The Web Platform &
the Process of Progress

Alex Russell <>
Fronteers, October 5, 2012

Progress is a
man-made process

Progress is relative to human standards and values. It's also subject nearly entirely to man-made changes in the environment, tools, and education. Our greatest achievements aren't naturally-occuring events, they're liberating, empowering changes to the situations of our fellow men and women brought on by improvements in morals, technology, and norms.

Progress requires change

There's no progress without change.

Change is a vector

Not all change is good, nor is all change substantive. Making large, positive changes therefore requires that we have it in mind that we want to make things better for people and that we are the ones who will bring it about.

Some Thought Experiments
Tell the Front-Trends story: - saw one talk that extoled the virtues of polyfills - next talk by Rachel Andrew (photo?) talked about the costs - webdevs caught in the middle

Polyfills Are A Tax

HTTPArchive, 2012, Top 1000 Sites's called Accessibility, and it's the most important thing in the computing world.

The. Most. Important. Thing.

Steve Yegge, Platform Rant
We are building multiple experiences, wether we know it or not. If you don't believe you are, you aren't testing your fallback...and I've got nothing but contempt for your work. So we need to deliver multiple good experiences at the lowest possible cost. HTML is brilliant at this, but only if we pay attention. The trick, then, is to try to do as much as we can to reduce the number of designed experiences. Optimally, we want two buckets: the "top-level experience" and the "fallback experience".

...and we need all of this to work on IE 7 & 8...
@AlexGraul, yesterday
This factory looks like it's polluting, but that's just the post-hoc view. It's likely doing some other things too: creating jobs, raising standards of living, helping people acquire the products it makes at much lower price than if you hand to try to make it without industrial pollution is a side-effect of a good thing. It's the cumulative effects that cause problems.

Perception is Reality


Progress Delayed Is
Progress Denied

The Price of Delay: <canvas>

The Price of Delay: Rounded Corners

The Price of Delay: SVG

The Price of Delay: <video>

The Price of Delay: 3D CSS Transforms

Optimistically, New Features Shipped Today Will Not Be Usable Until 2016

The IE8 Baseline

What about an IE7 Baseline?

Only We Can Do This

The tension we feel, the cognitive dissonance mixed with pride we feel about doing a good job in a shitty environment is entirely warranted. But instead of advocating for use of some technique because

Thank you for your attention!