The World Wide Web Consortium, which is headed up by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, is the organization that creates and manages the core standards that make up the Web itself. From HTML to XML to HTTP to a whole host of other standards, the W3C makes sure that the Web remains a level and open field for everyone from the lone blogger to the biggest corporations.
I recently had a chance to take a look behind the curtain of the W3C and how their standards process works. At the W3C Technical Plenary /Advisory Committee Meetings Week that took place the week of November 5th, I had the chance to spend a day listening to debates and discussions on some of the core issues and challenges facing the World Wide Web today and tomorrow. Along with Berners-Lee and other core W3C representatives, the meetings also included representatives from the many companies that participate in the wide number of standards that the W3C is involved in, along with many other interested parties.
One of the core themes of the entire day (and the reason that I was finally able to attend this event) was the move to increased openness for the W3C and its standards process. Multiple speakers talked about the need to let more people find out what's going on with the proposed and existing standards that affect them. Along with events like the open Plenary day which I attended, W3C members also spoke about making the mailing lists where much of the debate and work on standards gets done open to anyone interested in reading them.
Other important issues that were covered in the sessions that I attended covered the future of HTML (specifically focusing on HTML 5 and XHTML 2), the increased importance of the mobile web, and the need to make video a first class citizen on the web (for example meaning that its viewable directly by browsers and not just through plugins).
For more information and presentations from the W3C Technical Plenary Day go to www.w3.org/2007/11/07-TechPlenAgenda.html.