Posts Tagged ‘mark pilgrim’

410, the Croatoan of the Internet

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
CSSquirrel #87: '410', the Croatoan of the Internet

Last night Twitter was home to a small, short storm of activity around the disappearance of Mark Pilgrim. Which was downgraded to the disappearance of Mark Pilgrim’s websites. Today’s comic (which features Eric Meyer and a random Internet jerk) is not meant to directly relate to Pilgrim’s situation. I’ve certainly poked at Mark before from this site, but I doubt whatever situation made him decide to 410 his online world is a laughing matter. For that matter, it’s also not any of my business.

I was impressed with the speed of online responses to the situation. Tweets led to emails, which led to people scouring contact records, which led to calling the police to get them to check on him. It was a fast, modern response to what could have been a crisis situation, and it helped restore a bit of my faith in people.

At which point, the trolls rolled in.

Meyer made a post about Mark’s online disappearance, pleading for assistance in confirming if he was ok. What followed in his comment section were mostly people hoping for the best or brainstorming ways to contact him.

Then there was a handful of thoughtless comments like this.

I completely agree with Jeremy Keith when he rails at companies like Yahoo for permanently destroying massive corners of the Internet. The thousands of people that made sites (hideous or otherwise) there weren’t the parties responsible for the destruction of the content. In some (admittedly few) cases there were even people still using the aging “first city” of the Web. But there’s also no doubt that many who had made sites there, such as online picture books of their family history, expected their efforts to last forever. Only to have some jerks bulldoze their memories, destroying a huge part of the early Web’s history in one foul swoop.

But when a creator decides they’re done with their own work, let’s not get on our high horses and deny them the right to terminate their own creative endeavors. Is Mark obliged to pay monthly fees for his own websites if he tires of them just because others find them useful? Does a webcomic artist have the obligation to keep his scrawls online forever just in case fans come back to look at them years hence? Does a teenager need to keep all of their embarrassing¬†Facebook posts about how they were crazy-in-love with some girl for 36 hours just so we can all gawk later?

God, I hope not.

Look, if others want to make archives of existing sites in case they go offline, then do so with my blessing. I think preserving our legacy of websites is far better than losing them. But to expect the creator of any work to preserve their own original copy of any piece seems a bit strange. To call them selfish for getting rid of it so is doubly absurd. Should I have preserved every crayon doodle I made in the first grade?

I’ve never seen the 410 status code before now. It’s a strange beast. “Site’s gone, not coming back, move along!” Despite the fact that the Internet’s many sites are so easily lost, we tend to think of them as cast in some sort of digital stone. The idea that a useful site would go away, permanently, on purpose even, is almost too much to accept. But they can go, whenever the authors want.

To me the idea of deliberately burning my own sites seems like it’d be a pity. I did put all the effort into them after all. But I think we all need to remember that there’s a big difference between Nero burning Rome and Mozart throwing away compositions he’s no longer pleased with.

Mark’s many contributions would be sorely missed if they were truly, completely gone. I understand the pain of losing a valued resource. But as others have said, we still have access to archives of them. As for his own sites, they’re his to burn.¬†Here’s hoping he’s going to be ok.

Elsewhere: Mark Pilgrim’s “Tinkerer’s Sunset”

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Usually when I mention Mark Pilgrim, it is with a dismayed tone that is meant to paint him as a dastardly villain who is elbow-deep in foul rituals meant to permanently stain the reputation of the HTML5 effort; an implication is made that he is resurrecting some great beast that will swallow the earth whole and enslave our souls.

What I’m saying is that, on average, I’m not a fan of his work.

However, his recent blog post “Tinkerer’s Sunset” clearly states the case of why the direction the iPad is moving the market is a sad affair. A man who learned his craft on an Apple IIe, he’s dismayed at the thought of the next generation of tinkerers, who will have to pay a fee or commit crimes in order to look under the hood of their own computers.

Many claim the iPad represents what the future of computing will look like: tailored, “safe” devices with little room for modification or customization (unless you plan on spending some time in court). Maybe that’s how it’ll be, and there’s little to be said or done. But Mark helps illustrate why that future will be a sad one. Go read his post.

Comic Update: Manners After the XHTMLacolypse

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Last week, it was declared that the XHTML2 WG was being discontinued, so the resources could be focused on HTML5. I briefly mentioned it here, and Jeffrey Zeldman spoke about it here. It’s a simple enough matter, and drew a lot of mixed responses. That in itself isn’t surprising.

What was surprising was how all of a sudden it seemed that it became open hunting season on insulting developers that used XHTML 1 (which is not XHTML2) and gloating over the corpse of the standard before it had even cooled. As two examples, Henri Sivonen produced an unofficial “Q&A” complete with snark, and Mark Pilgrim invented a taunting childish rhyme that reveled in the folly of those he disagreed with. Pilgrim in his case even named Jeffrey Zeldman directly in his taunts (and got even worse in behavior in his comments on that post.)

This sort of behavior annoys me on two levels. One, it’s not a great way to treat your professional peers, as it crosses the line from attacking a technology to attacking people. Two, it confuses (in some cases intentionally) XHTML and XHTML2, making it seem as if the death of the latter somehow invalidated the former, which isn’t the case at all.

Fortunately, good men didn’t let that sort of behavior slide. John Allsopp rightfully called some of the taunters out for their snark (as recorded in this tweet here), and that became the basis for today’s comic, which imagines a post-apocalyptic world where this sort of poor manners must be corrected by brave warriors in the wasteland.

Also helping correct misconceptions and bad behavior were good posts by Jeremy Keith and Jeffrey Zeldman. If you’re confused about the whole XHTML issue this week, take a look at what they’ve written. It’s instructive.

Was XHTML2′s death a good thing? I don’t know. I do know that we can discuss the technology in a fashion that doesn’t involve insulting the people involved, though. Keep it clean, folks.

Note: I wrote this in about eight minutes at the end of my lunch. As such, it might expand later when I have the chance to be more verbose and thoughtful.

Comic Update: HTML5 Manners

Monday, May 4th, 2009

I’m going to lay out a chronology of prior events for you all so that today’s comic has a context other than the poor movie experience that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine (I really wanted to love that movie.)

Chris Wilson (W3C HTML WG co-chair and Microsoft employee) posted an e-mail to a HTML5 discussion that made reference to the “W3C HTML5 Spec”.

Mark Pilgrim (Google employee and WHATWG Blog author) in the WHATWG IRC channel then implies that HTML WG co-chair Sam Ruby would have been attempting to be divisive had he written that e-mail, but since it came from the other chair, Chris, he was in fact being stupid.

Shelley Powers (computer book author, software developer and technology architect) expresses utter frustration in a blog post about the future of HTML5 by pointing out this incident and many others that indicates a “Hatfield-McCoy feud” (in her words) between the W3C and WhatWG that is miring the whole process down. Gems in her post include an IRC discussion (starts here, ends here) between HTML5 editor Ian Hickson and Microformats champion Tantek Celik where Ian shows his bias in the microdata issue (read that: whether to include RDFa in HTML5) by asking Tantek to vet the use-case submissions. The “vetting” quickly devolves to the pair saying “Use microformats for everything” or if such a situation isn’t possible, to simply create a custom microformat for your own use.

Yes, that’s it, let’s make dozens of one-shot formats to solve the many microdata issues we’ll doubtlessly be facing in the next several years. That can’t possibly create any sort of data-harvesting compatibility issues. If I can see the shortsightedness of this issue (and I fail to wear coats on cloudy days because “it’s not raining yet”) then you can bet this isn’t a tenable, long-term solution.

They take some time to attack Creative Commons while they’re at it.

These aren’t the only times these sort of offensive public conversations have occurred, where WhatWG members have publicly derided, insulted or challenged the intelligence of the individuals they’re politely talking to in other conversations about topics they’re mutually involved in (such as HTML5). Mr. Last Week in HTML5 is a great (albeit foul-mouthed and somewhat spiteful) source of links to these conversations occurring all the time.

Ian responded to Shelley’s post, taking umbrage (as Shelley put it) at her “insulting accusation”. Shelley’s response cut to the core of the matter, exposing the main issue at hand here, and one that needs some serious addressing. In her words: “Don’t you get it? Don’t you see what Last Week in HTML5 is trying to demonstrate? You talk respect in my comments, or Sam’s comments, and elsewhere, but you show disrespect to me, to Sam, to others, in the IRC, and it completely undermines everything that you do.

I can’t state it better. These people aren’t average developers trading insults about trivial code snippets on small-scale projects. These are industry movers-and-shakers who are supposed to be working together to help create the standards that will define how we use HTML and other web technologies for years to come. I expect professional disagreement to occur (I’d be worried and concerned if that didn’t happen). But to start insulting one another personally in a public discussion (or frankly, privately) is shameful to the entire process and the entire community that is depending on them to do a good job.

Shame on you, sirs.

I’ll leave you with the following quotes from this IRC discussion including Doug Schepers, Ian Hickson, and a person named ‘roc’ (I don’t know his real name) [edit: As I've been informed in the comments, roc is Mozilla's Robert O'Callahan]:

shepazutoo (Doug): wow, Hixie, “contradicting other specs has never stopped the SVGWG before” (q.v. xlink, css, etc)… first, those were almost certainly mistakes rather than purposeful contradictions, and second, you’re acting like the current SVG WG is the same set of companies and individuals that wrote the SVG 1.1 spec, which you know to be false… can you please drop the political histrionics? we’re acting in good faith to correct some past errors, and to work with other WGs and with browser vendors to make all the specs align usefully

Hixie (Ian): i think you may have missed the smiley

roc (Robert): a smiley is not a “get out of jail free card” to be annoying