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Subject: Thoughts on yesterday's meeting

I did not speak up much yesterday because I was mulling on what was making me uncomfortable. I think I have it now.

From the TC's beginning, I urged that we follow the principle of consensus for the conduct of members. We've had some uncomfortable discussions at times (index terminology and presentational attribute discussions come to mind). But the principle has served to help us move forward, particularly at times when we've struggled with "Best is the enemy of the good." Standards are dirty, messy compromises, not unlike democracies. But if we can work across the aisle, we all move forward for the common good of a larger constituency who just want better lives.

I recall something that former member and mentor Paul Grosso said about one particularly odious, early decision; "I don't agree with it, but I won't lie down in the road over it." As a TC body, we need to summon that thought continually to help us keep our schedules and goals on track. It's okay to say, "No sir,  I still don't like it," and then we need to move on; a user community is waiting to get our blessing for them to move forward with their own use of the standard.

Therefore, for the sake of keeping the DITA 1.3 approval on our hoped-for timeline, I recommend that we hold to a Pareto-like rule of 80/20 for issue disposition: let's make sure that we have prioritized and handled the 20 percent of issues that cause up to 80% of the pain, and likewise accept that we may need to defer as much as 80% of minor issues that are causing only 20% of the historical pain. If we try to cover all possible issues, exhaustively, DITA 1.3 will surely suffer an embarrassing slip into 2016, a result we could not be proud of.

  • "Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
  • Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"
  • --T.S. Eliot

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