W3C Launches Push for Social Web Application Interoperability

See the original press release here: http://www.w3.org/2014/06/social.html.en

W3C and OpenSocial Foundation Increase Collaboration to Reduce Fragmentation

W3C today launched a new activity to develop standards to make it easier to build and integrate social applications with the Open Web Platform. Future standards —including vocabularies for social applications, activity streams, embedded experiences and in-context actions, and protocols to federate social information such as status updates— will address use cases that range from social business applications, to cross-organization federation, to greater user control over personal data.

“OpenSocial is very excited to support and participate in this new W3C Activity,” said John Mertic, President of The OpenSocial Foundation, who, with IBM and Telecom Italia, recently submitted material as input to the standardization effort. “The OpenSocial Foundation exists to break down barriers between the often siloed systems people rely on at work. We do this because, today more than ever, people need to be able to effortlessly connect on the job to get things done and barriers between the systems they rely on prevent seamless collaboration. This W3C Activity provides additional focus and resources to ensure that all enterprise applications can Be Social Together.”

Standards to Address a Range of Use Cases from Business to Individual

Businesses are turning increasingly to social applications, and a recent study confirms that businesses that embrace social tools to share knowledge internally, collaborate with suppliers, and listen to their customers experience much greater growth than those that do not. In a modern organization that has diverse IT systems, BYOD policies, remote workers, and regional partnerships, crucial information about business process status can be lost in email or when different systems do not interoperate. Open standards are the key to scalable integration.

Consider a business-to-business sales environment where a salesperson is using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Upon closing a sale with a new account, the salesperson needs to update colleagues in finance, professional services, and other departments. Interoperable standards for status updates (activity streams, for example) makes it easier for the finance department to approve a contract and professional services to update a timesheet, even if they are using very different applications.

Interoperability needs extend naturally beyond the firewall. If two organizations wish to cooperate on a venture, they face the problem of securely collaborating via potentially very different access control and messaging systems. A system based on open standards that enables the federation of decentralized status updates and private groups can help two organizations communicate.

The group’s work is not limited to social business use cases. Some users would like greater control over their own social data, and share their data selectively across various systems. For example, the standards that will be developed will enable a user to host her own blog and use federated status updates to both push and pull social information to a variety of other social networking sites.

W3C has discussed social business requirements at the 2013 W3C Workshop on Social Standards: The Future of Business and the 2011 Social Business Jam before that, as well as in the Social Business Community Group. Ideas for managing such federation have been developed by the Federated Social Web Community Group and the Incubator Group that preceded it.

W3C’s New Social Activity

W3C chartered two groups today to carry out these activities:

  •  The Social Web Working Group will define the technical standards and APIs to facilitate access to social functionality as part of the Open Web Platform. These include a common JSON-based syntax for social data, a client-side API, and a Web protocol for federating social information such as status updates.
  • The Social Interest Group will co-ordinate messaging around social at the W3C and formulate a broad strategy to enable social business and federation. It will harvest use-cases and review specifications produced by technical working groups in the light of those use-cases.

The Social Web Working Group’s first face-to-face meeting will take place the last week of October, as part of TPAC 2014, W3C’s annual gathering of Working Groups.

This work is funded in part by the European Commission through the D-CENT Project, which creates privacy-aware tools and applications for direct democracy and economic empowerment.

Media Contacts
For W3C, Ian Jacobs, <w3t-pr@w3.org>, +1.718 260 9447
For OpenSocial: Greg Wallace, <vp-marketing@opensocial.org>, +1.919.247.3165

About the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. The Open Web Platform is a current major focus. Over 385 organizations are Members of the Consortium. W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France, Keio University in Japan, and Beihang University in China, and has additional Offices worldwide. For more information see http://www.w3.org.

About the OpenSocial Foundation
The OpenSocial Foundation invests in and shepherds the industry’s leading and most mature standards-based component model for enterprise interoperability. OpenSocial specs make it easy for apps to reach users where they get work done; in their activity stream, in content, in email, or even on their mobile device.
Widely supported by leading enterprise social platforms such as IBM Connections, Jive Software and TIBCO tibbr, by Systems Integrators like MITRE Corporation, and by enterprise ISVs like SugarCRM, OpenSocial specifications foster the development of a growing set of socially-aware off-the-shelf applications. Through open source projects such as Apache Rave and Shindig, and Activity Streams Action Handlers, OpenSocial provides a well-defined way for 3rd-party applications to richly interact with users directly in their activity stream. Learn more at www.opensocial.org.

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