The W3C and Standards

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international organisation founded by Tim Berners-Lee and others as an industry consortium to oversee the development of Web standards. W3C's stated aim is:

To lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure long-term growth for the Web.

W3C does this by developing interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools). W3C has a full-time staff, and is jointly administered by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) based in France, and Keio University in Japan. Its members include organisations and individuals from around the world. The organisation also has many World Offices in many regions of the world that work with the Internet communities in their region to promote W3C technologies and standards in local languages, broaden the organisation's geographical base, and encourage international participation in W3C activities.

W3C activities are organised around Working Groups that undertake technical development, Interest Groups that deal with more general issues, and Coordination Groups that facilitate communication between related groups. W3C has a permanent team of over sixty researchers and engineers from around the world who lead the technical activities undertaken by working groups. The size of each working group varies, but typically each group is led by a member of the W3C team, and participants include representatives from member organisations, and invited experts. The working groups produce most of the W3C's deliverables, including technical reports, Web standards, open source software, and services (for example, validation services). The groups work closely with other standards bodies and the various technical communities. W3C has published well over a hundred standards, called W3C Recommendations, since it was founded 1n 1994. The primary goal of W3C is to ensure that fundamental Web technologies are compatible with each other (interoperable). Open standards and Web protocols are seen as essential if the Web is to continue to be a universally accessible medium.