Nostalgia mixed in with good riddance

My first real tech job was for Opera Software. I worked for Opera from 2002 to 2008. As every other Opera employee I already fiercely loved the web when I started. During my six years there I also came to appreciate the intricacies of the web’s building blocks, and the intelligence, skill and sheer passion of those who contributed to create it and make it better. I knew the CSS 2.1 spec like the back of my hand, and had lunch discussions over differing interpretations of the box model.

I had multiple reasons for leaving Opera when I did. I have never regretted it, and even less so after what has happened over the past year or two. But I have often looked back with some nostalgia, dreaming of a world where we actually had specs, where writing a test case was a matter of understanding the specification and converting it to elegance in green and red. I will admit to a moment of looking back with starry eyes when I was reminded of those days, as Opera’s entire W3C compliance test suite, to which I contributed a decent number of tests, was open-sourced recently.

Fortunately, I did not have to stay in Neverland for too long. A stumble across the W3C Memes tumblr site reminded me of the dark sides of the web, of why I gave up on following both the W3C and the WHATWG mailing lists some time after I left Opera. When I did that, I lost touch with most of the community. I also left behind a vast desert of politics, bike sheds and filibustering tactics that would make me scream in frustration. Sometimes I think it’s a miracle that the web has advanced as much as it has over the past ten years.

I still love the web, though. And, knowing what lies behind it, I deeply admire those smart and passionate folks that keep working to make it better, one furiously-debated-over paragraph at a time.