This week saw the .net Magazine Awards 2010 in London, UK.
Being a techy and webby awards show it was great to watch twitter provide real time events from many of the people present at the show, although I did get quite confused as I watched tweets from @Malarkey talking about how loud Motorhead were before realising that he was at a very different event.
Jeffrey Zeldman and his many hats really swept the awards show winning best Design Agency for Happy Cog, Best podcast with The Big Web Show (with Dan Benjamin) with the man himself gaining the accolade of ‘Standards Champion’.
For the last week I have been toying with the idea of writing an email to Jeffrey to thank him for everything he has done so far in his career and what I am sure he will continue to do for decades to come.
Fear took hold and I decided against it. Emails get lost in the quagmire of ‘important’ stuff like clients, friends and family and a random miscellaneous message from some guy in England to say how much he admires you and has the utmost respect for what you have done for him and the thousands of other web designers/developers whatever you want to call yourself in the world, would probably go unnoticed.
Instead, I am going to write this, what I hope to be concise and short post to thank Jeffrey Zeldman…
Over the last few months I have gone through a period of low ebb from the perspective of my field of work. As a ‘front-end’ developer (I really hate that term and concept) I had started to become disheartened with the things I believe in and know are the right things to do when it comes to application design and development.
I’ve read A-List Apart virtually since it started as a site, I couldn’t tell you how I found it but I was reading it all the same. From A-List Apart I was introduced to the CSS Zen Garden, I bought the book, it changed my life. I gained a clarity on what HTML and CSS were really about and proceeded to experiment and play around with little site ideas and as a result gained employment. Result!
Over the years I’ve regularly read articles, annotations of conferences, watched videos and bought magazines, anything that mentioned Zeldman I was on it, a safe zone you could say.
In recent years, I have started to look more at people and groups rather than designs and tutorials simply to achieve goals. In a nutshell, I have become more interested in people, their ideas and what they’re doing within the industry realising that I want to be part of it not just somebody working in a particular ‘field’.
Thanks to Zeldman’s many blog posts and musings I have discovered so many wonderful personalities in the world of Web Design & Development. People who are talking about what is happening in the world and how we can influence, mould, direct and change those things. I’ve discovered people like Richard Rutter, Jeremy Keith, Dan Benjamin, Andy Clarke, Josh Williams, Dan Cederholm and Eric Meyer, people who are genuinely changing the way we create web based content and all with mixed views opinions and ideas but all with a pretty unified vision.
I was looking at Andy Clarke’s blog when I read about his interview on this podcast called The Big Web Show. I clicked the link banged a few buttons and was soon downloading a video interview unbeknown to me at the time hosted by Jeffrey Zeldman and Dan Benjamin. It was incredible. I was finally able to listen to how these people talk to one another, may have worked together or spoken on the phone, email, wherever. I felt like I was getting an insight into how the great minds of the internet work.
Recently, I applied for a position at Clearleft, last years .net awards Design Agency of the year 2010. I didn’t get an interview. But I did get both a really nice email explaining why and an incredible and personal response from Andy Bell on this blog. I can’t say that it didn’t leave me feeling pretty shit about myself, it did. It took me a while to realise why.
I am a perfectionist in many ways and I always believe that I can do something better than I just have. I look at the applications being released by 37 Signals or the sites created by Clearleft or Happy Cog, I read books by these people and I weep. I weep because I wish I worked in such an encouraging, vibrant and evolving environment. That’s not to say that the people I work with don’t have these visions or similar views and desires, I work in a great team with seriously talented people, all with their own wonderful and diverse opinions and ideals and it is great.
What I have seen is that there is a gain in terms of your own personal experiences and enjoyment working in an ‘agency’ environment rather than being in-house on a single application.
After finding The Big Web Show on Sunday I have downloaded everything available through iTunes along with a good handful of other podcasts available through 5by5 and my heart in some way has been restored. I need to stop fighting for things I wish I had and start admiring and aspiring to be like the peers I so greatly respect and admire.
Without Jeffrey Zeldman, I can comfortably say I wouldn’t have got this far (I have been making websites for nearly 10 years now in one guise or another) and I certainly wouldn’t have gained the second gust of wind I needed to re inflate my sails and set this ship out on a course to the worlds end.