Friday 13 February 2009
“I am an opera singer / I sing in foreign lands / Most people seem to know my name / Or at least know who I am” – Cake
Today marks a major passage in my life, and I’d like to share it with you. At 13:00 hours on Friday the 13th of 2009, I formally became an employee of Opera Software, ASA. My position is Web Evangelist, working on the Developer Relations team. I will be based out of the Mountain View, California office, although I will continue traveling as well as doing workshops and conferences. My job description is exactly what my job has always been: evangelism and outreach for standards and an open, accessible, multi-modal Web.
What is astonishing to me is that for the first time in my career, I am with a company that specifically empowers its employees in regards to open standards. This is quite the change of pace, for as many readers are aware, through my former roles as a group lead for the Web Standards Project (WaSP) and then as a standards consultant to Microsoft, standards evangelism has been an uphill battle with no rest for the weary, no aid for the wounded.
Not so at Opera. I’m working with some of the most talented folks in the business. Henny Swan, Chris Mills, Bruce Lawson, Jon Hicks, and of course Hakon Lie and so many others. The contributions these people have made to the industry and to the world are a light of inspiration, and I am very honored to be part of a company whose core creed is an open Web, and whose developer motto “Follow the Standards / Break the Rules” fits a personality like mine perfectly.
My role at Opera will largely be meeting with people, providing resources on Web standards, organizing events that promote open Web and best practices, and essentially evangelizing the essential truths of the Web that I’ve always held dear: Platform agnostic, user agent agnostic, ability/disability agnostic. Anyone. Anywhere. That’s the vision, and now I have the resources, support and security of a company whose time has truly come.
Of course, this is also the same day that it’s been outed that Microsoft IE8 will blacklist sites where the IE7 compatibility button is used by many people. This means that if you want IE8 readiness, you have to get ready now, or you run the risk of having your sites be on this blacklist, forcing IE7 rendering even if you authored the sites using open standards. So while this post is a personal announcement, anyone working on the Web please read up on this issue and pre-empt a potential blacklist on your site.
People who know me and know the history of how the IE8 opt-in opt-out switch got all, well, switched around will see immediately the irony of today’s events. I really, really want to maintain the belief that when Microsoft made that impressive and unprecedented leap into shipping standards mode as default, that that meant something. That was the result of a lot of hard work, a lot of pain, a lot of fury, and at least one person (me) who is now sitting here wondering if anything I spent the last year and a half of my life doing was helpful. That I am a mix of emotions right now is logical, because I know so many good folks within the IE team who believe. Their struggle is a difficult one and I don’t envy them, but I think this is a significant wrongdoing. A dramatic analogy in my mind is hey, so if I keep stepping on the brakes in my car, eventually I’ll opt out of them working?
All the more reason I’m counting my blessings that I’m with a company that wants standards. I don’t want to battle anymore. I want no more browser wars. I want peace in all the land. Is this an impossible dream? I don’t know, but for the first time in my adult life I am actually an employee to a company other than my own, a decision that was not made lightly. In fact, this is the third time I’ve been offered a job at Opera, so I’m going to remain an optimist, do my vocal exercises, and continue singing for a useful, beautiful, meaningful and interoperable Web.