Wednesday, January 17, 2007

WebSG meetup

What was I doing at a meet-up on Web Standards? What did I know about web standards prior to the meetup?

Very little, that's for sure. I had some sense what it's about (i.e. standardisation of something that's web-related) but not enough to articulate or define it. Nonetheless, when I learnt about the meet-up, I signed up for it anyway, mentally bracing myself for an evening of Geek-talk galore.

But the Geek-talk didn't happen. According to Lucian (the main mastermind behind this meetup), the real geeks were at home logging into the new release of WOW, heh.

What I recall from the presentations:
"Google is Blind", as in, websites coded entirely in Flash don't get ranked very high. So that's something to consider if web developers suggestion that option.

Lucian (who made us take photos of ourselves, with a Mac, on the way in) gave what I thought was an excellent overview of the background, context, issues, trends & development regarding Web Accessibilty. He elaborated on the web design/ development framework -- "Presentation, Structure & Behaviour". I thought it was a useful framework in planning web projects. I could see how it can help me understand and approach current and future developments of the NLB blogs and I'm involved in, as well as some possible web projects in the pipeline.

Coleman (who already blogged about his presentation as soon as he got home) did a nice presentation on Web Accessibility. I like how he put things in context by relating Web Accessibility with Building Accessibility. He also elaborated on something he came up with -- what he called the "evil-good continuum" -- to get people to think of where their sites (personal or business) were at the moment. He also showed a nice video where there was a Blind person explaining how he used Text/ Web-readers, and some problems when designers don't consider how non-sighted people would navigate the layout. I thought Coleman made a good point about how Web Accessibility was not just about making websites accessible to the disabled; it was ultimately about making the site accessible to all (at least more than one popular platform).

Nick Pan gave a working level demonstration of applying Web Standards to an actual client's site. He also pointed us to this diagram (from Natalie Jost) that brilliantly illustrates what Web Standards was about:

[An enhanced/ updated diagram available here]

It was nice to see some familiar faces -- Herry, Vanessa (read her account of the event) , "Wandie" (who's posted pictures of the meet-up). Was pleasantly surprised to meet Nimbupani (a blogger whom I've read but not met prior to this evening).

Then there were new ones like Jimmy (whom I learnt was one of the original advocates for WebSG two years ago) and two 16-year old students (!) who found their way to the meet-up.

I had a brief chat with the two 16-year olds (going on 17). They were both into "designing websites for fun". The guy found his way to the meet-up via while the girl said she was "dragged along by him". I asked the guy if he had a blog. He said yes. I asked if I could read his blog. He gave it to me. The girl went, "What? You're willing to let someone read your blog? What if he laughed at your nonsense?" and I said, "It might not matter what others feel about your writings. What you might want to think about is whether you'd feel embarrassed by your posts when you look back at it five years from now. Or if your employers look at it". Then she said, "Since you (the guy) gave it to him, then I'll also give mine and maybe I can get comments." LOL

How did the two youngsters feel about being in a meet-up with a bunch of oldsters, I wonder? I'd be interested in what they have to say (btw, don't ask me for their blog URLs as I'm not sure if they'd mind).

So what do I know about Web Standards now?
Still not a lot but at least I've some understanding of why there's a bunch of Web Standards advocates in Singapore who's passionate about the whole issue. And I probably enough (for now) to have a decent conversation with potential web developers -- or to drill the web developers decently -- if I'm in some web project for the library.

Oh, apparently I'm a geek -- according to Lucian, that is. It happened when Coleman asked who's a geek (to get a sense of how much or how little to delve into technicalities during his presentation). I raised my hand and asked, "Define a geek." Lucian said only geeks asked for definitions. Heh.

Funny thing -- it's only now that I realised "WebSG" stood for "Web Standards Group (Singapore)". Alamak!

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  1. Looks like I missed an interesting session. Nice to read about it though. Thanks! :)

  2. I have to say I keep hearing about 'Web Standards' wherever I go. I have yet to find anything which actually joins all these web standards together. I make sites for myself and for clients and we always seem to do well in search engine rankings and customer satisfaction just by keeping them very simple.

    What web standards are we all supposed to follow? The ones that say the site should be functional, look good or have lots of fancy flash (which I try to avoid because you are right when you say that Google is blind!

    Thanks for the info anyway and i will bookmark your site to come back and see progress.


  3. Well i think there is: and to begin with. Go over and start reading ;-)

    And FWIW, there's nothing wrong with using flash appropriately as long as you provide alternate text for users without flash plugins.


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