"The great thing about standards is that every company gets to have one." The first time I heard that expression was around 1995. Proclaimed by Joel Shore, a former-boss-now-friend, it was one of the many truisms at the time. A good many standards bodies and arbiters have cropped up since the mid-1990s, the latest of which was today.

The Open Web Foundation "is an independent non-profit dedicated to the development and protection of open, non-proprietary specifications for Web technologies," according to a purpose statement on its Web site. The organization currently includes about two dozen individuals and companies the likes of Facebook, Google, MySpace, O'Reilly, Sourceforge and Yahoo.

The Open Web Foundation hopes to become a home for community-driven specifications in the tradition of the Apache Software Foundation. The organization will build "a lightweight framework to help communities deal with the legal requirements necessary to create successful and widely adopted specification."

Though it doesn't appear to be governed or steered by any single company, the OWF sounds similar in some ways to the Java Community Process. "The details regarding membership, governance, sponsorship, and intellectual property rights will be posted for public review and feedback in the following weeks," its Web site proclaims. "As we work out the fine details of the foundation, we invite and encourage individuals to come and join the discussion...You are also invited to join the community and discuss ideas and specifications you would like to see developed within the foundation."

In an interactive FAQ section, one person asked about the relationship between the organization and "already-established standards organizations like W3C and IETF?" Scott Kveton, self-described digital identity promoter and open source contributor, replied this way: "OWF is not a standards body. Rather it helps communities to develop open specifications which can later be contributed to standards bodies like the IETF, OASIS, or W3C. OWF helps to ensure that an open specification gains adoption and has clean IPR so that it can be worked on by a standards body.

The news came this morning at OSCon, the Open Source Conference, in a presentation by David Recordon, an OWF contributor and open platforms tech lead at blogging-tools maker Six Apart.