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JCP Wants You, Sort Of, It Thinks...

Posted by arnold on May 18, 2006 at 9:31 AM PDT

The Java Community Process -- they want you, but it seems like they still don't
quite know what to do with you.

As I briefly mentioned in a previous blog, the JCP people want you to sign
up as an individual member. And you should, really, it's a good thing.

But that's not good enough -- if you're going to be there you ought to count more.

The final decision maker in the JCP is the
Executive Committee (EC), one for ME and one for SE and EE. Each EC has 16
members, and here they

You can see that the EC for J2EE has two actual individuals. J2ME has none.
So as individuals you have (maybe you've already done the math) 2 of 32
members. While this is a nice, comforting pair of powers of two, it tells you
where you are.

This is fundamentally broken. It is broken in two major ways:

  • Obviously there are simply too few actual individuals on the EC. The
    two J2EE members are both very good people who deserve our admiration and
    thanks. But the principles of the
    say that the ECs represent "a cross-section of both major
    stakeholders and other members of the Java community". Two of sixteen in one
    case, and zero of sixteen in another, isn't much representation for us
    individuals who are being pushed to sign up. If we sign up, where is our
    practical representation as major stakeholders?

  • More subtle, 30 members are companies. People show up to represent
    them, but it is (say) IBM that is a member of the J2EE EC, not the current
    human being they ask to do that job. What this means is that even for the
    commercial stakeholders, only a very, very few actually get representation in
    the final decisions.

    In political terms, this is an oligarchy, a governing system where the
    final decisions are in the hands of an elite. This is further reinforced by
    the selection model. Sun gets one seat. Five seats are elected. The other
    ten are nominated by Sun and ratified (or, theoretically, not) by members. In
    other words, these ten are chosen by one-candidate elections.

    Or to put it another way, if the individual members rose up in unison, we
    could elect, at most, five of sixteen members. For the rest we would have to
    vote down company after company, or person after person, until Sun nominated them someone we wanted.

    Or, more simply, it's "You discuss, we decide."

    As individuals we should join, but the JCP needs a more open system that
    allows all stakeholders, not primarily the largest, a part in the final
    decisions. More members should be elected. Equally important, it should be
    people on the EC, not companies. Yes, people should be elected to
    represent commercial interests. A person with good understanding of the
    telecommunications industry, say, could be elected, and while they might be
    employed by one company, they should be expected to represent a set of
    commercial interests that elect them, not just that one company.

    The Jini Decision Process has many
    different requirements so is probably not simply transplantable. But it has a
    system that has individuals elected by both commercial and individual blocks.
    This gives it a structure that represents more stakeholders at the top.

    Politically, the technical term for this is "representative democracy".

    Or, as it is commonly known, "The worst form of government. Except all
    the others." It is time for a less worse form of governance in the JCP.

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