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Peter Macinkovic

I think this article is an important discussion piece, in particular the subheading of “We haven’t lived with the problem long enough”.

This brings up an interesting philosophical challenge: Should we implement a top-down approach of standardized markup to tackle many of these use-cases or rely on a bottom-up method in which the cream rises to the top and a solution becomes naturally apparent within existing mechanisms?

I bring this right/left dichotomy up for this article because what I found more interesting in both the article itself and in the comments section was just how influential the Boston Globe website is in setting the need to replicate functionality on other products.

John Mellor wrote recently in a W3C email chain about responsive images and even mentioned this article[1] about the srcN spec replacing srcset and < picture > specs that outlined specific uses cases and how they would be solved within a well thought out spec.

However the reality is we are such a replicate and iterate culture: for every problem we resolve or standardize another two will emerge by a influential subculture that pushes the limits of design and content access for the web.

Seeing the web change so much over the years, I could remember how influential the 960 grid was as a way to bridge the gap from traditional print design to web design layout. All over, websites with sliced up images were popping up with little consideration for resources management or bandwidth consideration. This was due to a labour divide of traditional print designers entering a new market in which they were not trained in the field of computer science.

Clients lapped it up. They bought the sizzle instead fo the steak and similarly themed websites grew exponentially before some really savvy people realized that these designs kind of sucked.

The came the rise of fluid and responsive websites; technology that has existed for years prior to it becoming mainstream.

This is why I find your final line quite poignant:

“…letís embrace the constraints of the medium, and seek out new solutions that can work within them.”

Humans are way more creative when working with restraints. It allows us to tackle problems in different and progressive ways. However creating new standards, even ones we will regret in 3-5 years could further open up this realm of creative restraint.

I can envision a scenario in which some 9-year old HTML savant is watching Minority Report or Public Enemy and looking at the UI created by Motion Designers for film and saying “ I wonder if I could build that?”

If they do, people will be amazed, replicate it and point out problems with it until it continues to iteratively get better.

And it will be awesome.