Carrying on from my theme about using the online world to support rather than supplant the physical world, I thought I’d tell you about these monthly meetings I have been holding since late 2007, in London.
Called the Web Standards Meetup London, they aim to allow practitioners to discuss problems and successes with implementing web standards. There are a few other groups in London that do this but none as casually as this one, in a loose, network style.
What’s the big deal, then with web standards, anyway?
Quite a bit actually, and it has to do with how people and computers “read” websites, what we want from websites, both as users and creators/commissioners, and how to create structure around meaningful content so everyone wins. I’ll be discussing aspects of web standards over the next few months in here and on other sites on occasion but in the short-term, the elevator-pitch, as it were, is simply:
Semantically structured, standards-compliant, gracefully accessible web content, created with all visitors in mind, makes a website better for everyone and everything that visits it, from web-crawling search-spiders to web-savvy cyber-surfers.
The big problem has always been that people think it costs extra to code in this way or that the site will be less functional or attractive than it could be, but the opposite is true, actually. Once you set compliance, usability and findability as your target, the rest of the issues fall into place and it becomes easier to build, if you know how to.
So several of us (the group numbers 90 at present, but about 10 – 15 of us meet monthly) gather round and discuss what we can do to progress these practices into the wider web community. We would never have been able to organise something like this so easily without a site like Meetup or Upcoming to help one manage people and meeting dates.
So even though you may spend a few hours a week catching up with friends and colleagues on the internet, don’t forget to meet them in the flesh, in “meat-space” to make sure you can really connect! There4 really is no point to social networking sites unless you use them to occasionally meet and network physically.
If you are interesetd in the topic by the way, join up and I may even buy you a beer! *
*first few actual meat-space attendees and to be taken with a grain of salt!