Exploring the W3C

by Simon St. Laurent

Related link: http://simonstl.com/articles/civilw3c.htm

A lot of developers seem to take the W3C as something that just happens. Specs appear, for better or worse, and we deal with them, for better or worse. It doesn't have to be that way, though - there's actually a lot that you can do to keep up with and even influence this hugely influential consortium.

The W3C has a number of different and sometimes conflicting roles. First and foremost, it sees itself as the primary steward of the World Wide Web and the specifications that make the Web work. Just as important in practice, however, is its position as a membership-driven consortium, most of whose members are software vendors. This combination seems to make the W3C both hugely important and downright mysterious, since so much of the work that goes into W3C specifications is member-confidential.

Whether you need to figure out what the W3C has to offer, want to contribute without going behind the veil of member confidentiality, or are curious about the prospects for a more active role working with the W3C, I hope my Outsider's Guide to the W3C has something to offer. It's derived both from my own experiences in dealing with the W3C and the W3C's own publicly-available information. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

It's also the first piece of writing I've published under a Creative Commons License, the Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0 license. It seems appropriate given that I'm hoping to encourage communities to communicate!

Do you have any interest in influencing the work at the W3C?