Thanks for a great 15 years at W3C

After 15 years working with all of you all around the world on Web technologies and standards, I’m taking a position as a Biomedical Informatics Software Engineer in the department of biostatistics at the University of Kansas Medical center.

The new job starts in just another week or two; I’ll update the contact information and such on my home page before I’m done here. While my new position is likely to keep me particularly busy for a few months, I hope to surface in Mad Mode from time to time; it’s a blog where I’m consolidating writing on free software, semantic web research, and other things I’m mad-passionate about.

Thanks to all of you who contribute to the work at W3C; I’m proud of a lot of things that we built together. And thanks to all my mentors and collaborators who taught me, helped me, and challenged me.

The Web is an incredibly important part of so many parts of life these days, and W3C plays an important role in ensuring that it will work for everyone over the long haul. Although it’s hard to leave an organization with a mission I support, I am excited to get into bioinformatics, and I look forward to what W3C and the Web community come up with next as well.

30 thoughts on “Thanks for a great 15 years at W3C

  1. Congratulations. Your name is everywhere on W3C documents and shall be remembered as that of an important person of this media.

  2. Congratulations, Dan. And welcome to my world! That is, assuming you mean Biomedical Informatics (which subsumes Bioinformatics). Will you be working with data related to the care of patients, ‘omics data (genes, proteins, etc.) or both?

    1. I did some work at the gene/protein level last summer, but at this new position, it looks like I’ll be working primarily with data related to the care of patients. And yes, the official title is Biomedical Informatics Software Engineer. Thanks for the warm welcome to this new world.

  3. Parabéns de todos nós brasileiros que somos apaixonados pelos padrões de desenvolvimento propostos pelo W3C.

  4. This is long overdue… It is already a few times that I wanted to write this.

    I worked with Dan Connolly at W3C from June 2000 to October 2008. I had a lot of difficult relationship because I was not able to see what he was achieving on a day to day basis. Bear with me, he was the über-geek. He had a deep knowledge of everything about the Web but I just didn’t get his Way (“do” in Japanese).

    The irony is that I had to quit W3C to light a bulb and be confronted to an entire complete reality. Everything became very clear and there is not one week, I caught myself saying “Oh… DanC’s work method”. DanC is an inspiring person, a person of talents, a person which has put the Web in strong shoes deeply grounded on reality. Some people might not know but the first online markup validator has been created by Dan Connolly and Mark Gaither. The list of all the things he has achieved for the Web and for the actual work of W3C is far too long to be enumerated here.

    I deeply thank Dan Connolly for the inspiring person he has been to me.

    Dan, really… I wish you a wonderful journey and I hope our roads cross again on a Web island somewhere. And I think I still own you a beer.

  5. Congrats Dan! I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun and do good works.

  6. A big loss for W3C and a huge win for KUMC, congrats DanC! I have to agree with Karl a bit, though. Had my harder times back in the early days of RDFa with DanC cause I didn’t get it in the first place how he’d work. I think I only started to appreciate his work style within the AWWSW Task force. However, I think it is fair to say: DanC is likely a pillar of the Web at large and definitely a pillar of W3C. Would be great to ‘see’ you every now and then still on #swig channel and all the best for your new job!

  7. Goodbye and Hello DanC,

    W3C is like the Hotel California, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Your influence in this organization was key. Key to the way we work, to our accountability, to the can-do mentality that is still present, even in these times of crisis.
    So apart from your technical contribution that was already mentioned by Karl, I want to emphasize your decisive contribution to maintaining the high accountability standards W3C is known for. A comment MUST be addressed, overload is not an argument to become arrogant and many more in the same category. I want to single out the mantra echoing in my head: So many times, I hear that “someone” should do “something”. You taught me that if “someone” is supposed to “something” the result will be that “nobody” does “nothing”. Who does what when! This is the way you moved mountains in 15 years.

  8. Congratulations Dan, we’ll miss you! In fact, given how deeply influential you’ve been, I think that some in the community will miss you without even knowing it. Best of luck with the new gig, and be sure to drop by to say hello once in a while!

  9. Dan, I really appreciated working with you on OWL; I learned a lot from you, both about the Web and about collaboration. May your new future bring you everything you hope for!

    Frank van Harmelen,

  10. Dan: not nearly enough people understand just how crucial your contributions have been to the Web. There are few whose impact has come close to yours. Working with you for over a decade has been a great pleasure, and you will be very, very much missed. All the best in your new position.


  11. Noah put it wonderfully. Your integrity and perspective have contributed much to the work of the W3C. Look forward to hearing of your forthcoming adventures.

  12. Dan

    After tim there are a small number of people who have always been W3C to me.
    I now must join the world in redefining what W3C is …
    Thank you for making the world a better place through w3c

    From Long Ago and far away — tom greene

  13. Dan, I joined W3C almost 13 years ago because I thought it would be great to work with you, and Tim. I wasn’t wrong! I think I have learned more from you than anyone else I have known in my career to date.

    I’m pretty sure I could write an entire book on things you taught me, so trying to come up with a short list is a daunting task. A few that come to mind:

    • cite your sources!

    • the value of datespace for sane management of info spaces that span decades.

    • effective chairing/scribing of meetings; don’t move on from a discussion until there is a clear next step that you know will be tracked somewhere.

    • the value of honesty, openness and clarity in communication; the importance of managing expectations.

    • it’s OK to publish things in an unfinished state. (also, each time you edit a web page, assume it will never be edited again)

    • “we should” / “someone should” are harmful.

    • it’s OK to reserve time for family/friends. (also, you don’t have time, you make time; we each have 24 hrs/day)

    • show your work! Include a link to the source code. Share and enjoy.

    On the rare occasions where I have found myself disagreeing with you, I have more often than not come around to your point of view eventually — sometimes several years later. I expect I will continue to learn things from you as they finally sink in years from now ;)

    A few fun memories:

    • your endorsement of my HTML validator made my day (Dec ’95)

    • the first time we spoke on the phone, a few seconds later I received email from you with a full transcript of our conversation, including an intro providing context for others. I sat there blinking at the screen, wondering “how’d he do that!?” (obviously I hadn’t seen you type yet)

    • during the lightning talk session at an early team face to face meeting, you presented “how Gerald won the pool tournament the night before” with a whiteboard recap of some of the tricky shots I had made in the final against Eric Miller. Sticking around for the lightning talks caused me to miss my flight home (and miss a 1-year anniversary dinner with my girlfriend at the time), but how could I pass up one of my biggest heroes bragging about my pool skills?

    While I am sorry we’re losing you, I am even more grateful for your contributions to W3C and the Web. You will be missed!

  14. Dan,

    Congrats! Will continue to track you, and still hope to have that game of Volleyball someday :-)

    Keep up the phenomenal work. Apropos Noah’s comments, your contributions to the Web are sometimes quite under appreciated.


  15. Dan, this feels like the end of an era. You’re the one that taught almost everything when I started chairing in 2002; your lessons on the art of consensus are imprinted in my mind. Thanks for all that and good luck with your new job.


  16. DanC is one of the few names I remember for W3C. It is glad to see that you move from one area to another area. No matter you develop your career in the new position or you explore a new area for contribution, I wish you every success and have fun in the new environment.

    Thank you for giving memory here.

  17. Dan — So long, and thanks for all the fish.
    Good luck in your new position.

  18. Thank Gawd for DanC and thank Gawd there is only one DanC :-).

    Seriously though, Dan, congratulations and best wishes. We’ll certainly miss you (but I suspect you won’t be too far away).

    Gerald’s list of things you taught us is great and I would add “look before you ask!” and “truth by repeated assertion is a logical fallacy” (or something like that).

    -Cheers, ArtB

  19. Long ago, when Vincent Quint challenged me to make Electricité de France join W3C, I ended up in the HTML WG you chaired at that time. I still remember the very first face-to-face meeting I attended, feeling like the young student in front of an army of gurus, my pantheon: after a really sterile discussion that lasted almost an hour between 3 WG members, and seeing it was running in circles, I did it saying “ok, this goes nowhere and I have a real issue to show you, the ID and name attributes on a element share the same value space and that is wrong”. I still remember how you and a few others looked at me with a “who’s that noob and how dare he?” :-) Then Chris Lilley unfroze the atmosphere saying “good catch Daniel” and we went on :-)
    In the next months, and until the release of HTML 4.0 and the dismantlement of that WG, I learned at lot from you. Really a lot. Never told you, but I used what I learned a lot too. I enjoyed it a lot too. Thanks for all what you gave me, gave us.

    Your name is everywhere on Web standards, and you were instrumental to that community. Be prepared to get twice the amount of daily emails you currently get, since I’m sure you’ll become instrumental to the biomedical CS community too :-)

    I’m sad to see you leave W3C but I’m sure we’ll find you not far away.
    Best wishes,

    Daniel Glazman
    CEO @ Disruptive Innovations
    W3C CSS WG, Co-chair

  20. You are great man. I have no words to explain your talent. If I am lucky someday I will be your student.

  21. Dan, you are already missed. For me a prevailing question in meetings – and in any situation where something has to get done – is “what would Dan do?” – and things get better whenever I draw on what I’ve learned from you. Now unfortunately it will be harder to determine the answer, but I hope our paths will continue to cross. Best wishes from a grateful student. KU can’t know what they’re in for…


  22. The comments on this thread are wonderful to read and DanC deserves every bit of the praise. Thanks to Gerald for his great list.

    DanC has coached me since I began working at W3C in 1997. I have learned a lot from many people in the W3C community, but without hesitation, DanC stands out for his counsel. At times DanC takes a tough love approach, but he’s always spot on. I will miss his clarity.

    Many of the people who have shared their thoughts about DanC over the past week have similarly expressed their delight in DanC’s pithy insights about human relationships and of course about protocols.

    Many, many thanks, Dan, for all that you’ve helped me understand and for making it fun to come to work in the morning. Oh, and thanks also for emphasizing music as part of meetings!

    I look forward to keeping up with you in your next gig.

  23. Many congrats, Dan! Look forward to hearing exciting news from you, as usual!

    All the best,

    Jeff Pan

  24. DanC – you’ve helped me learn so much over the last few years! Without you, I wouldn’t be a the W3C, where with the Social Web group I’m still working on solving the “transferring DanC’s addressbook” problem. And you’re off to more important and pressing problems – and if anyone can fix the US health care system, I’d bet money on the Semantic Web, Chime, and DanC. Take care!

  25. YAY for you, DanC — and the thought-provoking list of DanC aphorisms above. I’d like to add my appreciation for your creation of “The Art of Consensus”.

    You are leaving an impressive legacy, both in terms of process and standards work!

    Hope we cross paths somewhere down the road. Very best wishes — Ann

  26. Hi Dan,
    Take good care and thanks so much for your eternal wisdom, esp.
    or alternately we could try a different tack and apply what I think of as
    “Connolly’s Law”; if in trouble finding words, switch to test cases.
    and I can almost daily feel the benefit of
    Any understanding (that you think) that is established
    without a basis in black-and-white test cases and/or
    code will almost certainly vaporize as soon as a few
    new people join the activity, or as soon as the results
    of the activity are presented to a wider audience.
    Thanks so much and enjoy your new challenge with passion!
    — Jos De Roo

  27. Dear Dan, Thanks for your many years of service to the web and to W3C. I have fond memories of early HTML ERB meetings that you chaired (along with Dave Raggett). At those meetings, I learnt a lot about finding consensus in a no-nonsense manner, and how a friendly round of introductions can set the stage for unexpected progress. At the meeting in Redmond in April 1996 we discussed CSS and its syntax and I remember you shouting “and where does the parser pick up again” when I pointed out a syntax error. That was the start of the forward-compatible parsing rules in CSS. Also, your paper On Formally Unconvertable Document Formats was an important inspiration for those of us who believed in declarative data formats on the web. And, not the least, the interconnectedness of all things.

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