Sunday 31 July 2005
IT’S BEEN A HELLUVA FEW DAYS. Between an emotional experience advocating Microsoft’s IE7 beta plans, the expression and aftermath of that emotion here on my blog, and blogher going full steam (one of the few conferences I’m not able to be at this year, alas), I’ve got a bit more on my mind to write about regarding being a public female and the importance of authentic expression on a blog.
Don’t yawn! It’s not yet another one of those “where are the women” posts. Not exactly.
Shelley Powers has written a very eloquent post, Sugar and Spice, about WaSP, my actions and commentary on IE7 and how I used language to describe my feelings. Her concern is profoundly compelling because it dares ask a question that most others would sidestep: Did I play a “quit hurting me I’m a damsel in distress” card?
The answer is: Yes, I did.
Did I express myself as a hurt little girl purposely to manipulate people to my point of view? No, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t played those cards either. In fact, I have an entire repertoire of what might be termed “female machinations” that rear up from time to time. I might be 42 and considered successful, but I’m still the product of my life and times and despite 25 years of therapy, have never completely learned to control my outbursts – whether their origins are gender-oriented or not.
In this case, I was feeling very lonely, vulnerable and yes, very much a little girl. And what I did was write exactly that. When women readers and friends wrote back “You GO, girl!” and men friends threatened to beat up anyone who was hurting me, do you think that bothered me in the least?
The answer is: Nope, it did not.
If anything, the outpouring of support made me feel a level of love and protection that I never honestly experienced in my life, and quite frankly, really needed to feel at that moment.
Was it the best way to get what I felt I needed? Perhaps not, but it worked. Could I learn to be more dignified? Oh, most definitely. More mature? Yeah, but I wonder if that will ever happen and whether I even want it to!
For many women, especially ones who are working hard to gain notoriety (or a more pure fame) in fields with low numbers of women such as high tech, self-control and dignity can become critical tools in terms of gaining respect. This is particularly true in highly conservative environments, so it’s quite understandable that any woman acting out emotionally in public is going to make people uncomfortable. Curiously, I find it makes women far more uncomfortable than men.
I also find that for whatever reasons, being the way I am has actually opened more doors and made me more capable of enjoying relationships with women and men from all walks of life. I can’t explain why this is, but it definitely skews my perspective on promoting feminist ideologies, because people by and large seem to be drawn to and not away from what some might describe as being the very female aspects of my personality.
I am first about people, but being a woman naturally I’m going to be aware of social concerns as they pertain to women and the female experience. I’m also very clear that the way I achieved that has been to be myself in all my unpredictable, emotional and sometimes seemingly questionable behavior.
I am warm and funny, outrageously flirtatious and inappropriate, opportunistic, occassionally manipulative, neurotic and depressive, rarely but highly capable of being cruel and most of the time a decent, caring person who likes to laugh loudly and find joy in every day. That’s me. I can’t polish that up for my blog, and I haven’t polished it up in life. To thoughtfully put together a blog post, to craft it as I would an article, academic essay, or book chapter simply isn’t my style.
If I’m having a tantrum, it’s probably going to end up here.
Last year at this time regular readers and close friends will recall that I was the victim of an unfortunate and violent physical attack. Something I wrote on my blog is what spawned that, and if anything should have frightened me into watching what I say, how I say it, and what I do, it should have been that experience. But here it is a year later, and I’m still, perhaps quite foolishly, unwilling to compromise that aspect of my being.
As much as I’d like to think I was setting an example for women, perhaps I don’t deserve that distinction, because I will never fit the ideal professional female as other people might see one.
I do know this, I didn’t advance in my career by being passive, quiet or fearful. I’m living my life facing the world in all my full-frontal triumphs and failures.
It’s the most difficult and rewarding activity I’ve ever experienced.
Saturday 30 July 2005
IT’S TIME TO HAVE SOME FUN!
The first five people to correctly identify here in comments who said this about what and whom will get a gmail account:
“ . . . print – books, magazines, newspapers will become icons, sculptures, textures . . . simple information transfer will be effected by some other . . . means . . . print is reborn, resurrected, as something initially unrecognizable. It’s not really dead, it simply mutated into something else. ”
IN MY LAST POST, I wrote about myself using the term “girl” which of course invariably will upset other women. I never fully understood that perspetive, particularly when we look at the semantic value of the word.
I can say to another woman “What’s up girl?” and that’s almost always fine. In a formal social situation, a boss of either gender calling an employee “girl” would be inappropriate.
But when I wrote that I consider myself a “sensitive girl” and a “selfish girl” and even a “stupid girl” it’s called out as a problem. Why? It’s me, talking about me, using my own words. And at times, I am each of those things: sensitive? Beyond belief. Selfish? At times profoundly so. Stupid, well, I have a fair track record of highly stupid choices. Girl: yeah. I’m a girl.
Nobody ever called me any of those things, limiting me through oppression. I’m not the victim of that kind of verbal abuse so I’m not repeating old patterns. I’m not suffering from such a low self-esteem that I don’t understand or embrace my womanhood. I’m also the daughter of a prominent feminist who seems not to mind being flattered at 72 years of age by the occassional “girl” herself!
What’s more interesting is that writing that post I felt very much a little girl. I felt berated for being bad, I felt very vulnerable and childlike, and I was acting in a less-than-mature fashion as I tried to sort through my emotions. I’m glad so many of my brothers and sisters here are ready to comfort me or kick ass because I’ve been hurt. That’s so cool, because that’s family.
I never got that from my father or brothers, and maybe I’d be weaker if I had been more protected by them, but it sure feels nice sometimes to act and be treated like a girl.
I’ll tell you what really pisses me off, it’s when people call me ma’am. I know many were taught that was polite, but oh it makes me feel old.
Girl’s alright with me.
Friday 29 July 2005
Chris Wilson has posted the list of bug fixes, corrections and implementations to IE that will appear in Beta 2 of IE7. I saw this list two weeks ago and it was decidedly not for public consumption, so I think the mere fact that Chris is making this information available is of itself a monumental shift in the way Microsoft relates to the public. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet, but it’s even possible he just made a decision to put himself out on a limb and do it no matter the consequences to show people that the promises being made are not empty ones.
Somehow by being an advocate and defending Microsoft and doing one thing – asking for patience from the community while all this unravels – has made a lot of people mad at me. This includes friends, some within WaSP and at least two I really have deep personal feelings for. That hurt so much I crawled into a bottle of wine and cried for most of the day.
I’m a sensitive girl.
For some, the idea of standards implementation is work-related, placed in a box, not worried about beyond the end of the day. For me, it’s religion. Why? I really don’t know the full answer to that, but I do know that it has to do in part with wanting to do something that strengthens the foundations of a technology I truly believe can, does and will continue to change the world in positive ways. Give something to the world that matters before I die.
Some women have families, husbands, children and other passions besides their careers. I don’t have those things. Unless I’m at a conference socializing with Web people, I live alone, eat alone, drink alone and mostly move through the world alone caring about the Web and the people who work it with a consuming, fiery passion. You can make fun of me all you want, say I’m wasting my time, I’m Don Quixote, self-destructive, I’m tilting windmills, I should get a life, I’m a dreamer, an idealist, a stupid girl.
And you’d be right.
But I can’t be what I’m not, so for those people I hurt or upset or angered or enraged or whatever it is that I did to deserve the deluge of hate mail in my inbox, I truly am sorry.
Here’s the list of fixes for IE Beta 2.
- Peekaboo bug
- Guillotine bug
- Duplicate Character bug
- Border Chaos
- No Scroll bug
- 3 Pixel Text Jog
- Magic Creeping Text bug
- Bottom Margin bug on Hover
- Losing the ability to highlight text under the top border
- IE/Win Line-height bug
- Double Float Margin Bug
- Quirky Percentages in IE
- Duplicate indent
- Moving viewport scrollbar outside HTML borders
- 1 px border style
- Disappearing List-background
- Fix width:auto
- HTML 4.01 ABBR tag
- Improved (though not yet perfect)
- CSS 2.1 Selector support (child, adjacent, attribute, first-child etc.)
- CSS 2.1 Fixed positioning
- Alpha channel in PNG images
- Fix :hover on all elements
- Background-attachment: fixed on all elements not just body
Thursday 28 July 2005
I WOKE UP this morning to find countless emails and IMs pouring into my accounts asking me about the IE 7 beta.
Some developers are expressing relief at seeing some of the bug fixes and improvements, but of course as I’ve been expressing all along, this is a process with which we have to be patient. Expecting full bug fixes and implementation in any beta software is ridiculous, as is expecting that WaSP / Microsoft Task Force can perform retroactive miracles.
IE7 is in beta. Not only that, but it’s early days yet. So it’s a little bit premature to start complaining that things don’t work. I mean, why have a beta, much less one that’s made it out first to developers and press if not precisely to get their feedback pronto? Brian Goldfarb, Product Manager for the Web Tools Team and Microsoft’s liaison to WaSP pointed this out in a conversation we had today while trying to address developer concerns as they’ve been pouring in.
“The whole point of doing a developer beta is to identify potential rendering breakages and changes and resolve them before we hand out IE7 to the broader marketplace. We are working actively to identify any issues with actual rendering problems and resolving those. This beta is one part of that mission.”
Browser Sniffing Smells Funny
One of the primary complaints coming in from developers has to do with browser detection. In an article published in PC Magazine yesterday, writer Cade Metz makes the following statement:
“At present, IE7 has a problem rendering some Web pages. According to Microsoft, this is caused by the sites, which need to update their detection code for IE7.”
This seems to be the paragraph that’s upset most developers. Metz could have helped keep concerns more effectively corralled by being less vague about what he meant, or by seeking out details from WaSP or related organizations who can best address this concern.
Specifically, any new browser version, whether it comes out of Microsoft, a new startup or a well respected search engine is going to have to be accounted for in any scripts that use versioning as part of the script. Fundamentally, this issue has nothing to do with IE, or Microsoft. What’s more, standards advocates have argued against the use of browser-specific detection as long as standards advocates have existed.
Dori Smith, long time WaSP member and WaSP DOM Scripting Task Force co-lead responds:
“It’s long been known that scripters should write their code to check for objects, not particular browser versions. The DOM Scripting TF is working on documenting best practices for scripting, and this is one of the elementary building blocks of good coding style. Scripters whose code follows best practices don’t have problems when new versions of browsers are released – and scripters know that new versions will always come out in the future.”
Jeremy Keith, who co-leads the DOM Scripting Task Force along with Dori, added these thoughts:
“As the number of different browsers being used increases, browser-
sniffing scripts become more and more complex. They need to test for
all possible combinations of vendor and version number in order to
ensure that they work cross-platform. This is a Sisyphean task that
can result in extremely convoluted and messy code. Many browser-sniffing scripts test for an exact match on a browser’s version number. If a new version is released, like IE7, these scripts will need to be updated.
“Thankfully, the practice of browser sniffing is being replaced with
the simpler and more robust technique of object detection. Instead of
testing for a browser name and/or name, simply test whether a
specific method or property is supported. Then your tests will
continue to work in IE7, IE8 . . . ad infinitum.”
Both Smith’s and Keith’s words point to some critical concerns. To begin with, there’s the not-so-small fact that in a standards compliant environment, browser sniffing of this nature shouldn’t even be necessary. Web accessibility consultant and researcher Joe Clark points this out in his recent article on the subject, IE 7: The Saga Begins.
Another point is that the need to improve scripting practices on the developer side of the fence side is imperative. To fix that really is up to us as individual developers as we strengthen and hone our skills based on growing experience and awareness.
WaSP and Microsoft in a Tree
Scripting issues aside, let’s examine the role of WaSP and Microsoft IE, an issue that many are understandably concerned about. I can’t help but once again ask all readers to take a deep breath with me. WaSP’s direct involvement with Microsoft is brand new. Had we been in months ago, maybe IE7 beta would be different. Maybe we’d be further down the road to success. Maybe.
No matter, we weren’t there, and that was due to a lot of factors. So we got down to it and changed that. Now we’re here, and we all want to do what’s right. But anyone who thinks this is going to happen overnight is not being realistic.
As a fellow WaSP Microsoft Task Force member bluntly pointed out to me as I was trying to strategize how to respond to upset developers, WaSP should never act as Microsoft’s public relations department. And he’s absolutely right. WaSP isn’t here to forgive Microsoft for past practices.
However, as the relationship person here, I can only do my honest best to communicate both sides of what is clearly a complex concern. I can only work to assure you that I, and everyone within this Task Force is extremely motivated to make sure we keep things positive, honest, and respectful so we can continue to work together and hopefully, once and for all, achieve the goals we didn’t succeed at before.
So What Do We Do?
WaSP’s continued effort to work with rather than against Microsoft at a very frustrating time in history means that we all have to have patience, and we have to ask everyone to have patience with us in kind. This isn’t easy for anyone, not the Microsoft developers, not WaSP as an organization and of course not the working Web designer and developer.
WaSP liaison to the WaSP / Microsoft TF DL Byron points this out in practical terms:
“It’s much easier to criticize Microsoft than actually engage them. The constructive thing to do is to respond to the beta team and lay out your concerns.”
Microsoft already knows which existing IE 6.0 bugs need fixing, and what needs to be implemented to come up to full compliance. What you can and should do if you are on any beta for Microsoft is use the avenues available to you to identify real rendering issues and bugs and submit them. If you’re not involved in betas, drop by the IE blogs and let the developers there know in practical, respectful terms your constructive criticisms.
Tuesday 26 July 2005
Now, it’s not that my name is mentioned in the interview about sixteen times, or that reading Ethan is such a funny experience that coffee will be spewed and it’s not that Ethan has the coolest ‘fro this side of white (well maybe next to mine). It’s not even that Ethan and pals Christopher Schmitt, Dunstan Orchard, Mark Trammell and Todd Dominey are promoting their new book, Professional CSS, which I just happened to tech edit.
What it is? Ethan is simply one of the coolest people walking planet earth. And now I’m going to embarrass him completely and tell you a few reasons why.
I became close with Ethan via WaSP, where he worked with an enthusiasm and drive that stands out among a group of people well-known for significant contributions to the standards effort. We worked closely on a number of projects, and in that time I was exposed to Ethan’s “endless good cheer” (can I quote myself?).
A few visits to his neck of the woods put us face to face enjoying good beer and better laughs, forging an excellent friendship. When Douglas Bowman couldn’t make a planned co-keynote at Web Design World Boston, Ethan valiantly stepped in. He was really nervous, saying “Molly, let’s just go to the bar and slam like 8 beers – oh my god is that Zeldman?” Which of course it was, and Ethan had never met Jeffrey. So five minutes before our presentation to some 400 people, Ethan is now visibly shaking. But once up there on stage, he not only proved himself an excellent presenter, but made conference history by using the term “Pimp my own Kool-Aid” completely naturally within a sentence, a phrase which I have stolen and flaunted shamelessly for laughs many times since.
Working on Professional CSS, I could always tell when I was editing a chapter of Ethan’s. Having degrees in English Lit can do wonders for writing style, and Ethan’s got it. He’s a fantastic writer, and I hope he’ll do more of it book-wise. He has a lot to contribute that way, I think. And finally, as the interview points out, it’s not necessarily Ethan’s work for standards that make him noteworthy. Just a few days ago I posted on the intersection of the personal and professional on blogs. I have long enjoyed Ethan’s blog, Sidesh0w, primarily because of Ethan’s personal writings.
Well, this is a gushing post, and it’s meant as such. I get to play fanbois (okay fangirl, but somehow that word doesn’t look as cool) sometimes too, and Ethan Marcotte is definitely in my pantheon of stars.
Monday 25 July 2005
Friday 22 July 2005
THRICE BITTEN THRICE SHY. Three times, that’s 3 times this week my blogging style has been challenged, commented on or praised.
It makes me wonder why we blog. I only know this: We’re all different, and a blog can only be what we as the individuals or groups behind the blog want it to be.
When you come to this site, it clearly states this is the place where I share my web development work and personal thoughts.
Why the confusion?
Just Be Happy
So this man walks up to me at Web Design World after I’ve just spoken for an hour on blogs and the different genres of blogs that exist. I consider my blog to be a hybrid blog in which both the personal and professional are combined. This gentle(?) man told me I shouldn’t post anything to my blog that wasn’t “happy.”
Now I don’t mind criticism. In fact, I would have never made a success out of my oft-questionable skills had I been too sensitive. But I really lost it on this poor man. He stepped on a few last nerves. First, I hate being told what I should or shouldn’t do, especially from a guy who has a New York accent and vaguely reminds me of my father. Bad combo platter. All that aside, I have these points: My blog is me. I don’t need to be liked, nor can I always express happiness.
I was told by a lovely reporter from National Public Radio (NPR) that my blog has a “hippie esthetic.” I think this might have been some kind of praise for the free nature of my posting. On the other hand, she seemed confused as to why my blog wasn’t “corporate.”
She’s not far off though. I come from the generation that immediately post-dated the hippies and therefore has been very influenced by that mindset. Do you think her comment rings true for my site?
Personal and Professional Splits
Many bloggers find they have or want to keep the personal and professional separate. A reader just wrote to me earlier today asking how I worked that out. Well, I’ve never really been able to split myself up that way. I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work for me. I figure I’m a whole person. If you don’t like me, you don’t like me. At SXSW this year, Jason Fried expressed something that frightened me only because it could have been articulated word-for-word by me.
Basically, he said that your blog is you. If a potential client is turned off by you, they probably aren’t a good fit anyway.
I find that to be really true.
Why Do You?
Why do you (or don’t you) blog? Perhaps more importantly, do you think it’s better to split professional and personal?
Thursday 21 July 2005
Since the announcement of the WaSP / Microsoft Corporation Task Force we’ve had two face to face meetings. The first was held in Portland, Oregon at WebVisions ’05. WaSP members DL Byron and myself met with Microsoft’s liaison to the Task Force, Brian Goldfarb. In this meeting, we brainstormed potential strategies and discussed how WaSP can be of greatest assistance to Microsoft as it makes its products more standards compliant.
The second meeting took place in Seattle, Washington on Wednesday of this week, when I met again with Brian Goldfarb, whose primary role at Microsoft is Product Manager for the Web Tools team. We were joined by Chris Wilson, who readers might recognize from his many years as a developer for IE, and who is now lead Program Manager for the Web Platform in Internet Explorer.
We used our time to discuss specific activities for the WaSP / Microsoft TF in the months to come. Plans include arrangements for WaSP members to evaluate Microsoft product betas and overall strategies. We’ll also work directly with the developer teams to unveil concerns and make recommendations regarding the standards compliance in products including Internet Explorer, Visual Studio, .NET and a range of other Microsoft software and platforms where Web standards matter.
The bottom line? We’re talking, Microsoft is listening.
Not only has Microsoft offered an open door to WaSP’s criticism and ultimate assistance, but individual developers there are expressing a lot of enthusiasm about our relationship. Sitting face to face with Brian and Chris, it’s certainly clear to me that these are colleagues who not only get the importance of standards compliance, but want it badly, too.
What’s also clear is that the realities of software development cycles, company policies and security priorities all will influence the timeline of how standards are implemented and bugs repaired within the Microsoft line of products. That we all have to be patient is simply a reality, and neither faction is looking at this as a short-term stopgap, but rather a long-term commitment to the greater good.
As part of the Task Force strategy a plan to keep the Web design and development community informed at regular intervals of our activities and progress is in place. This means that there will be regular updates from both WaSP and Microsoft about our activities, milestones and successes.
My opinion of the meetings, the motivation on the part of Microsoft at large to be a more open company and the individual warmth, intelligence and interest in improving the circumstances Brian and Chris have demonstrated leaves me absolutely confident in saying that support for web standards is an issue Microsoft is paying attention to very, very seriously.
Tuesday 19 July 2005
I’m blogging from the sky!
We just flew around Mt. Rainier – I’ve got some excellent images and video from that seriously awesome experience – I’ll upload them to Flickr in just a bit.
Along with using the WiFi in the sky, we are the first journalists in the United States to view the live television offerings. Another interesting demo they’re about to show us is VOIP (voice IP) telephones.
The world, my dear readers, is changing. It’s the most exciting time to be alive, I hope you all agree.
Today I’m going to be blogging from the sky! It’s the Blogging the Stratosphere event, in which a group of journalists including some high-profile bloggers, newspaper writers (Wall Street Journal, Associated Press and Seattle Times), magazine and media reps (Macworld, Microsoft), radio personalities and podcasters get on a private jet from Boeing and have fun while blogging, podcasting and Flickr’ing from the sky.
Folks joining in on the fun include: Steve Broback, Buzz Bruggeman, DL Byron, Bryan Corliss, Kevin Ebi, Dominic Gates, Brian Gregory, Cathy Lu, Larry Hryb, Chris Pirillo, Eric Rice, Robert Scoble, Bob Sullivan, and Nick Wingfield and of course,yours truly.
Our flight takes us over Mt. Rainier, shown here in a photo I took last night as the moon rose over Seattle. We’ll then be whisked away to a winery for dinner, and then back up for more sky blogging.
I’ve set up a special AIM name so molly.com readers can IM with me while I’m in flight. The name is skyblogger1 and the flight schedule is available (Pacific Time) so you can check in and say hello. I’ll be blogging the experience here, and posting photos to Flickr as well.
Hope to chat with you from above the clouds!
Monday 18 July 2005
Look! It’s YAWTF (Yet Another WaSP Task Force).
Yes, WaSPs have been busy. And while our various other WTF’s are zipping right along in their activities (a detailed report from the hive will be upcoming first week in August) our brand new and very exciting DOM Scripting Task Force has been created. The official press release provides more information.
On behalf of my colleagues at WaSP and all readers here, I happily and heartily welcome this TF to the hive.
When I was a child I climbed high in a tree
watched towers be built across a river
when I was a woman I climbed higher than I should have
watched towers be obliterated by god and his devils.
My metaphors mix in an empty Seattle night
I love and I grieve and I sorrow
You held me in a too brief moment of time
So I thought I’d survive if I just held on tight.
Life is not competition nor is it a battle
not ethics, not morals or all that is right
You do what you have to
Peace I cannot find.
When I was a child I believed in a dream
thought love was something that was a given
As a woman I have climbed higher than I should have
having lost myself to man and his devils.
Saturday 16 July 2005
WebVisions 2005 was terrific. The wrap party was held at a Greek restaurant where the Ouzo flowed. And today, I remember why I don’t like to drink Ouzo – owwww. But the hangover is worth it, I had a blast.
Thanks for a wonderful time, folks!