W3C’s Blockchain Workshop & Industry Standards

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has just wrapped up its “Blockchains and the Web Workshop,” which took place on June 29-30 at the MIT Media Lab, with a broad array of innovators exploring digital ledger industry standards throughout the two-day event.

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W3C Event at MIT Discusses Tying Blockchains to World Wide Web Standardization

W3C-Validation-Not-Part-Of-Google-Search-Engine-AlgoritmW3C was founded by the Internet pioneer Tim Berners-Lee at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994 to help produce industry standards and compatibility with projects on the world wide web.

The distributed ledger workshop concentrated on blockchains being “part of the web” that enable interoperability with different protocols and technology stacks. The workshop held was sponsored by Blockstream and the NTT Group the Japanese telecommunications firm.

The first presentation started off with W3C’s Doug Schepers, describing the purpose and his perspective of the two-day workshop. The introduction gave attendees a synopsis of how collaboration can help successfully tie together digital identity protocols, intellectual property, blockchain APIs and consensus solutions, Provenance, and many more subjects surrounding the digital ledger “kitchen sink.”

With different blockchain projects such as Hyperledger, Ethereum, and Bitcoin the question asked is how can web developers take advantage of distributed ledger technology?

W3C GraphicSchepers invited attendees to come up with themes that supported interoperability and industry standards concepts. Topics included ecosystem ownership, collaborative consensus, adoption, frictional environments, and diversity. Blockstream contributed visuals for the meshing of individual topics listed in the presentations during the event.

W3C does not necessarily envision an immediate standardization of work but believe the exploratory workshop aims to start the discussion. W3C’s Blockchain Workshop website states:

“We are seeking blockchain and Web experts to gather together to discuss what needs to happen to integrate blockchains into the Web.”

After Doug Schepers broad array of topics, Wendy Selzer began her introduction and slideshow “Intro to W3C standards,” discussing the many workshops progressing to achieve worldwide web standardization.

Within the distributed ledger landscape, there are many applicable ways to maintain industry standards that workshops and innovators have been using for quite some time. These include established W3C open standards such as Web payments, Web cryptography, Web application securityHTML media extensionsPrivacy, and more included within Selzer’s slideshow and discussion.

The introduction presentations were followed by Arvind Narayanan’s topic of tethering the web to blockchain technology with various use case scenarios. Some methods described were the redefining methods of graceful failure, Internet of Things solutions for automobiles, and blockchain receipts in the real world. Narayanan is best known for his work as an assistant professor of computer science at Princeton and his well-known crypto-blog Freedom to Tinker.

Alongside his contributions, Narayanan is also one of the co-authors of the Princeton University Bitcoin textbook and the cryptocurrency online course Coursera.

W3C Graphic

The event’s blockchain program committee was filled with a variety of industry representatives from businesses and development teams from LedgerX, Blockstream, Intel, Microsoft, Eris Industries, IBM Blockchain Labs, ConsenSys, Digital Currency Initiative, Blockstack, EthCore, and of course W3C members.

Other topics during the two-day event included the contrast between distributed ledger technology and traditional databases used today, ISO standards, and the integrity of electronic record keeping first introduced in 1996 by archival Professor Luciana Duranti.

The World Wide Web Consortium hopes workshops such as the conference at MIT Media Labs will continue to progress blockchain research with “primary outcomes to bring different voices and perspectives together.”

What do you think about tethering industry standards to blockchain technology? Let us know in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Blockstream’s MIT slides, MIT Media Lab, W3C.