February 20, 2001
12:48 AM Subscribe
posted by asamee at 1:44 AM on February 20, 2001
posted by lia at 5:03 AM on February 20, 2001
posted by cCranium at 5:49 AM on February 20, 2001
posted by jbeaumont at 7:12 AM on February 20, 2001
posted by jkottke at 9:04 AM on February 20, 2001
posted by mathowie at 11:02 AM on February 20, 2001
How's about this: everybody's got their own little bailiwick, outside of which, their vision becomes myopic.
Hence, the conclusion might be drawn, why we got to this shabby state of web standards support, by both browsers and developers.
Not a lot of working together, you know?
posted by gsh at 11:10 AM on February 20, 2001
Though I wonder, why does anyone have to work together? If I was Derek, is it my duty to bring everyone together and work for standards, or can I just do my own thing, do the things I like to do on the web, and whatever happens, happens?
If that's what zeldman is saying (and again, I have no idea because it is cryptic), my first response is why would any of them owe anyone anything?
posted by mathowie at 11:16 AM on February 20, 2001
posted by netbros at 11:17 AM on February 20, 2001
posted by mathowie at 11:25 AM on February 20, 2001
Either that, or he was trying to see how many people had egos he could send into overdrive. Judging by the response here...
posted by harmful at 11:32 AM on February 20, 2001
posted by netbros at 11:37 AM on February 20, 2001
posted by jbeaumont at 12:07 PM on February 20, 2001
posted by netbros at 12:14 PM on February 20, 2001
posted by m.polo at 12:19 PM on February 20, 2001
Are you guys still whining about the Cabal? Isn't it time to get on with your own lives?
Also: if Zeldman doesn't make a lick of sense, why don't you just stop reading? It's not like he's reached Winer levels of madman drivel, it was just a goofy mixed metaphor that no one got.
posted by jbeaumont at 12:25 PM on February 20, 2001
posted by jon at 12:37 PM on February 20, 2001
Maybe it proves we all take ourselves (and this business) too damned seriously.
posted by webchick at 12:42 PM on February 20, 2001
When I read that this morning I just smiled and said "Heh, Zeldman's funny."
Sure, my co-workers looked at me weird, but they do that anyway. I mean, really, most of the comments the "students" say don't have meaning to them, they're just little tidbits from the past 6 years of these people's web lives.
Zeldman's rarely (if ever, I can't think of a specific instance) used "My Glamorous Life" as a commentary, it's always (because "since August" is forever, isn't it? :-) been something of an outlet for him, where he can break away from that "Web God Standards Bearer Workaholic Driven Bastard" that we all see, and just enjoy himself through text.
Either that or he's finally looked at the state of the Web world he remembers before he went into bezerk book author mode and is just recapping what happened to everyone since he started being unable to pay as much attention.
posted by cCranium at 1:13 PM on February 20, 2001
Usability standards are very important, particularly in the OS, if I may be permitted a topic drift :)
My parents and grandparents case in point: they got used to the win9x interface, then they got AOL. All the different-colored buttons and pictures and things that don't look/act like you expect messed them up. So they learn that and get sick of AOL (as everyone eventually does ;) and then are completely confused because they can't tell the difference between the browser and the ISP! AOL's integrated stuff is pure evil. It trains you into ignorance.
Even worse is something called "Printmaster," I think, where it has cartoon "rooms" you walk though. Disgusting.
Gah, I'm done.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:34 PM on February 20, 2001
You're kidding. You thought that?
"If I was Derek, is it my duty to bring everyone together and work for standards, or can I just do my own thing, do the things I like to do on the web, and whatever happens, happens? If that's what zeldman is saying (and again, I have no idea because it is cryptic),"
I can't believe you're reading that into this. Or that you'd think "organizing the third graders to put on a spoken word festival" was meant to be a put-down of my friend. Or that I even have to explain that.
I was surprised that some people felt insulted because they WEREN'T mentioned.
I'm even more surprised that some are insulted because they were. Okay, maybe Jason with the Tivo crack, but I expected Jason to laugh when he read that.
My purpose was to make milk come out of your nose. That's about it.
"View from "Outside the Cabal": Zeldman cares about standards. Other 'inside the cabal' people say they care about standards, but when push comes to shove, they put their own interests ahead of the interest of promoting standards. Oh, yeah, and Jakob Neilsen may be 'inside the cabal,' but he is annoying as shit, which having read one of his books, I didn't need a Zeldman to tell me..."
Interesting but again I wasn't trying to do any of that.
"When I read that this morning I just smiled and said 'Heh, Zeldman's funny.'"
Thank you. I'm glad a few people enjoyed it for what it was, and sorry anyone wasted a brain cell looking for deeper, hidden meanings.
I wonder: if Crazy Uncle Joe had written the same thing, would ANYONE get bent out of shape about it? Or Lance? Is it "heavy" because I wrote it? What's that about?
posted by Zeldman at 1:37 PM on February 20, 2001
It worked for me, and I haven't even had any milk for three weeks!
posted by kindall at 1:54 PM on February 20, 2001
Then, demoralized, they go over to GeoCities and put up web pages about their cats. And baby pictures of themselves. And embedded MIDI files. And links to E! Online.
posted by aaron at 1:59 PM on February 20, 2001
we want you to respect us.
also, it is off the wall and cryptic - in that it (we now know) means nothing. it follows the WaSP initiative which means *something*.
humans are pattern-makers. we fit the piece that made no sense into the box that made sense and developed a ufo-conspiracy theory.
it's what we do.
ps - what in the world is wrong with a page that features the author's cats and baby pictures? self-expression comes in many forms.
posted by rebeccablood at 2:06 PM on February 20, 2001
> the author's cats and baby pictures?
> self-expression comes in many forms.
Ditto that! Thanks, Rebecca, for beating me to the punch -- and in a much more civil manner than I would have, donchaknow.
posted by gee at 2:22 PM on February 20, 2001
You agree with me on the inherent evilness of embedded MIDI, don't you?
posted by aaron at 2:22 PM on February 20, 2001
I haven't had time to do a standards-compliant redesign of zeldman.com. So why on earth would I get on a soapbox to blast someone else? I wouldn't. The only relationship between the WaSP effort and "Best and Brightest" is that I wanted to relax after doing something serious. And give people something funny to read after writing things that are serious.
The WaSP effort is something I believe in, but you don't have to, and I'm not going to judge you either way. If I wanted to ask your support directly I would write to you directly. I wouldn't make fun of you on my personal site. (Not for that, anyway.)
Respect? It's implicit. If a first name and five words cue everyone as to who you are, then you've done a body of work that's so well known that no further explanation is needed. If you don't feel respect from that, oh well, I tried.
Cryptic? If you don't recognize Auriea and Joshua and Dack and Derek then you're not the audience for this little piece and of course it's cryptic. Not every piece is for every audience. I thought most people here would get it and would have a good laugh. As (I insist) they would if the same piece had appeared elsewhere.
I guess when you're known for doing SERIOUS stuff like The Ad Graveyard, If the Great Movies Had Been Websites, and Something About Nicole, people don't expect you to do comedy.
Matt, I love ya, but you're not the Matt in the story. The Matt in the story is a Flash artist who travels to Macromedia conferences in Hong Kong and Japan between doing projects for Nike.
Again, if Matt, who has built this community, and who did the Little CSS Shop of Horrors in 1997, and who hosts one of my non-commercial sites simply out of friendship, if that Matt thinks I was making fun of him, I don't really know what to say about it.
Nothing spoils a joke like trying to explain it.
posted by Zeldman at 2:24 PM on February 20, 2001
The only thing I was sorry about with Zeldman's piece is that I just didn't get many of the jokes. And can someone please tell me who this Nielsen chap everyone keeps referring to? I've been seeing that name everywhere for months and months, but it's assumed information, so no one will bother explaining who he is. (Is he a MeFi member?)
Remember, not all bloggers are programmers.
posted by norm at 2:24 PM on February 20, 2001
posted by norm at 2:25 PM on February 20, 2001
posted by harmful at 2:31 PM on February 20, 2001
posted by jennyb at 2:34 PM on February 20, 2001
absolutely. I don't want any page to give me sounds unless I ask it to. how can you expect me to surf at work under those circumstances????
posted by rebeccablood at 2:35 PM on February 20, 2001
But keep it up! It's good to have a villain around, even when you don't know who it really is. Kind of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid-ey.
posted by Skot at 2:36 PM on February 20, 2001
I find that remark cryptic. Should I be offended?
posted by Zeldman at 2:37 PM on February 20, 2001
posted by gee at 2:41 PM on February 20, 2001
BTW, what IS the deal with all the anti-Jakob feelings out there? Is there really that wide a divide between those who thing web sites should be functional before anything else, and those who believe "design for design's sake" conquers all?
posted by aaron at 2:51 PM on February 20, 2001
posted by aaron at 2:53 PM on February 20, 2001
> out there? Is there really that wide a divide between
> those who thing web sites should be functional before
> anything else, and those who believe "design for
> design's sake" conquers all?
I am curious about that too. I wonder if there isn't some sort of socio-psychological overlap in the "Notoriety Exchange Rate" [my words] phenomenon you just described, Aaron, and the "High Profile Standardist vs. Low Profile Artist" [my generalization] dichotomy that many pixel pushers seem to espouse.
> Other people's mobile phones conversations
> don't come out of my speakers, without warning,
> without permission.
Yes, but your side of your (hypothetical "you") ostensibly private mobile phone conversation is projected into shared public space without warning (unless your counting the electronic chirp) and without my permission (at least, nobody has ever asked.) :-)
...at which point we're veering a bit OT, I admit.
posted by gee at 3:09 PM on February 20, 2001
(If I had been drinking milk, it might have come out my nose... does that count?)
posted by m.polo at 3:20 PM on February 20, 2001
Nope, no bending out of shape at all if CUJ did it. Yeah, it's "heavy" because it came from you, and you're so wrapped up in this standards stuff right now, that this is sort of out of character, even though I know you're a fun loving guy, it's just the last week has been far from that.
I saw the post that sort of pokes fun at big personalities and how they won't listen to the teacher, and it wasn't rip-roaring hilarious like most of your funny stuff is Jeffrey, so I too thought maybe it's a big metaphor for standards stuff and the teacher is Jeffrey, and everyone is everyone not listening to you.
I guess it didn't strike me as pure joking wisecracking, and in the midst of every email discussion list shouting about standards, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to think that maybe it's about something else.
Matt, I love ya, but you're not the Matt in the story. The Matt in the story is a Flash artist who travels to Macromedia conferences in Hong Kong and Japan between doing projects for Nike.
Right. I thought it was Matt Owens, volumeone guy, so I got that, I never thought I was mentioned nor that I wish I was.
I'm not bent out of shape for thinking I was mentioned, I was just wondering why someone would make a cryptic post to get some things out about people, but it appears that wasn't the intention, so text delievery once again caused confusion. No big whoop.
posted by mathowie at 3:41 PM on February 20, 2001
to me it was a relief from the maelstrom to just riff like the old days. but i can see how the malestrom would color just about anything i do right now. and how even non-serious things could seem to have a subtext when so much has been going on around them.
posted by Zeldman at 3:53 PM on February 20, 2001
"no big whoop."
pretty much sums it up.
maybe just an itsy bitsy whoop.
posted by Zeldman at 3:54 PM on February 20, 2001
Mom-bloggers (good representative links here)
Girl Bloggers (her links seem to be within that mainstream)
Brit bloggers (talk about incestuous crosspostings, my fave is Blue Ruin)
Aussie bloggers (some very good blogs, like the Null Device)
Manila bloggers (I never really saw any of these linked on the blogs I frequented until I started really exploring further, but I like this one, among others; I point it out because it has lots of links)
And then, there are the specialty blogs, like this one which is a Grave blogger, or Honeyguide, which blogs science.
I've not even begun to scratch the surface of the Blog*spot blogs, which are all over the map, from ultra teeny boppers (Britney blogs, as he terms them) to my boy Jeff's Shadow Government of the US political site. Nor have I really looked much at E/N sites or whatever.
The big thing I've noticed is that you can see an "A Lister" or two on many of these sites' link lists, but they're not always the same ones. Overall, who gives a rat's ass? There are hundreds of millions of people on line these days, and what are the top blogs getting for hits? 3,000? Chump change.
posted by norm at 4:33 PM on February 20, 2001
>to me it was a relief from the maelstrom
>to just riff like the old days. but i can see
>how the malestrom would color just about
>anything i do right now.
Never stop having fun "like the old days"... and stay true to your beliefs (like you won't :-).
You can still do both, you know...during this maelstrom and any other that comes along.
BTW, I really dug the new photo on "Glamorous Life." Quite photojournalistic [dare I say "prophetic"] in light of this thread :-)))
posted by webchick at 4:55 PM on February 20, 2001
>"Glamorous Life." Quite photojournalistic
>[dare I say "prophetic"] in light of this thread :-)))
oops...my bad...convenient contextual linkage to aforementioned photo provided.
(is that a camera you're holding, Jeff, or are you pulling your hair out? Then again...I could be reading too much into it. :-)
posted by webchick at 5:03 PM on February 20, 2001
posted by rodii at 5:41 PM on February 20, 2001
>of them "smiley" things! [ ] <— implied smiley
Smileys! *Never* leave home without 'em!
Speaking of humor, rodii, it should be known that your MeFi profile is pure comic genius.
Not that this has anything at all to do with this thread, except that it made milk come out of my nose when I read it. ;-)
posted by webchick at 5:53 PM on February 20, 2001
posted by Zeldman at 6:26 PM on February 20, 2001
Wait a minute -- you're kidding, right? You've been sitting around patiently for months with bated breath, hoping someone would toss you a bone here, instead of taking the twenty seconds it would take to just find out for yourself?
posted by webmutant at 6:33 PM on February 20, 2001
As your stomach begins rumbling, you're thinking perhaps you should start up that pole. Nailing each of the four blocks like steps on a ladder, you begin the ascent. As you reach the highest block, you must remove the lowest and move it above the highest, and so on.
About 20 feet off the ground, you realize your feet will no longer dangle from the lowest block to the safe haven below. Your fear of heights sends a shiver of panic through your spine, but the survival instinct is strong, you must get to the top to eat. Casting the safety of Mother Earth away, you boldly continue the ascent.
You cannot reach the unknown pinnacle and ultimate satisfaction without eliminating old fears and irrational prejudices. Clinging to habits and security nets slows the growth and development for the next generation. In business, we must accommodate the consumer; but the independent Web compels us to come together at certain level sets of standardization so the next round may begin sooner, rather than later. We are Research & Development.
posted by netbros at 7:05 PM on February 20, 2001
and honestly, do you think the people putting up pictures of their cats with imbedded midis (a group of people to whom i think you did more disservice than the a-listers ever did) are even aware of kottke or heather or derek or anyone? there is virtually no way. even if they did know about them, they wouldn't have any contextual information with which to become intimidated. unless you've been poking around someplace like metafilter or looking at a *lot* of blogs, how would you know they weren't just a group of friends? they wouldn't suspect the Evil Cabal any more than someone stumbling onto my page and seeing links to the same pages they see on my friends' pages would. i don't think the group you're saying is affected would even notice any trends without a bit of further research.
besides which, couldn't you say the same about the regular posters on mefi? maybe The Regulars here intimidate people. where do you want to draw the line?
posted by pikachulolita at 10:18 PM on February 20, 2001
I do wish someone would comment on the "functionality vs design coolness" relationship/animosity that gee and I mentioned above.
posted by aaron at 10:20 PM on February 20, 2001
Usability Experts are From Mars, Graphic Designers are From Venus
Personally I think most of us want our sites to function and want them to look good. Not rocket science.
Why is there so much animosity toward Jakob? I think it's because he lays down restrictive rules for a medium that's in its infancy, based on research that's mostly sketchy (unless you pay to find out more), using methodologies based on software design success/failure analysis that may or may not apply to the web ... may or may not apply to, say, your site for a theatrical company.
It's not so much Jakob and his professorial style, it's the way these rules and laws get parroted back by people who haven't done the research, haven't designed sites, and don't have the understanding and background that designers have - or that Jakob has.
Worse, far worse, it's your marketing guys telling you "this design is not usable" when they have no understanding whatever of design, don't actually understand the concepts they are parroting, and are simply grasping for a vocabulary — ANY vocabulary — like suburbanites at the Museum of Modern Art, searching for words to describe something they see and don't understand.
So these guys who have no understanding grasp onto Jakob's comforting rules and use it to bash designers over the head. I don't believe that's what Nielsen himself intends. (I think he intends to visit your company for a modest fee.) But it happens over and over again.
When a good idea is killed because a fool in a suit parroted Jakob Nielsen, designers identify Jakob as their enemy.
I think that's probably it.
Note: there are of course many brilliant people in marketing and many fine people who wear suits. But what I've just described has happened to me and to everyone else in this area of the industry. There are Jews who hate Wagner's music because Hitler loved it. There are designers who hate Jakob because some jerk swatted down their design with Jakob's book.
posted by Zeldman at 11:14 PM on February 20, 2001
jeffrey, i'm with you about the regulars. :)
posted by pikachulolita at 11:35 PM on February 20, 2001
I am put off by both overenthusiastic usability people as well as overenthusiastic designers.
And that includes designers who would tell website visitors to upgrade their browsers just because they find it difficult to design on all the browsers and the usability experts who want designers to design using HTML 1.0.
Two links which everyone might have visited but are worth visiting in the context of this discussion are Philip Greenspun's balanced review of Nielsen's book and philosphy and Clay Shirky's brilliant retort to Nielsen's overenthusiastic insistence on design standards.
posted by asamee at 3:28 AM on February 21, 2001
Personally, I think he lays stuff down as laws so people will consider what they're doing when they break the rules. He's not a stupid man, he knows that people are going to disregard useability, so by making himself an ass, people actually do think "What Would Jacob Do" on occasion. If they can justify the breaking of the rule, they're still considering the useability.
Also, being an ass raises publicity, which is good for the bank book. I'll bet he loves the fact that he's the "Bad Guy" of web design, because it just passes his name around more.
On A-lists: Look at your stereotypical a-lister. How many of them are popular because of their blogs? Not many. A Blog itself rarely makes someone popular, the desire to make the web a better place does.
posted by cCranium at 5:49 AM on February 21, 2001
posted by norm at 8:35 AM on February 21, 2001
Welcome to my world.
I'm really sorry I'm so late coming into this, because I love/hate it so much. All I can say is that I was sick. Uh... I was busy... er... my dog ate it...
On the one hand, I love the amount of trauma that a humor piece by someone like Jeff the Z can cause, because it's seeing that sort of over-the-topism that keeps me from getting too serious about my own gripes. Plus, righteously indignant people are inherently funny.
On the other hand, I hate it, because - well - because one of the reasons that Jeffrey is so well known/popular is that he's friendly, approachable, and seldom has a harsh word for/about ANYONE. He's so not the sort of person to do a wide spectrum person-slam, that it's a little sad to see him so readily misunderstood.
On the third hand (I'm a freak of nature), controversy drives interest - who knows, maybe this unintended side effect will cause a further side effect - one where people think about what it is that they thought Z thought this was about. ... er... I mean, Web Standards. Most of us won't be as emotionally invested in the topic as he is (I'm invested in keeping my crappy browser having, no concept of how to upgrade knowing users happy. I'll embrace the hell out of standards compliance when I can do it without jamming up that user base.), but maybe this will raise a bit more awareness... Or not.
It's true that when I write pieces like this (on those rare occasions that I write full blown pieces for my site), I don't get the negative feedback. Partially it's because nobody is particularly invested in my opinion of them, and partially it's because I almost never say anything that isn't meant to be a joke at some level. It's actually very hard for me to slam someone personally. When I do, I usually get email from them saying "ha ha, that was really a funny comment!" (or worse, they think I'm agreeing with them!) when what I want them to do is say "HEY! WHERE DO YOU GET OFF YOU SONOFABITCH?" I mean, what fun is it to abuse someone if they don't feel the abuse?
I did write a piece* sometime last year that mentioned some of the Cabal™, and even though I wrote it to channel my frustration about the serious discussion I had gotten drawn into here on MeFi. I flogged that dead horse for ages, and it was Mr. Zeldman who suggested that I take a step back and go write something funny. Good advice from a good guy.
Now that Jakob guy. What a buttstick! Let's bitch about him, because he's too uptight to ever slam us in a funny way - he'll just straight up call us wrong. Or at least I think he will. The guy is really too boring for me to read, so I just go by what other people say about him.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 12:47 PM on February 21, 2001
...nobody took it personally. Quite the opposite. I was praised for having lightened up about the whole thing.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 12:53 PM on February 21, 2001
Sure, you might as well. Want to wrassle?
posted by jennyb at 1:06 PM on February 21, 2001
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 1:21 PM on February 21, 2001
This is a family website.
posted by Avogadro at 2:56 PM on February 21, 2001
I was discussing webdesign today with my mom actually; it's about the site I was designing for this company. apparently mom told me she was going to take over if I didn't stop using CSS and java cause it wasn't needed. WASN'T NEEDED?!? CSS makes things widely convertable and such and java; who could live without it, huh? at least a tiny bit. plus, I told her I could never go back to that simple of a site since I forgot how.
apparently the owner of the company has a sorry browser and couldn't see the java flash buttons on the side, so mom told me to take them out and I told her to tell the lady to upgrade her browser cause the buttons were staying. maybe I'm wrong for not complying with what the person who's paying me wants, but it's the truth. they don't know about webdesign or how it works. I think they'd be pleased if everyone saw something nice and viewable with abit of flash. okay, fine she can't see the flash, but it's still readable. I say it stays, whatdoyasay?
well, I'm late, so I might as well shutup now.
oh and ps - yes, cat pics do ROCK!
posted by aekastar at 12:34 AM on February 22, 2001
I love that phrase. They had that in the director's cut of Hannibal, didn't they? But switched it to "okey-dokey" so all the underage children in the audience wouldn't hear a naughty word.
posted by Zeldman at 12:46 AM on February 22, 2001
"Buttsticks! Get your buttsticks here! Hot fresh Buttsticks!"
I also heard that "okey-dokey" was the title of his Steinbeck-era cookbook.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 8:40 AM on February 22, 2001
posted by jmcnally at 8:52 AM on February 22, 2001
posted by Zeldman at 12:47 PM on February 22, 2001
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 2:11 PM on February 22, 2001
posted by Zeldman at 8:26 AM on February 24, 2001
He was a fuckwit.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 1:03 PM on February 24, 2001
Well, I'm no fungo, bub!
You seem all big with your "work" and your "interviews" and your "book deal" and "girlfriend" and "concerned friends in need of comfort" and all of that - but we are not impressed!!! Some of us are quite happy to sit in our semi-darkened rooms, checking code for grossly underbid projects while we drink our generic sodas and plot our revenge against humanity... We don't need your eloquent observations on the relative importance of international publications when contrasted against the starkness of mortality!
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 8:56 AM on March 1, 2001
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posted by pracowity at 1:20 AM on February 20, 2001