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Tech, Condem, and Inform (Was: Re: OT (slightly): Salt Lake '02 Web master: Inaccessible site)

From: <tina@elfi.org>
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2001 11:51:49 +0100 (CET)
Message-Id: <200110301051.f9UApsJ31750@cubitus.andreasen.se>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
On 29 Oct, Kynn Bartlett wrote:

> sites in public -- because I think it weakens our case if we become a
> virtual lynch mob rather than a useful educational resource.  We can
> get more done if we help and teach rather than if we attack and
> condemn.

  You are right, but perhaps not fully.

  During late spring 2001 I returned to an old hunting ground to look
  over the current crop of web developers. This is something I do on
  occation, so gauge knowledge and attitude.

  The last time was during 1997, at the same time as I started working
  with web development in Sweden. What I found back then was what many
  termed a 'pragmatic' attitude towards the web; for all
  practical purposes the same as 

   "I want pixel perfect layout like on this sheet of paper, and as long
    as it works in <insert browsername> on my PC to hell with everyone
    else"

  It isn't a healthy attitude, even if it is wrapped in several layers
  of condescending phrases such as "pragmatic", "creative" and the now
  famous "concept". Why unhealthy ? To quote the signote of a fellow
  list member (Michael Burks)

   "The best way to keep something bad from happening is to see it ahead
    of time...and you can't see it if you refuse to face the possibility."
       - William S. Burroughs


  When I this year returned to my observation of the young and upcoming,
  those who - presumably - are to implement various web solutions during
  the coming years, I found that this attitude has *not changed*.

  Reading the note from Mr. Ed Mitchell of the Olympic Winter Games does
  nothing to change that impression - he, like many young web developers
  that I have spoken with over the last 4-5 months, are not looking
  ahead. They are - even in this day and age - sticking with attitudes
  towards accessibility that I, for one, had hoped went down the drain
  after several years of critique.

  Many of you may know the Boo.com story; the three happy Swedes who
  spent 1,000 million SEK (that would be roughly 100 million USD)
  creating an online luxury clothes store - and failed. To quote them:

   "We had a working platform ... "

  and to quote a friend using IE for Windows:

   "I never managed to complete a purchase ... "

  We have had many such stories the last 2-3 years, haven't we ? Today
  one would have thought that the attitudes towards building web
  applications had changed -- yet I, for one, find that this isn't so.

  Which brings me back to *this* place - I believe that looking at
  sites, and discussion their accessibility problems *is* something we
  should do, for two reasons:

    - It helps us understanding what people in the so-called "real
      world" do, whether correct or incorrect.

    - It helps us see, understand, and discuss how we can change the
      attitudes described above.

  A good teacher, as you know, don't tell pupils what they want to hear,
  but what they need to hear. We cannot teach or inform without knowing
  both what is done, and how those that do it think.

  No, this list shouldn't be a virtual BBQ with poorly desgined sites as
  the main course, but we need to look at these issues.


-- 
 -    Tina Holmboe                    Greytower Technologies
   tina@greytower.net                http://www.greytower.net/
   [+46] 0708 557 905
Received on Tuesday, 30 October 2001 05:38:04 GMT

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