The H.E.A.T. Exchange

Free thoughts from the mind of the Anomalous One

HTML5: The Battlefield Remains of an Unnecessary War, Part 5

Discussion Point 2: Inheriting Another’s Imperfections

Have you even ran with a group of runners and, instead of keeping your head up and watching where you were going, you lowered your tired head and kept your eyes on the heels in front of you?

Where did you end up when you finally raised your head?

In developing HTML 5, the W3C decided to lower its head (or kowtow) and follow the heels (pun intended) of the WHATWG. HTML 5 is an example of the mislead leading the misguided or vice versa (the situation is so chaotic).

The original agenda of the W3C during the time of XHTML 2 was to remove all presentational elements from the markup language and create more semantic, or meaningful elements.

When the W3C decided to shelve XHTML 2 and follow the lead of the WHATWG, here is what actually happened:

Former presentational element B (bold) was given not a meaningful, but meaningless description.

Former presentation element I (italic) was also made ambivalent like the B element.

New element MARK is simply an example of a presentational cake given a layer of bullshit icing.

Reading the description of these elements, I cannot help but to recall a often used phrase: If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with bullshit.

The B and I elements, or tags, have always been used for presentational purposes. No one cared much about semantics or they would have used the STRONG and EM tags instead. No, folks wanted a particular appearance without having to put too much thought into it.

The WHATWG decided to accommodate the lazy coders by using all the intellect at its disposal to come up with descriptions to go over the top of level heads in order to keep junk in the specification. The result is that folks will simply say “F— it!” and, like turds, go with the flow.

The W3C did not have to allow these obvious transgressions against real semantics in the HTML 5 specification, but (like I said before about tracing) they became so caught up with following the HTML Living Standard, that they were led into a meaningless wall.

Take a look at this excerpt from paragraph 4.12.4 (Conversations) of the HTML 5 specification:

Authors who need to mark the speaker for styling purposes are encouraged to use span or b.

The brilliant think tank at the W3C is advising coders to use B for styling purposes. I thought B was made semantic…there were so many words from academia used to redefine it…and now you are telling me to use it for styling?

End of discussion point 2

HTML5: The Battlefield Remains of an Unnecessary War, Part 4

Discussion Point 1: When the Foundation of the Core is 80% Bullshit and 10% Concrete

SGML is a standard.

SGML defines the rules for organizing and tagging documents. Previous versions of HTML (before HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.1) were based on SGML.

HTML Living Standard from the WHATWG’s camp is not based on the SGML standard. No foundational standard has been declared for this so-called living standard. How can something be a standard when it is not based on a solid standard?

HTML Living Standard is the first level of bullshit.

I remember in art class the teacher telling me not to trace my circles from other students’ drawings. She told me that tracing will inherit the imperfections of something that may already have imperfections.

The computer clock or other consumer timing devices are often based on a standard timing mechanism: the atomic clock. This way, everybody can be synced up properly. If a computer based its timings on its owner’s wristwatch, chaos would reign over the web world.

HTML5 from the W3C is based on HTML Living Standard, which is not based on any known standard (don’t be fooled by the specifications name). Therefore, HTML5 was doomed from its creation to inherit and magnify the imperfections already prevalent in HTML Living Standard.

HTML5 is the second level of bullshit.

No rational thinking person on the face of planet Earth can deny this fact.

End of discussion point 1

HTML5: The Battlefield Remains of an Unnecessary War, Part 3


Intellect does not breed wisdom. Proper use of intelligence demonstrates wisdom.

This war between the sluggish defenders of the W3C and the renegades of the WHATWG is not a fairytale. If you examine the different HTML specifications from each camp, you will bear witness to the first shot of pettiness:

Read the history of HTML5 from the W3C’s specification [History].

Read the history of HTML from the WHATWG’s specification [History].

The level of unprofessionalism becomes evident near the end of each camp’s historical account of their specifications.

End of preamble

HTML5: The Battlefield Remains of an Unnecessary War, Part 2


To understand this war between the W3C and its usurping members, the WHATWG, consider the well-known television show, Survivor.

Survivor (based solely on my recollection) is a show based on people plucked from their comfortable living conditions and placed in an uncomfortable environment. The winner of the competition, or survivor, is supposedly the person who demonstrated a keen survival prowess and overcame several difficult challenges.

In other words, the winner performed better than the rest.

If you ever watched the show, you will know that this is not the case. The winner is actually decided by the manipulative actions of the weakest challenger and his or her ability to form alliances with other challengers (with questionable self-esteem issues). Backstabbing is the commodity for winning the competition as the winner will have betrayed the trust of every other challenger to end up as the last survivor standing.

Yes, the show is indeed a great lesson in physical endurance and cooperation

End of prelude

HTML5: The Battlefield Remains of an Unnecessary War, Part 1


Based on my understanding, the W3C is the host to HTML and its different dialects (XHTML, for example).

A small group of renegades sponsored by major corporations with proprietary interests decided to take a free technology and make it more exclusive than open (whatever the hell open means these days).

In times of war, citizens will have to choose sides, or their choices will be made for them when faced with obstacles as a result of the war. Side with the W3C (with its brigades of sluggish defenders) or the WHATWG (the aforementioned renegades)?

Not being an expert in web technologies nor in business, I tend to search for  fundamental aspects leading to such a turbulent affair. A couple of well-known facts come to mind.

The W3C is a member organization where members actually pay to become a part of.

The parties involved in the WHATWG are members of the W3C.

So, what was the issue surrounding the fracturing of a core technology of the web: the future direction of HTML?

Based on my understanding, the W3C wanted the HTML specification to have a more XML flavor and the WHATWG had other plans in mind. This is where things start to get petty (and I mean that in the derogatory sense of the word).

See, XML requires documents to be well-formed. Not surprisingly, browsers can parse (and subsequently render) a webpage coded in XML faster and more efficiently than those coded in non-X versions of HTML. Thus, XML puts the responsibility of professional webpage coding in the hands of web authors instead of relying on best-guess fixes by browsers.

On the surface, the war between the W3C and the WHATWG seems to be where one side wants to move the web towards a more professional, extensible, and open direction and the other side wants to continue accommodating sloppy coding practices and hard work by the browsers.

But things don’t always appear as they do on the surface, do they?

End of prologue

The W3C: A Consortium of Sluggish Defenders

Recently, I was told that the W3C is nothing but a collection of companies (Google being mentioned specifically).  This came from a gentleman belonging to an accessibility consultant group that has amongst its members a few individuals who have contributed to W3C’s specifications.

The W3C is not an abstraction of the web.  The W3C is simply a collection of individuals…real people.  Some of these individuals represent companies, corporations, and small businesses.  Some may just be experts in a field of interest important to the overall development of the web.

Most of these individuals are sluggish defenders.

What is a sluggish defender?

Sluggish defenders have been around for ages.  You know who they are, but may have referred to them by different labels.

Sluggish defenders are the folks who will celebrate and support a person or idea when things are going well, but cower in silence when faced with adversaries or opposing views.

Are you familiar with the phrase fair-weather friend?

Wait.  This sounds like something from my high school days?

Exactly.  Sluggish defenders tend to follow the popular crowd even when they know it is wrong.  Wanting to be part of the in-the-know-and-hanging-around-the-water-cooler crowd is very important to a sluggish defender.

They will invest time and effort into a product (for whatever reasons) and promote the product initially with pride and joy.  When enough opponents of the product voice their discontent, the sluggish defender will turn tail and run, often denigrating his own product in the process.

I have witnessed this from people involved in the development of RDFa and JSON-LD. (No need for names because particular individuals are not the point of this post).  I have read comments from folks involved in creating XHTML 1.1 and XML 1.1 turning against their own product when encountering others with differing views.

Ok, so they changed their minds and switched sides. No big deal.

Here is the problem.  A sluggish defender has the effect of making pure gold appear as aluminum foil.  Often, sluggish defenders are attacked not with valid arguments or actual corrections, but en masse by those who simply are hanging with the cool guys.

Fear of losing the status of subject-matter expert is what actually motivates the sluggish defender to switch his stance; not intellectual awareness.

At this point, the sluggish defender, as a representative of his own work, has rendered his product ineffective and invalid.  By choosing to remain silent, or cowering in the midst of opponents to gain popularity, the sluggish defender has defeated his own product before it could even make it out the gates.

Don’t believe me?

I challenge you to take a look at the names on specifications coming out of the W3C’s camp.  Then visit the personal pages of some of the editors and contributors.  Observe how some of them will make mention of their contributions to the W3C, especially if they had some direct input into a specification.  Particularly, look at some of the more controversial recommendations (for example, XML, XHTML, RDF, ARIA, and the like).

Visit the forums these contributors frequent and observe their riding-the-fence approach when addressing opposition (Google Plus is one good place to start).

So, what is the W3C?

In theory, the W3C is a collection of subject-matter experts: highly knowledgeable in their related fields, highly professional in their approach to web development, and non-political when it comes to moving the web forward.

In actuality, the W3C is a collection of sluggish defenders: experts at clever witticism, highly knowledgeable of another person’s shortcomings, very unprofessional in their approach to collaboration, and too political to actually get anything done.

Each sluggish defender represents the W3C as a real, physical entity.  Each person who has contributed to and exploited the resources of the W3C represents that brand.

If the W3C was run by Sun Tzu, the web would be decades ahead of schedule.

Accessibility: A Case for a Different Approach

After I parked by car, I noticed a gentleman getting out of his car.  He was parked in a handicap space.  He told me that he did not need any help and that he parked there because nobody ever uses that space.

I visited by friend to watch a football game.  He couldn’t find the remote control so he used a long stick to change the channels.  After the game, we jogged to the gym to play basketball.

A young man asked me for the time.  I gave it to him and asked him did he see the big clock on the wall.  He told me he had problems seeing.  I asked him if he wore glasses.  He said he didn’t wear glasses because people would poke fun at him.

One of my workers was having problems reading a document.  The document was one-paragraph long, printed with large letters, and using plain language.  After some investigative querying, it became obvious he could not read well.  I asked him why he never asked for help.  He said that he did not want to lose his job and figured he could just nod his head to appear in-the-know.

Hey, what is the point of all this?

Can we easily and correctly identify people by observing their behavior?  False negatives and false positives is a high risk when dealing with people in society.  Fear of embarrassment, ridicule, loss of status, or being negatively categorized will cause many to hide their shortcomings.

Some people are simply lazy in both mind and body.  They will use assistive tools not out of necessity, but for their convenience.  This is the case for Accessibility-as-a-Convenience.

Picture the guy who cannot find his television remote.  He will spend hours looking for that device instead of spending a few seconds to walk to the television and hit a few buttons.  Why?  Because he is lazy-minded. Advanced technology has caused him to forget his basic physical and mental functions.  Is he disabled?  No, but he will complain as if he were disabled.

Again, what is the point?!

As it stands, people are grouped based on superficial, or observable, characteristics.  As with skin color, this act does not always bear good fruit.  Accessibility is often argued and studied as the result of group associations: the aged, the blind, the mentally challenged, and so forth.  What if accessibility were to look at these groups as simply sources of issues instead of as the issue.

Take for instance: a study group consisting of blind people.  Now take the results of their issues and apply it to people who cannot see well and those who can see, but will use features to enhance their experience.  Remember, accessibility-as-a-convenience.

Keyboard accessibility may be a benefit for folks who rather use their keyboards instead of a mouse or for those who may have lost their mouse (or cannot afford to purchase a new mouse at the time).  This will have nothing to do with lack of hand-mobility or motor skills, but convenience.

Sounds about right, but what’s in it for me?

Newer generations of people will be weaker than the ones before them.  This is made evident by the obesity rate and increased criminal activities in our society.  We no longer hunt for food, but go to grocery stores.  Even some grocery stores are starting to deliver directly to the homes.

We no longer walk miles to school, but take buses.  Many folks are even home schooling.  We no longer handle disputes with our fists, but use comments on Facebook and Twitter to do our fighting…and bullying.

Accessible features will be needed by the off-springs of this bunch because the weak cannot teach strength.  The lazy cannot (or will not) teach effort.  Though not disabled in the purest sense, new generations will rely on accessible features to keep life easy and effortless.  This will be the target demographic for new technology for the present and in the near future.


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