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Another Blue Beanie Day

Yesterday was the nth annual Blue Beanie Day. (I’ve lost track of what year the standardista holiday started.) I was awake at 1:00 AM on Friday night/Saturday morning, so I tweeted “Happy #BlueBeanieDay,” then slept. No blog post, no prelude—just a past-midnight tweet, over and out.

Saturday, once or twice, I checked Twitter and retweeted most of the Blue Beanie Day tweets I found.

Most, because I omitted a soft-porn one that seemed to be capitalizing on the hashtag to advertise its Instagram feed (which, to judge by the tweet, consists of reposts of old Suicide Girls pictorials). So maybe the hashtag trended briefly for that person. One measure of social media success on Twitter is when someone who doesn’t understand or care about your hashtag uses it to draw attention to a tweet that has nothing to do with your cause—which tells you a lot about Twitter, and social media, and where we are as a culture. But I digress.

That shrinking feeling

Generally, each year, Blue Beanie Day gets smaller, possibly in part because I’m too busy to promote it beforehand (or during, or after). And because it immediately follows U.S. Thanksgiving, so gets broadcast when many U.S. web folks are offline and in food comas.

Blue Beanie Day also gets smaller each year because web design as a practice and as a discipline keeps shrinking … even though frontend UX, or whatever we’re calling it this week, clearly continues to grow.

Mainly, though, Blue Beanie Day is receding from view because our industry as a whole thinks less and less about accessibility (not that we ever had an A game on the subject), and talks less and less about progressive enhancement, preferring to chase the ephemeral goal posts of over-engineered solutions to non-problems.

If web design were automotive design, we’d be past the invention of mass production and on to designing self-obsoleting tail fins. But I digress, and I regret the negative spin this mini-memoir is taking.

Because, really, I’m happy and grateful.

Blue Beanie Day matters

In spite of our industry’s (I hope temporary) focus on complexity for its own sake, there are still a lot of you who do this work in the service of people we used to call “end-users,” and who will care about web standards and inclusive, accessible design for as long as you’re here to practice it.

To you, the true believers, whether you knew about/celebrated Blue Beanie Day or not, I give thanks.

Thanks for showing up every day to try to make the web a little better. Thanks for your optimism, especially when it gets harder to stay positive. You make an inclusive web possible.

Thanks for keeping Blue Beanie Day alive, not just on your head, but in your heart.

By Jeffrey Zeldman

“King of Web Standards”—Bloomberg Businessweek.

Principal & Creative Director, Automattic, Inc. Founder & Publisher, A List Apart. Co-founder, An Event Apart design conference. Publisher & co-founder, A Book Apart—brief books for people who design, write, and code. Have written two books, notably Designing With Web Standards, 3rd Edition. Faculty, MFA, Interaction Design program, School of Visual Arts, NY. Host, The Big Web Show. But what I really want to do is direct.