Posts Tagged ‘jeffrey zeldman’

Comic: A Nacho Moment

Monday, February 14th, 2011
CSSquirrel #80: A Nacho Moment

Featuring Jeffrey Zeldman, Jeremy Keith and Dave Shea, today’s comic highlights what makes good people on the Internet into great people.

Humanity, it seems, is destined to fight with itself over every little detail. That’s probably not new information to you.

Thanks to the Internet, we don’t even need stamps or to be in someone’s physical presence to have these arguments. As anyone with a net connection knows, this means we will get into heated, acrimonious fights over topics as unimportant as who the hell was Papa Smurf’s partner in creating his dozens of smurf offspring. And we’ll stew over it. And we’ll 386 someone because of it. And we’ll lose sleep and remove friends from Facebook over it.

As as developer/designer who follows the same category of people on Twitter, many of the Internet fights I witness involve web standards, the tools we use as developers, the erotic-sounding but thoroughly disappointing topic of hashbangs and anything in between. Heck, I participate in these brawls, throwing acorns at the whole mess.

There’s a lot of reasons for these fights, but most often we argue because we care. The products we make as professionals mean a lot to us. We want the best for our medium and our industry, and so we get trenchant about Flash, HTML5, naming conventions, design techniques or the proper shade of blue. Because to us it matters. It matters a lot. And there is nothing wrong with that level of passion about your work. Quite the opposite. If you can’t imagine yourself fiercely defending what you do as an occupation, maybe you need a different career.

However, in the process we frequently seem to forget that we’re dealing with other people. Passionate people, some of which are just as informed as we are. Or even more so. And believe it or not, they’re entitled to have arrived at different conclusions than us. Yet, so often something about the Internet seems to boil away the concept of the right to respectfully disagree.

Last week, Zeldman and Keith got into a debate over a blog post by Andy Rutledge on the subject of Kickstarter. At times it seemed heated, and due to the nature of the medium they were debating in it was both very public and very abrupt. Then the next day Zeldman posted a series of tweets carefully reiterating his view, made it clear that Keith was his friend and simply saying “sorry” for the whole confusion. In front of an audience of 144,000 followers. Jeremy replied in the same vein.

It shouldn’t seem amazing that two people apologize over a fight in public. But somehow, on today’s Internet, it’s all but unheard of.

There’s a strange comfort in knowing that our Internet heroes are just as capable of the same fallacies we are.

It’s inspiring to see them follow it up by providing good examples by rising to a level of good behavior we rarely get to witness in social media today.

I’ve termed this sudden cessation of hostilities (without ceding the value of each party’s opinions) as a “nacho moment“, so named thanks to a moment of intentional, deliberate hilarity by Dave Shea best summarized by this pair of tweets. It’s a testament to his actions that I don’t even recall what large debate was going on before his tweets, but do know that afterward the Internet got a little less contentious and the Seattle area’s nacho sales rose just a bit.

Don’t stop caring about the things you care about, whether it’s the Smurfs or funding crowdsourcing. But when you’re in a debate, have a nacho moment and remember you’re talking to other people. People who also care.

Comic Update: An Ovation Apart

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

An Event Apart: DC is running at this very moment. I am not there, sadly, but I am living the experience vicariously through A Feed Apart (which is awesome and you should check it out now) Via that very feed, I learned of applause, as unlikely as it sounds, that Dan Cederholm led the crowd in for IE9. Today’s comic memorializes that event, and also includes Eric Meyer and Jeffrey Zeldman, the two dudes without whom this awesome conference would not exist. (It turns out they’re also very awesome in person. Really. They don’t bite or anything.)

Seriously, if you ever can get to an AEA event, I implore you to go. It’s an awesome experience being surrounded by like-minded web geeks getting leading edge advice and techniques for that thing we do with making the web.

Look, let’s drop the issue of tribe for the moment: IE9 is a better browser than IE8, period. I won’t make it my steady gal, but it’s helping push the web in the right direction by getting Microsoft’s behemoth back on track with everyone else. I’m glad someone at AEA decided to lead the crowd in acknowledging that fact.

Comic Update: The Curse of the Werefive

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Today’s comic features Jeffrey Zeldman, Tantek Çelik and the Squirrel fleeing a lycanthropic Jeff Croft after his transformation into a ferocious werefive. What is a werefive, you ask?

On Sunday, Zeldman linked a cool html5 test project from his blog. On Monday, Tantek made a comment there discussing his issue with the fact that many of the items the test checks for aren’t HTML5 at all, but rather other related bits (like Microformats, for example). This caused Croft to write his own piece on the topic, wondering why such vigilance was needed, claiming the buzzword’s value in promoting interest outweighs the potential harm of mislabeling items as belonging to it, using the long-abused term AJAX as an example. Tantek follows up again with a comment on Croft’s blog that clarifies his position more in depth. The ensuing discussion spawned today another post by Zeldman on the topic of HTML5 fuzziness and his own reasons that he feels it’s best to avoid such confusion.

Does that help clear things up?

What I’ve enjoyed about this conversation is how thoughtful and polite it has been. In a web where flamethrowers are more common than flowers, it’s great to see an intellectual exercise continue for more than three tweets without someone dropping a Hitler reference or cursing your mother’s fertility.

It’s also a neat topic. I for one often have confused, or sloppily placed, items that aren’t part of HTML5 as part of that banner. At Mindfly, I’ve repeatedly tossed Geolocation (which used to be part of HTML5, just in case that’s not confusing enough) and Microformats (which predates HTML5 and really has nothing to do with it) into discussions about the HTML5… usually in an attempt to add perceived value to making use of what the spec itself offers (which is technically neither of those things.) I’ve never been so crass to lump CSS3 in there, but I’ve got a special place in my heart for stylesheets.

The kind of gooey place usually reserved for sweethearts and cookies with milk.

That said, I have to agree with Zeldman’s words:

Sure, it’s a bit stiff. But such a construction allows us to participate in the current frenzy and be understood by non-technical people while not fostering further misunderstandings—particularly as we also need to concern ourselves with web colleagues’ and students’ knowledge of what HTML5 is and is not.

It’s my opinion, in the end, that we should avoid being bitten by the fuzzy, morphing werefive and adding to what is likely already a very confusing mess for people. Unless I really can grow fangs, claws, and be immune to all but silver bullets. Because that would be so awesome that I would need a motorcycle and a plaid shirt.

Werewolves wear plaid, right?

Comic Update: Push To Dispense Free Cheese

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Today’s comic continues the storyline started by the last episode in a display of continuity rarely tolerated here. It continues the celebration of my attendance at An Event Apart: Seattle by showcasing many of the speakers of that groundbreaking event: Andy Clarke, Nicole Sullivan, Jeremy Keith, Eric Meyer, Aarron Walter, Jared Spool, Luke Wroblewski, Jeffrey Zeldman and Dan Cederholm. Also making a noteworthy appearance is Naepalm, the chinchilla alter-ego of Mindfly Web Studio co-worker Janae.

It also is my response to Jeremy Keith’s challenge (made at the event) to create an icon for “Push to Dispense Free Cheese.” I dare anyone else out there to do better.

No, really. I want to see that.

For the past couple of years I’ve followed the going-ons of An Event Apart through the Twitterscape. The inaugural comic of CSSquirrel featured AEA: New Orleans 2008 (and Andy Clarke’s underpants.) This year was the first opportunity I had to attend in person. It blew me away.

Let’s start with the speakers. They are top notch, cream of the crop, cutting-edge members of our website-making industry. They aren’t just paving cow paths (HTML5 philosophy notwithstanding). They’re kicking down the door of the future and lighting up places we’ve never been before. Even better, they’re sharing these cutting-edge thoughts with the rest of us.

I am fully incapable of transcribing in a single blog post what I learned there. It took me eight hours of working alongside Janae to figure out how to compress this information into what became four hours of presentation for our esteemed Mindfly colleagues, and that was with access to informative slides. So instead, let me point you towards some online writings that sum up the event and the lore contained within:


As awesome as the speakers were, another amazing component of the conference was the attendees. I live in lovely Bellingham, WA. It’s about two hours north of Seattle, is nicely sandwiched between mountains and the bay, and is a great place to live. It is not, however, literally crawling with web designers in the same fashion as large cities like Seattle or New York. So to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of invested, devoted website-making peeps is a heady experience. With people coming from design studios, universities like UW, and even sites like I Can Has Cheezburger, it made for a great opportunity to talk shop with people of all different web design backgrounds.

At some point in the recent past I saw someone ask on Twitter if it was worthwhile to pay for a conference for information they could get later on a blog. I can say for certain that yes, it is. There is a quantity of data being that is shared in live meetings that any attempt by myself or others to fully regurgitate in writing is incapable of matching. Speakers absorb earlier comments by their fellows, incorporating ideas into their own presentations. Crowds at lunch and after-parties discuss the merits of the ideas discussed, bringing the focus of several hundred minds to the same issues in one short period of time. Friends known online become real concrete people with a firm handshake, a booming laugh, and other qualities that engrave the real feel of who they are.

Note to self: I forgot to actually acquire one of Dylan Wilbank’s excellent business cards. Dang it.

There’s one more comic that will finish this year’s AEA storyline. But knowing the quality of this event, having finally experienced it firsthand, I can tell you it won’t be the last time AEA gets the squirrel treatment.

Meyer, Zeldman and everyone else that made my two days in Seattle so awesome: Thank you.

Comic Update: Veritas Sciurus – Must Web Designers Code?

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Today’s comic features a gruesome shootout between Ethan Marcotte, Andy Budd, Ian Lloyd, Eric Meyer, Jeffrey Zeldman and the duo of Elliot Jay Stocks and the squirrel. Jeff Croft also makes an important appearance. Cast in the light of a rather enjoyable action film, the sequence mimics the spirit of a Twitter throwdown that Mr. Stocks ignited this February with one simple tweet: “Honestly, I’m shocked that in 2010 I’m still coming across ‘web designers’ who can’t code their own designs. No excuse.

As you can imagine, this sort of statement created a charged atmosphere in the web designer tweet zone. People had opinions, they shared them. Those were just a few examples. In general, things got a bit tense. It’s rather reminiscent of the last time I saw this topic come up during October ’09 (I’d joined in with a post about it which you can read here).

Should web designers know how to code in order to be taken seriously?

Jeff Croft’s response to the reignited brawl is to the point (warning – profanity-laced): You can read it here.

It’s always a very fascinating argument when this topic comes up. I’d like to hear your thoughts on it: Should web designers know code? (Elliot later discussed the topic himself in more detail here. Take a gander.)