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World Wide Web Standards

Sunday 15 August, 2004 ( 5:29PM GMT)

Meeting up with some well-known UK bloggers this weekend has inspired me to get off my arse (or rather get on it) and get back into posting on the Dog Blog. If I've got enough time to play twenty games of Freecell or Reversi a day, I've got no excuses.

The meet-up was great. It's always nice to put a face to work you have been reading for some time (Ah! So that's what Jon Hicks looks like!). Discussions covered a plethora of topics. Is usability really that important? Are certain recent blog redesigns good or ghastly? If we all went to SXSW next year, should we go as tweed-adorned aristocrats or as tattooed, shaven-headed football hooligans? Is it worth paying the extra money for a Canon Eos 10D over a 300D? And who uses a 3,200 ISO anyway? Hey! Wasn't that Keira Knightley? She's much spottier in real life.

Not that it was ever in doubt, the meet-up confirmed that these are very intelligent and passionate people. Being at the forefront of web design, they have a genuine interest in how to do things in the best possible way, pushing web technologies and design principles as far as they can possibly be pushed. They are people that really know what they're talking about, and, luckily for the rest of us, they also know how to clearly communicate their knowledge and opinions to others.

The pro-web standards voice in the UK has become quite a loud (yet intelligent and eloquent) one of late, with some blogs becoming incredibly popular and other ones bursting onto the scene and making quite an impact.

Without wanting to sound like a queen loving, Cliff Richard listening, Union-Jack boxer-short wearing extreme patriot, I'm proud of the UK's contribution to the recent good-practice standards revolution and I'm proud that I can be a part of it. If there were a Web Standards Olympics, our team would be a serious medal contender.

The UK contribution is an example of an increasingly widening interest-base. Web standards was once an area very much lead by America (as general web design was in the mid to late 1990's) but is increasingly becoming a much more international community.
Obviously, there is still a large number of high-profile bloggers, authors and general campaigners who hail from the USA. And Canada has the likes of Dave Shea and Joe Clark. Australia (especially thanks to the Web Standards Group, I think) also stands out, with an impressive number of recognisable names (such as Russ Weakley and Cameron Adams) for such a relatively small and widely dispersed country. Germany and the Netherlands also seem to have a fair few standards enthusiasts tucked away.

There does seem to be various levels of interest from different nations (why doesn't this site get a lot of visitors from Mauritius?). There are obviously lots of factors involved in this, the main ones of which I would assume are the state of the economy (as in, the demand for such web page optimisation) and the size of the population (there's a greater likelihood of finding someone interested in web standards in the USA than there is in Vatican City, for example).

But is it important? Well, yes and no. If you've got access to the Internet and you're learning something from an on-line article, it doesn't matter where you're from (as long as you can read the article) and chances are you won't care too much about where the author comes from. And when you write an article, a blog, or contribute to a mailing list, you're sending out a message across the globe. Even books (paper? what's that?) can very easily be written by someone in Fiji for an American publisher and picked up at a local bookstore in Prague by a South African, who will be most interested in good content rather than where the book has come from.

But here's the thing - I have national pride. You most likely have national pride. Most people still feel some affinity with the country in which they live or come from, even though the influences on our every day lives are becoming much more multi-national. I like to contribute to something and take pride in what I do and I also like to think that anything I do in life is not monopolised by one country.

And on a more subtle (but logical?) level, cultural differences lead to different perspectives and a richer, more interesting experience.


Comment 1

Eireann go brea! (Irish for 'Ireland forever').
I live in America, and have zero national pride. I love England and Ireland and France, the good countries.

So said Dante Evans on Sunday 15 August, 2004 at 11:27PM GMT.

Comment 2

"Web standards was once an area very much lead by America"

Hate to point out the obvious, but what about Sir Tim?

So said Mark Harmstone on Monday 16 August, 2004 at 11:47AM GMT.

Comment 3

Hah. Good point. Although the W3C has been around for some time, it's people like Zeldman and Meyer to name two of the more well known supporters that really used and talked about web standards in a language that everyone could understand early on. I would say that they have done a better job of promoting web standards (to the general public, anyway) than the web standards body itself has.

So said Patrick on Monday 16 August, 2004 at 11:52AM GMT.

Comment 4

Who r u?

So said gemma on Monday 16 August, 2004 at 5:38PM GMT.

Comment 5

a 10D is not worth the extra as the firware hack will give you much of the additional functionality.

So said on Tuesday 17 August, 2004 at 4:59PM GMT.

Comment 6

Does it turn a silver plastic casing into black titanium alloy?

So said Patrick on Tuesday 17 August, 2004 at 5:04PM GMT.

Comment 7

Patrick: Trust me, Once you're holding the 300D you won't feel like you're missing out on anything. (and the firmware hack is a goer!)

So said Andrew K. on Sunday 22 August, 2004 at 4:36PM GMT.

Comment 8

Web standards are really international... though the English language has gained a considerable dominance on the Web... it's a fact.

So said Helen, web-designer on Tuesday 31 August, 2004 at 6:03PM GMT.

Comment 9

I just want to add this great sentence from Andrei Herasimchuk at about web standards:
"The real reason that standards are important to all of us is that they create an expected level of behavior that conforms to the lowest common denominator. Whether anyone likes it or not - especially all those smart engineers whose current daily work is far beyond what a nearly ten year-old specification might dictate as “the standard” - when it comes to technology, we are collectively truly only as strong as the weakest link."

So said Daniel on Monday 13 September, 2004 at 10:01PM GMT.

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