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Generation Z

A recent conversation with Eric Meyer about his history degree got me thinking about the web standards community’s seemingly anomalous lack of formal education in web technology and design. Indeed, some of the most influential people in the web standards world spent their school days and/or early careers scrutinizing subjects that have little or nothing to do with divs, hex values, kerning, or color theory. Jeffrey Zeldman has an MA in Writing, and worked in journalism and advertising before bluffing his way onto the web in the mid-’90s. Dan Cederholm went to school to be an audio engineer. Countless others have come to the web from fields as varied as psychology, music, and marketing.

As the web is still a relatively nascent communication medium, and the web standards community is still essentially a rogue faction within it, its melting pot of DIY gurus and constituents isn’t really all that surprising. However, it will be interesting to see how the digital landscape is affected as voices that grew up online rise to prominence, having received formal training in its standardized mechanics and ideologies. Will the web thrive even more under those circumstances? Will it grow complacent?