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.
AT FIRST GLANCE, November 2016 has bigger fish to fry than a small, cult holiday celebrated by web developers and designers.
Each day since November 8, 2016 has brought new, and, to some of us, unimaginable challenges to the surface. Half of America is angry and terrified. The other half is angry and celebrating. At a time like now, of what possible use is an annual holiday celebrated mainly on social media by a tiny posse of standards- and accessibility-oriented web developers and designers?
From Blue Beanies to Black Hats
Many web developers have “moved on” from a progressive-enhancement-focused practice that designs web content and web experiences in such a way as to ensure that they are available to all people, regardless of personal ability or the browser or device they use.
Indeed, with more and more new developers entering the profession each day, it’s safe to say that many have never even heard of progressive enhancement and accessible, standards-based design.
The trouble with this top-down approach is threefold:
Firstly, many new developers will build powerful portfolios by mastering tools whose functioning and implications they may not fully understand. Their work may be inaccessible to people and devices, and they may not know it—or know how to go under the hood and fix it. (It may also be slow and bloated, and they may not know how to fix that either.) The impressive portfolios of these builders of inaccessible sites will get them hired and promoted to positions of power, where they train other developers to use frameworks to build impressive but inaccessible sites.
Only developers who understand and value accessibility, and can write their own code, will bother learning the equally exciting, equally edgy, equally new standards (like CSS Grid Layout) that enable us to design lean, accessible, forward-compatible, future-friendly web experiences. Fewer and fewer will do so.
Thirdly, and as a result of the first and second points, more and more web experiences every day are being created that are simply not accessible to people with disabilities (or with the “wrong” phone or browser or device), and this will increase as standards-focused professionals retire or are phased out of the work force, superseded by frameworkistas.
#a11y is Code for “Love Your Neighbor”
This third point is important because people with disabilities are already under attack, by example of the U.S. president-elect, and as part of of a recent rise in hate crimes perpetrated by a small but vocal fringe. This fringe group of haters has always been with us, but now they are out of the shadows. They are organized and motivated, and to an unmeasured degree, they helped Donald Trump win the White House. Now that he’s there, people of good will ardently hope that he will condemn the worst bigots among his supporters, and fulfill his executive duties on behalf of all the people. I’m not saying I expect him to do this today. I’m saying I hope he does—and meantime it behooves us to find ways to do more than just hope. Ways to make change.
ON THIS year’s Blue Beanie Day, as we celebrate web standards, we also celebrate our community’s remarkable diversity—and pledge to keep things moving in a positive, humanist direction.
Racism, sexism, misogyny and other forms of foolish, wrongful pre-judging have no place in our beautiful community. As hard as we work to make sure our websites work for everyone, let’s work twice as hard to be certain we are just as open-hearted and welcoming to our peers as our designs are to our users.
JUST IN TIME for Blue Beanie Day? 2014, I’ve teamed up with our friends at Cotton Bureau? to bring you Blue Beanie Day Tees and Blue Beanie Day Hoodies. For sale at cost (no profit). Hurry! Only 14 days left to buy:
Join your fellow web designers and developers around the world on Saturday, 30 November 2013, as we march in virtual solidarity in support of web standards.
The countdown to this worldwide celebration begins today, with the opening of the Blue Beanie Day 2013 photo pool on good old Flickr.com. Read more at the new official home of Blue Beanie Day online, bluebeanieday.tumblr.com.
If the print aesthetic had won—if the technologies supporting that aesthetic, slice-and-dice table layouts and Flash, had continued to reign supreme—our web use would almost certainly still be limited to the desktop, and web content would very likely be constrained to the whims and abilities of a single, aging desktop browser. With no competition, there’d be no reason for that browser’s manufacturers to update it, and no need to improve its standards support, as the browser’s behavior would be taken as a defacto standard. As a result, there would be no HTML5, no CSS3, no point in innovating standard technologies.
GET YOUR BEANIE ON! The Fifth International Blue Beanie Day in support of web standards takes place around the globe on 30 November 2011. How can you participate? Glad you asked! Details are now available on the spankin’ new official Blue Beanie Day web page.
IN NOVEMBER, as part of the 4th Annual Blue Beanie Day to support web standards, we announced a web standards haiku contest, with prizes donated by Peachpit/New Riders (“Voices That Matter”) and A Book Apart. Entries were posted on Twitter with the hashtag #bbd4, with judging to follow in December. It should have been easy.
Not even mighty Google was able to uncover more than a few of them.
We wrote to our friends at Twitter to ask for help, but they were too busy dating supermodels on a pile of money to get back to us. With existing entries sucked into the void formerly known as Twitter search results, and with all those great books to give away and all those eager participants to thank, we have only one choice:
Blue Beanie Day Haiku Contest Phase II—This Time It’s Personal
Attention, web design geeks, contest fans, standards freaks, HTML5ophiles, CSSistas, grammarians, bookworms, UXers, designers, developers, and budding Haikuists. Can you do this?
Do not tell me I
Am source of your browser woes.
Write a web standards haiku (like that one), and post it on Twitterright here between today and Friday, December 24th. Entries must be “postmarked” no later than 11:59 PM Eastern. Judging will be held the week after Christmas, with winners announced before the New Year.
Can I re-post the haiku(s) I submitted in November?
Can I create one or more new haikus?
Yes, of course.
How many entries may I post?
As many as you like. However, you can only win once. (In other words, if you post the best ten haikus, you won’t win ten prizes, you’ll win one.)
I can’t post my entry here. (I’m behind a firewall.)
Unfortunately, posting behind firewalls is disabled on this site. (By doing this, I remove 99% of comment spam.) Try posting from your phone, or from a location other than your current one.