Saturday 6 November 2004
A great many discussions have taken place regarding the sense of elitism in the creation, implementation, and study of web standards. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about that elitist smell that surrounds us, where it comes from, and how we can freshen the air.
The W3C often comes across as an “ivory tower” organization: cold, high, and distant. The W3C’s pervasive use of vague language and a complex process system keep it largely inapproachable to the majority of web designers, developers, software engineers, browser developers and any poor sucker who actually wants to implement web standards in their day-to-day applications.
But to criticize the W3C goes against my nature as a web standards evangelist. Producing the most significant and influential specifications, recommendations, and activities for contemporary web designers and developers, the W3C is our mother lode and we owe her respect.
I have long objected the fact that comment systems or discussion boards are not made available on the Web Standards Project (WaSP) site to allow for true community discourse.
I’ve been a member of WaSP since about 2000, and I am proud to serve the organization. Since my time there, I’ve heard from many individuals that WaSP members and the organization itself are adding to the elitist odor.
But to criticize WaSP goes against my nature as a standards evangelist. Not to mention that even as a prominent member of the organization I’m able to be here, mouthing off at will. I don’t disagree that we often come off as arrogant, opinionated, and bitchy. It’s our job to have opinions and that’s not a bad thing. But I do think that to avoid the dangers of from-the-mountaintop punditry, we must allow for more direct community interaction.
Oh, and the Rock Stars
Oh yeah, there’s also the A-listers. Sporting the fragrance of charisma, books, too many public appearances, overly popular blogs and notorious careers we have to ask: egocentric stage whores or true servants to society?
But to criticize the Rock Stars goes against my nature. It’s just not easy being seen.
Freshening the Air
So help me out with some thinking points regarding elitism and ivory tower concerns.
I’ve got these so far:
- Don’t let the reputation of a few ivory tower holdouts outweigh the good of many cooperative peers
- Advocate in all cases for more efficient communications (blogs, wikis, comment systems, discussion boards)
- improve organization between web professionals of all types (more organizations? Dare I introduce the idea of unions?)
Let me hear your thoughts, and let’s let the bad air out.
Cross-posted with The Web Standards Project BUZZ blog so your comments can be taken here.