The w3c, they are our lord and master. Every web technology has its own guardian, be it a commercial company or open source community. As front-end developers we were dealt the w3c organization, for better or for worse. Yesterday they launched a new campaign intended to give an added boost to the already raging html5 hype. The new html5 logo should become the symbol of a new age of web development. But general perception is less than positive.
w3c, who are you?
In all these years I never quite figured out what or who drives the w3c. I assume it's a non-profit organization, but considering all the work they do it's not unlikely engaged participants are compensated in some way or another. Not that it matters much to me (or is even relevant to this article), but it does indicate that the w3c is no ordinary organization, harboring some mystical dimensions.
Apart from regulating the road map of the technologies we front-end people work with every single day, they also bear a more public function. They are our point of reference when people ask us about the specifics of our job. They host the specs, they round up all the accessibility guidelines, they are the ones that hold the key to all the under-appreciated subtleties of our profession.
Whatever the reason may be, the w3c has always had issues with this public responsibility. Their communicative skills seem quite underdeveloped compared to the guardians of other technologies, resulting in a sub-par website, obtuse communication channels and a general lack of convincing the outside world they know what they are doing.
For years people have told me that accessibility and quality design don't go together simply because they went to check the w3c website and were appalled with what they found there (go figure). Over the past years there have been several attempts to improve this situation, but none of those brought them to a level where we (front-end developers) could actually be proud to point other people to the w3c.
With html5 booming they took this opportunity to somewhat overturn their public image. Looking at the site built around the new html5 logo I can only conclude it's like nothing I've ever seen from the w3c before. It's a modern, glossy attempt to construct a community feel around what should be the way of the future. I clearly say "attempt" because the result is as hollow and empty as one could fear from such an undertaking.
Not only is their continuous attempt at humor and lightness a little embarrassing, they made a few very questionable decisions along the way. One of them is to revive the use of technology badges. Their campaign page even features a badge builder (5000 - man I couldn't stop laughing) where you can customize your own badge for use on your site, project or wherever you plan on using it. Why anyone would like to go back to those days is absolutely beyond me.
Worse though is the fact they are pushing css3 as an integral part of html5, apparently Bruce Lawson's ranting hat wasn't quite effective enough. While opinions are divided about commercial parties like Google and Apple abusing the terminology, it's scary to see an organization like the w3c (who should know what they're talking about, they wrote the damn specs) take off with it. It leaves us with very little options to fight the misuse of the html5 label when even the w3c is joining in.
While this attempt to inject some fresh juice into the pr of the organization is laudable, I don't think it's wise to come off as the next hyped up yet hollow and meaningless technology fling. I thought html5 was supposed to be the future of our profession, not some knock-off hype constructed to feed on emptiness and buzz alone. The html5 logo campaign site looks like website designed for a party organized by boy scouts, not like a serious step in the growth of a more open, semantic and stable web. So dearest people of the w3c, you don't have to be hip and cool, nor square and old-fashioned. Just be solid, decent and quality-minded. Please?