Today has been declared Blue Beanie Day, an only slightly tongue-in-cheek day for supporters of web standards to show their solidarity with the cause. Originating in the mind of Douglas Vos, founder of FacebookÄôs Designing With Web Standards Group, the day uses a blue hat as its symbol in honor of Jeffrey Zeldman, author of the landmark book Designing with Web Standards. Zeldman wears a blue beanie on the book's cover.
You might see blue hats on the heads of your friends' Twitter avatars, if you work in an office perhaps someone there is geeky enough to be wearing a blue beanie (maybe you should ask them about it - or perhaps it's you!) and there's a Flickr group dedicated to blue beanie photos (the most recent 20 of which are playing on the right, followed by a nice video of Jeffrey Zeldman).
Web standards are something we write about a lot here at ReadWriteWeb. We've gotten great feedback on posts about new standards like OpenID and OAuth. Most people, though, think of the W3C standards for CSS and HTML when the phrase is used. Belgian web design rock star Veerle Pieters has a good post today explaining her personal relationship to web standards and Blue Beanie day.
There are new standards being developed all the time. Old and new standards work together. That's the theory anyway, I'd like to see some informed discussion on Blue Beanie Day about the Google-led OpenSocial. To what degree does it build on and to what degree does it seek to replace existing standards?
Why Are Standards Interesting?
Whether it's a new or old standard, the idea is the same: standardization creates a playing field that supports innovation by making scalability possible. Standardization makes life easier for users and for developers, enabling a higher level of abstraction because a common foundation has been established and there's no reason to reinvent the wheel with every new website.
Standards are also important for web pages to be usable in other formats, so it's important for both accessibility and mobile. That's how I explain it, how do you?
If this is a topic of interest to you, check out the new site at DataPortability.org. It's an early gathering of thought leaders concerning standards for data portability.