meyerweb.com

Skip to: site navigation/presentation
Skip to: Thoughts From Eric

Archive: September 2012

The Web Behind #1

Last Thursday was the first episode of The Web Behind, which was also episode #35 of The Web Ahead, and I couldn’t really have been much happier with it.  John Allsopp made it brilliant by being brilliant, as always.  To spend 80 minutes talking with someone with so much experience and insight will always be an act of pure joy. and we were beyond thrilled that he used the occasion to announce his Web History Timeline Project—a web-based timline which anyone can enrich by easily adding milestones.

The episode is up on 5by5, where there are a whole bunch of links to things that came up in the conversation; as well as on iTunes—so pick your favorite channel and listen away!  If you are an iTunes listener, Jen and I would be deeply grateful if you could give the show a quick review and rating, but please don’t feel that you’re somehow obligated to do so in order to listen!  We’ll be more than happy if people simply find all this as interesting as we do, and happier still if you find the shows interesting enough to subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

Guests are lining up for the next few shows, which will come about once every other week.  Jen is preparing a standalone web site where we’ll be able to talk about new and upcoming episodes, have a show archive, provide show information and wiki pages, and much more.  Great stories and perspectives are being uncovered.  Exciting times!

Words, Meet Data

At lunch today (okay, by now it’s actually yesterday), I had some leftover time.  Not quite enough to play a shift on Radar Chaos: Hawaii Edition, sadly, but enough to run down the answer to a question that had been bugging me for a couple of days: if Mitt Romney is right that the 47% of people who pay no federal income taxes are all Obama voters that he needn’t worry about, what would the polls look like?

Finding out was as simple as hitting up Wikipedia, Gallup, and Excel.  Combining the two sources of information, I came up with this:

Income range% of pop.ObamaRomney
Less than $36,00040.1%56%37%
$36,000 to $89,99940.4%47%47%
$90,000 or more19.5%45%50%

I used those income bands because they’re the divisions used in the Gallup results, and I got the percentage-of-population numbers from Wikpedia.  For simplicity’s sake, I decided to assume that Mitt was off by a bit and that only 40.1% of the electorate was lost to him—meaning that any person (or household) making more than $36,000 a year but paying no federal income tax due to writeoffs, tax credits, and so on was still in play.

So once you combine the percentages in that table and add up the results, you get 50.2% of the vote for Obama, and 43.6% of the vote for Romney.  That was likely true immediately post-DNC but is a wider split than the most recent polls show, which are usually close to being tied at 47% each.  So we’ll note that I’ve given Obama 3% too many and Romney 3% too few, and apply that correction at the end.

The next step was to shift all of the 40% of voters below $36,000 a year into the Obama column.

Income range% of pop.ObamaRomney
Less than $36,00040.1%100%0%
$36,000 to $89,99940.4%47%47%
$90,000 or more19.5%45%50%

Once you do the math on those figures, the results are 67.9% of the vote for Obama and 28.7% of the vote for Romney.  Apply the ±3% correction from before and you wind up with Obama getting about 65% of the vote and Romney getting about 32%.  That’s substantially different than polls have been showing, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Mitt is mistaken about the composition of the electorate.

(Of course, as noted before, I spotted Mitt almost 7% of U.S. households by only shifting the bottom 40.1% to Obama instead of the bottom 47%.  You’re welcome, Mitt.)

Anyway, that was my every-half-decade analysis of public data, which I like to conduct both to look at things from a new angle as well as celebrate what the web has made possible: the ability to look deeper, to analyze, to ask questions and find answers, to verify.  Even hypotheticals.

John Allsopp to Inaugurate ‘The Web Behind’

Jen Simmons and I are very pleased to announce that our first guest on The Web Behind will be none other than John Allsopp.

Hailing from Sydney, Australia, John by himself has seen and done more on the web than most web teams put together.  First encountering the web in the early 1990s, he built one of the very first CSS tools, Style Master, and a number of other web development tools; published a wealth of information like support charts and free courses; wrote the deeply insightful and far-seeing article “A Dao of Web Design”; influenced the course of the Web Standards Project; and founded a successful international conference series that continues to this day.

We’re incredibly excited to have John as our inaugural guest, and hope you’ll join us for the live recording this Thursday, September 20th at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.  That’s also Friday, September 21st at 8am Sydney time, and 2200 UTC if you want to calculate your own local offsets.  The time zone dance is the reason we’re recording the first show at that particular time.  Moving forward, the plan is to record on Wednesdays, usually mid-afternoon (US Eastern) but sometimes in the morning—again, depending on the time zones of our guests.

Be able to say you were there when it all started:  please join us for the live recording, and subscribe to get the finished podcasts as they’re released.  We already have some great guests lined up for subsequent shows—more on that as we firm up dates and times—and some interesting plans for the future.  We really hope you’ll be there with us!

The Web Behind

Whenever I meet a new person and we get to talking about our personal lives, one of the things that seems to surprise people the most, besides the fact that I live in Cleveland and not in New York City or San Francisco, is that I have a Bachelor’s of Art in History.  The closest I came to Computer Science was a minor concentration in Artifical Intelligence, and in all honesty it was more of a philosophical study.

To me, history is vital.  As a species, we’ve made a plethora of mistakes and done myriad things right, and the record (and outcomes) of those successes and failures can tell us a great deal about how we got to where we are as well as where we might go.  (Also, from a narrative standpoint, history is the greatest and most authentic story we’ve ever told—even the parts that are untrue.)  The combination of that interest and my ongoing passion for the web is what led me to join the W3C’s recently formed Web History Community Group, where efforts to preserve (digital) historical artifacts are slowly coalescing.

But even more importantly, it’s what has led me to establish a new web history podcast in association with Jen Simmons of The Web Ahead.  The goal of this podcast, which is a subset of The Web Ahead, is to interview people who made the web today possible.  The guests will be authors, programmers, designers, vendors, toolmakers, hobbyists, academics: some whose names you’ll instantly recognize, and others who you’ve never heard of even though they helped shape everything we do.  We want to bring you their stories, get their insights and perspectives, and find out what they’ve been doing of late.  The Mac community has folklore.org; I hope that this podcast will help start to build an similar archive for the web.  You can hear us talk about it a bit on The Web Ahead #34, where we announce our first guest as well as the date and time for our first show!  (Semi-spoiler: it’s next week.)

Jen and I have took to calling this project The Web Behind in our emails, and the name stuck.  It really is a subset of The Web Ahead, so if you’re already subscribed to The Web Ahead, then episodes of The Web Behind will come to you automatically!  If not, and you’re interested, then please subscribe!  We already have some great guests lined up, and will announce the first few very soon.

I haven’t been this excited about a new project in quite some time, so I very much hope you’ll join Jen and me (and be patient as I relearn my radio chops) for a look back that will help to illuminate both our present and our future.

An Event Apart 2013

It’s a little bit hard to comprehend just how incredible a year we’ve had at An Event Apart.  Our colleagues in the audience as well as on stage have been consistently sharp, engaging, and all-around amazing, and I don’t think Jeffrey and I could thank everyone enough even if we were given three lifetimes to tackle the project.  With all seven shows this year selling out (some months in advance), we’ve taken the next step and have scheduled eight shows next year, a figure that occasionally causes me to go a little short of breath at the sheer wonder of it all.  I think back on the hundred-odd people who filled the room at our very first event, tucked away in the upper back corner of Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute back in 2005, and can scarcely believe how far we’ve come.

If you’re inclined to join us in 2013, and I really hope you are, here are the cities and dates:

Back to San Diego—hooray!  I looove to visit San Diego.

As was the case this year, all eight of 2013’s shows will feature a mix of new and familiar speakers presenting all-new talks shedding light on old problems and new ideas.  Thus not every show’s lineup is yet complete:  while we already have some speakers confirmed and announced for every event, we’re leaving the later shows in the year open so we can add fresh speakers and timely content.

Since all eight shows went on sale last month we’ve already had a bunch of people register, so you should definitely get those approval processes moving now if you want to avoid being shut out.  We had lengthy waiting lists at every 2012 show, and there were very few cancellations.  It never feels good to turn people away, but the venues’ capacities are what they are!

Being a part of An event Apart has been an amazing experience for me and for so many people, and our overriding goal is to make 2013 even better.  I hope you’ll join us!

Results From The Survey, 2011

On Tuesday—and I fully acknowledge the fact that it’s taken me until now to blog this is emblematic—A List Apart published the results of the fifth annual A List Apart Survey for People Who Make Websites.  This includes anonymized data sets for the bulk of the survey, as well as standalone data sets for postcodes and a few of the answer sets for questions that allowed “Other” as an option.  (Note that these last were shuffled-then-sorted, and were not filtered for potentially objectionable content.  They are what they are.)

If you really want the TL;DR version, the results are largely the same as they’ve been in the past.  The gender ratio, for example, is still in the vicinity of 5-to-1 male-to-female, with half a percent answering Other (a new option in the 2011 survey).  Most respondents are in the age range 19-44 and live in the United States.  And so on.  That might sound like I’m bored by the results, but their very consistency even as the number of respondents has dropped over five years fascinates me.

It did take quite a while to publish the results.  I feel personally very bad about the delay, because I run the numbers and it just took me a long time to get them run.  Partly, I admit, I put it off because some of the numbers in previous years were a royal pain to generate, thanks in part to the way the data is formatted and in part because of the fine slicing that was done.  This was finally addressed through various means, and now the report is done.  I can’t thank Sara Wachter-Boettcher enough for her keen editing eye and firm strategic oversight, not to mention writing all the commentary text to accompany the charts.  If not for her, the report might still not be done.  And of course without the unwavering support and dedication of Jeffrey Zeldman, the survey might not have existed at all.

So we’ve done this five times, and the results are consistent.  What now?  There is much to discuss, and the answers aren’t yet clear; but I do know that this project brings me more professional pride than almost anything I’ve ever done.  It tells us a lot about ourselves—and in a profession that is often characterized by single-person “web teams” and distributed offices, one which may never have a certification process or other form of registry, that’s something valuable.  Thank you for helping us see ourselves a little bit more clearly.

September 2012
SMTWTFS
June October
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  

Archives

Feeds

Extras