What Is the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web. W3C was founded in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and author of the first Web server and client program as well as author of HyperText Markup Language (HTML), the computer language primarily used to publish information on the Web. W3C is composed of member organizations from Apple, Inc. to Zhejiang University who work together to develop and maintain standards for the Web as well as educating, developing software and serving as a forum for discussion about the Web. Members of W3C include businesses, nonprofit organizations, universities, governmental entities, and individuals.

W3C’s purpose is to create standards that allow common accessibility among all users of the Web, particularly by addressing incompatibility issues between industry vendors, essentially making it a quality control apparatus for the Web. Standards recommended by member organizations proceed through a four-step process before they are certified as being W3C-compatible.

According to the W3C’s Web site, their mission is “to lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure the long-term growth of the Web.” This includes the democratization of the web, making easier the sharing of information regardless of differences in technical capacity (hardware, software, and the multitude of devices with which one can access the Web), language, location or physical limitations, illustrated by the W3C’s standards for the use of closed captioning over the Web.

W3C’s standards also help maintain the open-endedness of the Web by working to maintain a trustworthy structure that allows individuals and networks from all over the world to communicate and share files safely for a multitude of purposes from participating in social networks to viewing filmed entertainment to archiving recorded material for reference and transcription.

W3C is administered by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in the United States, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) in France, Keio University in Japan and Beihang University in China. The W3C also has world offices in sixteen regions around the world, working with regional Web communities to promote W3C technologies in local languages, broaden W3C’s geographical base, and encourage international participation in W3C Activities.

As of November, Jeffrey Jaffe, former CTO of Novell, is the CEO of W3C. The W3C has a small staff and most of its work is done by experts in the consortium’s working groups.

What is the World Wide Web (WWW)?

Today, millions of computers are connected by the World Wide Web. This concept of WWW did not exist before three decades. World Wide Web has now connected every computer scattered across various cities in the globe. Without any effort, a person sitting in one corner of the world can access information present in a server which is physically located in another part of the world. Geographic location is not a consideration if you want to access information. World Wide Web technology has made it possible to gather knowledge about anything and everything. The rules of communication were broken by the advent of World Wide Web where a person can acquire knowledge without conversing with any other human being.

The history

The concept of World Wide Web evolved only in 1990. However, people were interested in connecting different computers right from 1945. A device made of microfilms was used to store and organize huge documents. Anybody who knows the way to access the microfilms can read the information in the documents. This idea was further enhanced in 1968 where the new concept of hypertext was introduced. This is the base of WWW. Hypertext enables linking and organizing documents in an effortless way. Irrespective of the size of the documents, they can be linked and organized within a small amount of time.

The basic step to World Wide Web was put forward by DARPA in 1972 when the agency did a project to connect various research centers. This project was done to centralize document control and facilitate information sharing. The content of the documents is separated from presentation enabling document retrieval in an easier way. This idea was further developed by Tim Berners-Lee from CERN laboratory in 1989. In 1990, he proposed a hypertext system and introduced the term World Wide Web. When the idea was proposed, nobody ever imagined that WWW would become a great success. In 1992, CERN introduced the first portable web browser using which documents were retrieved easily without the use of complex coding techniques.

World Wide Web evolution

The modern World Wide Web has many features including applications, data, API, multimedia, social platform and much more. This technology is improving everyday making more and more additions to the data and services that can be shared. HTML is the hypertext programming language which is used even today to generate web pages. As with any technology, web technology has also seen many changes from the past decade.

Web1.0 was the first web technology which enabled reading of documents. The user was presented with the document he wanted but he cannot make changes or feed any data. The content published on internet is readable only by the humans. Web 2.0 revolutionized internet allowing user interactions. The user can now enter details which the machine can read and manipulate. The need for offline communication reduced with the use of emails. The latest development in the World Wide Web is the Web 3.0 technology which is called the semantic web. This is in the developing phase where there is no centralized data control. It is an open schema using artificial intelligence to mimic human behavior.

Mobile Web vs World Wide Web – Bridging the Divide

The beginning of this century has seen the explosion of the World Wide Web. Overused, and sometimes even reviled, as the term “Web 2.0” can be, nobody can deny that it has further enriched the Internet. In recent months, an offshoot of Web 2.0 has been emerging – the Mobile Web. With the Internet almost reaching its maximum potential – at least until the next major development breaks through – all gears are now shifting to the next frontier – the MOBILE.

Simply put, Mobile Web is the World Wide Web accessed through mobile phones and other mobile devices. The advancement of mobile devices from different makers has spurred its growth. Cutting edge gadgets such as Apple’s iPhone have brought even more attention to the endless possibilities of mobile web.

Users with mobile phones and other hand-held devices that have built-in web browsers can view regular websites on their devices even with its smaller screens. However, there is still the inconvenience factor of having to keep on scrolling sideways and downwards to completely view the web pages. This is where mobile sites come in. Mobile sites are mini-websites formatted to fit the smaller screens of mobile phones and other mobile devices. Though there are some features that are only possible with regular websites, users can still do almost the same things on a mobile site as they can on a regular website.

But is mobile web exactly the same as the World Wide Web? Is it simply the World Wide Web in miniature? Will it ever totally replace the World Wide Web? The answer is no. Mobile web, for all its rich features and interactivity, still does not really approximate the World Wide Web especially in terms of functionality due to device and format limitations. Users cannot really expect mobile sites to look and behave exactly as a regular website would.

A mobile site entails different programming scripts from regular websites. The range of coding scripts, CSS style sheets and fonts, among others, are limited in mobile web. Also, a lot of mobile devices default to their own font sizes and families. There are also limitations on interactivity and applications. Another issue is connectivity. People on mobile devices go in and out of coverage areas, and the amount of bandwidth can surge up and down, thus possibly hindering a full mobile web experience.

The device itself also plays a factor in the divide between the World Wide Web and the mobile web. Handhelds are not as powerful as desktops or portable computers when it comes to data handling and processing and display of rich media. There is also a limitation on navigation capability. Desktop-style navigation schemes may work on mobile devices, but not really as well as they do on PCs because of the smaller screen size and limited scrolling and pointing capabilities.

Limitations aside, however, mobile web has great potential and is slated to be ‘the next big thing’ in Internet technology. The one great edge of mobile web is instant access – the ability to connect people anytime, anywhere they are, and at the exact moment. The day may come when the divide between the World Wide Web and the mobile web will be bridged, but until then, many individuals and companies are coming up with different ways to narrow the gap.

There are currently several mobile site providers that offer tools for users to create and edit their own mobile sites through an Internet-connected PC. Each of these providers have its own unique features and advantages.

In spite of the limitations of mobile web, it is still a very important development that brings the Internet to even more people across the globe. In the future, mobile web may eventually run alongside the World Wide Web in terms of features and functionality. But until then, the key is to find ways to maximize the mobile web and make it work for your specific needs.