Inciting the Bile of the Web Standards Community | April 23, 2004

David E does a great job of dismissing the work of the W3C, the Web Standards Project and numerous other fine organisations and individuals in one fell swoop.

These days, the rebel youth aren�t so busy admiring Marx as they are giving each other tutorials on how to use XHTML Strict. Bravely battling JavaScript menus and eradicating layout tables, admonishing us to �please think of the children� and design our pages so they�re compatible with the handhelds of next century. Same conformist thinking, same lousy outcome.

According to the Web Standards Project, the world needs this stuff because it�s simpler, more affordable and available to all. Oh really? Could it be that they�re just ideas cooked up by a bunch of overpaid intellectuals?

He does an equally good job of knocking web accessibility and insulting people with disabilities at the same time.

Standards cronies have now latched on to the disabled � the starving African children of high technology � for leverage. Spend time reading A List Apart, and you�ll soon get the impression that accessibility is bigger than cancer, and we�re all about to go blind and lose our mouse-bearing limbs. The solution? Web standards!

I can’t believe what offensive nonsense this man is churning out. Fair enough that you don’t agree with web standards, but why the vitriol? I was so incensed that I actually contacted the publication in question to complain. And to think that I own one of this mans books!

Posted at April 23, 2004 7:28 PM


Milan Negovan said on April 23, 2004 8:34 PM

“If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction […], he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth” (1 Tim 6:3-5)

:) Let him have it his way.

P.S. Wait, “overpaid intellectuals”? Hmmm… I’ll go talk to my boss, see if I can get a raise.

Gabe said on April 23, 2004 8:42 PM

When you say he does a “great job of dismissing the work of the W3C” you’re being sarcastic right? I mean, the entire article doesn’t have a single strand of logic to it. The two or three actual facts that he states are used to support totally nonsensical points, such as the assertion the poor adoption of some standards such as SVG ‘prove’ that the ‘groupthink’ process of standards bodies is a failure.


If you wanted to argue against standards, there are plenty of valid lines of reasoning you could take, unfortunately Mr. Emberton doesn’t bother with facts or logic, but just jumps right to the assumptions and hyperbole. I’m not sure what makes me more nauseous, his flaming ignorance or the fact that a magazine published this trashed.

Paul G said on April 23, 2004 8:53 PM

I’ve been meaning to write about this subject for a while, so I wrote a bit on my own site:

Biting the Hand

Jon Hicks said on April 24, 2004 10:38 AM

I just came away from that article with this single impression: He doesn’t know how to use CSS, doesn’t want to try and therefore its hard to learn and BAD. I see this attitude in a lot of old-school designers, and its kind of like a grandparent dismissing a DVD player as unusable by looking at it, and they’re sure as hell not going to try it and find out.

Shame. Their loss

Alex said on April 24, 2004 4:12 PM

David does a good job of making himself look stupid.

His thoughts on CSS:
” a) you need a degree to understand them; b) Microsoft doesnt care about them; and c) they suck. “

You need a degree to understand them? I’m 13, dude, and I can build websites using CSS.

Will Pate said on April 24, 2004 11:18 PM

The old guard, especially in the creative and technical fields, always attacks the new way of thinking. Graphic designers recoiled at the sight of computers, Microsoft hates Linux, table dependent web designers take pot shots at standards. It’s because they have a vested (read: monetary) interest in doing it the only way they know how.

I see it as a sign that web standards are getting somewhere. Remember when they were just a pet cause of Jeffrey Zeldman? Today any web designer worth their salt is somewhere on the migration scale between ocassional nod to full compliance.

Robert Lofthouse said on April 25, 2004 1:12 AM

I find that entire article offensive.
Both my mother and brother are disabled, and they provide great insight into how difficult it is for people with disabilites to view the web. I try and incorporate as many features into my designs to enable disabled people to have the same experience as everyone else.

He quite clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and obviously never grew up.

For an “old professional website developer”, you think he’d know his WWW history a bit more. Considering stylesheets were meant to be used from the beginning, I have no idea what he’s talking about.

As for needing a degree to understand them - Ummm, it’s plain readable language David. It’s not exactly Assembler programming or C, but most programming languages can be self-taught anyways. All a degree does is PROVE that you can do something, not really necessary if you have a portfolio and sufficient experience. Hopefully one day i’ll do my Msc though.. when I have time :(

Matthew Farrand said on April 26, 2004 1:51 PM

David Emberton says “by now the only thing keeping them (stylesheets) alive is a steady stream of guilt and the occasional Movable Type installation.”

The page the above quote appears on links to four CSS files!

Graham said on April 26, 2004 2:00 PM

Sounds like he’s just having a paddy because his Flash work has dried up.

Kitta said on April 26, 2004 5:31 PM

I felt it was just a sarcastic stab at web standards, that had no real facts to back it up. It made me laugh and think “this guy can’t be for real, can he?”

Apparently David Emberton is from Western Australia, I’m from W.A. too, and I tend to call it ‘the land where web standards are forgotten’ because most designers here have the same opinion as David.