Author as Reviewer

Someone got me thinking about the position I’ve put myself in as an author of a web design book who writes reviews of web design books. I’ve never questioned my fairness in attempting this task, because I’ve made my bias clear from the very beginning of this blog.

As a historical recap of my position on web design, I have this bias: in order to teach students to create web sites that use standards and are accessible, we should teach CSS in tandem with HTML. As soon as a student learns an HTML tag, they should learn about the CSS that can be used to style that element. I’ve made this bias very clear in critiquing other folks books by coming down hard on books that taught deprecated methods first and CSS last.

I’ve been writing reviews here since 2001. My own book came out in 2004. Since 2001, I have seen changes toward my point of view among other authors. When I see it, I’m free with my praise. I’m an open admirer of books that directly compete with mine, for example Liz Castro’s HTML for the World Wide Web.

I’m not here to stifle or stamp out the competition. I’m here to help teachers select the right books to teach web development classes so that students complete the class knowing standards, accessibility, good coding habits, and CSS. I wrote my book with the constant thought in mind that this is the best way for a teacher to approach teaching this topic. I hope teachers will select my book as a text for an HTML class. But if they don’t, then I want them to know about other good books, and know which books are not worth considering at all.

Everything seems like a polemic these days. People behave as if Machiavellian self-aggrandisement is the only normal behavior. Consideration, courtesy, cooperation, or generosity toward one’s competition seem to have fallen out of style. But, hey, I’m old. Venerable, in fact. My standards of behavior came from a different time. I intend to continue doing what I’m doing. I trust that my readers understand that this is my blog, my point of view, my opinion and that my readers are intelligent enough to understand and make use of whatever value I add with my reviews.

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