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Re: Revitalising COMCIFS

I was just inquiring of James if there was an IUCr COMCIFS meeting scheduled.  10ET on the 25th wouldwork for me.
On 8/14/21 5:47 PM, Herbert J. Bernstein wrote:> Shouldn't we have a zoom meeting just after the IUCr meeting to discuss this and any other open> COMCIFS issues?  I believe that the CommDat meeting is scheduled for 8am NY time on Wedneday,> 25 August, 1 pm London Time, 2 pm Prague time, 10 pm Sydney time.   Might it be sensible for us to> have a COMCIFS meeting a little later the same day, say 10 am NY time, 3 pm London Time, 4 pm> Prague time, midnight Sydney time?> > In general, I think the most important step we could make in revitalizing COMCIFS would be to meet> regularly, certainly at least once a year.> > For the moment the agenda could be:>      revitalizing COMCIFS>      report of current activities>      ITVG>      old business>      new business> > > On Sat, Aug 14, 2021 at 5:18 PM john.westbrook@rcsb.org <mailto:john.westbrook@rcsb.org> <jdwestbrook@gmail.com > <mailto:jdwestbrook@gmail.com>> wrote:> >     Hi all,> >     I agree with Herbert’s friend’s opinion that adding process and bureaucracy will have a negative impact on productivity. In my>     view,>     fancy standards processes are wonderful for managing large groups or well-supported and highly motivated individuals.  In contrast,>     I believe that such approaches do little but impede the efforts of smaller groups of volunteers with only limited free cycles to>     bring to a project.> >     While the dynamics of MM dictionary development may not be representative of the overall COMCIFS development effort, we have had>     success working with standing committees of developers and key stakeholders in particular domain areas. wwPDB team members try to>     facilitate discussion and generally reduce the friction of moving innovation in science, technology, methodology into dictionary>     semantics that works and plays well with the rest of the MM data ecosystem.  This work is conducted in regular virtual meetings and>     with the help of common software development collaboration channels available on GitHub.  Discussions typically center around>     evaluating if prototype dictionary extensions and the viability of implementing these within the most widely used software tools>     and>     packages.  Our focus is always on trying to achieve a standard data representation coupled with a consensus implementation that can>     move new data into the repository.> >     In our experience, the success of any dictionary development effort centrally depends on getting the key stakeholders together in>     regular face-to-face or now virtual meetings.  As I am sure, you appreciate, nailing down semantics in almost any domain is always>     more complicated than initially anticipated, and discussions often evolve to an unanticipated outcome.  Such discussions are>     tedious, and in my view, inefficiently conducted in protracted e-mail exchanges.  Getting a virtual consensus on a trial set of>     semantics in periodic zoom meetings, followed by some intervening time to develop and test prototype implementations, is the>     process>     that we currently find successful in the MM space.> >     Best -> >     John> >     On 8/13/21 4:56 AM, Herbert J. Bernstein via comcifs wrote:>      > Dear Colleagues,>      >>      >    James is right about the need for change, and I support his suggestions.  In>      > addition, I would suggest taking a look at the RFC process as described in>      >>      > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Request_for_Comments <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Request_for_Comments>>     <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Request_for_Comments <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Request_for_Comments>>>      >>      > which has been very successful in achieving some remarkable results over many>      > decades,>      >>      > the ISO standardization process>      >>      > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Organization_for_Standardization>     <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Organization_for_Standardization>>      > <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Organization_for_Standardization>     <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Organization_for_Standardization>>>      >>      > which has also produced many important results, but also some serious mistakes,>      > and the IEEE Standards Association process>      >>      > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_Standards_Association <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_Standards_Association>>     <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_Standards_Association <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_Standards_Association>>>      >>      > which fits somewhere between the two others in success of its efforts.>      >>      >    I have a friend who insists that it is a terrible mistake for an organization to become>      > "process driven", and he is, of course, right.  What should drive our activities should>      > be the effectiveness of the results we achieve, but well defined, strong processes>      > used as a tool, not as an end in themselves, can be very helpful in achieving those>      > results.>      >>      >    I look forward to this discussion.>      >>      >    Regards,>      >      Herbert>      >>      > On Fri, Aug 13, 2021 at 1:51 AM James H via comcifs <comcifs@iucr.org <mailto:comcifs@iucr.org> <mailto:comcifs@iucr.org>     <mailto:comcifs@iucr.org>>> wrote:>      >>      >     Dear COMCIFS members,>      >>      >     I believe it is time to assess how we do things on COMCIFS, and to take some incremental steps towards streamlining our>      >     activities and broadening our base of dictionary contributors. To that end I've created a discussion document which you>     can read>      >     at https://github.com/COMCIFS/comcifs.github.io/blob/master/draft/CIF_processes_discussion.md>     <https://github.com/COMCIFS/comcifs.github.io/blob/master/draft/CIF_processes_discussion.md>>      >     <https://github.com/COMCIFS/comcifs.github.io/blob/master/draft/CIF_processes_discussion.md>     <https://github.com/COMCIFS/comcifs.github.io/blob/master/draft/CIF_processes_discussion.md>>.  That document is also appended to>      >     this email.>      >>      >     Please discuss. In the absence of substantial objections, I will take this as broad agreement with the document and>     proceed on>      >     that basis.>      >>      >     all the best,>      >     James.>      >     ==========================================================================>      >>      >     # Revitalising COMCIFS: Discussion>      >>      >     DRAFT 2021-08-13>      >>      >     See "Next Step" at the end for suggested next actions.>      >>      >     # Introduction>      >>      >     After a decade as COMCIFS chair I have (finally, some might say)>      >     perceived a couple of related issues:>      >>      >     1. Most of the work is falling on a few people, which is unsustainable>      >     and leads to too narrow a focus>      >>      >     2. Dictionary development is not keeping pace with the science>      >>      >     This discussion document contains some ideas for a way forward which>      >     I'd like you all to consider and to bring your combined experience of>      >     committees and scientists on committees to bear.>      >>      >     # Current situation>      >>      >     Formally, COMCIFS is a subcommittee of the IUCr executive. While we>      >     are relatively minor compared to the commissions, as a result we have>      >     a great deal of flexibility in how we organise ourselves.>      >>      >     COMCIFS currently operates in a relatively informal fashion. Discussions>      >     of policy are held on the official COMCIFS mailing list. Discussions>      >     relating to the Core dictionary are held on the core-DMG mailing list.>      >     Technical issues, including DDLm development, are discussed either on>      >     the DDLm mailing list or within the Github repositories.>      >>      >     # Suggestions for improvement>      >>      >     ## Suggestion 1: Document procedures and processes.>      >>      >     The informal way of doing things is essentially exclusionary to all>      >     those "not in the club". In contrast, easy-to-find and clear>      >     procedures allow new contributors to feel confident that they are>      >     approaching a task correctly and thus lower the barriers to>      >     contribution.>      >>      >     Additionally, agreed and transparent procedures reduce the possibility>      >     of mistakes or misunderstandings. I realise that I might be sounding>      >     (perhaps frighteningly) bureaucratic to some of you, but my plan would>      >     be to document no more than necessary to achieve the above goals. It>      >     is likely that most procedures would be a single page, if that, and as>      >     you will see below I'm suggesting that the quantity of procedures>      >     depends very much on the interest of COMCIFS in having them.>      >>      >     ## Suggestion 2: Technical Advisory Committee>      >>      >     This would be the group currently called "ddlm-group" which consults>      >     on any changes to the foundational standards (DDLm and dREL). This>      >     group would become responsible for the detail of implementing>      >     procedures using Github, the IUCr website and so on.>      >>      >     The idea of this group is to remove the (mostly perceived) need for>      >     COMCIFS members to be across the technical detail. Instead technical>      >     questions/issues can be delegated to the TAC. Membership models for>      >     the TAC can be discussed, there are many to choose from in the open>      >     source world, e.g. Python.>      >>      >     ## Suggestion 3: Formally involve the relevant IUCr commissions>      >>      >     IUCr commissions have no formal relationship to dictionaries that>      >     cover their topics. However, it makes no sense that, for example, the>      >     powder diffraction commission has no expected input or responsibility>      >     for the powder dictionary.>      >>      >     The IUCr executive have recently encouraged us to formalise links with>      >     commissions. This is important, as the IUCr executive are the ones who>      >     have the ability to hold commissions accountable for their area of>      >     expertise in the dictionaries.>      >>      >     ## Suggestion 4: Lower barriers to participation>      >>      >     All interested parties should be able to join both COMCIFS and any>      >     dictionary management lists that fall under our purview>      >     automatically. If unproductive discussion due to too many voices>      >     becomes a problem then we can revisit this.>      >>      >     ## Suggestion 5: Better information dissemination>      >>      >     An informal newsletter covering recent developments helps all parts>      >     of the community understand what is going on without having to visit>      >     the various places in which things are happening.>      >>      >     # First steps>      >>      >     Creating and documenting processes takes time and energy. However,>      >     before involving the commissions these processes need to be set up. So>      >     process number 1 is the process for producing documents (sort of like>      >     ddl.dic is the dictionary for dictionaries). I propose the following>      >     outline for this "procedure number 1".>      >>      >     ## Creating procedures: procedure number 1>      >>      >     The type of work that COMCIFS does is similar to the W3C and other>      >     standards bodies. I suggest that the International Virtual Observatory>      >     Alliance documentation standards are a good reference point>      >     (https://www.ivoa.net/documents/DocStd/20170517/REC-DocStd-2.0-20170517.pdf>     <https://www.ivoa.net/documents/DocStd/20170517/REC-DocStd-2.0-20170517.pdf>>      >     <https://www.ivoa.net/documents/DocStd/20170517/REC-DocStd-2.0-20170517.pdf>     <https://www.ivoa.net/documents/DocStd/20170517/REC-DocStd-2.0-20170517.pdf>>).>      >     These are themselves based on the W3C documentation standards. Given>      >     that our goals are considerably more modest than those sprawling>      >     organisations, we can aim for considerable simplification.>      >>      >     The following three steps and documents should be tracked on a>      >     website: either in the IUCr CIF area, or Github repository, or both.>      >>      >     ### Step 1: Proposal>      >>      >     A short statement outlining the nature, scope and objectives of the>      >     procedure is submitted to the COMCIFS mailing list, either directly or>      >     via the COMCIFS secretary or chair. A draft document may be provided>      >     but is not necessary.>      >>      >     ### Step 2: Working group>      >>      >     If the procedure is seen as worthwhile by COMCIFS, a working group is>      >     formed and tasked to produce a Working Draft.>      >>      >     ### Step 3: Approved document>      >>      >     The Working draft is presented to COMCIFS for feedback and approval.>      >     Once approved, the working draft becomes an approved document.>      >>      >     # Other required procedures>      >>      >     After agreeing on something like the above process, I suggest we need>      >     to deal with the following as well:>      >>      >     - Procedure for COMCIFS approval>      >     - Procedure for adding a dictionary definition>      >     - Procedure for creating a new dictionary>      >>      >     # Next step>      >>      >     The "Creating a procedure" proposal is discussed by COMCIFS as per>      >     Step 1 above. If COMCIFS agrees, a working group is formed to document>      >     the process for creating new procedures, as per Step 2 above.>      >     -->      >     T +61 (02) 9717 9907>      >     F +61 (02) 9717 3145>      >     M +61 (04) 0249 4148>      >     _______________________________________________>      >     comcifs mailing list>      > comcifs@iucr.org <mailto:comcifs@iucr.org> <mailto:comcifs@iucr.org <mailto:comcifs@iucr.org>>>      > http://mailman.iucr.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/comcifs <http://mailman.iucr.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/comcifs>>     <http://mailman.iucr.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/comcifs <http://mailman.iucr.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/comcifs>>>      >>      >>      > _______________________________________________>      > comcifs mailing list>      > comcifs@iucr.org <mailto:comcifs@iucr.org>>      > http://mailman.iucr.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/comcifs <http://mailman.iucr.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/comcifs>>      >> >     -- >     John Westbrook>     RCSB, Protein Data Bank>     Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey>     Institute for Quantitative Biomedicine at Rutgers>     174 Frelinghuysen Rd>     Piscataway, NJ 08854-8087>     e-mail: john.westbrook@rcsb.org <mailto:john.westbrook@rcsb.org>>     Ph: (848) 445-4290 Fax: (732) 445-4320> 
-- John WestbrookRCSB, Protein Data BankRutgers, The State University of New JerseyInstitute for Quantitative Biomedicine at Rutgers174 Frelinghuysen RdPiscataway, NJ 08854-8087e-mail: john.westbrook@rcsb.orgPh: (848) 445-4290 Fax: (732) 445-4320_______________________________________________comcifs mailing listcomcifs@iucr.orghttp://mailman.iucr.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/comcifs

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