The H.E.A.T. Exchange

Free thoughts from the mind of the Anomalous One

Sidebar: What’s the Point?

I prefer to code with markup to the strictest of the rules.

XML and XHTML 1.1 are my markup languages of choice because of their well-formedness constraints and strict rules.

I understand HTML5 is the new kid on the block, but HTML5 (to me) is nothing more than HTML 4.01 with a boob job. Repurposing the B and I tags using long-winded phrases from academia is as fake as Joan Rivers’ looks.

ARIA 1.0 has been in development for many years. ARIA supplies attributes to help assistive technologies (AT) better understand the web author’s intent in markup.

ARIA is supposed to make visible to AT those parts of a web document previously invisible.

I would say read the ARIA 1.0 recommendation to learn more about the attributes and their purpose from the people who know, but this is the problem. This is the reason for my frustration.

ARIA 1.0 is BULLSHIT! Plain and simple.

After all these years, the ARIA 1.0 specification reached recommendation status. Inside the spec, the recommendation is still referred to as a draft (take a quick look at chapter 1).

Chapter 10 mentions an XHTML + ARIA DTD and states that documents can be validated using that DTD. Nowhere else in the spec does it say otherwise.

The W3C validators do not recognize XHTML + ARIA. Let me put this in perspective.

In the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, under Success Criteria 4.1.1, two of the sufficient techniques provided by the W3C are G134 (Validating web pages) and G192 (Fully conforming to specifications).

Simply put, if I were to add ARIA attributes to an XHTML document that previously met single A conformance, it would now fail miserably.

In other words, using a recommendation from the W3C with one of its own host languages will cause my XHTML 1.1 documents to fail WCAG 2.0 single A conformance.

Why? Because XHTML 1.1 + ARIA 1.0 will not validate and, based on some feedback that supposedly is from a reliable source, it will never be made to validate.

On the surface, this is no big deal.

The problem is that no word was put out from the W3C, especially to all those using XHTML Family of markup, that ARIA 1.0 will not apply to the host language (XHTML).

This is like the store manager looking at a long line of customers waiting for 10 days for the new video console and finally decides to open the store and say, “We will sell only to those driving a Ferrari.”

“Hey! Did you not see us waiting for this?!”

Specifications are supposed to specify, in detail, the technology. Period. No inferences need to be made by the reader. The detail is all in the specification and, though boring, explicit in nature.

A specification should not waste anyone’s time mentioning things that are extraneous or irrelevant. Specify and be specific!

The esoteric nature of the recommendations that come out of the W3C is bad enough. As much as their own WCAG 2.0 asks developers to acknowledge those with cognitive shortcomings, recommendations seems to fail in this miserably.

Still, with the aristocracy of the W3C editing the specs, I sometimes can hear their voices saying, “These recommendations are really not for the hoi polloi, but provided to you as a generous offer from on high.”

BULLSHIT!

If the W3C wants the web to move forward, then making sure those in the trenches bringing folks to the web with their great designs and applications understand both the intent and practice of their (W3C) technologies.

A specification that cannot be relied on is not a specification, but a fairytale.

I prefer XML 1.1, XHTML 1.1, RDF 1.1, and RDFa 1.1. I am still reluctant to actually use RDF or RDFa (I don’t really want to make it easier for the NSA to find information).

After waiting all these years for ARIA 1.0 and realizing its unfulfilled promise, I am left with only one question:

What’s the point?

A Social Network, Part 12

You have just built a social network.

You have in mind the type of community you want to establish. You have a draft of some rules and guidelines for your future members to follow.

You are eager for others to see your innovated features and design. You are using the latest and greatest of all the technologies available to you.

Step back for a second.

Imagine your new social network from the perspective of a person unfamiliar with online social networking or even computers. They will land on your site looking for…something.

Picture that same person standing alone in the middle of a completely blank area of nothingness. What is going through this person’s mind?

Fear. Confusion. Anxiety. No sense of attachment. No sense of direction. Loneliness. Abandonment. Frustration. Anger. Hatred.

The leader of the community, the social network, will need to grab immediate hold of this person before he or she reaches the third characteristic in the previous paragraph.

A Social Network, Part 11

Knowledge is the enemy of fear and confusion.

A community of people riddled with fear and confusion will search for answers to better understand the events taking place around them.

“Where can I go to get answers?” “Is it easy for me to access these answers?” “Will I even understand the answers once I access them?”

Speaking technically, which a lot of web designers and leaders will do, tends to increase fear and frustration in the community.

Why?

Because technical talk tends to be over the heads of most people. People will not trust someone, especially a leader of a community, who is not direct and truthful, even if the information is not favorable.

Therefore, along with multiple methods of communicating with the community, the character of the communicator and communications is also important.

A Social Network, Part 10

The leader of a social network or community is more than just the designer. This person also motivates actions in the proper direction.

Only through open and direct dialogue can the leader enforce structure and behavior. This dialogue cannot come from third-party sources.

New features? Why? Removing features? Why? Removed a member? Why? Redesigning the entire site? Why?

Legitimate questions deserve legitimate answers. Only the leader can legitimately inform the community of actions deemed necessary to maintain the site.

One of the first considerations when establishing a social community is deciding methods to communicate with that community. Of course, more than one method is often necessary to address the urgency of the situation.

A Social Network, Part 9

Site administrator. Webmaster. Developer.

These are just a few names to describe the person creating a social network (or the one person responsible for operating the website).

This person has many tasks to perform to not only keep the site operating properly, but to improve on the site as well.

Still, often missing (in practice) from the task list of this person’s responsibilities is leadership.

As a matter of fact, Community Leader would be a more purposeful and necessary title other than those technical ones mentioned at the top of this post.

A social network is still a community of people and the leader provides direction for the community. The leader makes sure everybody understands the community goals and its charter.

The leader keeps the community on track!

A Social Network, Part 8

Which comes first? The site or the rules?

The easy answer would be to ask, “Why are there rules?”

Rules are meant to keep people behaving in some directed way. There is no one way. So rules are driven by the desires of the community, or desires for the community.

Therefore, knowing the objective, purpose, or goals of the community is important even before the first letter of a set of rules is written.

Why does this social network of people exist? What is hoped to be created, established, and maintained in this community of people?

The questions are asked not to look different from any other social network, but to understand the community you want to create.

Everything that is good or awesome does not have to be different.

A Social Network, Part 7

A social network is fundamentally a community of people.

On the Internet, this community can contain people of various attitudes and behaviors; behaviors often more uninhibited than in the physical world.

In this way, structure applies more to the constraints of the community instead of the design of the website. Structure comes in the form of rules and enforcement.

Which comes first? The site or the rules? Or are they considered in tandem?

How are the rules communicated to the community? Are the rules over-restrictive for the purposes of the many personalities involved?

Do the rules address real issues, or just a collection of “over-the-counter” problems that may not pertain to the goals of the social network in question?

Who is assigned to interpret and enforce the rules? Is it one person? Or is there a collective of differing mindsets adding their own personal criteria to address rule compliance?

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