W3C starts two new technical committees
to enable universal access to the World Wide Web by proposing and coordinating the adoption by the W3C of techniques, conventions, technologies, and designs that enable and enhance the use of W3C technology and the Web worldwide, with and between the various different languages, scripts, regions, and cultures.It appears as though the group isn't going to define any new technologies for this effort, but rather will work with other efforts in W3C to ensure that they consider internationalization from an early stage. This is good news because the Web is a global resource and hence the technologies behind it should also be likewise global in nature. We can only hope that the work of this group is able to influence the various Web Services working groups within the W3C umbrella and is picked up by OASIS (where the majority of WS-* work is done), because internationalization is sorely lacking in this area. Although XML is the lingua franca of Web Services, it would be nice if various faults, policies (maybe even the specifications themselves) were suitably internationalized.
Another W3C working group also got started recently, with the acronym POWDER, standing for Protocol for Web Description Resources. This group is to specify a protocol for publishing descriptions of Web resources using RDF, such that the structured meta-data can be authenticated and applied to groups of Web resources. Furthermore, the descriptions of resources should be retrievable independently of the resources themselves.
The working group's efforts will be based on previous work in the incubator space and will try to resolve a number of unanswered questions posed by that effort. These include:
... how a description for a resource applies (or not) to elements included within that resource (for example, an image in an HTML page), the detail of how to link resources to descriptions, how to resolve any conflicts in the description's data, and several relating to the mechanism for grouping resources ("label scope"). This last area is a vital aspect of the POWDER model but has wider applicability, for example in the Evaluation and Report Language [EARL], P3P's Policy Reference File [P3P] and in the functionality offered by robots.txt.
RDF, OWL and the Semantic Web in general have been heavily pushed by the W3C over the past few years, but have failed to ignite the vendor space, often seen to be sidelined by the arrival of Web Services. Over recent years we've seen attempts by both sides in the debate to embrace the other, so it will be interesting to see whether or not POWDER remains purely in the domain of Semantic Web or has applicability to Web Services.