Web Standards is the new Comedy is the new Rock’n’Roll

So when exactly did coders become rock stars?

In the course of my morning I had cause to be looking at some stuff by Jeffrey Zeldman on A List Apart, and then shortly after to be on Amazon which threw up a suggestion that I buy the new edition of his book  ‘Designing with Web Standards‘ (I already have the first one, and I’ve ordered this new edition for BCU’s library).

I’d never really thought twice about the front cover of ‘Designing with Web Standards’, but having just been reading some of his other content I spotted that he’s got a neat little corporate identity going based around the book cover, which looks like this:
His Twitter avatar, his avatar on a List Apart all call back to this iconic book cover. So far so obvious: I have the same avatar in lots of places on the Internet, and the man is selling a book, so you’d expect him to use every trick in the book to remind you of that fact. But just look at that cover for a second. That’s not the way we sell technical manuals about the Internet. They look like this:
They should be dark, have some sort of symbolic reference to the “world” part of “world wide web”. They should look like an extension pack for Warhammer 40,000. So what’s with the beardy guy on the cover? He’s a geek’s geek: men want him, women want to code like him. The guy’s a bloody rockstar. In the words of Ron Burgundy: people know him.
Now look at this companion volume:
(source: http://amzn.to/avuxw9)
OK, it’s classic brand extension – you can’t miss that this a companion for Zeldman’s book – but at the same time it anoints another rock star coder; Zeldman’s rhythm guitarist, speaking up for standards. 

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Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jonhickman Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: http://interactivecultures.org

  • Jerome Turner

    When did coders become rockstars? probably shortly after Flash designers did, around 2000. I remember being sent to New York to interview all those hip Flash designers like Josh Davis, Todd Purgason, etc for the New Masters of Flash book, and it was a bit like getting an audience with the Pope. There were stories of Davis being stopped in the street, etc.

  • Jon Hickman

    Good answer 🙂 The geeks have inherited the earth for sure.

  • Jerome Turner

    Also, it probably did follow Flash designers being ‘up there’ around the time Flash started to follow into disrepute and CSS started to be a creative medium rather than just a means to an end…