Your first lady

Beyoncé has nothing on Michelle Obama. Update: As usual in journalistic matters, the New York Times has followed my lead and run a story about Michelle Obama's fashion sense. Remember: you heard it here first.
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Microsoft is not a web company

I want to talk about Microsoft's web strategy. But Microsoft is a huge company, with a lot of parallel activities in this space, and there are so many angles from which you can approach the subject. So I've decided to focus on a single, instructive example: the front page of Disclaimer: this is a cheap shot. I know it is. A single HTML page does not embody the entirety of Microsoft's strategic direction and corporate culture. I'm also subjecting it to rigorous scrutiny of the kind few web pages get. Nevertheless, is one of the most popular destinations on the Internet and they are trying to make a name for themselves in the web space and they do have a gigantic budget which they could expend on their front page. Here's where my journey began, and what started my investigation that led to this post. This is the front page of, rendered in Firefox (v3.0.5, Windows XP). This and all subsequent screenshots are cropped; click for the full capture. It looks... odd....

Coming soon to a nation near you

This video of the Presidential inauguration will only work in the US, I think, sadly.

One of those days you'll always remember

I knew it was gonna be pretty fun, but I didn't expect to be so completely blown away -- and this was the concert, not the inauguration. On Tuesday, there are going to be more people on the Mall than live in my entire home nation. [Photo via The Big Picture]

On Microformats

Back in March last year I declared that the next phase of the web is the emergent web, an accidental explosion of functionality caused when a large number of simple APIs start interacting with each other. At the same time, I declared that semantically marked-up data is impractical. I also had harsh words for microformats. I called them "junk" and "ludicrously inefficient". But the weird thing is that microformats are still sort of... popular. I mean, not really popular, they don't have mass adoption yet. But nerd-popular. Lots of clever people are talking about them and implementing them. There is some value to be extracted by making the semantic nature of the data we publish on the web explicit, there has to be, or else all these clever people wouldn't be fighting with the frankly inconvenient and ill-defined world of microformats as they currently stand. So why do people like semantic data? Because semantic data is important. By definition, it's the meaning of the data, the magic that changes raw data...
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Introducing Cascading Semantic Descriptions

Cascading Semantic Descriptions, or CSD, are my idea for a new way of expressing microformats. In my last post I talked about what was good about microformats and what was bad. Now I'm going to put forward my suggestions for how to fix them, and in the process make them a whole lot more flexible, useful, and powerful. Remember: the problem microformats are trying to solve is "how do we add semantic information to web pages?" Semantic information is web metadata; it should act like it Semantic information is a type of metadata: information about information. However, HTML has lots of other types of metadata already: in the HEAD of any HTML document you can have the META tag which can contain the information itself (e.g. keywords and descriptions) or you can have a LINK tag which relates the document to other documents, such as RSS feeds, or CSS. I think the most interesting example here is CSS, which is literally a document full of more metadata, specifically data about how the contents of the document...

On web development

When people ask me what I do nowaday, I reply without hesitation: I'm a web developer. But what does that term mean? There's a lot of confusion, and because of that, a lot of people who are web developers have started calling themselves other things: frontend engineers, web engineers, web architects, and more. Worse, in the late 90s and early 2000s a bunch of unqualified hacks looking to make a fast buck started calling themselves "web developers" when they were template-fillers, glorified keyboard monkeys, which seriously devalued the term. But now I think it's time to reclaim the term for real web developers, and take pride in it. What is a web developer? Wikipedia has its own definition, including this frankly awesome timeline of web development career specializations which serves, at a glance, to explain how it is that there are so many people called "web developers" and how they can disagree about so many things. The community of webdevs don't use the same or even vaguely similar programming...
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