First London Web Standards Group Meeting | July 17, 2006
I had the pleasure of speaking at the first London Web Standards Group meeting on Friday. This was a particular honour for me as I was one of the first people in the UK to join the WSG mailing list in Feb 2004 and there are now over 400 UK members.
Being a WSG meeting, I assumed that everybody there would be a member, and therefore a die-hard standardista. I could have done a talk exposing the virtues of web standards, but was conscious about these events becoming one big back-patting exercise. As such, I decided to do something a little controversial and gave a talk on why I think web standards are no longer important.
I may have misjudged the audience slightly, as there were quite a lot of people new to standards at the event. However reading the blog posts afterwards, at least a few people got the gist of my talk.
I started off discussing the history of the screw and how it became one of the first official industrial standards. Incidentally, the first standard screw was proposed by one of the key engineers behind the difference engine, and I quite liked the fact that somebody responsible for the first computer was also ultimately responsible for web standards. I know some people wanted less screw-ing around and more CSS, but I say nuts to that (did you see what I did there!). As the first WSG talk I thought it would be interesting to talk about the history of standards and indulge myself in a spot of whimsey. I’m sure all future presentations will be overflowing with CSS goodness.
I then talked about the different types of standard, and the benefits that standardisation brings. I finished the talk by having a look at the good and bad points of web standards, before my main assertion that standards become irrelevant once they reach a certain level of ubiquity, and it was time for us standardidtas to stop worrying about standards and get on with the important job of building better websites.
Now if Molly had been in the audience, she almost certainly would have disagreed with the idea that the battle had been won, and standards were now ubiquitous. However in the context of a room full of standards geeks, I felt it was important to stress that standards are just the start of the journey, rather than the destination. Something that many of us forget.
If you read my previous post about public speaking tips, you’ll be amused to know that I failed to do pretty much all of them on this occasion. I’ve been really busy at work the last week, so didn’t have time to run through the slides beforehand. Consequently I felt decidedly under prepared and ended up tweaking the slides all the way up to London. It was a blistering hot day, so I decided to go in my shorts and new cork’d t-shirt and ended up somewhat under dressed . And if that wasn’t enough I managed to um and er my way through the talk, which may not have shown on the, er, day, but definitely stands out on the, um, podcast.
I had a really good time on Friday and would like to thank everybody who attended the event, and especially Stuart for organising such a great night out.
Posted at July 17, 2006 11:34 PM