It has been several years I have been involved in W3C.The ten thousands of hours of discussions I had with some of my W3C colleagues, mates, folks, peers, were deadly interesting. We were covering the technical web, but all the stuff coming with it. The web and the society. The technology as a tool, that anyone can handle and use, following its own rules, follow its own goal. We discussed about the reliable and equal web. But. What does it mean to maintain a reliable web, for all ? What does it mean when a group of people decides to develop technologies to break it ? What does it mean to break the web ? You know, all those questions that do not directly fall in the basket of W3C – after all, it is only a technical standardization body ! Since one year, I was convinced that this was a missing dimension in W3C. And something happened. Slowly by slowly, this idea came on the table. Why not creating a place for the W3C members to exchange on the potential impact of the technology developed in W3C ? Why not keeping an eye on the way the web is used today, and debate on the potential impact on policies ?
The Advisory Board and the W3C team have been working on the creation of the Technology & Policy Interest Group. A group which will be open to W3C members, a group which will gather state of the art on topics such as deep linking (or can we forbid to reference a resource), DMCA-like challenges (or how to allow researcher to stay on the legal side, while researching on the web, and thus potentially hacking it) and Surveillance (you know, government and companies monitoring all and everything). And this is, as a starter. The Tech & Pol Interest Group, chaired by Jean François Abramatic, ex W3C CEO, will work in a W3C-member-only mode and will deliver some Analysis. Analysis is a new format, to avoid saying the group will deliver Note or normative Recommendation. First, those Analysis may be only a collection of problem, a list of solutions, and it will be up to the directors, with members consultation to do something from that.
That Interest Group is a fantastic chance to have a place to discuss those important topics, to have the craftsmen and craftswomen of the web, exchanging on technology impact, all together, and potentially raising the question on which type of web we want for all.
The creation of the Interest Group depends on the support it will gain in the W3C membership, and on the number of objection its review will collect. So, if you think this group is a good idea, and if your company is W3C member, I can only encourage you to ping your AC rep and tell him/her what you think…
Illustration: Blowball II – M.C. Escher