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.