The W3C Social Business Jam is a few days away!

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There’s been a lot of discussion on how the social web is changing business. One of the challenges slowing down the adoption of social web is due to a lack of cross-industry interoperability, as social business is still in its early stages. Open standards are one way the industry can overcome this challenge. As the W3C is one of the organizations working to help, we've decided to host an event to determine future directions for standardizing the social web for business-driven use-cases. The all online W3C Social Business Jam runs from Nov 8-10th (Tuesday through Thursday) and you have to register to participate.

Why are we hosting this event? Before launching new standards work, W3C often gathers industry leaders for discussions, usually at in-person workshops, in order to determine if there is consensus over the scope and requirements of standardization. As we begin to embark on possible standards work for social business, we decided to organize a different sort of discussion: the W3C's first ever virtual event. We think this will be a great way to increase participation.

Thanks to a generous offer from IBM, we are trying out their “Jam” software to host a purely online “Social Business Jam.”A Jam is an online discussion - but not just any discussion. It is a highly “social” event, meaning that participants will have access to powerful analytics and social networking tools. There will be poll questions running throughout the Jam where those involved can instantly see the results, track “hot ideas,” and create new relationships with other leading industry figures at the Jam.

The W3C will be using the results of the Jam to crowd-source new insights and gauge enthusiasm for possible social business standards. All information will be completely transparent and made public to those involved in the Jam, which will cover six topics, in parallel, for 72 hours straight. As it is an online event, we hope to get a large and global participation.

Even though registration only recently opened, we already have accumulated some interesting facts. According to the most recent data, nearly 57 percent of registrants are not completely convinced that social business adds value, and nearly 18 percent believe that social business adds little to no value. Obviously there is a lot to debate and clarify, but this initial data-driven approach also provides a glimpse into the things we will learn as we ”jam.”

As I mentioned, the W3C will be using the data collected from the jam to help inform our standards work for social business. If you’re interested in participating in the jam, you can easily register for it online. When the Jam opens, you'll have the opportunity to interact with guests, hosts and peers by responding to their posts, asking questions and having others respond in real-time.

We're very excited about some of the guests who will participate. In addition to the W3C Director, Tim Berners-Lee, we’ll hear from:

  • Yochai Benkler, Harvard Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies and author of The Wealth of Networks
  • Alex “Sandy” Pentland of MIT, winner of the DARPA Crowd-sourcing challenge and adviser to the World Economic Forum
  • Evan Prodromou, CEO of Status.Net and co-chair of the W3C “Federated Social Web” Incubator Group
  • Monica Wilkinson of VMWare, co-editor of the ActivityStreams specification and founder of Socialcast

There will also be special guests and hosts from a broad range of companies interested in social business such as Ford, IBM, Mozilla, the Mayo Clinic, Yahoo! and Vodafone. Both the president of the OpenSocial Foundation, Mark Weitzel, and the president of the OpenID Foundation, Don Thibeau, will be hosting, as well as W3C staff members like myself. We can also expect controversy with social media visionaries such Doc Searls (Vendor Relationship Management) and Paige Finkelman (Enterprise 2.0 Conference Organizer) debate the value adding of social standards to your business.

Social business may very well have the ability to disrupt industry as we know it, but first we have to clarify key concepts and areas for standardization before businesses can actually adopt this concept. As this W3C Social Business Jam is one of the major steps we’re taking to elicit feedback from the public to ensure that open standards are developed that cater to the needs of the Web community - so join us by registering now!

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