It's 2007. When I said "spring of last year," I did in fact mean the 2006 Mandelieu meeting you refer to. There is not some back channel there.
I was not "chosen" then. Chris said, in effect, "hey, some people think you would be good." I believe my response was a chuckle, and a "thanks but I'm too busy." A month or two later, I emailed him and said "if the other potential WG members think I'm a good candidate, I guess I could make it happen." The W3C guys thought I'd be a good person to do it, I suppose, and the other browser vendors agreed to the choice of me. I'm still not "chosen" - all member companies get to vote. You're the only one that I know of who has objected. Again, I'm happy to be let off the hook, and I will be excited to participate.
You make it sound like the future of HTML is defined, because I was asked to be the initial chair of the HTML WG. That makes me really sad, and that you think I have some hidden agenda. You said "Just drop your current affiliation for a while" - I believe any chair should be, in effect, dropping their affiliation to perform those duties.
I HAVE read your post about why the WHAT-WG started, and I understand and agree, and I thought I echoed your sentiments. I get it. And I did not mean to say I was the only one who had told the W3C they were on the wrong track; but they did listen when I told them.
"Chairing a Working Group is not only about understanding the whole history of a spec or a technology, for god's sake. It's much, much more about being able to stabilize a group of organizations and individuals having often different goals and schedules, being able to control eruptions of proposals and counter-proposals, being able to stay in line with a schedule, being able to say "stop" when a discussion goes nowhere, and being able to "stop" to a Member that goes too far trying to push its own competitive advantage."
Abso-****ing-lutely. You have indeed captured what I think it most important about being a chair - the work that I think is critical, that I thought Lauren Wood did fairly well (other than perhaps the schedule bit, but I don't think that was her fault), and fundamentally the stuff that makes me cringe because it's a lot of work that I'd rather have someone else be responsible for. The only reason I didn't just refuse and stop there was because I AGREE with you - this WG has to do it right, or HTML at the W3C is a dead end. I think that would be bad for the web. If the WHAT-WG had been patent-policy-enabled from the beginning, perhaps I'd feel differently.
What do you think my day job is? I am a Program Manager at Microsoft. Stabilizing the project while remaining objective is pretty much what we do. I am not a developer (anymore) - I stopped being a developer nearly a decade ago, because I liked and was good at moving projects along. There are others out there who are much better choices for "someone who has good ideas about the future design of the HTML technology" than me - in fact, I suspect that you are one of those people, Daniel, and I KNOW Ian Hickson is. But I don't think that's what the chair needs to be, as you said.
You said that extensive knowledge of the tech and the market is not mandatory to chair this WG. I must disagree - I think it is, because I think not understanding the entirety of the industry is what sunk the XHTML-2-producing HTML WG - I think they failed to recognize a few fundamental tenets they should have had.
You said "A joke from you about Hixie is not unprofessional, it just shows that we're only human beings. What a scoop... I just don't see the problem here." Spoken like someone who has never been misquoted and put in a bad light in the mainstream press. Whatever. I'm not religious on this point. I'll just keep my joking mouth shut and be less personable, then.
You said "I just do not understand why the W3C does not list FIRST the organizations and people ready to join this WG, and tries only LATER to find the correct chairperson." Great, I'm all for that. Get a couple other potential WG members to agree, put my name on the email to the W3C along with theirs that this is the way it should work. I really don't care. I just want us to get the working group together and get working on evolving HTML.
You said "...IPR problems or not, I think Microsoft has no choice, will have no choice here." I want you to understand that Microsoft, and anyone else who might be a target for IP infringement suits, will have to have a choice here. IP cannot be taken lightly as a risk to open specifications and standards.
You also said "I just don't want the W3C to, again, follow its own ideas just "listening" to the external sources." There, I think you and I completely agree, and that's why I offered to help.
I would not even CONSIDER being chair of this working group if I thought it at all likely that Tim Berners-Lee would agree to take that role. I suspect that's about as likely as Bill Gates being the Microsoft representative. Do you want to be chair? Knowing that the IP concerns are in fact critical, and must be addressed in the way the WG develops specs, but otherwise we're pretty much on the same goals as far as I can tell?
PS - you asked: "what the hell is the mce_href attribute ??? Your prose's links have such attributes (and empty class...)." - I don't know. I expect it's some weirdness with the community server s/w, or maybe it's a cut-and-paste artifact. I'll try to clean these posts up more by hand.