Re: Congratulations to the members of the 2019-2020 TSC!


Silas Davis
 

From my experience of the people elected, the TSC looks like a good TSC.

I think we should enlarge the TSC as a tactical manoeuvre (which may not work) to nudge Hyperledger towards a more project-diverse TSC.

The preponderance of IBM employees is a symptom of the dominance of Fabric in Hyperledger and the relative dominance of IBM in the Fabric project as other's have pointed out. One can only vote for those one knows and Fabric contributors are a highly connected subset of Hyperledger. The solution (he says blithely) is for other projects to become more relevant (to those inside and outside Hyperledger), attract more contributors, and then to apply more democracy. Which is to say I don't think medicating the imbalance of the TSC directly is probably the right way to go.

However it is not a given that the positive feedback above will happen on its own given the inertia associated with project adoption, public mindshare, etc. It is hard to know where the momentum is with Hyperledger in this respect but some small interventions now might pay dividends later.

It's worth questioning whether having greater project/company diversity on the TSC is even a Good Thing. It's not like IBM or Fabric people are a homogeneous block. However I would suggest:

- Diversity of ideas - I think the well rehearsed ideas about avoiding groupthink etc apply here. Different projects are exploring different parts of the space of distributed ledgers useful to have these ideas injected.
- Representation of projects - so long as Hyperledger is a multiple project umbrella it is useful to have representation on decision-making boards that affect projects. The TSC may not be a house of representatives but seems that function is there
- Politics - occasionally decisions come up that have more commercial/ideological significance (i.e. whether to accept a new project), this is where a balance of forces are important particularly amongst cooperating competitors
- Competence - it is difficult for people with no exposure to a project's code or design outside of surveying it in order to answer a question coming to the TSC to decide on finely balanced technical matters. Usually the right thing to do is for the TSC to defer to those with more context. But having people experienced with a greater range of projects means those people can help spread that context to other TSC members aided by an existing relationship with those other TSC members.

For my part I was planning to stick around the TSC meetings and list despite no longer being a  member, the general prospect of which was noted by Mark and Arnaud on a previous call. However I would note that in the same way that getting elected to the TSC was a spur to apportion more of my time and effort to Hyperledger, losing the franchise does remove some of that impetus (although rather less since now I feel more involved) so even if TSC votes are rather consensual after discussions (as Arnaud noted) I would not discount the effect of the responsibility of being a bona fide TSC member as a human motivator to do more work.

Thinking about some of Todd's criticisms of the technical import of things discussed at the TSC. I would argue that things such as project lifecycle are relevant to the technical output of Hyperledger given software engineering is a team sport. I'd agree they are not deeply technical as defining a consensus interface or standardising on a choice of stream cipher might be. I too would like to see more deeply technical matters considered at the TSC, however I think the reason this is hard is the same as mentioned in the 'competence' bullet-point above. We generally need to be way more up inside each other's projects.

> There are well known techniques for this. We need to adopt them.

What are they?

> This is in addition to "who gets to participate in the election" which should be "everyone that contributes technical artifacts to Hyperledger"

How about a roll of credits stored as lines in a plain text file of the form `Date of contribution - nature of contribution` which could be stored in the repo and for which each commit adding a credit would need to be signed by a project maintainer or possibly existing contributor? This would put the definition of a contribution under the control of projects themselves.

Silas


On Mon, 9 Sep 2019 at 02:38, VIPIN BHARATHAN <vip@...> wrote:

Hi Brian/Todd/Bob/all,

It is unfortunate that the happy incidence of having gender diversity is tied  to the debate about over-representation of a single firm on the TSC. The result is more diversity in one dimension as we lose diversity in another.

A 33%  turnout is not good for both.  It has been shown that in a low turnout election, committed and well organized groups dominate. 

If gender diversity was the result of a 60+% turnout, it would have appeared "more real".
A 60+% turnout would have been better to justify the domination of a single firm on the TSC.  

Increasing turnout is also needed for truer democracy in general. Increasing turnout is quite difficult in this age of cynicism and apathy. How do we break through the ice? A question that needs to be answered through concrete steps for stimulating turnout in the next election. I had provided some pointers to the election officer, maybe a little too late. There are well known techniques for this. We need to adopt them.

This is in addition to "who gets to participate in the election" which should be "everyone that contributes technical artifacts to Hyperledger"; including the contributors on the wiki and the SIG participants in my view. The github query does not measure technical artifacts. I could contribute a single spelling correction in github and be included very easily; whereas someone who contributes only an extensive technical blog or article is excluded; if they are not on a Working Group list.

Best,
Vipin
 

dlt.nyc
Vipin Bharathan
Enterprise Blockchain Consultant


From: tsc@... <tsc@...> on behalf of Todd Little via Lists.Hyperledger.Org <todd.little=oracle.com@...>
Sent: Saturday, September 7, 2019 1:45 PM
To: tsc@... <tsc@...>
Cc: tsc@... <tsc@...>
Subject: Re: [Hyperledger TSC] Congratulations to the members of the 2019-2020 TSC!
 
Hi Brian,

Thanks for your well reasoned response.  I don't want to drag this down into a rat hole or spilt milk debate.  I was merely trying to point out the irony of lack of diversity in the TSC vs the other Hyperledger bodies.  The governing body by it's membership definition forces diversity and allows anyone with sufficient financial resources to have a seat at the table.  For Hyperledger projects to exit incubation they must show sufficient diversity of contributors, although that can be hard to measure as Ry has discovered in this last election process.  So it just seems a little odd to me that there aren't any diversity requirements for the TSC.  What would your response be if after the TSC elections next year, every member was employed by some organization that wasn't even a member of Hyperledger?  It is theoretically possible and given the voting process, i.e., who can vote, completely feasible.

You are correct in that the TSC members are individuals and not companies, but everyone one of them knows who butters their bread.  I also sense that there is some dissatisfaction over the common use of Hyperledger as some single thing when the reference is really referring to Fabric.  Fabric and Hyperledger when talking about projects are often used interchangeably.  For good or bad, this is likely a result of IBM's significant contributions to Fabric, and the ability for Fabric to run without specific hardware (sorry Mic!).  Having nearly half the TSC membership made up of individuals (not lost on me) working for one company (hopefully not lost on you), seems specious at best and doesn't help elevate the other Hyperledger projects to be on par with Fabric.

I also wonder at times about the role of the TSC as it seems that much of the TSC time is spent on things that aren't technical, at least not deeply so.  Is the whole project lifecycle debate a technical debate?  The current discussions about working groups and their roles really a technical issue the TSC should be debating?  I also wonder about what control or sway the TSC has on any project or should have on any project.  Are the Hyperledger projects just a bunch of technology projects with little intersection and no goal of convergence?  I mean every blockchain needs identity, but what is happening in the platforms to consolidate around an identity project such as Indy?  Likewise there are lots of issues around privacy and confidentiality, yet the privacy and confidentiality working group has serious concerns about what if any impact their work will have on the platforms.  If there is no impact, why should we continue the working group?  If there is no impact, what makes something a Hyperledger project other than the blessing of the TSC?  And why would a project want to join Hyperledger other than for the marketing value it brings if joining has effectively zero impact on the project direction?

Respectfully,
Todd

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