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.