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working with the web

Breakfast with Molly Holzschlag: The new professionalism

Day Two started early again, with breakfast with Molly Holzschlag speaking on the topic of “The new professionalism”.

Professionalism (and often, lack there of) is a topic Molly has explored previously on her blog, and in fact a post I wrote in response to one of her posts way back in November 05 is one of the most popular on my own site, indicating that a lot of people are interested in it. My involvement with Port80 and the new WIPA organisation that is being set up in Australia, as well as the Web Standards Group, mean that it’s something I’m especially interested in.

Coffee and bagels in place, Molly introduced the topic and let us know that she wanted the session to be a dialogue with the audience rather than a lecture. She talked about how the field of web development came about, and how that has resulted in some of the problems we face today – there’s no universal or even widespread nomenclature to describe what we do; there’s no emphasis on education, standards or best practices; there’s a large gap between what the educators teach and what the real world requires; there are many unethical practices upheld in the industry.

Next Molly asked for some input from the audience, and various people talked about the newly formed WIPA organisation, Port80, the WSG, and a Web Developer’s organisation of the wrong kind that was started in New Zealand. It’s encouraging to see that people are working towards solutions to the problems – but we still have a long way to go yet.

Finally, Molly asked for some input from the audience for personal philosophies for working on the web. My own is “make the web a better place” – I can examine anything I’m doing at any time and ask “does this make the web a better place”? Derek Featherstone offered a great one – “first, do no harm”. Others included “don’t abuse the trust of the online communities” and “don’t lock your client into coming back (with technology) – make them want to come back”. All great sentiments for working as a professional.