed as an unaffiliated defender of the W3C’s position), and do not believe these are analogous. As in, I am not asking anyone to join the W3C nor beat up the W3C because I understand the W3C is a technical standards body and is in no way affiliated with the overlay reps using its CG platform.

As always, I appreciate your vocal pushback when you think someone is in the wrong.

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