This year’s W3C TPAC Plenary Day was a combination of the first ever AC open session in the early morning, and breakout sessions in the late morning and afternoon. Nick Doty proposed a breakout session for Sustainability for the Web and W3C which he & I volunteered to co-chair, as co-chairs of the Sustainability (s12y) CG which we created on Earth Day earlier this year. Nick & I met during a break on Wednesday afternoon and made plans for how we would run the session as a Sustainability CG meeting, which topics to introduce, how to deal with unproductive participation if any, and how to focus the latter part of the session into follow-up actions.
We agreed that our primary role as chairs should be facilitation. We determined a few key meeting goals, in particular to help participants:
- Avoid/minimize any trolling or fallacy arguments (based on experience from 2021)
- Learn who is interested in which sustainability topics & work areas
- Determine clusters of similar, related, and overlapping sustainability topics
- Focus on prioritizing actual sustainability work rather than process mechanics
- Encourage active collaboration in work areas (like a do-ocracy)
The session went better than I expected. The small meeting room was packed with ~20 participants, with a few more joining us on Zoom (which thankfully worked without any issues, thanks to the W3C staff for setting that up so all we had to do as chairs was push a button to start the meeting!).
I am grateful for everyone’s participation and more importantly the shared sense of collaboration, teamwork, and frank urgency. It was great to meet & connect in-person, and see everyone on video who took time out of their days across timezones to join us. There was a lot of eagerness in participation, and Nick & I did our best to give everyone who wanted to speak time to contribute (the IRC bot Zakim's two minute speaker timer feature helped).
Nick introduced himself and proposed topics of discussion for our breakout session.
- How we can apply sustainbility to web standards
- Goals we could work on as a community
- Consider metrics to enable other measures to take effect
- Measure the impact of the W3C meetings themselves
- Working mode and how we talk about sustainability in W3C
- Horizontal reviews
I introduced myself and my role at Mozilla as one our Environmental Champions, and noted that it’s been three years since we had the chance to meet in person at TPAC. Since then many of us who participate at W3C have recognized the urgency of sustainability, especially as underscored by recent IPCC reports. From the past few years of publications & discussions:
- The earliest published 2019 draft of the TAG Ethical Web Principles states that The web must be an environmentally sustainable platform
- 2021 TPAC breakout session on: Environmental Concerns and Sustainability (s12y) of Web Technologies
- 2022 W3C member-only Advisory Committee (AC) meeting panel on Sustainability at W3C (W3C Member-only link)
For our TPAC 2022 session, I asked that we proceed with the assumption of sustainability as a principle, and that if folks came to argue with that, that they should raise an issue with the TAG, not this meeting.
In the Call for Participation in the Sustainability Community Group, we highlighted both developing a W3C practice of Sustainability (s12y) Horizontal Review (similar to a11y, i18n, privacy, security) as proposed at TPAC 2021, and an overall venue for participants to discuss all aspects of sustainability with respect to web technologies present & future. For our limited meeting time, I asked participants to share how they want to have the biggest impact on sustainability at W3C, with the web in general, and actively prioritize our work accordingly.
Work Areas, Groups, Resources
Everyone took turns introducing themselves and expressing which aspects of sustainability were important to them, noting any particular background or applicable expertise, as well as which other W3C groups they are participating in, as opportunities for liaison and collaboration. Several clusters of interest emerged:
- Technologies to reduce energy usage
- W3C meetings and operations
- System Effects
- Horizontal Review
The following W3C Groups were noted which are either already working on sustainability related efforts or would be good for collaboration, and except for the TAG, had a group co-chair in the meeting!
- Multicast CG
- Web Performance WG (WebPerf)
- Sustainable Web Design CG (sustyweb)
- Technical Architecture Group (TAG)
I proposed adding a liaisons section to our public Sustainability wiki page accordingly explicitly listing these groups and specific items for collaboration. Participants also shared the following links to additional efforts & resources:
Sustainability Work In Public By Default
Noting that since all our work on sustainability is built on a lot of public work by others, the best chance of our work having an impact is to also do it publicly, I proposed that Sustainability CG work in public by default, as well as sustainability work at W3C in general, and that we send that request to the AB to advise W3C accordingly. The proposal was strongly supported with no opposition.
Active Interest From Organizations
There were a number of organizations whose representatives indicated that they are committed to making a positive impact on the environment, and would like to work on efforts accordingly in the Sustainability CG, or would at least see if they could contact experts at their organizations to see if any of them were interested in contributing.
- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
- Washington Post
Meeting Wrap-up And Next Steps
We finished up the meeting with participants signing up to work on each of the work areas (clusters of interest noted above) that they were personally interested in working on. This has been captured on our wiki: W3C Wiki: Sustainability Work Areas.
The weekend after the meeting I wrote up an email summary of the meeting & next steps and sent it directly to those who were present at the meeting, encouraging them to Join the Sustainability Community Group (requires a W3C account) for future emails and updates. Nick & I are also on the W3C Community Slack #sustainability channel which I recommended joining. Signup link: https://www.w3.org/slack-w3ccommunity-invite
Next Steps: we encouraged everyone signed up for a Work Area to reach out to each other directly and determine their preferred work mode, including in which venue they’d like to do the work, whether in the Sustainability CG, another CG, or somewhere else. We noted that work on sustainable development & design of web sites in particular should be done directly with the Sustainable Web Design CG (sustyweb), “a community group dedicated to creating sustainable websites”.
Some possibilities for work modes that Work Area participants can use:
- W3C Community Slack #sustainability channel
- public-sustainability email list of the Sustainability CG
- Our Sustainability wiki page, creating "/" subpages as needed
There is lots of work to do across many different areas for sustainability & the web, and for technology as a whole, which lends itself to small groups working in parallel. Nick & I want to help facilitate those that have the interest, energy, and initiative to do so. We are available to help Work Area participants pick a work mode & venue that will best meet their needs and help them get started on their projects.