W3C and Digital Publishing

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The publishing world in general is undergoing major changes these days due to the presence of Web technologies. People are using electronic book readers more and more. “Citizen journalism” through blogs offers new possibilities to express people’s opinion, thereby also creating a challenge for traditional journals and magazines. Researchers around the world are finding new possibilities to publish their scientific results, often beyond the traditional view of scientific papers. Web based archival and search services challenge the role played by traditional libraries and archives, etc.

Digital publishing has also become one of the major application areas of the Open Web Platform: for example, an electronic book, using the ePub3 format, can be seen as a packaged HTML5 based web site enriched with additional data to provide the look and feel resembling a traditional book.

The term “Digital Publishing” is vast and covers several areas, each of which has its own characteristics and communities, although they also have many features and requirements in common. The workflow process, starting with an author handing in a manuscript that would be transformed into a printed or an electronic book, the traditional journal and or magazine publishing, the metadata infrastructure vital for, e.g., the digital library community, the new ways of scientific publications, or the management and publication of electronic books are good examples for such distinct although related areas.

A few months ago W3C began to reach out to the various communities within Digital Publishing, to see if it can contribute in moving these areas forward in term of standardization. Many of these areas have well established organizations that already define some aspects of the necessary standards (e.g., IPTC, IDEAlliance, or IDPF) and W3C certainly does not intend to replace those; instead, W3C would like to develop joint actions with those organizations to see where cooperation would be necessary and useful, where W3C could complete the various technologies within the Open Web Platform to move the market forward. Such a pattern of cooperation is also important for W3C’s own developments: as a major user of W3C’s technologies, the Digital Publication community can provide valuable feedbacks and further requirements.

To move these issues forward, W3C plans to organize a series of workshops with different parts of the Digital Publication community. Although the technical areas are different, the overall goals are identical: try to get major players of a particular community together, identify the different technical challenges and explore the possibilities for further cooperation through W3C (i.e., Community Groups, Working Groups, etc.). As a first of this series, a new Workshop has been announced under the title “eBooks: Great Expectations for Web Standards". The workshop will take place in New York City, on the 11-12 February 2013, co-organized with IDPF (the international organization that has defined the ePub3 standard) and BISG (a leading book trade association in the USA). The Workshop is hosted by O’Reilly, in conjunction with the O’Reilly “Tools of Change” conference.

As is usual with W3C workshops, those who wish to participate are expected to provide a submission (see the submmission page for further details). The deadline for submissions is the 13th of December; so if you are interested to join this event, get your thoughts down on a piece of (digital:-) publishing media and send it to us! Hopefully this workshop will be the starting point of a longer term cooperation that W3C would like to see with the actors of this exciting evolution.

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