W3C Technical Plenary / Advisory Committee Meetings Week 2008

I spent last week in France, near Cannes, at the W3C TPAC meeting. This is the one big meeting that the W3C has every year to bring together all (or most) of the technical working groups and other active groups at the W3C.

It was not my first time at a standards body meeting – I have been part of ISO/MPEG before and also of IETF, and spoken with people at IEEE and SMPTE. However, this time was different. I felt like I was with people that spoke my language. I also felt like my experience was valued and will help solving some of the future challenges for the Web. I am very excited to be an invited expert on the Media Fragments and Media Annotations working groups and be able to provide input into HTML5.

In the Media Fragments working group we are developing a URI addressing scheme that enables direct linking to media fragments, in particular temporal and spatial segments. Experience from our earlier temporal URI scheme is one of the inputs to the scheme. Currently it looks likely that we will choose a scheme that has “#” in it and then require changes to browsers, Web proxys, and servers to enable delivery of media fragments.

In the Media Annotations working group we are deciding upon an ontology to generically describe media resources – something based on Dublin Core but more extended and more appropriate for audio and video. We are currently looking at Adobe’s XMP specification.

As for HTML5 – there was not much of a discussion at the TPAC meeting about the audio and video elements (unless I missed it by attending the other groups). However, from some of the discussions it became clear to me that they are still in very early stage of specification and much can be done to help define the general architecture of how to publish video on the Web and its metadata, help define javascript APIs and DOM models, and help define accessibility.

I actually gave a lightning talk about the next challenges of HTML5 video at TPAC (see my “video slides“) which points out the need for standard definitions of video structure and annotations together with an API to reach them. I had lots of discussions with people afterwards and also learnt a lot more about how to do accessibility for Web video. I should really write it up in an article…

Of course, I also met a lot of cool people at TPAC, amongst them Larry Masinter, Ian Hickson, and Tim Berners-Lee – past and new heros of Web standards. 🙂 It was totally awesome and I am very grateful to Mozilla for sending me there and enabling me to learn more about the greater picture of video accessibility and the role it plays on the Web.