Blockchains and the Web

A W3C Workshop on Distributed Ledgers on the Web

29–30 June 2016, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Many projects and companies are looking at ways to use the Bitcoin blockchain or other public or private distributed ledgers, to record an immutable timestamped public record that can be independently verified by any stakeholder.

What does this mean for Web technologies, beyond payments? What emerging capabilities could blockchains enable for the Web, such as distributed identity management? Conversely, should features be added to the Web Platform and to browsers to enable blockchain use cases, such as a JavaScript blockchain API to write to blockchain nodes? With the proliferation of different approaches and technology stacks (like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Hyperledger), is there a need for interchange formats, protocols, or APIs to share transaction data across services and stacks or between public and private networks? What will help Web developers to take advantage of blockchains?

When we talk about blockchains as “part of the Web”, we face some specific questions: How does this fit into the same origin security model of the Web? What are the privacy implications, especially when talking about identity management? What part of the Web stack would be involved: client-side, server-side, protocols, interchange formats? What is the relationship to payments, including W3C's Web Payments work?

What timelines make sense for looking at standardization for Web-centric aspects of blockchain technologies? Who are the key stakeholders (individuals, organizations, and industries) involved to make sense of the blockchain landscape? What are the next steps? How should we prioritize the radical innovations that are emerging around blockchains?

These are questions this workshop aims to answer, and we are seeking blockchain and Web experts to gather together to discuss what needs to happen to integrate blockchains into the Web. This is an exploratory workshop; our goal is to start the conversation in the context of features for the Web, and to review critical questions for incubation. We do not foresee immediate standardization work.

Want to learn more? Attend our weekly webinar!

Leading up to the event, Media Lab's Dazza Greenwood is hosting a weekly video webinar with notable attendees, every Thursday at 3:00 PM EDT. You can also view past webinars, if you missed one. You can find more details on the dedicated page for the webinar.

Want to attend? Have something insightful to share?

We currently have a limit of only 70 attendees at the workshop. We want to fill the room with deep knowledge about blockchain and the Web, with positive and productive energy, and with imaginative minds that can apply lessons learned about blockchain to the Web stack. We won't just be listening to presentations, but will be actively participating in topic breakouts and working discussions.

If you want to participate, please fill out the expression of interest form or submit a position statement.

Please note, expressions of interest and position statements are not presentation proposals. This is a workshop, not a conference, and any presentations will be short, with topics suggested by expressions of interest and decided by the chairs and program committee. Our goal is to actively discuss topics, not to watch presentations.

Attendees are encouraged to read all accepted expressions of interest prior to the workshop, to facilitate informed discussion.

Attendance is free for all invited participants, and open to the public, whether or not W3C members.

Unfortunately, the workshop budget does not allow us to provide travel or lodging expenses to attendees.

Workshop topics

Possible topics include, but are not limited to the following:

Out of Scope

Position statements

A position statement is not required to attend (you can fill out the expression of interest form instead), but it does help set the topic discussions and to establish a particular point of view. If you wish, you can send us a position statement at <team-blockchain-submission@w3.org>, by 9 June 2016. Our program committee will review the expressions of interest, and select the most relevant topics and perspectives.

A good position statement should be a few paragraphs (between 500 and 1000 words) and should include:

Position statements must be in English, and HTML or plain-text format; images should be included inline in HTML using base64-encoded data URIs. You may include multiple topics, but we ask that each person submit only a single coherent position statement. All suitable submitted expressions of interest will be published and linked to from this workshop page.

Who Should Attend

Attendance is open to all, and our aim is to get a diversity of attendees from a variety of industries and communities, including:

Standardization Counter-arguments

There are a lot of voices and conflicting opinions in the blockchain communities. Are you skeptical that standardization should be discussed at all? We also welcome expressions of interest on issues that pose challenges to standardization, helpful to frame workshop topics and serve as a reality check. Please label these submissions “Standards Con” to distinguish them.

Event Archive Policy: Video and Transcripts

For posterity and for those unable to attend this workshop, we may be recording video and/or audio of the event, and will provide live notes (minuted in IRC) of the presentations and group discussion. Participants will be asked to sign a media waiver.


The goal of the workshop is exploratory. One of the primary outcomes is to bring different voices and perspectives together.

While we hope to identify opportunities and possible timelines for standardization, we do not anticipate that W3C will form a Working Group as a direct result of this workshop. Instead, if we do identify areas that need Web standardization, our aim would be to incubate and refine these ideas, to make sure that the right steps are taken at the right time for the key stakeholders involved.

What is W3C?

W3C is a voluntary standards consortium that convenes companies and communites to help structure productive discussions around existing and emerging technologies, and offers a Royalty-Free patent framework for Web Recommendations. We focus primarily on client-side (browser) technologies, and also have a mature history of vocabulary (or “ontology”) development. W3C develops work based on the priorities of our members and our community.


W3C's Blockchain Workshop is located on the 6th floor of the MIT Media Lab. The host is the Human Dynamics Lab at MIT Media Lab. Organizations interested in becoming sponsors are encouraged to contact the organizers.


MIT Media Lab

75 Amherst St

Room E14, 6th floor

Cambridge, MA 02139

United States

Wednesday–Thursday, 29–30 June 2016


Social Media and Remote Participation

Tweets and other social messages are encouraged to use the hashtag #blockchainweb. Please be respectful and accurate when quoting others.

We may have a live video stream… details will follow.


Program Committee



Participants, Position Statements, and Expressions of Interest

You can read all the current expressions of interest (alternate view).

You can also read the Program Committee review ratings for each Position Statement and Expression of Interest.

Registered attendees at the workshop are indicated with a blue triangle.


The workshop will focus around several topics identified by the expressions of interest. Each topic will be introduced by one or more related lightning talks, and will be explored more in-depth by discussion breakouts, conlcuded with joint summaries of the breakouts. The goal of the discussion is not be to resolve the technical issues of the topic, but to determine its relevance and priority to standardization.

This schedule may change based on discussions with the program commitee.

Day 1: 29 June

08:00–08:30 Registration
08:30–08:45 Opening remarks by Doug Schepers
08:45–09:00 Keynote: “Intro to W3C standards” Wendy Seltzer, W3C.
09:00–09:45 Intro Exercise: Collaboration Stories (3 phases: small breakout, merged breakout, report out “Secret Sauce”)
09:45–10:00 Break
10:00–10:30 Keynote: Arvind Narayanan, “Blockchains, decentralization, and standards”
10:30–11:00 Lightning Talks on Identity, including reputation, personal data, KYC (4–5 talks)
11:00–12:15 Exercise: Identity (3 phases: breakout, report out, group discussion)
12:15–13:30 Lunch, Birds of a Feather Topic tables
13:30–14:00 Lightning Talks on Provenance, including licensing of IP, assets, and services (4–5 talks)
14:00–15:00 Exercise: Provenance (3 phases: breakout, report out, group discussion)
15:00–15:30 Break (includes self-organizing evening plans)
15:30–16:00 Lightning Talks and open group discussion
17:00–17:15 Closing statements
18:30–24:00 Self-organized evening plans

Day 2: 30 June

08:00–08:30 Registration
09:00–09:45 Lightning Talks on Blockchain Primitives & APIs and The Kitchen Sink, including all other topics
09:45–10:00 Break
10:00–12:00 Exercise: Blockchain Primitives & APIs and The Kitchen Sink (3 phases: breakout, report out, group discussion)
12:00–12:15 Exercise: Passions & Commitments
12:15–13:30 Lunch, Discussions of Passions & Commitments
13:30–13:45 Personal Exercise: “Propose what would you like to see W3C or this community work on together”
13:45–14:00 Exercise: Dot Voting on proposals
14:00–14:45 Facilitated Discussion: Emerging Priorities for W3C & Community
14:45–15:00 Break
15:00–15:30 Close: Recap by Bailey Reutzel, Actions Items, & Commitments
15:30–17:30 Demos and Open Discussion


Arvind Narayanan is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Princeton. He leads a research team investigating the security, anonymity, and stability of cryptocurrencies as well as novel applications of blockchains. He co-created an online course and textbook on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency technologies. He also leads the Princeton Web Transparency and Accountability project to uncover how companies collect and use personal information. He other research interests include decentralization, information privacy and security, and technology policy.


MIT Media Lab

MIT Media Lab home page




Becoming a Sponsor

For details on the available sponsorship opportunities for this workshop, see our Sponsorship Packages.

Becoming a Sponsor

W3C Workshops, meetups, and other events bring you into direct contact with leading Web technology experts: representatives from industry, research, government, and the developer community.

Whether your interests are focused on a particular topic being discussed by a Working Group, or you wish to reach a diverse international audience setting W3C's strategic direction, sponsorship helps your organization reach W3C's engaged participants.

Sponsorships offset a portion of our meeting costs, so W3C welcomes multiple sponsors for each event. All proposals for sponsorship are subject to W3C approval.

If you're interested in being a sponsor of the W3C Blockchains Workshop, please contact J. Alan Bird, Global Business Development Leader, at <abird@w3.org> or +1 617 253 7823.

For additional information, please visit the W3C sponsorship program.