Internet standards for HTML

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is standardizing over 100 specifications for the open web, in at least 13 working groups. The CSS Working Group alone is in charge of 50 specifications. This does not include work on Unicode, HTTP and TLS.


Cite Something

See something? Cite something.

… [we] had plenty of experience with our work making its way across the internet, both with and without attribution to our hard work, and so we thought we would make a comic/chart about how to do it right. Consider this reference material…


If you see something you want to use on-line, have a look at Not Quite Wrong’s Attribution Flowchart, or a similar guide. Please click on image to view full-size.

Attribution Flowchart by & Click on image to view full-size.

Don’t plagiarize!

That may be easier said than done. Creative Commons (“CC”) licensing simplifies matters significantly. Yet CC licenses, are optional, and while frequently specified, certainly not universal.

Prior to the age of digital publishing, this was not such a widespread concern. Print media channels had in-house counsel and other persons trained in the rules of fair use and content re-purposing. 

Attribution is preferable to Retribution

I felt like I bore the Mark of Cain after an incident due to one of my very first blog posts.

I used two photos of snails for a brief post on the beauty of spirals in nature. I noticed the snails on the Flickr photo site. My account on Flickr was nearly as new as my WordPress blog site. I did read Flickr’s Terms of Service for photo reuse. This was possibly the first TOS for a website I’d ever read, other than the TOS for Second Life! 

A few days later, I found myself the subject of scrutiny, communicated quite eloquently by the abrupt increase in page views indicated by WordPress’s statistics plug-in!

In those days, I wasn’t aware of the more comprehensive tracking available via Google Analytics. Thankfully.

The snail photos belonged to a skilled amateur photographer. She was a mature woman fluent only in languages with which I wasn’t familiar.

My initial blog post did not give appropriate attribution to her.

I amended it, but did not do so correctly under the terms of the CC license. No good.

I tried again. The photographer was not quite satisfied. Which she expressed as best she could.

I felt so guilty, misusing this woman’s work! Finally, I got it right after a third revision.

Fortunately this was prior to the additional complications of Getty Image licensing, which is a default or opt-out for the entire Flickr site.

Image sharing is particularly confusing

Here are other questions, about general practices. I was unsure if a watermark on a photo meant that:

  • I was not allowed to re-use it under any circumstances, or
  • The watermark alone was sufficient attribution and no other details should be given.

Although I now know that the second condition is inadequate, I’m still uneasy and uncertain about re-use of watermarked images.

The two leading image sharing sites, Flickr (owned by Yahoo!) and Picasa (a Google product) offer an All Rights Reserved designation, as well as all varieties of CC licenses. Yet I sometimes observe All Rights Reserved images reproduced.

I’ve read the Flickr help pages and remain confused regarding fair use. Does All Rights Reserved override the basic Terms of Service of the Flickr site, which states that all publicly viewable images on Flickr can be reproduced as long as the image links back to the site with appropriate attribution? And what of the new Getty Image licensing?

Fail-safe way to cite right

When in doubt, send a quick email or IM to the artist or photographer. Most reply very quickly. I’ve asked artists for permission to reproduce their work despite the All Rights Reserved or copyright sign. Most have given permission immediately, or within a few hours of visiting my sites and confirming that they were non-commercial.

My single experience with a private foundation’s photos was only slightly more involved. A curator wanted to preview the content and placement of the image prior to posting– a reasonable request. In every case, I was allowed to post images free-of-charge.

Yes, attribution and/ or obtaining permission is the right thing to do. It’s also personally worthwhile, for the sake of your peace of mind! 


Fear and loathing of HTML5

Part 1: Conflict

I wrote a post about development of the new HTML standard yesterday. Quite a conflict, a public one, is in progress between Internet standards groups, WHATWG and W3C, and to some extent within WHATWG itself. 

Ian Hickson, project leader with WHATWG a.k.a. Hixie, is catching much of the blame for being autocratic. But some of that is unfair, as he is also advocating virtues of expediency and compromise to market demand and user needs. See this Google+ discussion on HTML standards definitions, led by Ian. 

Also see a remarkably honest, and humorous post from Ian’s personal web page, Hixie on Handling People, which is being circulated, with defamatory effect. I think that is unfair and unwise. If Ian’s leadership is a problem, this is not the way to remedy it. The entry from his personal webpage is harmless. It shows he has realistic insights into how individuals and groups interact. 

Regarding HTML, Hixie should be aware that bowing to user demand is not always the best choice when developing standards. That’s why there ARE standards! Short term pain must often be endured for longer term benefits. An analogy is financial regulation. No one likes the SEC and internal audit departments when they impose restrictions that seem disruptive to market participants with a narrowly focused point of view. In the long-term, it is usually beneficial to everyone.

There is a difference between securities regulators, who have power of legal enforcement, and WHATWG, though! Yes, W3C and WHATWG DO have more power than I did as a Data Governance manager at TriCare. But they don’t have the ability to impose sanctions, like the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission does. If WHATWG or W3C standards are perceived as impractical or too costly, industry WILL circumvent i.e. ignore the standards. But I don’t think Ian should say that technical implementation defines the standards, in effect. That will lead to nothing but grief and short term thinking, and hurt the industry ultimately. 

Accessibility standards are another concern, alluded to with extreme delicacy (so subtle I’m not even certain) in the Google+ post. They are personally important to me, as a user. But again, it is a matter of benefiting the few and sacrificing for the many, in terms of delayed development time. Better accessibility is necessary, was needed for a long time. But forty years of past neglect can’t be remedied at once.

Part 2: Implementation Success Story!

Kaazing is associated with the HTML5 Doctor mentioned in my post, see above. The following is a delightful presentation by Kaazing from a conference in October 2011, using Prezi instead of Slideshare or PowerPoint. Reproduction is allowed here under CC License 3.0.