Setting the Standards for Web Publications

Computer screen displaying html source code
Source code. Public domain image via Pixabay.

I had the opportunity last week to observe the 2018 TPAC, W3c’s Technical Plenary and Advisory Committee meetings. The opportunity arose when I was connected to the recently formed W3C Web Publishing working group by a fellow Mellon grantee I met at the New York all-projects meeting at the end of September. He connected us to the co-chairs of the group who have been very welcoming to supDigital, and we’ve been invited to join and contribute our innovative and scholarly perspective to help build greater support for the growing needs of web publications.

The working group, though new, is large and quite active and has begun work on a draft for their standards. They are one of many working groups that contribute to the W3C, a consortium that has been influencing web standards and improvements since 1994 when it was founded by Tim Berners-Lee. Each year the groups get together to meet in person and focus on making progress on their work and networking with other groups to find points of collaboration.

The week’s events for the web publishing group included two full days of face-to-face meetings, an unconference-style technical plenary day, and a day-and-a-half-long publishing summit. Held in the San Francisco Bay Area, it was an easy event for me to attend and observe. The working group used the first two full days to work on expanding and refining their draft and goals, and it was fascinating to see the many perspectives, from publishers to developers, work out the many nuances of what constitutes web publications and how to best ensure they are supported by the constantly evolving web.

There is a lot to consider before committing to joining a working group like this one. Time and resources are a factor, of course, but so is ensuring we’re part of the conversation when it comes to writing the standards for the type of publications we’re making. We’ll be doing plenty of considering in the coming days, but in the meantime I’m glad to have had the opportunity to see the process up close and in action.

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