Thursday 30 March 2006
If you could be anywhere doing anything right now . . .
what would it be?
Wednesday 29 March 2006
I’ve finally uploaded some photos to flickr with the following sets:
- Geeks with Guns. Pre-SXSW adventures.
- SXSW Interactive. Photos from SXSW, which still has me reeling.
- Home. Some nature and related photos in Tucson, Arizona.
- MIX06 Las Vegas and Boulder City Nevada. Visit to Las Vegas and to my folks, as well as the Hoover Dam.
I can’t believe how few photos I actually took, much less posted.
Tuesday 28 March 2006
Opera 9 passes Acid2, next step for Opera is mobile, and preliminary mumblings about Acid3 have begun.
Read more and comment away (oh it feels so good to say that) at WaSP.
Someone mentioned I should reconsider having ads on my site. This is something I’ve not done, ever, with the exception of the paid blogging experience for Marquis sometime back.
I’m interested: Are you for, against or don’t care regarding ads here?
Saturday 25 March 2006
It’s been said that we should love for the sake of love, and give for the sake of giving. That the acts of love and giving are fulfilling enough in and of themselves.
I believe this may work for a few rare souls: Saints and gurus perhaps, but mere flesh and bone humans? I really want to know how many people out there really achieve such ideals.
I know I haven’t. The past months, while generally good in terms of how life can be, have found me facing a few facets of my personality and thought patterns that have left me in a state of almost bitterness. I say almost because I’m not there yet, but I feel myself slipping toward a smoke-tinged anger that I’m not sure once full-blown will be salvageable.
So I’m working it out this morning here on my blog, as I sit in my parent’s house overlooking a beautiful silver lake turning pink and blue in a stunning sunrise. Life could be worse, lots worse. And yet, the strain of my journeys, the vulnerabilities of my heart, and the fatigue of my inability to sleep soundly and shut off the rumination from which I often suffer have left me burnt out and angry.
Accolades and acknowledgement
Douglas Bowman, upon hearing someone ask me who the “other 24 most influential women on the Web” were, quipped that I was, in fact, all 25 of the most influential women on the Web. Funny, perhaps, but damned sad that only I could name a handful, and most couldn’t name two.
Friends, supporters and general visitors to this site might not realize that I’ve been in Information Technology and media for a very long time. Far longer than some readers here have been alive, in fact, nearly 20 years. I’m having a rough time lately dealing with Web 2.0 hogwash and watching people I love and respect make successful careers out of canned content, apps that fall short of true innovation, or coming up with “new” ideas that I’d not only thought about 10 or more years ago, but have the published evidence to prove I did.
Whether it’s a gender issue or merely that the popularity of blogs have pushed ideas and people into the spotlight much faster than in the earlier days of my career, one feeling remains with me, and that’s the nagging sense that my contributions to the success of the Web design and development field, the people in it, and the progress of the Web itself are in fact under if downright unacknowledged, accolades or not.
Let me put this into anecdotal form. Recently, I was invited to join the HTML working group at the W3C. The response from most of my colleagues was abject horror, because the WG is problematic and XHTML 2.0 is, to many people’s perspectives, a bad idea.
Why did I say yes, then? One reason is I hope that maybe I can make a difference or help. Another, and most definitely the more selfish but truest reason is due to the fact that I felt I deserved the scientific achievement. I have been studying, writing about, teaching and working to better understand HTML and XHTML for 13 years!
When I saw my friend Sebastian Schnitzenbaumer at the W3C Technical Plenary a few weeks ago and told him the news, he said, “It’s about damned time.” He was the only one who got, immediately, why it made any sense for me to have said yes.
I want to better understand why it took me 32 books before one ever got the broad attention that Zen of CSS Design has gotten. Were they lesser books? Some of them, but not all. Dave Shea himself became a Web designer because of one of my early works, a great story and one that made Zen all the more a gratifying personal achievement. That the influence of my writing has relevance isn’t the question, rather, why I had to work much, much harder at gaining that place in the sun than anyone.
I want to better understand why it took nearly a decade of public speaking for me to be invited as a keynote at a major conference. It’d be one thing if I were a crap speaker, or didn’t have anything worthy of saying. Neither is true. I’m a very skilled and often funny speaker, and I must have content of relevance to say because here I am still in the industry when weaker souls have long run away.
Are these failings part of a personality or behavioral defect on my part? Did I just do things the wrong way? Is it because I’m a woman? Older? Unmarried and therefore status irrelevant? You tell me, because the things I come up with are pretty much all the ingredients of an unpleasantly tart mix.
Wealth and health
Another part of this edge of bitter is my sense that many of my colleagues have done quite well economically where I have not. I’m a 43 year old woman who can’t afford medical insurance, whose business has sat on the brink of bankruptcy since the dot.bomb, who has no savings, no retirement and has a black hole of debt so deep that I wonder if I’ll ever crawl out of it.
In the meantime, I watch colleagues who are less innovative, less well-connected, sometimes less talented, and generally far less generous with their knowledge than I have ever been rake in the money and laugh all the way to the bank, flaunt their VC dollars with reckless pride, and show off the stuff that they’ve “earned” along the way.
In a scenic drive Andy and I took with my folks yesterday, my mother asked why I thought this was. After a moment I listed some of the reasons I felt I was in this position:
- I’ve been a woman on my own with often no business guidance, or very bad business guidance from someone I trusted very much and shouldn’t have
- I’ve often given away my time and knowledge and skills when others would not have
- I’ve often given away my money to people I felt needed it more than I
- I’ve compromised in negotiations when perhaps I shouldn’t have
- I’m fundamentally not a materialist and have a general disdain for money in the first place, rather, I like money for what it can do and not what it can buy
- I have always felt it was more important to benefit others and the Web via my work than myself, believing the Web to be far more important in the long run than my own well being
- I have negotiated relationships to make it easier for other people to achieve great things because I have a philosophical belief that says that’s what you do in this world: You reach behind you and take along others. In those acts of goodness, I forgot an important part of the equation: Me. I gave bounty to other people, took little or nothing for myself, and never in the past asked for some back from the person I helped
I bought into the ideologies of my generation and thought that giving for the sake of giving should be reward enough of its own. If that’s true, and I’m feeling this way, does that make me a bad and selfish human?
Love and family
Due to certain circumstances, I never married or had children. Yet, each of these acts were something I desired because I grew up in a family, while often filled with strife, that ultimately became and remains a tightly knit, loving and supportive place where comfort and strength can be found. I wanted to create that for myself, but I became very ill at a young age, had a series of immature and problematic relationships, and woke up one morning at 40 realizing that I had no home base, no true partner, and was as alone in this world as a woman could be.
Putting aside for a moment that women are often defined by their marital and family status, the fact is I longed for these things. I wanted a home and family in which I could have full participation. I didn’t get it then, and as luck would have it, I met and fell in love with someone who has already been unhappily married, already has a child of his own, and will likely never want those things with me.
Even if things went in such a way that freed these circumstances for us to pursue marriage, I’ll be nearly 50. Fine and good, but so much for a youthful fantasy. And as for the children, he doesn’t want anymore and has flat-out said so. I don’t know that I physically can at this point, and adoption at that late age just doesn’t seem all that sensible now.
This is a sorrow of huge proportions and despite my best problem-solving abilities, do not know how to heal the wounds and fill the empty womb of sorrow I carry with me every day.
What color is the grass again?
I have to reiterate that I understand life could be a lot worse. I know this not just intellectually, but because my life has been a lot worse. I’ve been on the streets, impoverished, in a mental institution, and was bed and house-bound due to illness for the majority of my 20s. I’m not inexperienced in the ways of pain and suffering, nor am I unworldly. I know that in so many ways I’m blessed.
Which is why in some ways the suffering becomes even more entangled. I think “How dare I, who have survived and thrived despite such odds, ask for anything more? What kind of selfish beast am I?”
The fact remains that I feel what I feel, and I’m asking for your insight as to what I can do to rise above this sense of utter failure at being human, this despair born of loss, this sense that had I been a man, or smarter, or more innovative, or thinner and prettier, or fill in the blank, that I wouldn’t be sitting at the edge of a precipice looking down at the sea of bitterness ready to slip off that edge and end up an old, unhappy woman who looks back at her life and berates herself and everyone around her for it not going her way.
I like to think I’m better than the selfish person I appear to be as I express these words and feelings. I like to think that I’ve loved for the sake of love, and given for the sake of giving.
I am neither saint nor guru. I am flesh and blood human and as I take stock in these things today, I am gravely concerned for my well being in my career, in my economic and physical health, in my pursuit of love and home.
Depression is a nasty darkness, and bitterness a pill I don’t want to swallow. I want to stay alive and see what the next adventure brings. I don’t really want to take my life or become bitter. What I want is to figure out how to fix what’s broken, repair the damage done, and feel as though what I have worked for 10 or more hours a day for the past two decades with a handful of days off not only means something to the world, but provides me with some kind of comfort and safety as life moves forward.
Friday 24 March 2006
Once upon a time
In a room of pink and green
A sweet and lonely girl
Dreamt of better things
A man who’d come riding
Upon a white horse so proud
Take her away to a beautiful land
Where on bended knee he’d ask for her hand
She’d wear a pure white gown
And flowers in her hair
Her friends and family would gather around
And treat her with love and care
Her handsome father would take her arm
And walk her down the aisle
As those who loved her cried salt tears
But all the while still smiled
And after some happy years
There’d be a child born, then another
Laughter would fill their beautiful home
With each new sister or brother
With a family all around
And her handsome man so true
The girl would be fulfilled
And the future always seem new
But we all know that the dreams
of a teenage girl are trite
That illness, abuse and life’s plain sorrows
Make a myth of that white knight
So the girl will do the best she can
To build a life worth living
Despite disappointment and hurt
be generous and giving
Yet inside her lives the dream
And she can’t help at times but feel sad
That the fantasy in which she once believed
Will never be had
Get on with it they say to her
Let it go now for it was only a fantasy
She knows that’s true but still pretends
That the myth and dream will come to be.
Thursday 16 March 2006
- Commercial 1st Place: AIGA Richmond, designer Phillip Hertzler
- Personal 1st Place: Veerle’s Blog, designer Veerle Pieters
- Core 1st Place: BananaBits, designer Louis Lopez
Be sure to read more about the personal and business benefits of pMachine’s Expression Engine and take a look at all the shootout design entries.
It was a really tough contest to judge. I wish I could say that was because the designs were so fresh and innovative that choosing winners was tough, but unfortunately I cannot say that. It was tough to judge because it was painfully obvious which designs stood out above the rest, and finding any designs beyond a handful that really showed some independent thinking was frustrating.
It’s an interesting discussion that my post-SXSW and still-on-the-road brain wants to take a bit further after some rest.
For now, I wonder what can we do to inspire Web designers to push beyond what’s been the design trends since the CSS Zen Garden emerged? I recognized a Zen Garden design in nearly every single entry, and it’s as though very few designers are progressing beyond that point with their CSS designs. Why is this, and how can we push innovation in Web design forward?
Saturday 11 March 2006
Standing with two colleagues
at South by Southwest
One says to the other
“The film girls are the best . . .
These geek girls aren’t pretty
they’re spotty and fat
but the girls in film
are really all that.”
I’m standing there as if they don’t care
Looking at my shoes
Cuz I’m a fat and ugly geek
I got the <object>ification blues
Two years ago in these same halls
An ugly man with iron balls
said “I’ve built a dating site, isn’t it fun?
but if you’re fat or forty, don’t bother to come . . .
These geek girls aren’t pretty,” he said
“they’ve got funny clothes and glasses
there aren’t enough blondes, and what’s with those big asses?”
I was standing right there like they don’t care
That I’ve more than paid my dues
And despite that I’m a bright, successful girl
I sing the <object>ification blues
Today I’m sitting here
Once again at South by Southwest
Wondering why if I’m so horrid
The boys still stare at my breasts
And speaking of these boys
They’re mostly skinny and wear bad shoes
But look at the way they have the gall
to judge us women one and all
That’s why I have
That’s why I have
That’s why I have
the <object>ification blues
Friday 10 March 2006
We’ve stung, we’ve swarmed, we’ve buzzed. Sometimes we’ve failed to make our mark, other times we’ve been far more successful. But there’s one thing that’s certain, and that is as of Monday, March 13th, the Web Standards Project enters a new time in its history, opening the hive up to better include the communities and issues we’ve done our black and gold best to represent since 1998.
WaSP Task Forces, of course.
The first activity of WaSP’s open model is the WTF: Getting the Job Done Right panel at SXSW. This panel will review the activities of the Task Forces within WaSP. We’ll have the following Task Force representatives explaining their failures, successes and hopes for the future:
- Kimberly Blessing (WaSP): Education Task Force (EduTF)
- Molly E. Holzschlag (WaSP): Moderator, Acid2 TF
- Matt May (WaSP): Accessibility Task Force (ATF)
- Drew McLellan (WaSP): WaSP Strategy
- Dori Smith (WaSP): DOM Scripting Task Force
- Jennifer Taylor (Adobe): Dreamweaver Task Force
- Chris Wilson (Microsoft): WaSP / Microsoft Task Force
WaSP Annual Open Meeting 1.0
While we’ve held our annual meetings at the SXSW event for several years, this year we’re holding the meeting in public, opening up the forum for anyone present to participate. The meeting will begin with opening remarks from WaSP co-founder Jeffrey Zeldman and commentary from Steve Champeon who guided WaSP through the early part of 2000. We will then introduce the current WaSP and WaSP Task Force members in attendance, as well as formally welcoming new WaSPs.
Then, things will get especially interesting as the meeting turns to your concerns. There will be four hot topics that we’ve gathered up from public feedback about WaSP activities presented for open commentary and public input. While the discussion will be moderated for the sake of time concerns, the discussion will focus on how we can better serve the public good, and how you as the public can participate in WaSP activities in inclusive and proactive ways.
Virtual Ribbon Cutting
While many WaSPs as well as WaSP supporters and critics will be present at this year’s SXSW, many cannot attend. What’s more, we want to make sure our open model extends into the future. To that end, we shall be cutting the virtual ribbon on the new WaSP Web site, which will have a fresh design and, something that’s been long overdue in coming, open comments so that this new, inclusive vision continues forward.
If you are attending SXSW, we hope you will join us for both the informative WTF panel and the open meeting. If you cannot attend, there will be live blogging of the event and while it is as of yet uncomfirmed, we hope to podcast the meeting. And of course, stop by to see the new site and add your voice. Together, there is no doubt in my mind that we can free the Web by promoting its core vision: Interoperability, accessibility and community.
Wednesday 1 March 2006
I’m sitting here with Malarkey and Markus Mielke in Mandelieu, a beautiful town in the south of France. We’re here attending the W3C Technical Plenary and Markus has been kind enough to give us a sneak preview of the IE7 release that’s expected for the MIX06 event.
We’ve been looking at a number of sites in the newest beta build, and we’re seeing some truly impressive work. Two designs have been particularly compelling as use cases. Malarkey’s personal Web site, which has an IE6 specific version and a version best viewed in more modern browsers; and Gemination, Egor Kloos’s progressively enhanced CSS Zen Garden design that sends two completely different designs to IE6 and modern browsers out of the same CSS file.
Here’s the progress of Malarkey’s site, from IE6 to IE7 Beta Preview, to IE7 MIX06 Release:
Malarkey has his own write up, well worth a read.
And Gemination IE6 to IE7 Beta Preview to IE7 MIX06 Release (this is cut off to the right a bit to fit the image, but suffice it to say everything works, even the hover effects!) :
Markus tells me that several more fixes are going to make it into the MIX06 release, too.
On behalf of WaSP and the WaSP / Microsoft Task Force it makes me very proud to be here today watching history unfold.