My HTML WG status

I posted about quitting the HTML WG on Twitter, but there’s only so much one can shove into 140 characters. Of course, I realize that most people will probably be uninterested in a longer writing on my reasons, but that’s the advantage of syndication feeds—you can see at a glance whether you want to read beyond the first few sentences of a writing. Or not.

First of all a clarification: I joined the HTML WG once. I quit the HTML WG once. I joined the HTML WG reluctantly, because as I wrote at the time, I’m really not a joiner. I feel I’m best writing in my own space, not participating in a back and forth in email lists; definitely not through quick non-thinking blurbs in an IRC channel, or teleconferences where key players never participate.

I did join, though, and became actively involved. However, I never could figure out the “rules” of the effort, and I found it both discouraging and exhausting. So much so that it drained the energy I needed for the writing I need to do for a living. More importantly, I felt I really wasn’t making a difference, and I’m not sure I was willing to play the game in order to make a difference.

A further point of clarification: My decision to quit did not come about because of any exchange I had yesterday with any person. It was a number of factors that led to my quitting, a primary one being the one I just mentioned, needing to focus on work. I’d already decided to quit before yesterday, but was waiting for a specific thread on RDFa to play out. I will mention, though, that some of the reasons why I’m leaving were echoed in that thread, including the hostility of the WhatWG backchannel IRC, and the lack of respect some members of this group have for members of the HTML WG and other W3C groups.

Some of the the WhatWG members seem to think that I’ve quit the HTML WG more than once, but they are mistaken. I unsubscribed from the WhatWG email lists, because I found the environment hostile. I stopped working on my assessment of metadata use cases, because the HTML5 author, Ian Hickson, suddenly released a new microdata section, changing everything I wanted to write.

I have unsubscribed from the WhatWG mailing list, and that won’t change. I have quit the HTML WG, and I may, but it’s unlikely, rejoin at some later time. But I have not stopped writing about the HTML5 specification. Whether I make a difference or not, my way of “participating”, in the HTML5 effort, and any other, is by writing in this space. And I will continue to do so, in my own time, and in my own way.


What’s shorter than 140 characters?

What can possibly top Twitter and its immediacy, as well as brevity of contact? I think we found out this week, with Google Wave. Tim O’Reilly describes it as what email would be like if invented today. My first reaction, and judging from other responses, is that it’s remarkably similar to Ray Ozzie’s Groove, before Groove became little more than a ghost appendage to Microsoft.

Folks immediately started rumbling about “twitter killer”, but I look at it and see the answer to the question, “What can beat out 140 characters?” The answer is, evidently, echoed keystrokes as people make them.

I watched the presentation video (thank you for that, Google). Technologically, Google Wave is intriguing. What was also intriguing was Google’s strong emphasis on HTML5 during the presentation, including a reference to additions to the HTML5 spec. But the part that caught my attention is that Wave is actually echoing keystrokes. I can imagine the following discussion, happening live:

A: I just saw the demo of Google Wave …

B: Oh, yeah, that was terrific

A:….and it sucked

B: Oh, um, well I thought…

A: You liked it! Are you…

B: …it was innovative

A: …cracked?

Google Wave is ADD heroin.

I was thinking about Google Wave yesterday, as I ran the gauntlet that is known as Watson Street, here in St. Louis. As I dodged little old ladies who pull into the road without looking, and the 30 something guy who cut me off when he should have yielded, or contemplated the new ding in my car from some mother’s precious child opening his or her car door too hard, and too wide, I began to appreciate what Twitter, Google Wave, Blogging, Facebook, and other social media are: real life alternative communities.

Because in real life, we’re all pricks.