Ben Henick has a new article over on ALA: 12 Lessons for Those Afraid of CSS and Standards. There are some great tips and hints here for those of you starting in web development, or those who are trying to break some bad habits gained over the years.
This one struck a particular chord with me, as it's something I've been trying to explain to clients for a while now:
Lesson No. 2: It’s not going to look exactly the same everywhere unless you’re willing to face some grief... and possibly not even then There are an awful lot of differences between rendering engines, and the W3C specs sanction those differences. You can adjust, tweak, hack, and waive, but if you want to preserve your social life, you will learn to let go of the small differences—and convince the stakeholders in your projects to do the same.
Amen to that!
I've always thought that the idea of the Semantic Web was a pretty clever after reading about it in Weaving The Web, but I can't say I ever really understood why it was cool, I understood the theory sure, but I wasn't quite making that leap that you need to start thinking about it in practical ways.
I think I've just had the "A-ha!" moment.
Suppose you're browsing the Web and you find a seminar advertised, and you decide to go. Now, there is all sorts of information on that page, which is accessible to you as a human being, but your computer doesn't know what it means. So you must open a new calendar entry and paste the information in there. Then get your address book and add new entries for the people involved in the seminar ... It's very laborious to do all this by hand. What you would like to be able to do is just tell the computer, I'm going to this seminar. If there were a Semantic Web version of the page, it would have labeled information on it that would tell the computer "this is an event," and what time and date it is. And it would automatically add your travel to your event book. It would add the people to your address book, and it would program your GPS to give you directions. It would have the relationships between the event and the various people chairing it. And those people would have Semantic Web personal pages, which contained information about how you could contact them.