With all the discussion, earlier in the month, on the way the W3C working groups are made up and operate, the influence of the browser and software producers on the web industry. We really have to consider do we have this around the right way. There has been calls for removal of the software producers from the working groups. Now I’m not going to debate that topic here, I think we have all done this to death at the moment.
Change it or not
However I think it’s time that the professional and semi-professional associations that represent the web industry in terms of implementers (designers and developers) should start to leverage their members around the world and join forces to join (lobby) the W3C and stop relying on invited experts to put their case.
At present the W3C is receiving membership (lobbyists) from anyone that can afford it. This is mostly software developers. The ground level of the Industry is only really represented by the invited experts on the various working groups. These positions are usually on a goodwill (unpaid) basis. These people being very talented and articulate communicators in their fields.
But at the end of the day they are not primarily lobbyists by profession they are designers and developers. Their time is dedicated to their jobs and businesses not lobbying for the web industry.
We bitch about web standards, we complain about lack of government understanding or our profession. But where are our lobbyists in this arena. Well we don’t have any! Sure there are the other professional computer or Internet industry lobbyists, but these are not primarily focused on the web industry. They tend to cater for the needs of IT managers and the ISP industry respectively.
What about WaSP you say. Again it’s made up of volunteers. I’m not saying scrap WaSP, or the current W3C working group structure, but that we need to channel the effort through a group of key paid professional lobbyists as well as the current efforts. And again both these groups aren’t going to help in the area of government lobbying. We have to meet the other industries face to face in the same arena.
Stepping it up
It’s time that the industry as a whole stepped up. To put the views of its web professionals on the table. The best way we can do this is get into the W3C as members (lobbyist) and also lobby government directly.
Now this is not going to require a lot of ground level organisation. All that’s going to be needed is the support (financial is good if possible) of a core lobby group (foundation) to represent the web industry.
There are hundreds of professional web industry associations around the world, such as AWIA and WIPA, for example. Now we don’t have to get them to merge together at all. They all serve their defined local purpose. But they all can’t afford to employ a lobbyist to lobby any level of government let alone bodies such as the W3C. So what is so wrong with a centralised foundation supported by the web professional associations to employ said lobbyists? Each association contributes what it can to the foundation.
Other professional industries are doing it, why not the web industry.
What can we do? Well doing nothing is the worst thing. Even if you don’t agree, discussion is good, blog about it, podcast about it, discuss it on Seesmic. Join your local web professional association, talk to their committee about it. Shout it from the roof tops. Email others, Twitter about it or write forum posts about it.
Time has come for a little more action and not just words. We all need to get out there in some small way and help our web communities.
Just get the idea out there. The industry needs to grow up. We need professional lobbyists.