October 3, 2006

[Lisa Dusseault] Introducing myself

CommerceNet, IETF By: ams

As my first The Now Economy post, I thought I’d introduce myself and what I do.

I just joined CommerceNet as a Fellow a couple weeks ago. Just before that I was working at OSAF as a development manager and standards architect. I’d been doing that job for about two years, and simultaneously chairing the IMAPEXT and CALSIFY working groups at the IETF, when I was chosen by the IETF’s Nominations Committee to serve as the Applications Area Director for a two year period. I’m interested in all the work going on in the Applications Area and I enjoy doing standards work which has so much leverage (even though it has a distant success horizon of deployed and useful implementations of new standards), so I was very happy to accept this position and enjoy doing it so far.

There are two Applications Area Directors — the other one is Ted Hardie — and thirteen other Area Directors, making fifteen of us total.
Together, we form the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG). We share a general responsibility to make sure that every IETF document submitted for publication as an RFC is of sufficient quality for the IETF to publish[0], and appropriately categorized according to the type of standard (e.g. Informational, Experimental, Proposed). To achieve this, we spend about 20 hours every two weeks reading all Internet-Drafts that are in IESG Evaluation stage, then during our official three-hour alternating-week tele-conference call we each register our personal opinions as to whether this document should be published as-is or not, and we discuss our opinions together. So far I’ve learned a huge amount about the rest of the IETF’s work, doing these reviews and discussions. We also spend time as a group reviewing appeals, reviewing proposals for Birds of a Feather (BoF) meetings and new working groups, reviewing changes to working group charters, and similar topics.

My specific procedural responsibilities in the Applications Area include managing six working groups (IMAPEXT, CALSIFY, SIEVE, WIDEX, ATOMPUB and USEFOR), and reviewing and shepherding documents produced by those WGs. Ted manages the other six working groups in the Applications area, including the directory and internationalization work we do, plus splitting the email work with me. He also manages the WebDAV WG where I’ve been the author of a very slowly advancing document for a very long time. Managing WGs means we read WG email, attend meetings, choose chairs, handle charter changes and approve meeting scheduling requests. We carefully review the output of our WGs because shepherding a document means we believe in it — that it’s a useful expenditure of time and an RFC number, not harmful to the Internet, and reflects the consensus of the WG. Beyond WG documents there are also individual documents that sometimes go through the same shepherding process — so far I’ve shepherded seven individual submissions that pertain to my area of expertise, along with nine WG submissions.

After all that, we also try to Steer. I try to remind myself frequently that Steering and Directing are expected by most, though not all, IETF participants. This is where I find the most judgement and variation in time comes in. For example, last spring and summer I found myself spending at least ten hours a week talking to a wide variety of people about digital identity requirements and solutions (specifically for the Web) and whether that work should happen at least in part in the IETF, and if so, under what scope restrictions and security requirements.
Now that I’m a CommerceNet fellow, this work continues just as before (and if you’ve ever changed jobs before, you’ll understand how weird it was to continue doing mostly the same work during my last few days at OSAF, my three days between jobs, and my first days at CommerceNet). That’s because CommerceNet agreed to hire me because or despite these responsibilities, and to support my continued work in the area. In the rest of my time, I’ll be doing some CommerceNet projects, but we haven’t yet decided just what those are.

What more to add about myself? My email address here is ldusseault (domain should be obvious). I work from the office in Palo Alto some days, but also from home in Palo Alto particularly when I’ve got long phone calls scheduled. I use Jabber and email to work with very many people at high volume and frequency. I’m a foodie and an art appreciator so I take advantage of IETF-required and related travel to find good restaurants and occasionally visit museums and galleries. I knit and quilt and stuff, and I post occasionally about those interests and other random stuff at my personal blog. Now that I’m not a development manager, like I was for six years, I’m going to try to dial down the internal censor and post more often, there and here, on technical topics and meta-technical topics (like Internet standards processes, for example).

So! It’s a pleasure to meet you (and if you have any inclination to introduce yourself, in revenge, please do so via email.


Lisa Dusseault

[0] Note that there are also non-IETF documents published as RFCs through the RFC-Editor directly; and we glance at those documents as they come up to ensure that they don’t conflict with IETF work, but beyond that don’t ensure their quality. These documents come with a disclaimer because most people assume that all RFCs are IETF output but these ones aren’t and don’t involve the same review and consensus process.

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