W3C held its annual Members meeting in May 2020. For the first time in the 25 years of our organization, it was fully virtual. And the feedback was uniformly positive. That meeting consisted of reading material and pre-recorded presentations shared in advance. The videos of 19 presentations, totaling 4 hours, were available via a viewer developed in-house that synched with slides and included not only transcripts and captions but also their translations into Chinese, Japanese and Korean. We invited our Members to submit their questions in advance or save them for the two virtual sessions of questions and answers, which featured live captioning in English and simultaneous interpretation from English to Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
How the virtual meeting went
A lot of work to get it working behind-the-scenes went into ensuring it went smoothly. Many shared the same feedback that communicating about how it was managed (tools, strategies, outcomes) would be really helpful for other organizations trying to produce similar events, and we plan to augment our recent document on Continuity of Operations under Travel Restrictions.
At many levels and under the circumstances, this meeting was stellar. Our members’ testimonials emphasized many advantages of pre-recorded presentations:
“The pre-recorded sessions were excellent. They have the advantage of being able to view it at one’s convenience. One can also pause and rewind if needed. Additionally, viewing when convenient has the advantage that the viewer is not distracted.”
Or the feeling of community during the live virtual sessions:
“I was blown away by how well that worked. The fact that most people kept their cameras on was really good. There was definitely a feeling of community that I wouldn’t have expected, and frankly, it’s good to see the faces of people that speak.”
Or the efficiency of the whole meeting:
“I’ve been gushing to my colleagues about the structure of the Advisory Committee Meeting. It was a great format for efficiently covering a lot of material with virtual participants.”
Or making this a best practice:
“I suggest W3C management exchange opinions with other standard bodies to make a best practice about big virtual meetings.”
And several praised our Team for the work:
“Kudos to those who worked behind the scenes to transition from in-person to a virtual event. Unwinding a year of planning and shifting in mere months is no small feat. Great job!”
Format of the W3C Advisory Committee meetings going forward
Via the feedback survey, we are asking our Members their preference for the format of the W3C Advisory Committee meetings going forward. There is a diversity of viewpoints around how frequently to do virtual Advisory Committee meetings in general. The options are whether we should always go virtual for Spring meetings, or have a spring virtual meeting every other year instead of a physical version, or have a spring virtual meeting every three years instead of a physical version, or whether we should not do any virtual meeting anymore.
An emerging idea that the W3C Advisory Board has started to discuss is whether when safe we should always have a Spring Advisory Committee physical meeting and move the Fall Advisory Committee meeting into a virtual meeting, thus taking it out of our yearly Technical Plenary (TPAC) week-long meeting – overcoming the overlap of the Advisory Committee meeting with work group meetings would give everyone the possibility to participate fully.
- This would guarantee that both those who want the physical meeting and those that want the virtual one get at least one event per year.
- This would help deconflict the very busy TPAC week because we can move the Fall Advisory Committee meeting to a different week.
- We probably could have a more informal Advisory Committee discussion during TPAC to allow the Advisory Committee representatives to work together in a less conflicted way.
We are already working on the format of W3C TPAC 2020 and details will be communicated as soon as possible.
May 2020 edition of the W3C Strategic Highlights
Today we are releasing to the public the May 2020 W3C Strategic Highlights which gives an overview of recent work on the Web platform, on innovation, on incubation and research –in other words, the Road-map for the Web.
The report covers the massive and critical work that took place since last September at the Web Consortium toward the growth and strength of the Web. I invite you to read it for updates in key areas, how W3C meets industry needs, and the latest around Web for all and outreach to the world.