The Open Web Foundation was conceived last year to create a framework which helps communities behind open web specifications navigate the non-technical organizational and legal challenges that successful specifications are bound to encounter. Many community-driven standards efforts falter when it comes to the heavy investment of time figuring out how to work within our existing intellectual property laws and are often forced to create their own non-profit organization just to support a ten page specification.
Unlike open source software, there isn't yet the equivalent of the GPL, BSD or Apache licenses which can be applied to specifications and standards. The Foundation itself isn't creating the specifications, getting involved in the technical details or blessing standards. Instead, our goal is to "open source" the creation process itself. Just as open source software developers shouldn't have to learn the exact legal details of the GPL or Apache licenses, communities developing specifications and standards for the open web shouldn't have to become experts in copyright, trademark and patent law.
Towards this goal, we've made real progress on a new license which can be easily applied by the authors and editors of a specification; enforcing the core philosophy that open web specifications must be freely implementable by anyone anywhere. The best part, we're working with the people who went through this exact painful process for Microformats, OpenID, OAuth and OpenSocial to learn both from where they succeeded and failed. And we're doing this so that the same thing doesn't have to be done again and again for future specifications. You can find an early draft of this license within our legal discussion group.
Today, the Open Web Foundation is beginning to focus on growing our membership so that the creation of a legitimately elected board and a fair and transparent process may fully ensue. Embedded in this post is our membership application, which will stay active until the end of May. Our goal is to have an initial thirty-person membership within a week of closing the nominations and all new membership election done by the end of June.
While there are many different membership structures in use by organizations all over the web, we've decided to model our membership structure after that of the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). The ASF has done an amazing job bringing together a diverse and dedicated community around open source software and we continue applying what has worked for them to the Open Web Foundation.
So, here's the scoop if you're interested and we certainly want to hear from you if you've participated in the creation of Atom, Activity Streams, HTML 5, Microformats, Open Microblogging, OAuth, OpenSocial, OpenID, XMPP and other communities like these:
Interested individuals need to complete the short self-nomination questionnaire embedded below. The form includes basic information such as past community work you've done, any memberships in related organizations, your main area of interest and contribution, the top two goals you'd have for the organization and names of other community members who they have worked with. It should take less than ten minutes to fill the form. Submissions will remain private.
Ready? Go! (And please let us know if you have any questions.)
Update: Our initial membership drive is over, but stay tuned as we'll be adding new members over time.
(Thanks Nate DiNiro in helping write this post!)