2011: The Year of Web Governance
Six years ago when I searched for “Web governance” on the World Wide Web, I got next to nothing. Today, it’s a different story. If you search for “Web governance,” you get all sorts of links-- some relate to governance of the World Wide Web, some to governance of the Internet. There’s a lot about website and content governance, and some about the type of work I focus on-- which is corporate Web governance. All of these “Web governances” have relevance and need to be addressed by experts with a broad range of expertise—legal, human resource, IT, Web, editorial, and more.
As the Web matures so must the mechanisms that support it. That means regulation and standards—nasty words to some. For the global population, the challenge is to keep what’s great about the World Wide Web, like open standards and freedom of expression, while simultaneously protecting people from the unique risks inherent in interacting online. It’s a challenge and there’s going to be some controversy and debate—always. For organizations, a challenge lies in defining its online identity and then establishing the right development standards so that online quality is ensured but innovation is not stifled. And, there will be a pull between accountability to the corporate brand and individual business unit autonomy—always.
Over time, I think there will be accepted common practices in corporate Web governance. I see a lot of those practices emerging within organizations in all arenas. And, I hope to write about those this year. I also expect to see Web governance best practices form around verticals like higher education and healthcare, and around types of sites like e-commerce and intranets. But in the end, there will be as much diversity in organizational Web governance practices as there is in the look and feel and functionality of online sites. The devil is in the details of mission, metrics, policy and standards and the culture of the organization (among other things).
So, if you are responsible for the Web in your organization, your job in 2011 is to find the right balance of regulation and freedom which supports your organizational web aims. It’s also your job to monitor legislatives trends related to the Internet and World Wide Web and consider how they may impact what your organization is trying to get done online and, it’s also your job to understand and help manage how money flows around Web development and to quantifying and promote the value of the Web to those inside the organization who just don't get it.
It’s not just about the content and apps when it comes to Web governance. If you want to lead the Web in your organization, you have to lead the whole thing. You can’t just do the fun parts.
There is a lot of room for debate and discussion about Web governance and I hope that conversation will move forward in earnest this year. I’m determined that 2011 will be the year it all starts to come together. Why? Because it’s time and we’re going to make it happen. So, look for more news (and a place to read more) in the next few months. I’ll be collaborating with colleagues to create a place where we can have the Web governance conversation and begin to develop and discuss best practices. It should be good and I hope you'll participate.
Have a good year.