Looking back at TPAC 2020; public release of W3C Strategic Highlights

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TPAC 2020, our 20th Technical Plenary and Advisory Committee meetings just concluded. The W3C Community convened remotely for our annual all-groups meetings which were online and virtual. The event spanned most of October and focussed on collaborative meetings to create momentum and collective brainstorming, and brought together W3C technical groups, the W3C Advisory Board, TAG, Advisory Committee, and for the first time, the public.

TPAC 2020 banner

It was a difficult event to put together and in no way a substitute for a physical meeting. A lot of behind-the-scenes work ensured it went smoothly. We did the best we could to stimulate it, drawing from our experience last spring --including our video player case-study leveraging our own technology-- but it was strenuous, intense and exhausting.

How our first virtual conference went

Notwithstanding some hurdles there were positives, including a record number of people registered for the conference and for the first time a subset of meetings open to the public. Here are notable figures about the conference:

  • 787 registrants –record attendance to date, and 242 separate registrants for the public breakouts;
  • 23 Working/Interest groups and 9 Community Groups meetings, and 16 joint group meetings;
  • 54 breakout sessions took place;
    • Over 650 participants attended the breakouts;
    • 200+ breakout participants attended every day, with a maximum of 250 parallel participants on Monday;
    • 36 video-recorded presentations during breakouts have been publicly released

Among the very popular breakout sessions were "defining a privacy baseline", "the waning Web Platform engine diversity", "learning from mini apps" and "WebID, a federated SignIn API". In terms of notable breakouts, the conversations in the three panels organized by P5.js ("Creative Imagination for an Ethical Web", "Consent Communication on the Web", "accessing WebXR through art") were all very highly rated by people who attended.

We followed the impressions of our attendees using #w3cTPAC in Twitter and they really liked TPAC 2020! Here are snippets of positive comments: “really enjoyed”, “I’m really happy”, “very productive”, “looking forward to”, “fascinating discussion”, “thought-provoking”, “great talks”, “amazing and inspiring panels”, “absolutely floored”, “very informed and educational time”.

Public release of W3C strategic highlights

Today we are releasing to the public the October 2020 edition of the W3C Strategic Highlights, our semi-annual report about the tremendous work to enhance the Web platform, and innovate for its growth and strength. I invite you to read it for updates in key areas of the Web, and to learn how W3C meets industry needs, as well as the latest information around Web for all and outreach to the world.

We are at a time where the world goes more virtual, making the Web even more critical to society in information sharing, commerce, real-time communications, entertainment, etc.; and we are at a time where the Web has grown in importance to industries conducting business online, emphasizing the need for standardization work in video communications, media, publishing, financial services, ad technology, etc. This demands responsiveness and agility from the Web Consortium's standardization processes and practices. In September the 2020 updates of the W3C Process Document and Patent Policy became effective, with a goal to generally increase our responsiveness and strengthen our standardization activities by adding, among other changes, a continuous standard development mode that includes a living standard approach, and earlier Royalty-Free protection for implementers, which reinforces access to the Web's technology as common infrastructure.

This year has also seen the first update to our Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (CEPC), since its introduction in 2015. W3C's CEPC defines accepted and acceptable behaviors and promotes high standards of professional practice. This code provides a benchmark, affords transparency in community and group management, ensures an environment where people can participate without fear of harassment, and contributes to the identity of our organization.

Next meetings

We are looking forward to the 2021 edition! Of course, whether this is virtual or in-person depends on the coronavirus situation, but we are looking at venues, and Vancouver, where we originally intended to hold TPAC 2020, is confirmed for 2022.

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