The New Yorker has an excellent piece on web standards and W3C:

Billions of humans will use the Web over the next decade, yet not many of those people are in a position to define what is “the Web” and what isn’t. The W3C is in that position. So who is in this cabal? What is it up to? Who writes the checks?

A great explanation of the idea of web standards, why they are needed, who is responsible for them, the history of the process, and the various contraversies and conflicting interests that have bought us to this point.

Well worth reading.