Wednesday 15 August 2007
As the past few days of discussion surrounding the concerns I’ve publicly raised regarding the current state of standards affairs, I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster reading arguments between people I respect and love, seeing once strong voices putting their heads in the ground and pretending everything is just fine even if glacially slow; and feeling overwhelmed at the complacency, frustration and despondency reigning supreme instead of the movement and joy that once filled the Web.
I’m a person of action as well as words. So when members of the WHAT WG and the W3C asked me to help clarify the concerns I feel, I made a point of figuring out how to do just that. I dropped by the WHAT WG IRC chat and talked with members there. Within a few minutes we came up with a few action items that people agreed would be helpful.
De-Mystifying and Clarifying HTML5
The first concern is to answer the question “Why HTML 5?” in a way that is as clear as possible and will make sense to the largest group of people as possible. This means no spec-speak in the analysis. The second concern is to highlight for the broader community just where the “hot topic” problems are, and begin honing in on those realistically, looking at how we can all come to mutual agreement. And when I say we, I mean WE. Remember that the WHAT WG and HTML 5 WG are open to your participation.
Ian Hickson has agreed to go through the current spec and red mark the unresolved issues and hot topics. A group of folks including myself have committed to taking those and providing them via a public forum (probably the WHAT WG blog, or possibly on W3C, or both) bullet pointing in clear terminology the rationale, outstanding issues and encouraging positive discourse about those issues.
Solving the Human Problem
As Jeremy Keith pointed out in a recent heart-moving post, it’s a pretty awful thing to see people who ultimately share common goals and even friendship fight with each other. Perhaps this is why I’ve been so upset, I’m very sensitive when it comes to relationships and clearly things haven’t been paradise for and between many of my colleagues lately.
In the IRC conversation (you can find resources and transcripts via the WHAT WG landing page) we discussed the value of face to face meetups. Logistically, this is a very difficult thing to achieve since we are a truly worldwide group, many people are students or don’t have budget from their companies to travel and so forth.
So one course of action we discussed was to have a simultaneous meetup in a number of cities across the globe where all interested parties get together F2F with the goal of open discourse over hot topics related to the specs. The value of this exercise would allow people to get together and meet their colleagues. Most would agree that F2F meetups can help mitigate some of the anger that is all too readily expressed in the online environments.
Lemons to Lemonade
Hopefully these planned actions will help clarify and calm some of the frustration, as well as bring a broader understanding of the real issues to everyone, myself included.
Is my approach passionate? You bet, and if you know me, it’s clear that the day that passion goes away I know I will have ceased to be effective in any way in this industry and I will leave it. But that day isn’t today. It’s a warm summer evening in Redmond, Washington, and I’m going to take some fresh lemons and make lemonade.
Anybody want a glass?