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| Fronteers | Professionalism |
One of the things I’ve been following closely these past few weeks is an initiative for a new kind of journalism here at home. To me it’s not so much about the journalism as it is about the business model, which nicely ties in with other initiatives in the US, and is probably even more succesful right now.
De Correspondent aims to become a blog and news site supported by subscriptions. See also this English article for a summary of what’s happened so far.
Back in Spring 2007 it dawned on me that what we needed in Holland was an association of professional front-end developers. Front-end was on the rise, but not nearly as popular as it is nowadays, and it was marred by archaic types who were still using table-based layouts and were discussing the use of CSS internally ... and discussing it ... and discussing it.
I started reaching out to front-enders I knew, and pretty soon it was clear almost all of them agreed that a professional association was a good idea. Consequentely, Fronteers was founded in September 2007, slightly more than five years ago. I was elected chairman.
In November I’m going to step down as chairman and board member (blogpost in Dutch), and I’d like to close off my active duty time at Fronteers with a retrospective. Which plans worked, which ones didn’t? Which lessons can you draw if you’re considering a similar association in your country?
I’ve never actually played with Siri yet, so this example might be somewhat off the mark. And I made up the site. Still, it’s something we should keep in mind — especially accessibility specialists.
Fronteers 2011, held last Thursday and Friday, was an extraordinary web conference. Where the previous three editions were good and could easily compare to the best international events, Fronteers 2011 was better. The upcoming videos will prove it.
I’ve been to a lot of conferences, and organised four. The ones I organised, and more than half the ones I visited were good, most others were not so good, but a few were extraordinary. Fronteers 2011 belongs in that select group.
And the wifi worked flawlessly with 450 simultaneous connections!
Over the past few weeks I’ve had essentially the same conversation with
Georgi Petrov from Sofia, Bulgaria; Lea Verou from Athens, Greece; and Marco Cedaro from Bologna, Italy.
All three wanted to do something about front-end in their own town, but all three seemed to think there was some kind of black magic involved in getting well-known speakers to your conference or even getting together a few people to talk about geeky stuff.
So it’s time to talk about organising front-end meetings or conferences and how black magic is not necessary.
When I was in San Francisco back in April it didn’t take long for me to get introduced to the most popular social game in town: how will Twitter make money? I played the game in three or four different groups, made some obvious beginner’s mistakes, and had fun.
Unfortunately for those still playing the game I think I solved the problem. I now know how Twitter should make money. Judge for yourself.
In this entry I give some impressions of AEA Boston, as well as an attempt to compare the current web dev world with the old potlatch system.
Yesterday morning I returned from my first visit to San Francisco, where I delivered my first real solo presentation at the Voices that Matter: Web Design conference, as well as visiting Yahoo! and wandering around town a bit. All in all it was a wonderful experience.
Last Tuesday, exactly one week ago, was one of the busiest and most exciting days of my life, and I think that it was a success all in all.
For me, it was the first time I organised a conference, moderated a panel, founded a front-end professionals' organisation, and went into a personal battle that for a moment threatened to become very bitter, but fortunately didn't thanks to the generosity of my opponents and an extremely professional chairman. And all that on one day.
Anyway, it's wrapped up now, and I thought I'd give my international readers some idea of what I've been working on these past months.
Zoals ik eerder heb vermeld, heb ik het idee gekregen om een Gilde van Front-Enders op te richten. Dit idee heeft behoorlijke weerklank gevonden; tot nu toe hebben zich 85 front-enders als potentieel lid ingeschreven. Ik wil hen, plus alle andere geinteresseerden, van harte uitnodigen voor het oprichtingscongres van het Gilde, dat gesponsord wordt door het PIBN.
(English summary: This is an invitation to the founding conference of the Guild of Front-End Programmers. The conference is in Dutch, so this entry is, too.)
To anyone following my Guild adventures it will not come as a huge surprise that I hope to be elected chairman at our meeting on the 18th of September. Last week, another candidate for chairmanship, Lon Boonen of Q42, entered the fray.
When I read through his ideas, I came across a few points that I absolutely disagree with. Furthermore I believe that the difference between Lon's and my ideas nicely summarises a fundamental decision the web standards movement has to take in the next year or so. I wrote this entry because this is something all standardistas should think about.
Basically, Lon wants to create yet another online community and pressure group—a grassroot movement, in other words. I, on the other hand, want to create a quite different type of organisation.
I believe that grassroot movements (of which the WaSP is the most important and well-known example, but far from the only one) cannot take web standards much further than they have done until now, because they don't reach the large website creation companies, which are crucial to the long-term success of the standards movement.
Just as last year, I've got a session planned for SxSW 2008. Its title is "In Praise of Elitism", and of course I hope that my readers will vote for me so that I get free entrance to SxSW.
Last week, two blog entries caught my eye because they discussed a problem I've started to notice, too. In Reflection Jeremy Keith bemoaned the lack of blog comment quality for the umpteenth time; while in The HTML 5 circus Roger Johansson explained that he temporarily left the HTML WG mailing list because there were too many people who just shouted at others without making any positive contribution.
Jeremy and Roger are talking about the same problem. There are quite a few semi-professional web developers who have excellent knowledge of the web standards but spend their time shouting at other people on blogs, forums, or mailing lists, and they are taking over most public spaces of the web standards movement with their ideologically pure drivel; proving the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory beyond any possible doubt. We ought to get rid of them, but I don't know how.
Who are these semi-professionals? How do they differ from professionals?
Currently I'm reading Framing the Early Middle Ages by Chris Wickham, which treats Europe and the Mediterranean in the years 400-800 (this, especially the West, was my specialisation back when I was a historian). Wickham has been courageous enough to attempt a general definition of an "aristocrat", and I couldn't resist the temptation to apply his criteria to today's Web development aristocrats.
So today's questions are: what makes a Web development aristocrat a Web development aristocrat? And what are aristocrats good for, anyway?
Last Monday I invited all Dutch front-end programmers to become members of my soon-to-be-founded Guild of Front-End programmers. I also promised to publish some more information in English.
This entry covers the certification we're planning to introduce. While reading it, please remember that all items I describe below are just plans right now (some of them my personal ones). They may still be voted down by the certification committee or the Guild members.
(lang="nl" interstitial: Mensen die meer informatie willen, kunnen onze huidige plannen bekijken en/of zich inschrijven voor de aankondigingslijst.)
Hierbij nodig ik alle Nederlandstalige front-end programmeurs uit zich aan te sluiten bij het Gilde van Front-Enders dat ik bezig ben op te richten. We hebben al 50 leden, maar we kunnen er nog veel meer gebruiken.
(English summary: I'm in the process of founding a Dutch Guild of Front-End programmers. This entry is a national call to action and is therefore in Dutch. Later I'll post something in English about my plans.)
Do we need a professional organisation that tests and certifies web developers? This question is suddenly very much in the picture, with
Mark Boulton, Richard Rutter, D. Keith Robinson, and Eric Meyer discussing it at length. I decided to throw in a few of my own thoughts and offer a field-tested rough-and-ready method that is quite reliable for separating the chaff from the wheat: the 2 minutes CSS test.
Sounds fascinating? You bet. There's just one slight problem: the actual data is totally inaccessible.
The advent of Ajax makes a solution to this problem mandatory. Who will create the Ajax applications? Those who don't know how to write an application, or those who don't know the language the application will be written in?
My previous entry The New Amateurs has generated so many interesting comments that I decided to reply to them all in a new entry, which will continue the discussion.
To my astonishment it turns out that some New Amateurs read my site, and that some of them even agree with me. It seems they aren't even too much annoyed by the label "amateurs". Great!
Let's review a few of their arguments.
Andy Clarke started it, Molly Holzschlag added her powerful voice, and Roger Johansson and Holly Marie Koltz jotted down some interesting notes. It's time for New Professionalism in the website industry.
I completely agree; in fact I have been worrying about this problem for quite a while, and no doubt others have, too. Such movements aren't created out of nothing, they are ideas waiting to find a voice, and I'm glad that it happened. We have to reach the New Amateurs and transform them into New Professionals. But how?