Joining GS1

GS1 logo: a blue circle within which there are some concentric semi-circular lines suggesting transmission of some kind

Having said farewell to W3C, it's time to say hello to GS1.

Don't worry, almost no one has ever heard of GS1, and yet it's everywhere. If it's known at all, then it's as 'the barcode people' - that is, it's the organisation behind the bar codes you see on just about every product you ever buy and that gets scanned at the checkout. Behind that, there's a whole set of standards and infrastructure that supports the supply chains.

A sculpture: a sheet of steel, roughly the size of a door, with a bar code cut into it, complete with numbers along the bottom.
The barcode as art. This is one of many pieces of art inspired by bar codes; this one is at the Centre for Alternative Technology near Machynlleth

My role will be to help apply some of the knowledge gained about the Web, embdedded data, search engines and so on, to the world of online retail, I hope helping to develop an ecosystem around authoritative, readily available product data. In many respoects therefore it's a continuation of my work at W3C - which I'm obviously pleased about.

It's way too early to predict what I'm going to be able to achieve. The community is very different from what I'm used to. For a start, GS1 members make money for a living whilst many W3C members get money to do cool stuff; W3C operates almost entirely in public, GS1 largely operates behind a firewall and so on. So my immediate challenge is to understand and work within the methods of the new job, learn how things work, get to know the people and so on. So, forgive the lack of detail here - I'll probbaly say more when I have got my feet under the table and get a good sense of what I can and can't do.

It's an exciting new challenge and one I'm looking forward to.