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Changes in the Languages of the Web

tag cloud: Web, Architecture, HTML, ...
Dan Connolly,
W3C / Midwest Web Sense
Creative Commons License

Web Directions North
Denver Feb 2009

Postscript: feedback tagged #wdn09 in twitter, summary item in Raible Designs, Web Standards Gone Wild

Web Languages are Influenced by Languages of the World

How long will it be before China catches up to the E.U. in total economic might? Less than a generation, that much is pretty certain.

The End of an Age by David Wood, March 2006
English, French, ...

image source: wikipedia

Web Languages, like Programming Languages, are Artificial

What is a Web Language?

Meanwhile: let's consider how languages are created and changed and taught and learned...

Learning Piano

Kyle and our new (to us) piano, Jan 2006

Kyle and the new (to us) piano, Jan 2006

How many of us learned to read music this way?

some sheet music

Sheet music in western music notation.

How many are learning to read music from a video game?

guitar hero screenshot

screenshot by Alphast

A Web Language for Music?

issues around music markup in the Web:

The Instant Gig Collaboration Pattern

W3C TPAC geeks jamming at the hotel piano

InstantGig at the Royal Casino hotel in France, March 2004.

from photos by Libby Miller

A Web Language for Music? (cont)

See also Jan 2006 in the MIT DIG Breadcrumbs blog item, Arpeggio in D, a little three chord ditty, on improvisation and sharing musical knowlege.

A Web Language for Music? (cont)

Freedom to Tinker and Free Culture

Technology deployment rides on the practice of sharing media, culture...

Convex encouraged participation in Free Software

In 1991, some places would fire you for looking at code from the Net; not this group:

my group at Convex

Tom Christiansen is one of the core perl developers; Martin Streicher went on to become editor of Linux Magazine.

Formal Languages and Grammars

parse tree Computer Science students and hackers learn BNF and parse trees:

expression ::= atom | list
atom  ::= number | symbol
number  ::= [+-]?['0'-'9']+
symbol  ::= ['A'-'Z''a'-'z'].*
list  ::= '(' expression* '

Toward a DTD for HTML

SGML is a little funny looking, but works mostly like BNF:

<!ENTITY % heading "H1|H2|H3|H4|H5|H6" >
<!ENTITY % list " UL | OL | DIR | MENU ">
<!ENTITY % literal " XMP | LISTING ">>

Feedback loop:

  1. draft a DTD
  2. run some tests: ask the computer whether it matches the test cases
  3. discover an issue; repeat

HTML Validation Service

At Hal in Austin in 1994, while adding HTML support in products:

Standardization of HTML 4

First editor, then chair:

Browser marketplace explodes, stagnates

HTML, XML, RDF, and the Semantic Web

Fun stuff, but...

W3C and Web 2.0

Change in the scale and role of the Web

W3C HTML Working Group chartered March 2007

Innovative use of W3C process invites hundreds of participants starting March 2007:

chart of 400+ HTML WG participants

Some don't respond to annual renewal invitation.


Some goals for HTML 5

co-chairs: Chris Wilson (Microsoft), Sam Ruby (IBM)
with W3C staff support from Mike Smith, Dan Connolly

W3C Validation Service Goals

Some ideas from a CSS validator roadmap:

Your ideas?

See also Valid sites work better(?) for discussion.

Browser marketplace moving again

How about authors?

HTML 5 Receives Support for Authoring Materials

2009-02-02: Dan Connolly, an active member of the HTML community for many years, has received support from Adobe to work on HTML 5 materials for authors. The HTML Working Group Chairs have requested additional resources to ensure that HTML 5 meets the needs of authors and browser developers alike. As a provider of Web development and authoring tools, W3C Member Adobe is not only participating in the Working Group, they have also provided financial support for the open standards process.

Design Principles Last Through Change

Client who saves $5,000 buying cut-rate non-semantic HTML will later spend $25,000 on SEO consultant to compensate.

zeldman 4:14 PM Jan 21st

There's still something to the notion behind XHTML+CSS Web design.

p.s. Kudos to whoever designed the Kansas tax web site.

See also Valid sites work better(?) for discussion.

Sharing data in documents is one of the original goals

links between documents and corresponding relationships between the things they represent

To a computer, then, the web is a flat, boring world devoid of meaning...This is a pity, as in fact documents on the web describe real objects and imaginary concepts, and give particular relationships between them.

Tim Berners-Lee at the 1st Web Conference in 1994

Microformats for common data idioms

Microformats Panel at W3C Tech Plen microformats test development

March 2006 Microformats panel at W3C Technical Plenary
April 2006 collaboration on microformats tests

XML and longevity

Tantek Çelik, June 2006: XML formats in the long run are no better than proprietary binary formats.

And if longevity is not a goal, try JSON. Yum.

Microformats for Mixtapes, feeds, calendars

Long tail approaches: RDFa, data-*

The Personal Information Disaster

The bane of my existence is doing things I know the computer could do for me.

The XML Revolution, Nature Web Matters Oct 1998

Sites vs. Protocols

Is Internet Mail sustainable?

What makes the Internet so valuable to everyday people is that you can reach anyone, on ANY email system, through it. There were many email systems before the Internet, but they didn't catch the broad public interest. If we continue the current process of anti-spam-driven Balkanization (I can send email to Joe, and he can send to Nancy, but I can't send to Nancy myself, because Nancy's ISP is filtering me), we will destroy the value that we created when we linked all these networks with a common email protocol. We might as well go back to having separate un-linked networks, like MCI Mail and Compuserve and AOL and UUCP and BITNET and FidoNet. You'd just have to become a customer of that provider, and use its idiosyncratic interface, if you want to send mail to its customers. Remember that world? If not, you're lucky.

John Gilmore, 2002

Impact of the Web on the Free Press

There is no way to overstate what the dismemberment of The Star means, adversely, to this metropolitan area.

Sadly, this event is of historic proportions
By: Steve Rose, Publisher, Sep 3, 2008

Ads on the Web: Craigslist, Google

Web Economics and the Free Press

See also: Journalism Will Survive the Death of Its Institutions Knight 2007 News Challenge Winner Lisa Williams Apr 15 2008

Web Economics and Campaign Finance

Web Economics... Oops!

Be careful not to delegate too much to machines!

SEC Interactive Data and XBRL

Three dozen companies, representing more than $1 trillion of market value, have joined the SEC's test group

SEC Interactive Data 2005-2008

Web Language Dynamics

Excited to be here at Web Directions!

Audience Participation (that's YOU!)

Follow-up resources: