May 102005

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Liberty sponsor meeting in Dublin, a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been to Dublin before, in October/November 2003, to assist in the Reach PSB Phase 1 procurement, and I like the city, so I was glad to get back again, even if it was only three days. Three days is enough time to get to a couple of decent restaurants and a Dublin pub (these being upstairs at the Chameleon Indonesian restaurant, upstairs again at the Mercantile pub, and down in the cellar at the Thai Papaya restaurant). There was another restaurant but that was on the first, jetlagged, night, so I’ve forgotten the name. Of course, no visit to Dublin would be complete without the endless trek through Heathrow Airport (see Tim’s exegesis on Heathrow); fortunately this time the escalators worked and the airport was mostly empty so the lines for security and buses were much shorter. My weak knee also decided to be kind to me and not play up so I guess the new Pilates exercises I have are doing some good!

Back on topic… Dublin seems to have a lot of old bank buildings that have been nicely revamped to be pubs (the Mercantile above) and hotels (the Westin, where the meeting was held) but maybe that’s just the way it appears when you first notice the phenomenon. Unlike in many cities where banks were taken over for other uses, the Dubliners don’t try to hide the heritage of the buildings. I still remember the first McDonald’s in Auckland, New Zealand, which was also in an old bank building. They did a good job there as well (undoubtedly assisted by some local by-laws forcing the issue), so it is possible to reuse old buildings and keep the heritage aspects congruent with the new uses.

I’m new to the Liberty meetings, so I’m still learning who’s who and how the system works. Compared to W3C and OASIS there appeared to be more Europeans and Japanese, and more women. The former makes timing phone calls tricky (Europe, North America, Japan pretty much span the globe); the latter enables a certain amount of knitting and needlecraft to go on during the discussions (as well, of course, as the typical emailing that always goes on during meetings). The work is done in a slightly different way to OASIS and W3C. There are a number of different groups in the Liberty Alliance (see Liberty Alliance Activities) which share the work. So, for example, instead of one technical committee doing everything from discussing use cases to designing the technical solution as happens in W3C and OASIS, the Business & Marketing Expert Group comes up with the use cases (the market requirements) and the Technology Expert Group creates the specifications to meet those requirements and satisfy those use cases. This is an interesting way to split up the work; it seems to work well (synchronization between the two Expert Groups is a necessary part of the process, of course). Overall, a good crowd of people with lots of technical and market knowledge about important problems; this is going to be a fun part of my job at Sun.

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