An Event Apart: Web 2.1 The Medium Comes of Age

by Luke Wroblewski July 26, 2010

In his opening keynote at An Event Apart in Minneapolis, MN Jeffrey Zeldman provided a historic perspective on the development of the Internet, Web, and Web standards culminating in today's exciting opportunities for Web designers and developers.

  • It’s an amazing time to do Web design. Designers are mature –they understand the profession. Webkit-enabled mobile computers let people experience HTML5 & CSS3 wherever they are. How did we get here?
  • Before the Internet: Creation of movable type by Gutenburg (1452). Before this knowledge belonged to the few (hand-copied volumes). In 1836, the telegraph heralded the “Victorian Internet”. 1866, the first transatlantic cable was laid and started a global interconnected world. Data became more important than objects. 1876, Alexander graham bell created the telephone. In 1945, Vannevar Bush’s conceptual machine proposed hyperlinks but the technology to create it was not there.
  • The Internet: In 1962, the Internet was developed. 1965, Ted Nelson thought of the idea for the Web (links, library of human knowledge, and micropayments). 1966, Robert Taylor allowed scientists to exchange paper electronically. 1981 news groups, 1986 Gore touts the information superhighway. 1988, T1 cable was laid. 1989, the first search engine (open text) is created. 1990, Tim Berners Lee developed the Web. 1991, AOL brought the Internet to the masses –news group information. 1993, NCSA Mosiac came out and provided the first graphical Web broswer. 1994, Netscape comes out, and so on...
  • Web Standards: In 1997, IE3 support of CSS allowed designers to create layouts with type and code. Not just images & tables. XHTML in 1999 was a very effective teaching tool for learning proper mark-up standards. In 2000, IE5 Mac, Opera 5, and Netspace 6 supported Web standards. This was a big leap forward. In 2001, the W3C came up with the CSS3 roadmap. After 2004, nothing was happening. Microsoft announced there wasn’t going to be another IE. Because of this lull, people had time to evangelize Web standards and spend time thinking about how to make it better.
  • Now: The Web working group (WAHT WG) started working on HMTL5 then the W3C chartered an HTML working group to tackle the same agenda. In 2010, we have Webkit powered browsers on mobile browsers. In 2010, there were two smart phones sold for every desktop PC. On these devices you can use HTML5 and CSS3. IE9 will support standards. They are now an established part of the Web so beautiful design no longer requires Flash.
  • We’re in a new era of Web design –thanks to Web standards. Designers have grown up and are aware of and focused on user experience and content strategy. CSS3 allows for vector UI design that helps support faster performance and flexible Web layouts. HTML5 semantics and mark-up can be used today in many browser/devices.