Changing the subject to address a point in Hart's earlier email:
I think a lot of people are, in fact, using SIGs for relatively technical purposes. Having or starting a SIG is much better right now than a working group: you get all of the support from the LF that you would for a WG (meeting times, mailing list, etc.), you aren’t mandated to submit time-consuming work products to the TSC (that, let’s be honest, very few people read), and the approval process is far simpler and doesn’t require TSC approval (which could take quite some time and be a huge headache). If you were looking to start a group—even a very technical one--why on earth would you choose a WG over a SIG?
I sincerely hope this is not the reason why one would choose to start a SIG rather than a WG.
Working Groups should be thought of as our connective tissue between projects - the cross-project place where discussions about identity, performance/scalability, architectural concerns, learning materials, and even diversity & civility issues can be discussed and iterated upon without that discussion being owned by one project or another. In particular for anyone who holds architectural or product convergence as a priority, certain Working Groups like identity and architecture should be the place to articulate what that means, and then create specific technical plans that projects can follow. They only can serve that role well to the degree they are primarily driven by active maintainers and contributors on the projects themselves, but given critical mass there can be other participants on those working groups. Creation of any new working group should partially be gated by whether it's reasonable to expect most of the projects to be able to have people actively following and participating in that new WG.
Special Interest Groups are intended to be more of a bridge to the outside world - to people deploying our technologies for particular categories of use cases. Those might be grouped by industrial segment, e.g. "trade finance". Or they may be grouped by a broad set of functionality, e.g. "supply chain", that is more of a recurring theme across all industries than a specific industry. But the point is that a SIG should be composed of both insiders and outsiders - of both technologists close to what one or more Hyperledger projects are doing, and of those who may simply be "users" of the technology, perhaps even one or two steps downstream, but who is willing to share their domain expertise and involvement in active projects at a business level to drive adoption.
I think based on the above, a SIG for academic involvement makes more sense than a working group, as it's less about cross-project issues and more about being a bridge to the outside world (and yes, helping those outsiders become insiders). Marta has been managing our academic outreach efforts to date, so I'd encourage you to connect with her on ways we can make a SIG effective.
Let me also burst your bubble a bit - SIGs are expected to provide a one-presentation-deck-page report each month on their activities and accomplishments, which is provided to the Governing Board for their monthly discussions. Also, we (HL staff) are very deliberate about launching new SIGs - they can often take months to pull together the right stakeholder set, define the charter crisply enough, and make sure they are managed closely enough by us. So it may only look easier & quicker. :) But given all the interest in improving our relationship with academia I think we'd be able to move on this with reasonable expediency.
-- Brian BehlendorfExecutive Director, Hyperledgerbbehlendorf@...Twitter: @brianbehlendorf