I’ve noticed this over the last say 18 to 12 months, things are changing in the web community. There are still the usual arguments between people and various factional groups. That’s nothing new there. No it’s something more. It’s like a complacency, that we have all fought hard and that the war is over and we can live now in a golden age. The voices of leadership seem to be dropping away, not being as potent or vocal as they once where. Molly Holzschlag has seen it to, and again call people to arms, I seem to remember Molly doing this before recently.
So is there a problem, why do we not give a damn anymore. It seems as if people are not caring about standards, that the good guys (us) are losing out time and time again to the bad guys (the non standards posse). Things like table layouts, bad ajax implementations and accessibility being an unaffordable option are common place. What the hell happened!
I’ll tell you a simple story of a web community, it grew from islands of individuals with ideas and dreams to a friendly, cooperative and spirited community. It took it’s time to get to this stage, but it did get there. The people in the community where young vibrant, free of responsibility, free to focus on the web and it’s needs. The community saw that previous leaders, that had aspired them in the first place, where not forefilling their dreams they had promised. So they tool theire leader’s dream the turned it inwards and educated their own on the needs for standards, usability and accessibility. And for a while it was good. Now time has passed, but something has gone wrong. The fire in the belly, the vibrant spirit was gone. And the new crop of youngsters won’t listen to their experience.
Nice story. So where is the problem, well its not that simple, it’s not one thing, it’s several:
Changing of the guard
A while back Kevin Lawver stepped down from the CSS Working Group freely admitting that time was the main issue. Fantasa also points out that people like Andy Clarke have been too busy to contribute as well. This got me thinking since then. Most of these groups are run by volunteers, who give up their own personal time to contribute to the web community at large. Now there does come a point where in everyones life where you have other responsibilities (work, family, business or personal matters) that will eat into any time you have for volunteer work. Look at the age of these people that are stepping aside or paring down their contributions. This is a changing of the guard. It’s just we may not have mentored up the young people to take our place.
Maybe people have been to busy playing at being Web Rock Gods ;). These people will not be gone forever. But if you want them to stay on the fringes and have them lend a guiding hand from time to time, then we need to let them step aside. It’s just we are seeing it happen on mass.
Community gone wrong
Maybe we are just being overwhelmed by a vocal minority. An example in point is the my local web standards mailing list. To be honest I have given up reading each post on this list or even posting (which is bad, I know) . I just cherry pick now. Why? Well the conversation is the same, and at times very condescending towards perceived new list members, read people that don’t post a lot. I don’t post a lot. Does this make me a newbie. Do I feel obliged to join the conversation, well no not anymore. Don’t get me wrong there are some wonderful community building people on this list. Then there are the divisionalists.
The extreme view of this is the WHATWG members on the W3C HTML list, this is a classic example. There are two lists 1) WHATWG by HTML5 and 2) HTML5 by W3C with it seems overlapping members with two distinct agendas from the WHATWG camp. I worry do we have two drafts of HTML5, I hope not. With this the simplification of HTML5 by WHATWG seems in my view a step back into the back days of 1996. Are we about to erase all the blood sweat and tears just because of some noisy minority, I hope not. Questions need to be asked is WHATWG planning to make accessibility and semantics ‘irrelevant’ as they are too hard to implement.
Doesn’t take much for an interested fringe group to move their agenda forward and take control. So in away we (yes you and me) need to be the voice of sanity. We need to voice our concerns little by little and support each other. Maybe someone will listen.
Ignore it, it will go away
Are people playing the three wise monkeys. Totally frustrated by it all. Trying to ignore it all in a vain hope all the evil will just go away. Is there just too much in the way of RIA, bad ajaxification that is destroying accessibility just as we appear to getting accessibility and standards into the right perspectives. Are the back room coders now getting their revenge on us the minority standard zealots. With all this wave of Web2.0 craziness, are we just stunned at the entire scope of the problem, not knowing where to start.
We are all over worked
I don’t know about you but working in the web industry at the moment is just insane. The work level in the past twelve months has gone from busy to extremely busy. Again if people are very busy then they just don’t get time to read lists, forums, blogs etc, they just get by on the edge of burnout. And even those with a lack of aging responsibility are effected by this one. This leaves it to a minority again. Will this pass, yes it will as night follows day.
So what do you think, is there a slow down in the support for the old ways put forth circa 2000 (standards et al) or is it just a changing of the guard and the program will return to normal after the usual chaotic settling in period. You know I think it’s little of each for everyone.