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I’d Like To Thank The Academy…

Among all the other stuff this past week, I let something slip off the radar: an interview with me over at the Lunartics blog.  The interview was conducted via e-mail by Amy Armitage, who I briefly met last year at the Webmaster Jam Session in Dallas.  It’s not your usual “why is CSS important” kind of interview; Amy likes to keep things fun while still covering serious questions.  It’s definitely worth a read.

It also scoops news of a development I’ve never gotten around to mentioning: in October 2006, I was inducted as a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.  It’s a pretty incredible honor, given that it’s an invitation-only body of 500 members including “David Bowie, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, Internet inventor and Google Chief Internet Evangelist Vinton Cerf, ‘Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening, Real Networks CEO Rob Glaser, and fashion designer Max Azria”.  The fact that my name appears on the same list as those people is jaw-dropping enough.  To me, it wasn’t the most stunning part by a long mile.

I’ll admit, though I’d heard of The Webbys, I assumed the IADAS was one of those name-collector groups, like those “Who’s Who in America” books where you pay to be listed.  Instead, I found that the IADAS levies no membership fees, and I was deeply surprised and pleased to discover that they invite people based on their actual qualifications.  How do I know?  Because my welcoming letter didn’t praise my web design work.  Instead, it cited my “dedication to promoting Web standards”, my “international recognition on the topics of HTML and CSS”, and proclaims that I’ve “helped inform excellence and efficiency on the Web”.

Yes, the text string “HTML and CSS” was actually in the letter.

It’s a little difficult to express how important this recognition is to me.  See, most of the time, I’m introduced and perceived as an influential web designer, which is frankly insulting to actual web designers everywhere.  If you aren’t reading this post via RSS, look around.  Does this look like influential web design?  Hell no.  At best, we can call meyerweb’s design minimalist and maybe—maybe—possessed of a certain elegance.  And it only took me five years and ripping off ideas from Khoi Vinh to get here!

But I’ve never claimed to be a designer.  I think the perception that I am one arises because I get linked to from people who really are designers.  I’ve always claimed to be a communicator.  I’m someone who’s done his best to explain, promote, and advance the technologies that let designers do their work.  I’ve invested tons of time and effort into making good web design easier without sacrificing clean and semantic markup.  I wouldn’t say that work is done by any stretch, but there’s been a lot of progress.  Sometimes I forget just how much.

And so, to be invited to join the IADAS not for what I’m usually thought to be, but actually for who I am—it’s an indescribable feeling.  A fantastically good one, certainly!  But not one I could describe no matter how many words I threw at the problem.

It’s a delicious irony, and I do so love my irony:  my powers of communication fail me when I wish to express my feelings over being honored for my communicating, over all those years, my love of the web and my passion for getting it right and the inner workings of how to make that happen.

But I can at least say this:

Thank you.  Thank you for coming to read my posts, for reading my books and articles, for listening to me speak.  Thank you for being the other end of the conversation.  Thank you for being open to what I have to say, and for responding with your insights and perspectives, all of which have changed me in untold ways.  Thank you for making everything I’ve done and said and written about the web worth far more than what I put into it.

Thank you for making this honor possible.

Eight Responses»

    • #1
    • Comment
    • Sat 3 Feb 2007
    • 1946
    Michael Hessling wrote in to say...

    Many congratulations to you, Eric. You deserve it.

    • #2
    • Comment
    • Sat 3 Feb 2007
    • 2110
    Rob L. wrote in to say...

    You’re welcome. Thanks for all the posts, books, etc.

    • #3
    • Comment
    • Sat 3 Feb 2007
    • 2230
    pauldwaite wrote in to say...

    Heh! That is an awesome awards-acceptance speech :)

    Thoroughly deserved. The thanks is both ways. I read CSS: The Definitive Guide in early 2002, whilst doing my law degree. Five years later, and I’ve actually got a career as a web developer. Your book was an invaluable grounding in client-side code, as was this blog.

    Can someone say something grumpy now as this is all getting to be a bit of a love-in.

    • #4
    • Comment
    • Sat 3 Feb 2007
    • 2340
    Michael Moncur wrote in to say...

    Congratulations, Eric! It’s well-deserved, you’ve taught me much more about how the Web works than David Bowie or Richard Branson ever could have. :)

    • #5
    • Comment
    • Sun 4 Feb 2007
    • 1756
    Jessica wrote in to say...

    Congratulations. This is well deserved and it is insipring to know that there is recognition for your work, and that of the wider standards community, towards the greater good of the web. I particularly love your take on the perceptions of your work communicating vs designing.

    You’re one of many “heros” that have inspired my career goals and a dream job down the track in terms of education and helping designers and developers work together to best serve their audience and the greater web. Cheers.

    • #6
    • Comment
    • Mon 5 Feb 2007
    • 1022
    Jenny G. wrote in to say...

    Congratulations! You totally deserve the recognition.

    • #7
    • Comment
    • Mon 5 Feb 2007
    • 1124
    prisca wrote in to say...

    Eric ;)

    don’t be surprised to receive such honor – you thoroughly deserve it ;)
    You have taught and inspired so many of us – and keep on doing so that it is about time for you to receive the appropriate recognition.

    Thanks for all your writings, comments, books and insights :)

    • #8
    • Comment
    • Thu 8 Feb 2007
    • 1328
    Elaine wrote in to say...

    “You”re one of many “heros” that have inspired my career goals”

    I think that was what I was trying to say when I gapered out at SxSW last year. Thank you for communicating to all of us out here about HTML and CSS. (I can still remember the feeling of complete awe the first time I saw css-edge.)

    And congratulations!

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