Matthew Thomas

Explaining What-WG to a farm manager

January 2nd, 2005

This morning’s shift: 12:00am to 8:45 a.m. This evening’s shift: 6:00 p.m. to 3:30 a.m.

So Matt, what do you do when you’re not pushing trays on a boysenberry harvester?
Well, besides that.
I, uh, write stuff on the Internet.
Oh, so you’re a porn king?
Ha, no, it’s much more boring than that.
So what is it that you write?
Well, um … All the Web sites on the Internet, they’re written in a language called HTML
Uh-huh …
And, well, there’s a kind of a committee that’s working out changes to that language. So that it’s easier for people to make sites like Amazon and eBay and things like that. And I, uh, contribute to that.
Oh, really? So is this a contract thing, or what?
No, most of us are volunteers … Except for a few who work for the companies that make the Web browsers … Because they all have to agree on the same language, you see, otherwise it wouldn’t work.
Right, right.

I shouldn’t have said easier for people to make sites, because it won’t be. Authors will still have to do just as much tricky stuff as they do now, for visitors with browsers that exist now. But the sites will be easier to use for visitors using future browsers.

In the 1870s, an unknown member of the Illinois House of Representatives uttered a quote later widely attributed to Otto von Bismarck: the making of laws is like the making of sausages — the less you know about the process the more you respect the result. The same applies to Internet specifications and boysenberry juice.


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