Chibimagic's Weblog

Archive for March 2011

I used to spend a lot of time thinking about web standards. When I spent most of my time doing HTML, I read A List Apart religiously, worshipped at the altar of Zeldman, and prayed for the day that WaSP would smite down the last infidel non-compliant browser, delivering us out of the valley of the shadow of imperfect implementation to the promised land of clear, thought-out, well documented standards. Standards held the promise of freedom and accessibility. Of bringing information and enlightenment and expression to the great unwashed masses.

I saw a checklist for Section 508 today. It covers things like image maps (client side and server side) and frames. No one uses those things anymore, but they’re still in the specs. It makes me sad that web standards are inexorably tied to web design trends of the day. How much of HTML5 is still going to be relevant 10 years from now? Will anybody care about <canvas> and <video>? What about <article> and <time>?

Image maps and frames were bad ideas that were implemented poorly, and anybody that knew anything railed against them, but that didn’t stop millions of people from using them and degrading the overall internet experience. Now they’re just vestigial relics of a bygone era, along with the 508 checklist. I wish we could cleanse them from the standard, but technology never works that way. We’re going to be typing in QWERTY and using 0-based arrays until the end of time and that idea fills me with indescribable melancholy.

I think XHTML would have been a good idea. If you can’t even close an HTML tag properly, you shouldn’t be allowed to write your own markup. Use someone else’s publishing software and let them generate your markup. I think the web would be a much better place today with pedantic syntax checking.

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that all the web-related fields are filled with not very smart people, myself included. The thing that most delighted and excited me as a child about school was reading a textbook or participating in a lesson plan and realizing that someone had gone through the effort of imagining how I would experience it, and had specifically planned around my learning experience. I felt such connection during those moments of realization: this is me, thinking of you, thinking of me. I thought the whole world would be full of effort and planning. But now, I have no hope that the web will ever be like that, and that makes me die a little inside.