The CSS Eleven: Style or substance?

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CSS Eleven is an inter­na­tion­al group of visu­al web design­ers and devel­op­ers who are com­mit­ted to help­ing the W3C’s CSS Work­ing Group to bet­ter deliv­er the tools that are need­ed to design tomor­row’s web. 

I was unim­pressed when I first heard about the CSS Eleven.

Not because of what they are aim­ing to do — quite the oppo­site, in fact; I think it’s an excel­lent and much-need­ed ambi­tion, and I’m glad some­one has stepped up to do it — but because of the way it was pre­sent­ed. I felt — and, in fact, still feel — that the cin­e­mat­ic ref­er­ence in the name and the first slide that was pre­sent­ed made too much of a deal of the par­tic­i­pan­t’s names, and dis­cour­aged oth­er peo­ple from get­ting involved.

To be frank, I felt it was a bit Bertie Big Bol­locks; CSS not work­ing? Super-devel­op­ers to the rescue!

But what about oth­er devel­op­ers who take the time to read through the opaque spec­i­fi­ca­tions and report what they find? Aren’t they in dan­ger of being over­shad­owed by the movie star CSS Eleven? Aren’t their opin­ions as valid? Is the CSS Eleven going to be in any way par­tic­i­pa­to­ry, or will we end up lumped with what they decide is the best way?

Andy Clarke took the trou­ble to phone me today to explain the rea­son­ing behind the cre­ation of the group, for which I thank him pro­fuse­ly; although, as I’ve already explained, it was­n’t the group’s motives that were in ques­tion, it was their meth­ods. There’s a fuller account of the project on his blog.

What made me more at ease was the con­fir­ma­tion that this would indeed be par­tic­i­pa­to­ry; after an ini­tial peri­od in which the group will put togeth­er their ini­tial find­ings, the results will be made pub­lic on a Wiki, with col­lab­o­ra­tion invit­ed from inter­est­ed mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ty. I think this is good news, and puts to rest most of my wor­ries about the way it would be handled.

I still don’t like the pre­sen­ta­tion, though.

5 comments on
“The CSS Eleven: Style or substance?”

  1. CSS Eleven: good idea, but there are a lot more than eleven of us using CSS…

    CSS Eleven – an inter­na­tion­al group of eleven web devel­op­ers and design­ers – intends to explain and illus­trate the var­i­ous CSS mod­ules as they are developed.
    I’m not sure I like the sound of this. Their exist­ing web page (which seems to keep …

  2. I agree with your assessment.

    It has been both­er­ing me since I attend­ed An Event Apart and SxSW that these “super­stars” in web devel­op­ment are only inter­est­ed in how big their star actu­al­ly gets — not fur­ther­ing the state of the web. Hence, why so very lit­tle has been done.

    Even more, I dis­like peo­ple’s pompous atti­tudes, their elit­ist sta­tus, and the groupie fanati­cism that fol­low them around from event to event. It just both­ers me, you know? If any good was com­ing from this, I would be com­plete­ly changed of heart — because they would deserve all the goog­ley eyed ador­ing fans. But… I haven’t seen it. Most of these stars don’t even pro­duce sub­stance on their web­sites . If they have all this knowl­edge and moti­va­tion to change the web — why don’t they share it with the peo­ple instead of regur­gi­tat­ing the same preachy, seman­tic, begin­ner non­sense in glossy, beau­ti­ful but over-hyped books?

    Per­haps this group will actu­al­ly get some­thing done, I hope so, I real­ly do. The web is in a stag­nant state of dis­re­pair. But to me, see­ing these names, it’s just anoth­er way to raise fame and essen­tial­ly lead to more $$ in their pockets.

    …not to rant like a bit­ter devel­op­er or any­thing :P

  3. Hi Beth,

    Don’t get me wrong about any of the indi­vid­u­als involved; those that I’ve met or spo­ken to don’t seem to be self-aggran­dis­ing at all, and I use many of their books reg­u­lar­ly. My com­plaint was about the nature of the pre­sen­ta­tion of the group only.

  4. […] told that wasn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly use­ful for either group. A group of design­ers called the CSS Eleven start­ed as “an inter­na­tion­al group of visu­al web design­ers and devel­op­ers who are committed […]

  5. […] ques­tion is, what to do about it? The CSS Eleven announced with a fan­fare that it was an organ­i­sa­tion “com­mit­ted to help­ing the W3C’s […]