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Jeremy Keith: The Beauty in Standards and Accessibility (Web2.0Expo, Berlin) [en]

Jeremy Keith: The Beauty in Standards and Accessibility (Web2.0Expo, Berlin) [en]

*Here are my notes of [Jeremy Keith](’s session. He’s somebody I always appreciate listening to, and he also happens to be the creator (and provider) of [Buzzword Bingo]( Play with your neighbour when keynotes or sessions go down the buzzword path.*

*My notes are as correct as I can make them, but they may be missing bits and pieces and I might even have misunderstood stuff.*

Web 2.0 Expo 6 - Jeremy Keith

First define. Who knows about beauty? The poets.

John Keats: Ode on a Grecian Urn. “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

William Blake: Auguries of Innocence. “To see a world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.”

Looking deep beneath the surface. Close-up sketch of a flea. Micrographia. Beautiful. Viewing source. This is how we see the beauty of things.

This whole web2.0 stuff is not about details. We’re not using microscopes, but telescopes, looking at the “big picture”. Telescopes can be good: think “Galileo”.

He brought upon the world an *a priori* change. A new way of looking at the world, though the world had not changed. The earth revolves around the sun, and not the opposite.

Darwin: the world didn’t change from one day to the next when The Origin of Species was published, but our view of the world did.

We want to think about structure. How is the house built? It’s when you understand the structure that you can build solid houses. Same with web pages. This is where web standards come in.

Separation. Before: all mixed up (html, css, js). Now: separate. (cf. Progressive enhancement. An a priori change to how you design websites.

a) begin with your content
b) structure it (HTML)
c) think about how it’s going to look (CSS)
d) think about the behaviour (DOM Scripting)

Web 2.0 Expo 5

If you remove any of these layers, it will still work. It won’t look pretty, it won’t behave as well, but it will still “work”.


# in a separate document!
p { }
#foo { }

Then, add rules using selectors. From general to specific.


Very similar approach. Make it external. You don’t put it in the document. The vocabulary is different, but you also reference elements in the page pretty easily


School of thought called “unobtrusive scripting”, “unobtrusive javascript”


First structure, then presentation. If you catch yourself doing this…

# wrong!

If you put behaviour in here, you’ve wasted a hyperlink.

Slightly better… but still bad

# JS equivalent of using the style attribute

*steph-note: I’m learning stuff about JS! yay!*

Bandwidth benefits in doing things the right way. Process benefits, you can separate the work. And also… the beauty of it. Flexibility. See how it reacts in situations you haven’t accounted for? It won’t fall apart if somebody accesses with no CSS, no JS, no images…

So, is this about making site accessible? Kind of. Note: go to the talk on accessibility Thursday morning.

Jeremy is talking more about universality. You’re not shutting out devices. Mobile. Search bots. Screen readers.

W.B. Yeats (April 1916) “All is changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.”


Wonderful, beautiful, but can be terrible depending on how it’s used. *steph-note: reminds me of what we said of JS in 99-00*

The key to Ajax is about asynchronous communication with the server. XmlHttpRequest.

Jeremy’s definition: “A way of communicating with the server without refreshing the whole page.” Just part of the page.

Buzzword Hijax.

Here is how Jeremy thinks we should build an ajax application.

a) build a website in the old-fashioned way — buttons, links, for interaction with the server
b) then, come along with ajax — which parts of this page benefit from just being refreshed separately, and intercept the links/events. Hijack the requests. Bypass the whole page interaction.

Progressive enhancement rather than a terrible beauty that locks people out. Switch off JS, and everything still works.

Where? When?

Patterns: when I click a link/form, and when I submit it, I return to the same page with almost nothing changed.

– registration forms (specially for user name availability)
– comments on a blog/forum
– add to cart
– *steph-note: sign in links*

“Web 2.0” is not about web applications versus documents in the old “Web 2.0”. It’s a sliding scale. Most sites are somewhere in between documents and application. Applications work with documents! It’s not an either… or thing.

This kind of Ajax is more on the document side of the scale, roughly mid-way to the application end. Doesn’t scale to “more application”.

But at that point, why the hell are you building that with HTML, CSS and JS? The reason to use them is that they degrade gracefully. If you decide that all three are required, maybe you need to use another technology, like Flash. These technologies have their place for applications which cannot degrade gracefully. Flash is made for building web applications! But there is an insistance in building “2.0 Apps” in HTML/CSS/JS.

Maybe hesitancy because Flash isn’t a standard in the same way as HTML/CSS/JS?

Standards: you know your stuff will work, you know there’ll be support there. The best thing that Adobe could ever do in Jeremy’s opinion is to open it up truly (*steph-note: if I understood that correctly*).

History of standards.


Open data. API. RSS. XHTML.

If you’re going to release and API, look at what Google and Yahoo are doing and copy. Build upon existing conventions. Your own format is not going to make it.

If you allow people to access your data like that, you start to see emerging patterns.

Microformats! *steph-note: yay!*

Machine tags! *steph-note: yay again!* There is a [machine tags wiki](

Jeremy, like many of us, really hates the “Web 2.0” label/buzzword. It had its place a few years ago, but now it’s really putting us in a box. Ajax is a good buzzword, because it allows to talk about a certain technology in a snappy way. Whereas Web2.0… ask ten people, and you’ll get 10 explanations.

Web2.0: people.

But we don’t need a buzzword for that. We already have a word for “leveraging collective intelligence”: the WEB!

Combine looking through the microscope and looking through the telescope.

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Beauté fabriquée [fr]

Beauté fabriquée [fr]

[en] From nature to billboard in 60 seconds. Via danah, who got it from Boing Boing, who got it from Tom Coates. Read danah's post about this video and the ensuing conversation.

Trouvé chez [danah](, qui l’a vu chez [Boing Boing](, qui l’ont eux-mêmes trouvé chez [Plasticbag]( [Lien vers la vidéo originale](, mais attention, la vidéo originale sur le site de Dove, c’est du Flash qui ne vous demande pas votre avis avant de commencer et qui ne vous permet pas de l’arrêter. C’est court, par contre: une minute environ.

La vidéo nous montre comment on passe d’un modèle (une vraie femme, humaine) à ce qu’on voit sur les grands panneaux publicitaires. En accéléré, un avant-pendant-après incluant maquillage, coiffure, et photoshop. A regarder. A méditer.

Comme danah a mis sur YouTube une version de la vidéo, je mets un lien vers elle ici:

*Note: le photomontage semble être de [Cory](, mais copié chez moi pour éviter le hotlinking. Pas que les requêtes provenant de ce billet fassent une différence face à Boing Boing…*

Comme le dit danah: on est conscientes de ne pas en détenir les droits, mais cette vidéo est trop importante culturellement pour que sa diffusion soit handicapée par le choix malheureux de son format initial.

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