The Mission of W3C

I’ve now been with W3C for almost three months. My first priority was to meet with the global stakeholders of the organization.

I began with W3C membership. Through meetings, phone calls, technical conferences, and informal sessions I’ve met upwards of one hundred members and have had profound conversations with many of them.

I also made a point of meeting with organizations that are part of the ecosystem within which W3C works. This includes other standards organizations, government ministers, students, researchers in Web science, and thought leaders in the industry.

I also reached out to organizations that “should” be in W3C. Often this includes presenting our activities and roadmaps. I’ve reached over one thousand people in this way.

And it was important to do this on a global basis. During these two and a half months I travelled to eight countries, but have spoken to participants from many other locations.

The primary purpose of all of these meetings was to listen. W3C has been an effective organization, but any organization can do better. What are the stakeholders of W3C asking from us?

Four primary requests

W3C has established principles including Web for All and Web on Everything. We’ve established a technical vision as well. There is broad agreement to these principles and technical vision.

People are asking us to be more tangible and specific in how we achieve this.

There are many ways of summarizing the requests, but four recurring themes best capture the idea. W3C needs to:

  1. Drive a Global and accessible Web. There is little dispute that we should work towards a Web for All. But so many are deprived sufficient access – for reasons of handicap, language, poverty, and illiteracy – that we need a stronger technical program to improve the situation.
  2. Provide a Better Value Proposition for Users. Everyone is a consumer and everyone is an author. Yet our focus has been on vendors that build products. We need to complement that with a better user focus.
  3. Make W3C the best place for new standards work. I blogged last month about the expanding Web platform. There is so much new innovation and we must encourage the community to bring their work rapidly to W3C.
  4. Strengthen our core mission. With the expansion of innovation on the Web, we cannot do it all. We must be very crisp about what we achieve in W3C, what companion organizations achieve, and how do we relate.

Having identified clear imperatives, we are building teams that will look at each of these topics. Typically a team involves W3C staff, participating members, and outside experts. I expect to update you from time to time as this work gets underway.

One more focus area

As we try to improve the global accessible Web; the Web of Users, new standards work, and strong delivery of a core mission, there is a legitimate danger that we will find more work to do without the resource to do it. So we will also make sure that this clearer exposition of our mission is aligned with the resources required to complete that mission!

3 Responses to The Mission of W3C

  1. please stop deprecating. i’d like standards, but i always thought we’d have a world where tags/attributes that weren’t recognized would just be ignored. that sounded pretty sweet. your validation idea tosses that aside, what i thought was the single greatest feature of html.
    for example, embed use didn’t need to be replaced with object use. loving audio and video tags, but embed could just embed using the browser capabilities without plugins for say, webm or vorbis. oh well, too late now.

  2. I know the World Wide Web Consortium has received some criticism about its main focus being on vendors that build products, and it’s great to hear that there will be a team to address this. But the information and services provided by the W3C are helpful for everyone involved with the web. I consider myself a bit of a ‘W3C extremist’ and have found their standards guidelines extremely useful in helping me design and develop a clean, visible and accessible website for my relatively young web design company. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but we’re already seeing the benefits of having a website and web design blog that both validate 100%. Whatever direction the W3C take, the overall aim of trying to lead the Web to its full potential seems to be gaining momentum as more and more people take notice of the benefits of improving web standards.

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