Correction, 12:05 p.m. PDT: This blog initially misspelled David Recordon's last name.
Recordon, Open Platforms Tech Lead at Six Apart, told me that the OWF's mission is to bring a legal framework, consistency, and communication to the various existing Web standards efforts now under way. As he notes, projects like OAuth and OpenID are similar but being run separately. OWF will provide frameworks that existing and new projects can work within, and try to secure agreements that will keep standards groups from taking legal action against each other.
The goal is admirable and there are plenty of people with strong experience in creating standards that are behind this effort. But I asked Recordon if OWF was just another layer of bureaucracy, and would thus slow down standards making. He said it's a danger, but obviously he feels that assurances of freedom from legal action would make working with the OWF worth the effort.
Facebook, clearly, is supporting the effort. Google, Yahoo, and MySpace have also pledged support. The list of individuals and companies backing the project is on this OWF page.
Here's Recordon's slide deck from his OSCON talk: