Worldwide Participation in the World Wide Web
Status: This document is no longer maintained. It is left her for historical reasons.
The World Wide Web Consortium is committed to the goal of developing a
"Web for Everyone":
"The social value of the Web is that
it enables human communication, commerce, and opportunities to share
knowledge. One of W3C's primary goals is to make these benefits available to
all people, whatever their hardware, software, network infrastructure, native
language, culture, geographical location, or physical or mental
W3C is actively translating this goal into concrete actions. This document
summarizes the real investments that W3C is making in initiatives that
directly support the continued extension of Web technologies and their
benefits to the whole world, and especially the developing world. In
addition, this document outlines plans for a significant expansion of W3C's
efforts over the next year.
- Growing International Presence. Founded in 1994 by
Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, W3C's
organizational basis extends across continents and countries. The
Consortium's primary operations are hosted by three prestigious,
international institutions: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(Boston, Massachusetts, USA), the European Research Consortium in Informatics
and Mathematics (Sophia-Antipolis, France) and Keio University (Shonan Fujisawa,
Japan). Additional W3C
Offices have been established in 17 locations, including Australia, Benelux/Bénélux
(Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), 中国(China), Suomi (Finland), Deutschland und Österreich (Germany and Austria),
Ελλάδα (Greece), 香港 (Hong Kong SAR, China)| Magyarország (Hungary), ישראל (Israel), भारत (India), Italia (Italy), 한국 (Korea), المغرب (Morocco), Southern Africa, España (Spain), Sverige (Sweden), and the United Kingdom and
Ireland, with new Offices planned for the near future (see below).
Each Office has the mission of promoting adoption of W3C standards among
developers, application builders, and other standards setters; and of
encouraging stakeholder organizations to participate in the development
of future W3C standards.
- Open to the World. W3C is -- by nature and through its Process -- a
multi-stakeholder organization that is open to entities from all over the
world. Among the ranks of its close to 440 Members are
commercial businesses (both technology vendors and consumers), academic
and research institutions, government agencies, and non-profit
organizations representing a broad range of interests. All Members have
the same rights within the organization, including participation in
Working Groups. Technically-qualified individuals from organizations that
cannot afford to become Members may be able to participate in standards
development work as Invited Experts.
- Accountable to the Global Public. W3C is also accountable to
Members and to non-Members around the globe. For example, all Working
Groups maintain public Web sites and mailing lists, and make draft
standards documents available to the public at a very early stage. W3C
must address comments and concerns submitted by the non-Member public on
standards under development.
- Public Participation Fora. W3C maintains a number of
public-participation Interest Groups, which provide the wider Web
community (Members and non-Members) with mechanisms for discussing
current and future Web standardization work, and for worldwide
collaboration and community building via open email lists.
- Standards Enable New Opportunities. The Web has already proven
to be an effective mechanism for expanding communication, understanding,
innovation, commerce, competition, and productivity throughout much of
the world. Open Web standards enable interoperability between data and
applications across the Internet. W3C's Members have worked together to
produce the standards that are the foundation of today's Web, including
the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), Extensible Markup Language (XML) and other technologies. W3C is
also laying the foundation for a much richer and far-reaching Web of the
future, with work on new standards for graphics, for accessing the
Web via a variety of devices and
types of human interaction, and
for supporting computer-to-computer interaction and understanding (such
as Web Services, and the Semantic Web).
- Standards Enable a "Web for Everyone." W3C conducts
substantive work in areas with the particular objective of enabling
universal access to the Web. The Web
Accessibility Initiative develops technology, guidelines, and tools
to increase accessibility of the Web for people with disabilities. Internationalization
Activity, develops standards and guidelines that make it easy to use
W3C technology worldwide by breaking down barriers between the Web and
our planet's many languages, scripts, and cultures. W3C's Mobile Web Initiative aims to make Web access
from a mobile device as simple and convenient as Web access from a
desktop device. This is critical for the developing world, because mobile
devices are less expensive, are experiencing explosive growth, and
already far outnumber desktop and notebook computers.
- Royalty-Free Patent Policy. The goal of W3C's industry-leading
is to promote the creation of Web standards that can be implemented on a
Royalty-Free basis, thus advancing the wide-spread use of these standards
in commercial and non-commercial applications throughout the world.
- Translations. There is an growing effort to translate W3C standards and
reports and press releases
into multiple languages. This work is supported by a large and growing
network of volunteers from around the world. To date, documents have been
translated into subsets of over 40 languages. The international press
coverage of W3C's work is extensive and expanding.
- Relationships with Other International Organizations. The
Consortium maintain liaisons with over 40
national, international and regional organizations around the globe,
including IETF, ISO, ITU, OMA, OASIS, GGF, Unicode, the United Nations
and many others.
The combination of these characteristics is unique among standards
consortia, and places W3C is a strong position to increase participation from
and benefits to an expanding segment of the world.
In addition to the above described record of commitment and action in the
area of global outreach and participation, W3C has more to do. The majority
current Members are based in North America, Europe or Japan. Most of the
Working and Interest Group participants and participants on W3C's Member and
public mailing lists are from these same regions. However, a significant
fraction of our Members are multinational organizations, and thus are often
represented by individuals from outside of these three regions. Nevertheless,
the regions of the world hosting the large majority of the world's population are
underrepresented in W3C at this time.
What are some of the barriers to building a more global level of
participation? In attending international conferences, engineers and managers
who are not familiar with W3C sometimes have the impression that the
Consortium is a western commercial alliance. Conversations with people from
developing countries indicated that W3C's Membership fees were a significant
barrier to Membership, and are also sometimes taken as a sign that W3C is not
interested in participation from organizations in these countries.
W3C convened a task force of Advisory Board and Team representatives to
document the reasons for building a more inclusive global community and a
plan for doing so. The task force determined that greater participation of
experts from underrepresented regions was critical in order to achieve the
goal of a Web that is universal ... a "Web for Everyone." The most salient
benefits for all participants of a broader range of participation include:
- Improved Mutual Understanding. Broader participation in W3C's
work will foster an improved understanding W3C's unique position and
characteristics as an open standards body, and provide the necessary
input to allow the W3C's standards process to evolve in a manner that
better satisfies the diverse and expanding needs of the world as a
- Better Web Standards. W3C technologies will be more
comprehensive, more broadly interoperable, and of higher quality thanks
to the widened scope and diversity of technical input (e.g., more global
technologies, testing, usage guidelines, etc.).
- More Widely Used Web Standards. Because they meet a broader
range of global requirements and are better understood by global experts,
W3C technologies will become more widely implemented around the
- Greater Opportunity for Everyone. The above three benefits
will provide increased opportunities for improving communication,
understanding, innovation, commerce, competition, and productivity
throughout the world.
- People around the globe will be able to share and find data,
information and knowledge more easily, using languages and
technologies accessible to them.
- Organizations (including W3C Members and non-Members, commercial
and non-commercial entities) will develop more Web-based products and
participate in new and expanding local, regional and global
- Developing countries stand to benefit substantially: Their emerging
information and communication infrastructures, less burdened by
legacy systems, can more easily adopt to and benefit from new Web
technologies. Growing use of the Web will foster exchange of
information that will lead to improvements in agriculture,
engineering, education, health care, and nutrition, while providing
an avenue for expanded commercial and social networking with other
The task force outlined elements of a program to expand participation in
the pursuit of W3C's mission:
- Open New Offices. W3C now has Offices in the developing
regions of northern Africa (Morocco), southern Africa, south Asia (India) and China. We are actively exploring
candidate institutions to host new Offices in Latin America and Africa in
the near future, and additional Offices later.
- Establish New Liaisons. We are developing relationships with
additional international organizations, governmental agencies,
non-governmental organizations, national and international standards
bodies, and overseas offices of current Members in order to identify and
reach out to those from underrepresented countries who might be
interested in participating in W3C's work and/or would benefit from our
- Reduce Financial Barriers to Participation. We will explore
sources of funding (e.g., from governments or foundations) that could
support participation of qualified experts from developing countries in
the development of standards at W3C (e.g., to help pay for participation
in Working Group teleconferences, travel to selected meetings, etc.).
- Reduce Non-Financial Barriers. There are other barriers to
active participation in any international effort, including language,
jargon, time zones, time commitments, etc. Perhaps there are creative
ideas that could mitigate the effects of these sometimes difficult
- Extend Outreach. We are working with the Members, Offices and
liaisons to develop Web and hardcopy materials to that tell the world
what W3C is, what W3C does, how one becomes involved, and how one might
leverage W3C's work to improve life.
The W3C Team, Advisory Board, Advisory Committee, Offices, and interested
parties from countries around the world will continue to discuss, expand and
implement the above plan.
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Created by Steve Bratt in 2005.