Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Web Focus Corner: The World Wide Web Consortium

Brian Kelly ponders whether the academic community can have a role in shaping the web of the future.

Launch of the W3C-LA Initiative

On Wednesday 3rd December Tim Berners-Lee, the British computer scientist who invented the World Wide Web, was one of the guest speakers at a meeting held in London to mark the launch of the W3C-LA, an initiative funded by the European Union’s Esprit programme aimed at leveraging the Web for European Industry. The meeting [1] provided an opportunity for W3C staff members to summarise recent developments to web protocols. The presentations were accompanied by poster displays and demonstrations.

As described in the W3C’s Press Release [2], the leveraging action is aimed at accelerating the adoption of innovative web software developments. Work to be carried out within W3C-LA includes the development of Demonstrator systems, including implementations of new HTTP technologies, aimed at improving the performance of the web, use of new CSS and HTML facilities to demonstrate best practices for information providers, PICS for rating and filtering materials, etc. A series of Symposia and Workshops will be held which will describe web advances and the development of the demonstrators.

W3C-LA is run by INRIA, the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control and W3C host in Europe, in partnership with CLRC-RAL, the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils-Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom. To enhance the communication between W3C and the Web community, W3C have opened a number of offices. The UK Office is based at CLRC-RAL [3]. CLRC-RAL have produced further information about W3C-LA [4].

Joining W3C

The launch of W3C-LA and the establishment of W3C Offices in the UK should be welcomed by members of the UK Higher Education community, as it will help in developing links with the body responsible for coordinating web developments.

JISC [5] and UKERNA [6] have been members of W3C for some time but, until very recently, no UK universities have joined. It is now timely for institutions to consider joining.

W3C feel that by joining W3C, institutions can maximise the potential of their business while helping W3C to achieve its mission: “to realise the full potential of the Web”.

The reasons for joining W3C can be summarised as:

W3C Members become the best informed organisations about the Web allowing mature decision making.
W3C Members are seen to be the play-makers evolving the Web and its services. All the main players are Members.
W3C Members participate in the policy forming activities that chart the future of the Web.
W3C Members submit proposals, make and implement decisions that shape the future of the Web.
W3C Members through their involvement with W3C become the preferred suppliers or the expert users of Web products and services.

Universities can join W3C as associate members for a membership subscription of $5,000 per annum. It should be noted that the associate membership, which is open to non-profit making organisations and businesses with a gross revenue under $50M, entitles the organisation to full membership priviliges.

What Next?

If you feel that your organisation would benefit from active participation with W3C and the W3C working groups, you should consider joining. Universities with research interests in hypertext systems, networked information, communications and data formats may well have much to contribute, as well as to gain, by establishing close links with experts in W3C Working Groups. Universities who are active in developing networked information services or distance learning could benefit.

If you would like further details, please contact Brian Kelly, who, as UK Web Focus, is the JISC representative on W3C. Brian can be contacted by sending email to B.Kelly@ukoln.ac.uk, by phoning 01225 323943 or at the address given below.


  1. Evolution of the Web: Impact on European Industry,
  2. World Wide Web Consortium Launches W3C-LA Initiative,
  3. Rutherford Appleton Laboratory,
  4. W3C-LA: World Wide Web Consortium - Leveraging Action,
  5. JISC,
  6. UKERNA,

Author Details

Brian Kelly
UK Web Focus,
Email: B.Kelly@ukoln.ac.uk
UKOLN Web Site: http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/
Tel: 01225 323943
Address: UKOLN, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY