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The DC Web Community is Being Held Back by The Man

I’m a little late to the game (oh, a month or so late, sorry Nick), but Nick O’Neill wrote a pretty good post on some of the challenges facing the DC web community. I won’t repeat what he said in there, but I by and large agree with what he said, so check it out. I have one amendment, and one addition which I believe is the biggest roadblock. Then I have a potential solution, which may be either the best or worst idea ever.

Not Just Good Press, but Savvy Press

The amendment is about the need for positive press. Nick writes about how the Washington Post consistently writes about how the exodus (slash collapse) of AOL is really the death knell of the DC tech community. The real problem isn’t that they don’t believe in the existing community, it’s that they don’t really get how the web works these days. They’re still stuck thinking that it takes a $1M seed and a $5M series A round to really do anything worthwhile. Instead, they don’t realize that the web doesn’t require millions anymore, it takes thousands.

The Post presumably looks at that fact and concludes that a smaller investment yields a smaller business, fewer jobs, and therefore less impact on the region, and there may be a few seeds of truth to that. But the flip-side is that the region can sustain dozens or hundreds of these medium-sized businesses, and the loss of any one, two, or ten of them would end up having a relatively minimal impact on the region. Lighter, more nimble tech businesses in greater numbers is way better for DC than an AOL or two, as we can see by the “impact” of their exodus.

The Real Problem: Quality

This is the more dangerous part of my post, and I consistently hope to be proven wrong when I make this case, so please comment if you disagree.

The DC region produces a lot of really bad web product. The way I feel about much of what I see coming out of the DC web scene is the way most Americans outside the Beltway feel about the government: full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. There are a lot of people in DC who strut around and promote themselves, drop names, and tout their l33t skillz, but are in the end producing things that folks in SF, Europe, or anywhere outside the Beltway would consider lame. It’s not just the Congressmen.

I blame the government, in large part. Our government has set the standard that, inside the beltway, return on investment really doesn’t matter, and I don’t need to list examples, since it’s definitely not just a web problem. If you’ve worked on a web project for the government, you know even more what I mean — because of privacy concerns, cookies aren’t allowed, so you can’t track site use with industry-standard analytics products (like Google Analytics); designs are approved, changed, modified, etc. by a committee of folks all competing with each other, yielding a bland look and feel and a yawn from the audience; the concept of building a community site is foreign or overly risky for most government employees.

And we all know DC is an insular community. The Beltway is a bubble, and folks inside of it often forget or don’t notice what is happening outside. Whether you work on the Hill, on K street, on Mass Ave, or at a non-profit, you really do more or less the same thing, so there aren’t exactly a wide variety of perspectives.

As a result, the non-profits and other NGOs in the region feel this trickle down, since a lot of what they do is lobby the government. They see the lousy government products online, and when they can get something better, that’s a victory. The problem is that if the Government produces sites that would merit a D grade, the non-profits are happy with a C, and they spend thousands or millions of dollars to get it.

As a result, the practitioners in the area are the perpetuators of this trickle-down. Government workers have cushy jobs where little is expected, little required, and the pay raises are almost guaranteed. They have no incentive to improve at their craft, and those who do aren’t appreciably rewarded. For those in the private sector, it’s perhaps worse: they get a lot of money and happy clients when they do average (as in “a C is average”) work, and then continue to rest on their laurels. They just need to be slightly better than what the government can produce, and they’re achieving the local industry standards.

Consequently, we have viral video campaigns that cost tens or hundreds of thousands getting only dozens of submissions, we have facebook applications that yield only dozens of installations, and we have websites that don’t even satisfy the best practices of eight years ago. These sites win awards given by insular political conventions that don’t know how big a waste of money they were: a waste of taxpayer dollars and donor dollars.

Meanwhile, outside the beltway, folks who work on the web look at what is produced in DC and either shake their heads or don’t pay it any attention. I’m fortunate to work at a place where we are constantly pushing against that DC pull, and doing work that can be respected anywhere, but that environment sadly seems to be more rare than it is common.

A Solution

So, as much as I’d like to just rant away and leave it at that, I suppose I should propose a solution. In fact, I have before, in person to some in the community, and it’s been reasonably well-received. But maybe by posting more broadly, we can kick the idea around a little bit more.

The idea is a trade association for web practitioners in the DC area. This is an opportunity for folks who produce high quality work to associate with others who believe the same and associate themselves with a brand of sorts. It would be exclusive, but the only requirement would be that you produce quality work that meets or exceeds industry standards, as determined by a membership committee. I’d hope we’d have hundreds and thousands of people. Membership would be a credential, demonstrating to clients, employers, and your mom that you do high quality work on the web.

The organization can do other things that would support the community too. It could assist community organizations in finding venues and sponsors. It could help match funders with entrepreneurs, or freelancers with gigs. It could sponsor events itself. It could lobby the government to raise its standards. It could work with the Post. There are all sorts of ways it could help make the DC community stronger and better.

Dumb Idea?

Probably. But maybe you’re interested in it too. In the comments, shoot the idea down, let me know if you want in, and let me know if you want to help.

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Avatar of M. Jackson Wilkinson

I'm M. Jackson Wilkinson, a technologist, designer, speaker, educator, and writer in San Francisco. I'm the Founder of Kinsights. I'm from Philadelphia, went to Bowdoin College in Maine, root for the Phillies, and love to sing.

Entry posted from Fort Georgetown Apartment

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Comments

  1. I agree with you that the government is far behind in their expectations for quality and that incentives are not in the right place for current web standards/design/usability for them. As for other institutions in DC, I don’t know the origin, but one way or another subpar work has been accepted. Or, at least, we as practitioners haven’t caught on to what’s the norm elsewhere. But that’s neither here nor there…

    I’m in support of a some sort of unifying body. I don’t know that I’d even get accepted as a member (not to mention that I’m not a web designer/developer in the traditional sense) but I’ll support any efforts to help give a voice that will improve the quality of the technology work in the region. You’re right that it needs it, and I applaud your standing up for it.

  2. DC for the most part makes shit on the web … I think we can all agree with that. The Government also makes shit on the web, but I doubt they are to blame. Many of the local “start-ups” are not effected by or influenced by the Government, yet the end result is still terrible. Will an exclusive trade association help with that? No. Who will be on this membership committee to determine who is good enough and who is not? What if those who form the organization (or the companies that back them) are later deemed not worthy of admission? The problem with the “DC Tech Scene” is that a majority of the most vocal people (perhaps myself included) are the ones producing the shit that is coming out of DC. A developer, a copy of photoshop and the ability to install wordpress does not make anyone a driving factor in pushing or promoting the “dc tech scene”. But who is the “dc tech scene”? Isn’t it anyone who wants to be?

    I am sorry for the rant, but this topic seems to come up time and time again. It is one of the reasons I am happy that Refresh-DC has stayed true to its original goals from the begining and will hopefully continue to do so.

    The tech scene will evolve at the rate of which the people in it start producing great work. An elitist organization will not speed that progress up.

  3. Great post Jackson.

    My observations: DC does a really good job and getting people together in groups. Those groups have some really great discussions on topics. However, we do a really bad job at execution. Perhaps it is because this is really a PR/Political town and talking is what people are good at. I am all for doing.

    In a meeting once a client (woman) made a comment to the people providing the service “don’t tell me about the labor pains, just show me the baby”!

  4. An elitist organization will not speed that progress up.

    I agree wholeheartedly — that’s what burned me as an AIGA member, and that was just the Blue Ridge chapter, and with DC renowned for having quite a cliquish and insular attitude, anything perceived as elitist will prevent significant growth and stymy the overall success of such an effort.

    That being said, the other primary barrier to successfully organizing DC-area web designers and developers is sprawl. I work in Rockville, but live in Washington County, MD. Many people drive for over an hour into DC and into the surrounding Metro area, making meetings centralized specifically in DC very difficult to reach. My suggestion would be that any hypothetical organization be conceived with a more localized, node-based structure, with larger meetings being held, say, twice a year in DC.

    Perhaps that’s a lot to ask, but that’s my two cents! However, it’s good to see the issue addressed and to know I’m not alone in my sentiments about the DC web community.

  5. It is ironic that most of the web designers and developers sitting this discussion out.

    Martin makes some very good points on this.

  6. Although the idea of having an ‘exclusive’ group dedicated to advocating web standards and best practices would be attractive to many within our community, I really think it boils down to the ambitions of individuals on their own to pursue and define those objectives. Instilling the hope and expectation in a larger group entity to define and carry our message seems counterproductive to those who actually compose our “community.”

    As a repentant Luddite, I had to learn much of my trade on my own with the aid of books and various groups both online and locally within my own community to find the best practices for my trade. I still participate in many of these groups where we discuss ideas of design, development and best practices without an objective of being found by a company or a venture capitalist. I don’t need the validation of an elite trade organization to distinguish what’s the best course of action for me.

    It’s also important to touch on what it means to be “known” as a center of technology and innovation. (I also don’t think relying on the Washington Post as a belle weather of technology is viable either.) I believe there are a lot of great companies throughout the region that are doing some rather creative and amazing work. Yes, some of them don’t show up on the radar, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

  7. Jackson, I certainly agree with your assessment of the problem. I don’t do any work directly for government agencies, but I’ve see plenty of the bad work that gets put out by those groups. Close friends who work at places like the Smithsonian constantly tell me horror stories about huge amounts of money being spent on tools that don’t even do what they’re intended to do, and they often send me links to web projects that are really poorly designed.

    I’d never really put two and two together and thought about the effect that the local tech industry’s relationship with the government might be having on the overall quality of work coming out of the area.

    As Martin said, it could be difficult to determine and enforce the appropriate standards in a trade association like you’re proposing. Still, I think the idea has some merit. Honestly it’s only recently that I’ve felt much of a community building among DC web practitioners, and that’s due in large part to some of the things that you’ve been a big part of (Refresh, Design Talks). It seems (to me) like we’re heading in the right direction, but maybe a trade association would speed up the process and bring the overall level of quality up.

    I’m certainly intrigued by the idea and would be willing to help.

  8. Yesterday I had a mini-rant along the same lines (http://vanderwal.tumblr.com/post/29649459) that was triggered by Paul Graham’s “you weren’t meant to have a boss” post (http://www.paulgraham.com/boss.html). The DC rant has been one of my usual rants as I am continually amazed at the poor quality of work that comes out of the DC area when compared to Europe, Montreal, Vancouver, Portland, Toronto, Boston, and North Carolina’s RTP (the San Francisco Bay Area and even Seattle are off the charts in comparison). One of the first things I hear when I run across really good people in the DC area doing really good things is they are looking to leave to go to these other areas as the opportunities to do great work are more plentiful.

    There are exceptions to this rule, of course but it is really disheartening to consider this home and do the work I do. A large part of this problem is government work and the government contracting industry around it. I have found good projects in the past and know of a small handful of good things happening (Intellipedia is one), but more often than not this is the exception.

    I have stayed in the DC area as it is easy to travel from and it is a good place to raise a family. But, the comment I hear nearly every trip is “You live in the DC area? Why? You are good.” This really hurts. Being based in the DC area creates a hurdle, often a huge hurdle. You really have to work hard to build a solid reputation to overcome the DC hurdle.

    I completely agree with Jackson’s AOL news assessment as the Dev AOL team is created industry leading services. They have good products, but for many they are a gateway out of AOL and the DC area. Part of this is AOL leadership, which never quite seems to understand the great things they are sitting on that really need to be brought to light.

    Another thing that really hurts the DC area is the cost of living. It is tough to run a start-up with a thin talent pool and high rent all combined with tough commutes. I have had a lot of conversations in the past 2 years with many companies on the verge of doing good things or great things, but they can’t get talent at the level they need to move to the DC area. Good talent is horribly thin right now to begin with and having high costs does not help.

  9. I’m not sure an organized (I wouldn’t call it elitist to separate yourself from posers… I’d call it logical) group would accomplish the change you’re after; rather, it’d be a time suck that could potentially cause more drama than progress. Because the premise is established that it’s a quality organization, anyone outside of it (or deemed unfit) will undoubtedly cry foul.

    Plus, I think groups like Refresh seem to be forwarding (organically) a stronger DC tech scene, and the posers are being filtered out naturally, even if it’s taking way more time than ideal.

  10. @martin (and others):

    I also have a visceral negative reaction to something that is elitist as well, since I came into the industry as an open source developer. Groups like Refresh have their roots in this populist framework, and I would never want that to change (though the size of meetings is becoming a major issue for Refresh).

    However, more and more, we talk about our desire to have people view work on the web (be it design, development, strategy, whatever) as a craft.

    Crafts throughout history have been pushed forward by associations among experienced members, who, through their position, have mentored less experienced practitioners. Clients then felt comfortable finding experienced practitioners through these associations.

    Perhaps I was a bit off in referring to it as a trade association, as these groups are better described as “guilds.” Exclusive, yes, but not elitist. A guild aims to get everyone in the industry to become a member, without sacrificing their high standards. How this is organized is another question, and a far more challenging one at that, and would need to be considered and executed very carefully to be done well.

    On the web, we often have to do things differently to be as effective as possible, so we often eschew the old ways of doing things. I’d posit that there is perhaps an age-old solution to this issue, and we shouldn’t be blind to it just because of its archaic roots.

  11. I don’t think that the DC community, in and of itself, inspires poor design. Politics and good web design are not mutually exclusive — just look at the presidential candidates’ websites. Obama’s site in particular is a good example of both impressive “political” design and growing local talent (Blue State Digital). The larger issue, I think, is that DC is or has become a black hole of Enterprise Software (see 37signals for a spirited discussion: http://www.37signals.com/svn/posts/669-why-enterprise-software-sucks ). It’s no wonder that so much of the web development around here is ugly or outdated, and even why so many startups continue that trend: the vast majority of technology work is built for or by enterprise software.

    Refresh DC has done remarkable things in terms of building a community of web professionals in the area, but the major drawback (IMO) of the DC scene is the lack of fresh talent. We don’t have any marquee feeder schools, and as vanderwhal mentioned above, good luck drawing top talent away from San Fran, Boston, Austin, etc to come to our expensive and sprawl-laden home of Enterprise Software.

    DC will probably never be able to escape its association with enterprise apps, so in order to really blossom as a creative environment, it will need to adopt another approach to attract top talent. Forming a “guild” of web designers and developers may indeed accomplish that very goal. Refresh has already created a strong, if small, community; expanding on the successes of Refresh to pioneer a new way for web developers to learn and share the techniques of our craft may do the trick to attract the fresh blood that the area needs.

  12. @shay & @justin: Thanks, your comments sort of re-ask the question a little bit differently.

    If Refresh is making progress, and the goal is for the several thousand web workers in the DC area to be inspired to improve their practices and do good, quality work, does Refresh have the ability to scale to that audience?

    Already, people are saying Refresh is too big (with recent events drawing around 150 folks). Those folks are wanting a smaller, more intimate setting. How can Refresh address the other 4500 (I just made that number up)?

    I might additionally suggest that it’s not even possible for Refresh to reach some 2/3 of that larger community. Their heads are down, they’re attending events more targeted at the government (or enterprise, or-non profits, or what have you). A guild or trade association might possibly be a model that can get attention in the government or enterprise space. It’s kinda like changing Washington by embracing Washington (man, that makes it sound like a lousy idea).

    In the end, one of Nick O’Neill’s points was that there is an aversion to risk in the DC area. Great ideas are born by trial and, largely, by failure. This may not be one of them, but is it worth a go?

  13. Jackson, I think that the professional organization you’re writing about needs to exist independently from Refresh. Refresh provides some great lessons in best practices, and educates people as to what’s going on in the area, but I see it primarily as a community-building organization, and I believe it needs to remain as such.

    I’m sort of thinking as I write here, but I see this new organization as a modern, 21st century, democratized guild. “Master craftsmen” can and should exist at the top of the chain, but these positions can be based (for example) on a blind-voting on quality of design submissions. (I’m thinking something like a cross between cssartillery.com and digg here). These “masters” would then perform administrative functions, and in particular, work to assign junior members to more senior mentors. This mentoring function could be greatly assisted by a web-based social networking component.

    What you’d be driving towards is a formal organization that pushes forward new ideas in web design while encouraging the adoption and sharing of best practices. At the same time, the “guild” would avoid the problems of bureaucracy or elitism that traditionally plagued these types of organizations.

  14. A DC-specific trade organization for web-type folks was proposed last year and I wasn’t high on the idea then. I’m still not high on the idea now, but if someone were willing to put the effort in, who am I to stop them?

    That said, I’m not entirely convinced it would solve any of the problems outlined above. While it is true that Refresh DC is growing beyond its means (we operate on a budget of zero dollars), there is still value in having regular, educational events. Also, I’ll second (or third?) the point made above that any structured professional organization would have to try exceedingly hard not to be perceived as elite or exclusionary (particularly if membership is based on demonstrated skill/abilities).

    I would rather put my own efforts behind educational events (whether public like DC Talks or private) that cater to specific skills within the broader “web” sphere. As Martin and I have been discussing over IM, it is paramount for those of us in community leadership positions to reach out to those who need that helping hand skill-wise.

    None of us got to where we are professionally by ourselves and we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to those in the area that could use the guidance, tutoring, and assistance.

  15. @jason: let it be known that this isn’t the attempt to brand the DC web community into the DC Web Community(r), which I agree seems misguided.

    Instead, this is a many-to-many educational community, which allows experienced practitioners to work with less experienced practitioners. The community would confer status as appropriate, but it wouldn’t be an elitist hierarchy. I would be King, but that’s another thing entirely…

    I think one-to-many (or few-to-many) educational communities, like Refresh, are incredibly valuable and will always have a major (and dominant?) place. But this is for those times between meetings when you need a little help and mentorship.

    In the process, the more you give, the more you get, and your involvement becomes a credential to demonstrate your skill.

  16. I am just going to comment on one aspect of this post.

    Quality of Design and the government..

    One key thing that I learned while working on a huge government website for over two years: everyone’s perception of “good design” is different. The government and military have fostered a culture that embraces certain aesthetic qualities to be “good” design, even if others do not consider it to be.

    There is a school in Fort Meade Maryland called the Defense Information School ( http://www.dinfos.osd.mil ). This school teaches most communications personnel from all branches of the armed services, as well as DOD civilians and students everything they think they need to know about visual communication and public affairs. Most anyone in the gov who has Military communications experience (which is probably more politicians and gov workers than you would think) have directly or indirectly been students of this school. Much of what they teach to be aesthetically pleasing is what many in the web world would consider to be “low quality”. Its not that their students are less experienced, or not trying, they just have been taught completely different tactics. I do agree with you that the gov does produce a trickle down effect in the area, but its not over quality, its over a cultural perception.

    How do we solve that problem? In my opinion its one that is only solved by those who dare to infiltrate the system and take what they learn from organizations like Refresh and make tiny victories within the system. While i think the trade association is an interesting idea, this issue goes deeper than anything it could ever solve. Government work is what makes up most of DC, most of the people who are heading up that government work have little concern for a guild of web “experts” think.

  17. Having worked both sides of the fence, I don’t agree really agree with this assessment. Yes, perhaps, the phenom of trickle-down shoddiness happens, but I think the underlying problem is budget. Gov’t and non-profits don’t have the dollars to spend on the cutting-edge or highest quality. If web sites were cars, they aren’t looking at the Audis and BMWs, they’re looking at KIAs.

    I think what would be more useful is setting up an organization that supported educating gov’t and non-profits on why they should put more budgetary emphasis and more care into their web sites and what priorities they should set when doing so.

    Then, perhaps, you might be onto something that will change the DC Web community. Don’t let them dictate what they think they want, teach them to want what we know they need! ;)

  18. @frank: I totally disagree with the notion that it’s a budget issue. I’ve seen hundreds of thousands spent on awful stuff. It’s not like buying a KIA, it’s like spending $50k on a Lifan (Chinese auto manufacturer that can’t pass US or European safety standards).

    I would be 100% happy if the government and non-profits were buying KIAs, but my impression (and anecdotal experience) is that big contracts are being awarded for underwhelming and perhaps unsuccessful work.

    There is a lot of money being spent on the web in this area. It’s just not generating a solid return.

  19. @jackson, yeah it is by no means a budget issue. I worked on a project that had been around for almost 20 years (DoD) and nothing had been produced to show for it. It actually contributed to the moral around the office. When you devote time and energy to something that you know will never see the light of day, it becomes less fun and more of a job. Your design/development suffers and you start making shortcuts instead of solutions. That is the problem, a 50% effort is rewarded so that is what people give. “Under promise, over deliver” was a phrase that ran rabid around gov’t contracting.

    Government is also scared of opensource technologies (I do think they are getting better about this though), sighting security issues and falling back on the more expensive development frameworks, and content management systems (ex. vignette over $100,000 for essentially something that wordpress/ee/insert your cms of choice here, can do).

    To get back on track though the organization you should start is finding all the educators in the area and help then understand (example) slicing and dicing images with spacers into tables is not done anymore. Explain to the Art Institute that you shouldn’t have to have a masters to teach there… and the list goes on and on.

  20. @doug: totally, that would be a key motivation. There’s a cold start problem to that, in that if you’re just a dude or three, no one in that position cares. If you represent the 2,785 card-carrying members of the web community, they might care more.

    Question for the crowd: isn’t this just WASP on a smaller, more targeted, more inclusive scale? Is WASP considered elitist?

  21. As @Samantha has said “working on a huge government website for over two years: everyone’s perception of “good design” is different.” The work I do on a smaller part of that larger website needs to get content and documents to people in the field anywhere in the world. Most of this is done with users that do not have the best equipment and connections to view the information. Our website is not flashy or glamorous, it has few graphics and a lot of information in the form of documents. We need to get people this information in the quickest and most efficient way possible. With our re-design that uses web standards, CSS, is 508 compliant (at least the part I work on), and very usable and accessible. We reduced the time a page rendered by from 20 seconds on a 56.6K modem to like 4 seconds.

    Another point is that we have to follow guidelines that were set up by the larger organization. Which can make having a great website more difficult.

    Going back to points made by a few people about that a lot of government workers don’t seem to care. I think there are a good amount that do and others it’s just a job. There are people that I know that just come into work do what they need to and leave when it’s time to go. Them there are others that are out trying to make the website/application the best it can be and not getting anymore recognition for there hard work.

    I also believe making another group to lord over others does not help. I think being willing to help others would be more useful than another group. And if that new group is going to be bigger than a few hundred people I don’t know where you’re going to have them meet.

  22. While having a “guild” of professional developers would be great, I would echo that you don’t want it to be elitist. At the same time, having a check. RefreshDC has been great for this community, but, at the same time, it’s become large, and the focus (at least, judging by the people attending) has skewed away from being a web design collective. I’ve met numerous people at Refresh who do “social media” and “startup stuff” but couldn’t tell you what the heck CSS is. There’s not a problem with that, but I do see the value in there being a secondary group, open to anyone, but really honed in on the people building beautiful things on the web. It would be serve as a business directory, shared portfolio, and promotion point, trying to get more work for all members. Being more on technical side, I’m not even sure I would be a part of that group.

    Regarding you talk about inferior work being produced by DC… it’s supply and demand. The gov’t, NGOs, lobbies, and their support system only demand inferior work, so they’ll only be supplied inferior work. The cost doesn’t even play a factor, since those producing sub-standard work will likely charge the same. So if someone comes to you, willing to pay a large sum with suprisingly low standards, what’s your incentive to do better?

    I think it’s also a matter of education and knowledge of our clients. They simply don’t know what is good design, how to find it, and what to expect. Often times it’s a committee that decides they want a website, and some poor soul is tasked with finding someone to do it, without having a clue what a blog is. It’s just not their area of expertise.

    The only thing we can hope for is A) inspiration from others to do better, which also would mean B) increased competition. Of course, with competition, clients would have to be educated enough to distinguish.

  23. Err, first few sentences got screwed up…

    While having a “guild” of professional developers would be great, I would echo that you don’t want it to be elitist. At the same time, having a group limited strictly (not through any approval process, but just through understanding and reminders) to those who do web design would be beneficial to each other and the community as a whole.

  24. What’s happening in the DC Web Community is a good thing — there is a lot of momentum and energy in a small circle of great designers and developers who have a passion for the web. But how far outside of that circle does that passion extend?

    I’ve spent the majority of my career working for smaller companies that build web applications with a team of developers without a designer, UI person, or front-end guru on staff. I’ve worked both on government projects and civilian projects and the environments were pretty much the same. I’ve spent countless hours trying to bring some level of understanding of design, usability, accessibility, etc. to my co-workers. Have I gotten through? In some cases yes, maybe a little, but I know at least one public government website the team I was on worked on that still doesn’t work in all major browsers four years later.

    I feel very lucky to be a part of the dc web community. Being part of the community requires time and dedication. For a lot of people doing web work, they may not have any interest in spending their time on “work” outside of work. In regards to creating a trade association, the idea isn’t a bad one if the purpose is education and outreach. I’m sure there are tons of people in the area that spend their days working on isolated islands not knowing that this growing community exists. And I’m sure there are plenty of others that don’t care to be involved. But how much of what we see is due to being held back by the man vs. lack of education and awareness?

  25. I suppose I was the one proposing the creation of this kind of ‘thing’ last summer when a number of us met on my roof to discuss how best to support the DC Tech community.

    There was no traction at that point really, and I don’t know if there will ever be…I’m still not sure what the right solution is, but i know there is a problem (or a few):

    -There’s no consistent voice to brand DC Tech and help shape the media and other market’s perception of what’s going on here.

    -There are a lot of overlapping/redundant events/meetups…and while i certainly agree that anyone and everyone should facilitate community building…there’s no efficiency here and sponsors, venues etc. will continue to be spread thin. Organizers are also a bit burnt out (i am, i know a few others have pulled back because they are too) from doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

    Still bears discussion though.

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