TPAC 2012: Liberté and the Open Web Platform
(Published 8-Nov-2012, Bernadette Hyland)
Summary of W3C TPAC 29-Oct to 1-Nov-2012
This summary of the W3C Technical Plenary and Advisory Committee Conference was written for fellow open data colleagues who may have been unable to attend TPAC 2012 due to government austerity measures and travel restrictions. It’s my hope that it reflects the special experience that was TPAC 2012. Together, we’ll continue the important open-standards, open Web platform conversation that continues to transform the world.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité, French for “Liberty, equality, fraternity (brotherhood)” is the national motto of France. Other nations have adopted the French slogan as an ideal as well. I found it fitting that the technical plenary and advisory committee meetings for the Web’s global standards organization was held in Lyon France. The Web has had a relatively brief yet profound history of innovation and continues to benefit to humanity in ways too numerous to comprehend. The really cool part is, no vendor or government controls it. Rather, thousands of dedicated individuals, the vast majority of whom are volunteers, build pieces of the Web platform. Voilà! it all hangs together and works as the world’s most robust information technology system. Yes, yes there is much to be done to improve capabilities and interoperability but look over your should and see how far we’ve come in two decades.
The W3C Technical Plenary and Advisory Committee meeting (TPAC 2012) wrapped up in Lyon France on 1-November 2012. Surpassing attendance at last year’s TPAC in Silicon Valley, 480 attendees, TPAC 2012 was held at the Cité Centre de Congrès de Lyon in France. Attendees included 150 Advisory Committee (AC) representatives from the W3C’s over 380 members according to Jeff Jaffe, W3C CEO.
Advisory Committee representatives represent their respective member organization.
Interestingly, whether you are a five person startup, a multinational corporate member or a federal government agency, there is a single Advisory Committee Representative within the W3C. This helps to keep the playing field level so no one organization can dominate the Web’s standards organization. For those new to the W3C, it is the worldwide Web’s standards organization. The W3C pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure the long term growth of the Web. Most recently, W3C Standards provide developers the foundation to build rich interactive applications powered by vast data stores, delivered on any device.
Early in the week we heard from Dr. Jaffe who works with Director Tim Berners-Lee, staff, members and the public to evolve and communicate the W3C’s vision. Jeff delivered an excellent business focused, balanced keynote titled “Embracing the Early Majority: Open Web Platform Progress Report”. Dr. Jaffe cited industry analysts that suggest adoption of the Open Web Platform is in the “early majority”. Mobile Applications and HTML5 are cited in Gartner’s “Top 10 Tech Trends for 2013″. Forrester Research states that “with consumer adoption of HTML5-capabile desktop browsers widespread and the Web developer community understanding of the technology rapidly maturing, HTML5 is fast becoming the de facto standard for Web experience across touch points” (Forrester Research August 2012). We need only look at social and traditional media organizations including YouTube, LinkedIn, NY Times, and The Economist have all launched new Web apps in the last year highlighting the importance of HTML5 on hybrid or mobile-Web browsers.
As the global demand for use rises, developer and industry expectations for improved capabilities, performance and interoperability also increases. The W3C plays a unique and critically important role in responding to the needs of its 380 members and the public. Support from members as well as participation in events like TPAC, as well as the numerous working groups, community and interest groups are critical to address the rising expectations for an Open Web Platform.
Following the keynote, W3C management delivered a progress report on the Open Web Platform, financials, HTML 2014 plan, W3C Process, and W3C Brand Research. Later presentations on new initiatives including the Web Platform Documents effort lead by Doug Schepers, (Developer Relations Lead), new member introductions by Alan Bird, (Bus Dev Lead), and the W3C Validator Service Ralph Swick, (COO).
It is worth noting that each TPAC delegate’s experience is unique. There were many activities happening in parallel including AC representative meetings, the Technical Plenary, 30 working group and interest group discussions, 39 breakout sessions, breakfasts and dinners, and a Developer Meetup sponsored by the W3C and Universite de Lyon.
Throughout TPAC, there was a major theme around Web accessibility. The W3C believes the Web must be designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, culture, location, or physical or mental ability. When the Web meets this goal, it is accessible to people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability, according to the W3C’s Accessibility statement. On a personal note, I deeply admired how capably the conference delegates with movement and sight impairments navigated the conference venue, often assisted by other delegates eager to lend an arm.
TPAC 2012 reaffirmed in my commitment to the world’s open-standards bearer for an Open Web Platform. This keeps the Web a level playing field for participation by all globally. It is through the work of literally thousands of bright volunteers who are passionate about transparency, scalability, interoperability and information sharing that we have today’s World Wide Web. The Web is many things including the world’s database and a programming environment for rich, interactive, cross-platform applications.
The Open Web Platform allows us to address humanity’s most pressing issues, in addition to being the most robust IT platform ever conceived. TPAC 2012 was an extraordinary experience. I departed the conference with a heightened sense of the importance of the W3C as the global standards organization dedicated to communicating the vision of the world’s Open Web Platform. The benefits to humanity in having the W3C as an international standards organization with well-defined processes, a culture of transparency, balance and openness cannot be overstated.
Grand merci (big thanks) to the extraordinary community of thought leaders, researchers and developers who meet on telecons month after month, year after year, working through tough issues. Our collective efforts to drive towards consensus, document standards and best practices over the last two decades has truly changed the world. Just watching the US elections unfold this week, I’m once again reminded of the huge impact the Web has on humanity, innovation, competition and politics around the world.
If your agency or organization is not a W3C member, considering joining and becoming part of the worldwide community addressing the prescient issues of the 21st Century from the ground up.
The following day by day trip report outlines four days at TPAC 2012. It is by no means comprehensive, rather, a summary of how I spent four very full days.
Detail of Days 1-4 – meetings, breakout sessions and more!
Days #1-#4 at TPAC 2012.