Rachel Andrew’s new Web Histories Project Includes Yours Truly

Rachel Andrew has a new project to record some of the early histories of underrepresented folks from the web development world. She calls the project Web Histories. I was delighted that she called on me to tell my story.

I hope you’ll take a minute to read about my contributions to web design.

Rachel explains that she, “intends this site to become a place to gather the stories of the efforts to create an open web. I’m starting with some of the early stories.” She provides a way for you to participate by taking a survey about the early history of the industry.

I seldom get recognized or remembered in the web design world, so I’m grateful to Rachel for thinking of me and including me in the project.

Go support her efforts, folks.

Givers and Takers in the Web World

I’m reading Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Successby Adam Grant. Here’s the premise of the book from the book jacket:

In professional interactions, it turns out that most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

The book dissects how givers, takers, and matchers achieve success – and hang on to success – while others may ultimately fail. Adam Grant is a professor at The Wharton School. The book is based on research and many studies. I was afraid from the title that it might be some of that woo-woo stuff like you read in The Secret, but this is based on research.

It’s an enlightening book and a new way of thinking about success.

Grant’s premise is that givers, people who put the success of the team or the company or the other person in an interaction above their own success, if they do it right, ultimately become the most successful and valuable people to have around.

I’m only a little over half way through the book, but I keep having the same thought as I read. Grant talks mostly about famous men: Ken Lay from Enron, George Meyer from “The Simpsons,” basketball star Michael Jordan, Obama aide Reggie Love. I keep thinking, but what would he say about Sheryl Sandberg or Oprah Winfrey?

As I read, my mind also goes to the people in the web design world. Not world famous names, but people who make this little niche of the world work. Who are the givers are takers and matchers? It was easy to come up with names of men I think would be considered givers. A couple of quick examples: Jeffrey Zeldman, Eric Meyer. But what about women?

Two Women

I want to mention two women in the web design world that I’ve had the experience of working with, and who I consider givers.

Glenda Sims (@goodwitch) is someone I’ve always thought of as a connector. She knows everyone. Ten minutes after you meet her and she hears a bit about who you are and what you do, she’s giving you names of people you should meet, dragging you off to meet them, telling both of you how you can help each other.

I worked with her when creating the web education curriculum that began its life under the name InterACT and has now gone to live at the W3C. This was a team of people who volunteered to build a web standards based curriculum and put it on the web to give away. Glenda wrote little bits of this material, but the real contribution she made was in herding everyone along, in keeping everyone productive, in finding the right person for a job, in managing time and information for everyone else, in knowing where to get funding. Glenda’s name is not the big name attached to this project, but if she hadn’t been there acting as a giver, the project might not have succeeded.

Search Flickr for Glenda Sims and you find her face next to most of the people you’ve heard of in the web design world. I wasn’t kidding when I said she knows everybody.

Another woman I consider a giver is Zoe Gillenwater (@zomigi). I first became aware of Zoe years ago when the CSS Discuss mailing list was part of my regular reading. The list was about 9 parts people struggling with CSS questions and trying to learn it and 1 part people who were willing to answer questions and help others learn. Zoe was one of that 10% who spent hours answering, explaining, clarifying, helping. She was obviously brilliant at CSS and has gone on to prove it in many ways since. But back then, she was an unknown.

She’s not unknown now, as you can see in a Flickr search.

I worked directly with Zoe when my publisher asked her to be the technical editor for one of my books. Maybe you aren’t aware of this, but technical editors get paid about 50 cents an hour for what they do. It’s a crappy job. But Zoe took on the job with every intention of being the best at it and she was. She was most excellent at making sure that the CSS material in my book was correct and in helping me learn about and use the best CSS examples and techniques available at the time. It was my name of the cover of the book, not hers, but she took the time to give me a lot more than she actually had to to make sure the book was a good one.

If you have stories about the givers in the web design world, men or women, I hope you’ll share them in the comments. Let’s recognize the givers who make all of us a success.

Links to Amazon are affiliate links.

Useful Links: CSS3 Cursors, Learn to Code, HTML5 in WordPress, ARIA

Introducing the New CSS3 Cursor Styles is at Sitepoint.

Learn to Code is an new site that aspires to become a brilliant educational tool by teaching users to code using interactive and social tools. Congratulations to this new venture and wishes for much success in teaching learners to code.

The Rise of HTML5 in WordPress lists several WordPress themes that offer HTML5. This is a nice resource to use with my article Should Your Blog Use Responsive Web Design?

Knowing When to Break the Rules from Derek Featherstone talks about validation and accessibility and ARIA.

Accessibility in 6 hours

Next week I’m teaching a 6 hour continuing ed class in Principles of Accessible Web Design. I have no book to guide me, but I really didn’t need one. The Accessibility course in the WaSP InterACT Curriculum gave me all the ideas I need.

I thought I’d post a list of the topics I think I can squeeze into those 6 hours. Some of them won’t be covered in great depth, but here’s what I hope to talk about.

  • Accessibility is About People
  • Defining Accessibility
  • Accessible Images
  • Accessible Tables
  • Accessible Navigation
  • Accessible Color Choices
  • Accessible Forms
  • Accessible Multimedia
  • Accessibility Testing

Oh, jeepers. Looking at that list and thinking about trying to explain all that is 6 hours is pretty daunting. And, what am I leaving out?

Syntax Style for HTML5 Markup: some best practice recommendations

The people involved in the WaSP InterACT Curriculum are organizing to do some updates to the free online course materials the curriculum provides to web educators (and self-taught learners). This is part of an ongoing effort to keep the InterACT web standards based curriculum up to date.

In preparing to update the Web Design 1 course to bring in some material about HTML5, I surveyed the members of the WaSP education task force and others involved in InterACT as to what style of syntax we should recommend as a best practice for HTML5.

As you may know, the options for syntax style in HTML5 are wide open. Tags can be upper case, lower case, or camel case. Attribute values can be quoted, or not quoted. Empty elements can have a closing forward slash, or not. Other elements can be closed, or not.

I didn’t want to add modules for HTML5 to the Web Design 1 curriculum that simply said, “Do whatever you feel like in terms of syntax,” although that is pretty much what HTML5 allows. And I didn’t want to write something that was merely “Virginia’s ideas on HTML5 syntax.”

So, the survey of the WaSP education task force members went out. Consensus was reached. Here are the recommendations for HTML5 syntax. This is how we think it should be taught and written.

  • Use lower case for tags
  • Quote attribute values
  • Don’t use the XML style trailing forward slash on empty elements (e.g., <br> not <br />
  • Close all non-empty elements (e.g., <p></p> and <li></li> etc.)

What we’re advocating as a best practice is using syntax associated with strict doctypes in past iterations of (X)HTML. However, HTML5 is not XHTML, so there’s no need to retain the trailing forward slash on empty elements.

Here’s your chance to add your voice to the mix. Are there any reasons why this style of syntax should not be used as a best practice for HTML5? Can you add anything else that you think is important that hasn’t been included?

Useful Links: distance education, W3Fools, Golden Globes

Distance Education Access Guidelines. “The California Community College System is committed to providing equal access to education for students with disabilities. The following guidelines represent the latest opinions and advice for delivering accessible distance educational services.”

Must reading for any web educator: w3Fools – A w3Schools Intervention. Here are the reputable resources recommended instead of W3Schools:

I’m sorry that the WaSP InterACT Curriculum wasn’t included in the list of reputable resources. I think it belongs there.

scene from the social network The Social Network took home awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Score and Best Screenplay from the Golden Globes Awards last night.

Maybe I’m a traitor to technology and the intersection of technology and society, but I was hoping one of the films about women – The Kids are All Right or Black Swan – would win Best Picture. Since the Golden Globes are a fair predictor of the Oscars, a movie about social media may become the Oscar winning movie of the year.

Were you/are you rooting for The Social Network? Should it take home the Oscar for Best Picture, too?