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Candidacy for a Potentially Nonexistent Position

It was suggested to me that the Jabber Software Foundation might be willing to consider an outside director in the upcoming elections. This page documents my candidacy for such a position, should the members feel it is desirable to have an outside director.

An Outside Director is somebody who has no particular clue in the enterprise in question, but does understand the basics of the process of creating and running an enterprise. In this case, we're talking a non-profit enterprise with a mission of creating and promoting an open set of standards.

An Outside Director is there to provide a smell test. If the affairs of the enterprise are not sufficiently documented, transparent, and congruent with generally accepted standards to be easily understood by an outside observer (e.g., a judge, an auditor, a prosecutor), then the enterprise has failed the Outside Director Smell Test.

If the director is good, he/she thus serves as one of a series of internal checks that make sure that the JSF is operating in a proper manner.

Contributions to the Jabber Community

I've made absolutely no contributions to the Jabber Community, but I am a happy user:

  • I used Gush until the Tiger upgrade, then switched to iChat out of some misguided feeling that since I had paid for the damn hardware, I was going to figure out if the software might actually be made to work.
  • I've downloaded and incanted make on jabberd, though I don't run it in production, and have also played with stuff like Jeremie's on2me.
  • I've glanced through the JEPs, worked with my partner Becky to create a few seasonal emoticons, and have read (most of) the XMPP docs (but I'm not expecting a quiz, so would definitely need to bone up if you wanted to have a serious discussion. :)

I have followed fairly closely the JSF standards process. The process seems very well conceived, borrowing some of the parts of the IETF that work and leaving behind much of the baggage. I've cited the JSF in quite a few talks as an example of how focused standards efforts can be made to work properly. As the ad says, when it comes to JSF, "I'm a fan."

Background and Qualifications

  • Official Credential. I have an MBA from Indiana University, which is actually a drop out/consolation prize degree, obtained when I didn't finish my doctorate in business economics. (It was 1982, the computing center just got 6 VAX 11/780s, none of the mainframe jocks would touch these mini-whatevers, so we managed to shoehorn 1200 students on one VAX and still get what at that time passed for "interactive" response times ... the short story is the computers, particularly the networking part, seemed much more fun and ate my degree.) I also successfully made it through the first year of Georgetown Law School. I'm not a lawyer, but I did take the basics. (Same story on education versus computers ... this time it was the PC.)
  • Non-Profits. I've worked with public sector and non-profits for over twenty years. From 93-95, I was chair of UUNET Communications Services, and in 94 was the founding chairman of ISC, provider of a bunch of under-appreciated public infrastructure services. From 93-03, I founded and ran the Internet Multicasting Service which did a quasi-proto-podcast called "Geek of the Week" and produced or distributed a variety of other "radio" programs. We also liberated several important U.S. government databases including the SEC's EDGAR and the patent database.
  • Day Job. I'm CTO and a senior fellow at a DC thinktank called the Center for American Progress. As CTO, I provide advice inside the Center on a range of tech-related topics ranging from establishing our basic links and colo to how to handle streaming media. As a senior fellow, I'm doing research on topics like patent reform and reallocating (much) more spectrum. I also help run a small skunkworks operation.
  • Writing. I've written 8 books, including Exploring the Internet, a "technical travelogue" which might be characterized as a travel blog these days. It was 91, so we were busy fighting modems and marca hadn't yet invented the blinky, so "blog" might be a stretch. But, we did have ASCII AND JPEG and it possible to hand it all off to troff on a DOSx.1 box and image the whole mess to a Linotronic. I've also written a few RFCs and used to churn out large numbers of words for the trade press in the 80s.
  • .com. In addition to my non-profit experience, I've had several jobs in the commercial world. In the 1980's, I ran a successful consulting company that did Washington area contracts and I was in the professional seminar business. In the 1990's, I did two stints as Chair/CEO of venture-funded startups. The more notable of the two was Invisible Worlds, where we had none other than Marshall T. Rose as CTO. Though our company didn't achieve commercial liftoff, we did leave behind a few good things, including xml2rfc, BEEP, and Mappa.Mundi magazine.


If I have a particular expertise as a director or advisor for Internet-based Quasi Non Governmental Organizations (QUANGOs), it is on topics of governance. This is not particularly because I have the "answer" on the issues, but simply because by happenstance I found myself stuck in the headlights at a couple of mis-opportune times and because I got to see first-hand a bunch of different organizations commit a variety of different mistakes. Experience seeing things screw up is probably a useful trait for an outside director, who is there to make sure that the process doesn't go awry and that actions can be explained to others in a way that doesn't totally stretch belief.

  • In 93, I was a witness to Kobe and played an active role in the subsequent "POISED" effort that set up such IETF models of good governance as the randomly selected nominating committee (a process which, miraculously enough seems to work given some definition of "work").
  • In 04, I served as "the consultant" to the recent IETF reorg procedure. I'm not sure how much good I did in that quasi-official role, but I got to pose for target practice at a couple of IETFs, listened to much severe angst, and wrote some hefty reports.

I've been a frequent agitator/commentator on issues of issues of fiscal and process transparency, and have fought for many years to get "public" standards freely available. I think any standards process *must* be totally transparent.

I don't have strong opinions on where the Jabber protocol suite should go and would defer to the council on all such matters. But, as an outside director I'd look carefully to make sure it is obvious to anybody looking in how decisions were made.

Thank you for taking the time to read this application. If the members feel I can be of service, I look forward to working with the Jabber Community.

Carl Malamud
carl at media dot org
carl at jabber dot org