Well, it stands for the World Wide Web Consortium, and of course it has a website. Tim Berners-Lee is its director. W3C’s mission is to establish open standards on the web.

Here’s a piece by Liz Daly who is involved in trying to establish standards for web displays. The thing about standards is that until they become second nature to us all, standards are excruciatingly boring to most people in publishing. But thank goodness that there are people who love to get into this gritty detail: in the end we are all the gainers. I’ve no idea whether we had intense debates back when as to how a footnote should be indicated, but I expect we did. Maybe people would argue that a dot below the line would be better than an asterisk, or that a number preceding the word would be clearer, or bolding the word could indicate the existence of a note, or putting the note in the margin right next to the reference would be most convenient. One knows that one of the rules of human interaction is that the more trivial the point at issue, the more frantic and partisan the debaters will become. If any such knock-down-drag-out arguments did actually take place they would have been between scribes, as the system appears to have been sorted out before Gutenberg’s invention got going. Erik Kwakkel covers this history in his post: The Medieval origins of the modern footnote.

Now, via Digital Book World, comes news of W3C’s exploring a merger with the IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum). “We share an exciting vision for W3C and IDPF to fully align the publishing industry and core Web technology,” said Berners-Lee. “This will create a rich media environment for digital publishing that opens up new possibilities for readers, authors, and publishers.” Can’t argue against that.

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