Last week, W3C’s Authoring Tool Accessibility Guideline Working Group released new working drafts of two documents focused on web development tools and accessibility. Today, W3C announced an agile track for developers and businesses to create Web technology within W3C's international community of experts. In other words — diversity breeds innovation; anyone may apply.
A Web of One's Own
The W3C has always been inclusive of under-represented groups, from women to minorities, but this push for community knows no boundaries. Whether as a group or individually, W3C has designed W3C Community Groups to promote diverse participation: Anyone may propose a group, and groups start as soon as there is a small measure of peer support.
Making it easy for everyone to participate, there are no fees or time limitations and groups can decide most aspects of how they work, whether as a community or business group. The main goal is to provide a supportive environment in which the development of innovation technologies is encouraged.
An Innovative Path to Interoperable Standards
What does the W3C have to gain from such communities? Well, for one, with community groups, W3C provides a smooth path from innovation to open standardization to recognition as an ISO/IEC International Standard — which of course supports W3C’s primary mission of developing interoperable standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web.
Community vs. Business Groups
For those who choose to join or create a business group, W3C members and non-members can benefit from a vendor-neutral forum for the development of market-specific technologies, with the hope that they can affect the direction of web standards. W3C staff will work with business groups to help them achieve their goals and to provide connectivity among groups with shared interests.
In contrast, a community group is designed as an open forum where Web developers and other stakeholders develop specifications, hold discussions, develop test suites, and connect with W3C's international community of web experts. Community groups may produce specifications, but unlike the business groups are not tasked with creating standards, though they may provide input to the standards process.
- A Community Group might gather to work on a new technical specification, or convene to have discussions about a tutorial for an existing specification.
- A Business Group might compile industry-specific requirements or use cases as input to a W3C Working Group.
With W3C’s pursuit to crowdsource the development of web technology, the web’s influence can begin to expand outside the usual suspects. However, the downside to crowdsourcing is that your innovation is only as good as your crowd. Yet, as social networks abound, it’s no surprise that community building may be the key to future standardization.