W3C exits as web and a twist for itself, MIT administrator and

Comic: Quick!  Faster!It is very important that the problem is not fixed, so no one should panic and everyone hopes that things will work out. But in reality no solution is in sight.

The problem in this case is not W3C working, but W3C itself.

The Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C), the developer of the Internet’s major technological standards (HTML and CSS, the web’s built-in code, two such W3C standards), will lose longtime university partner MIT and the US hosting agency as administrators. This year.

The institution has other academic administrators: Keiu University in Japan, Beihang University in China, and the University of Southampton in the UK and Ireland as hosts. But MIT has been closely associated with W3C since its inception and is the organization’s primary financial security net.

Many executives and members are advocating for a new organizational structure for the W3C, a well-known structure for U.S.-based nonprofit-industry organizations funded by members and board members. But there is no immediate solution and MIT will not renew its hosting agreement at the end of the year.

The clock is ticking.

This major organizational overhaul at W3C is also happening at a time of unprecedented activity and change for the Internet. Will the web support crypto and web3 industry proposals? How will the web support advertising? What should be the baseline web browser security standards?

And, to put it bluntly, there is a barrier to proposals that has been thwarted because the W3C director, Tim Berners-Lee, is less active with the group and, frankly, does not seem to support many new W3C working group directions. .

The executive steering committee, which will have to sign off all updates, did not meet at all in 2020 and has not been actively involved in the working group’s proposal since, according to sources. Members and representatives of the advisory board push for an interim board that can approve changes if the steering committee is inactive. But that proposal was rejected by the steering committee.


The necessary context here is that W3C is not a single legal entity. Partner universities pay staff salaries, collect arrears and operate accounts in their host territory. The group itself is more than a shell.

Berners-Lee, as director, has been the group’s “consensus arbiter,” said Wendy Seltzer, head of W3C strategy and advisor. Proposals are loosely pushed through the approved working group. Once the ideas are accepted and agreed upon, Berners-Lee gives the stamp of standardization.

However, the “consensus arbitrator” is not an informal role. Proposal Of course To proceed will be stamped by Berners-Lee.

Alex Koen, former VP of Privacy and Data Protection at IAB Tech Lab, said, “The issue of governance with MIT is less important for W3C as the organization realizes that having a philosopher-king is not a possible situation.” , Who was a tech lab representative on the W3C Advisory Board at the time.

W3C is trying to recreate itself as a nonprofit with a “director-free process”, Seltzer says. An advisory board of member companies and practitioners will probably be the official arbitrator of the consensus.

He said there is a filing for a Delaware-based W3C nonprofit. Now they actually have to go do it.

W3C conversion plan

Without a new framework and financial plan for 2023, why don’t W3C members panic about what looks like a potential catastrophe? Despite W3C executives working hard over the past year to find possible solutions, they have not made much progress.

Relying on other academic hosts is an end result. Other hosts cannot take Slack from MIT. Behang would be best suited to handle full hosting and financial backing, but it will take a few years to set up the necessary company. And there are special rules for restricting foreign workers by Chinese universities, Leoni Watson, a member of the advisory board and chair of the working group, told members at a meeting of the Technical Architecture Group (TAG) in February, according to the group’s minutes.

For one thing, the work is vital to evaporation, says Don Marty, VP of Cafemidia ecosystem innovation and W3C representative.

“If it weren’t for W3C, the big member companies would have to reinvent it immediately,” he said.

Seltzer of W3C says that while MIT will not renew as a host, the university will also “not leave us in our laziness.” If there’s a short bridge time before a new company launches, he says MIT is working with the group and it doesn’t want to stumble.

W3C will not turn into a pumpkin at midnight on January 1, 2023.

Unprofitable for profiteers?

There is a simple, obvious solution to looking at the W3C face, if it can beat the truth.

Some of the world’s largest companies – browser operators like Apple, Google and Microsoft – get the most value out of the ongoing work on W3C. W3C is home to important advertising and attribution products being created by Mozilla and Facebook.

Those huge companies can and will financially back the group. They will also be board members, and may change the mindset of large technical financing and board representatives or even the image of the W3C.

“I don’t think anyone involved with W3C would feel comfortable turning it into a large vendor-dominated company,” Marty said. Other parties, such as the IAB, have followed suit. In this case it may make sense. But W3C’s stated goal is to represent web users as the primary element, not the technology company, he said.

W3C has long been dominated by browser operators, with people expecting it to represent the browser industry, as it supports specialized stakeholders in digital media, says James Rosewell, CEO and co-founder of Advertising Technology at 51 Degrees, and W3C’s A bit of a bomb thrower in. “But it’s not supposed to be that way.”

Also, browser operators who need to join forces to support W3C are not really interested in finding consensus among themselves. Everyone agrees on the basics like HTML – sites should load and do the same across browsers. But Google’s ideas, such as topics, an integrated-based way of serving ads, conflicts with a browser like Brave, with a proprietary built-in advertising system that works similarly, Cone said. Apple and Mozilla do not require standard privacy, as their marketing pitch focuses more on different privacy values.

The W3C will probably settle on some form of support for the technology industry as a nonprofit, which would require large firms to finance the group primarily and some form of advisory council. Without mentioning the actual mandate of the W3C to represent web users, additional processes need to be put in place to ensure that the majority of member companies also have a say.

“I think there are a lot of realists at W3C who are saying, ‘We can get over this. Other companies go beyond that, ” according to Cone.

Seltzer said the W3C has seen a huge influx of new members from advertising technology and online publishing over the past few years.

But that has been the web way, he said. Older elements fade; Companies move forward to take advantage of new opportunities. “And consensus is always a challenge.”

Don’t hold your breath for quick W3C action, but you can hope for improvement.

Dave Raggett, who led W3C Data Standards activities at the TAG Working Group meeting in February, said:

It has been a frustrating year for the advisory board, which has said it can only advise and has no power to change the organization. “Those who can make decisions seem reluctant.”

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