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The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community where member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop standards for the web. Sir Timothy Berners-Lee is the founder and Director of the W3C, which he founded in the 1994. He is also a computer scientist, a Professorial Fellow of Computer Science at the University of Oxford, and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Wikipedia). He invented the World Wide Web in 1989 while working at CERN and has subsequently been working to ensure it was made freely available to all. Those efforts gave rise to the founding of the W3C, and he is now dedicated to enhancing and protecting the web’s future through the W3C.
The W3C was founded to create a global web standards organization that would lead the web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines and ensure that it serves humanity by establishing it as a global public good and a basic right. W3C’s work revolves around the standardization of web technologies that promote fairness, responsiveness, and progress. On August 29, 2012, five leading global organizations (IEEE), Internet Architecture Board (IAB), Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Internet Society and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) signed an agreement to affirm and adhere to a set of Principles in support of The Modern Paradigm for Standards, an open and collectively empowering model that will help radically improve the way people around the world develop new technologies and innovate for humanity. There are certain design principles that guide the W3C's work. Here are some of these guidelines in brief. Please click the links for more details.
Web for All
The social value of the web lies in its ability to enable human communication, commerce, and opportunities to share knowledge. One of W3C's primary goals is to make these benefits available to all people, whatever their hardware, software, network infrastructure, native language, culture, geographical location, or physical or mental ability.
- Web Accessibility Initiative: The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) develops standards and support materials to help you understand and implement accessibility. You can use W3C WAI resources to make your websites, applications, and other digital creations more accessible and usable for everyone.
- Internationalization: The W3C Internationalization (I18n) Activity works with W3C working groups and liaises with other organizations to make it possible to use Web technologies with different languages, scripts, and cultures.
Web on Everything
The number and types of devices that can access the Web has grown immensely. Mobile phones, smart phones, personal digital assistants, interactive television systems, voice response systems, kiosks and even certain domestic appliances can all access the Web now.
- Web of Devices: W3C is focusing on technologies to enable Web access anywhere, anytime, using any device. This includes web access from mobile phones and other mobile devices as well as use of web technology in consumer electronics, printers, interactive television, and even automobiles.
- Mobile Web Initiative: With the surge of powerful mobile devices in the past few years, the role of the Web as a platform for content, applications and services on these devices is increasingly important.
- Browsers and Other Agents: Everyone should be able to access the web from any kind of hardware that can connect to the Internet – stationary or mobile, small or large. W3C facilitates this via international web standards. These standards ensure that everything on the web is accessible to people regardless of the device one uses, to improve a web that is open to us all.
Web for Rich Interaction
The web was invented as a communications tool intended to allow anyone, anywhere to share information. For many years, the web was a "read-only" tool for many. Blogs and wikis brought more authors to the Web, and social networking emerged, creating a flourishing market for content and personalized web experiences. W3C standards have supported this evolution thanks to strong architecture and design principles.
- Web Design and Applications: Web Design and Applications involve the standards for building and rendering web pages, including HTML, CSS, SVG, device APIs, and other technologies for Web Applications (“WebApps”).
- Web Architecture: Web Architecture focuses on the foundation technologies and principles that sustain the Web, including URIs and HTTP.
Web of Data and Services
The web is both a repository of linked data and a set of services that exchange messages. The two functions are complementary and often depend on the application. These include data stores and enterprise software and many such services and technologies.
- Essential XML Technologies: XML Technologies, including XML, XML Namespaces, XML Schema, XSLT, Efficient XML Interchange (EXI), and other related standards.
- Semantic Web: The term “Semantic Web” refers to W3C’s vision of the web of linked data. Semantic web technologies enable people to create data stores on the web, build vocabularies, and write rules for handling data.
- Web of Services: Web of Services refers to message-based design frequently found on the web and in enterprise software. The Web of Services is based on technologies such as HTTP, XML, SOAP, WSDL, SPARQL, and others.
Web of Trust
The web has transformed the way we communicate with each other. In doing so, it has also modified the nature of our social relationships. People now "meet on the web" and carry out commercial and personal relationships, in some cases without ever meeting in person. W3C recognizes that trust is a social phenomenon, but technology design can foster trust and confidence. As more activities moves online, it will become even more important to support complex interactions among parties around the globe.
- Semantic Web: The W3C is helping to build a technology stack to support a “Web of data,” the sort of data you find in databases. The term “Semantic Web” refers to W3C’s vision of the web of linked data. Semantic web technologies enable people to create data stores on the Web, build vocabularies, and write rules for handling data.
- XML Security: Manipulating data with XML sometimes requires integrity, authentication and privacy. XML signature, encryption, and xkms can help create a secure environment for XML. XML is one of the most widely used formats for sharing structured information today: between programs, between people, between computers and people, both locally and across networks. It was derived from an older standard format called SGML (ISO 8879), in order to be more suitable for Web use.
- Web of Services Security: Web of Services refers to message-based design frequently found on the web and in enterprise software. The Web of Services is based on technologies such as HTTP, XML, SOAP, WSDL, SPARQL, and others.
- Privacy: The evolution of web technologies has increased the collection, processing, and publication of personal data. Privacy concerns are increasing as applications built on the web platform have access to more sensitive data — including location, health, and social network information — and users' activity on the web is ubiquitously tracked. The W3C Privacy Activity coordinates standardization work to improve support for user privacy on the Web and develops general expertise in privacy-by-design for Web standards.
The World Wide web and the W3C consortium invite participation, sharing knowledge, and building trust on a global scale. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), produced by the World Wide Web Consortium, is a set of universally accepted technical guidelines which explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Please click here to read about the WCAG guidelines (link the article here on the website if you like).
World Wide Web Foundation. (2021). Sir Tim Berners-Lee. World Wide Web Foundation. https://webfoundation.org/about/sir-tim-berners-lee/
W3C. (2021). About W3C. W3C. https://www.w3.org/Consortium/
Etemad, E.J. & Rivoal, F. (15 September 2020). W3C process document. W3C. https://www.w3.org/2020/Process-20200915/
Henry, S.L. (29 April 2021). Web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) overview. W3C Web Accessibility Initiative. https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/#intro
Internet Society. (n.d.). The modern paradigm for standards. https://www.internetsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/bp-openstandards-20120920-en.pdf