When I started doing this website thing on the eve of the millennium, the burgening buzzword of the time was "web standards." All of us in the know were working on learning and then writing to web standards like HTML 4.0 and eventually XHTML 1.0 along with CSS 1 and 2. And we were all hankering for browsers that implemented these standards in a consistent way.

Really all we wanted was for our web pages to look the same no matter who was viewing the page.

This pretty much never happened. Web browsers are pretty good these days, or they at least--in many ways--don't suck as much as they used to, but they're all a bit quirky and they all render things a bit differently from each other. And on top of that they've got poor architectures, so as programs they're really bloated, and prone to crashing and the like. I've written before about being "against" websites, webapps, and the like and I think my disdain for the "web" grows out of the plan and simple fact that:

the web browser is broken, beyond repair.

So where does this put the cause of web standards in web design? Thoughts and questions:

Do we write to standards which aren't going to get adopted usefully? Is ad hearing to standards a productive use of time?

Do we write to clients (specific browser implementations) that are broken, but at least assure that content looks "right?"

When the previous goals two goals aren't compatible which wins?

Will HTML 5 and CSS 4 fix these problems, or is it another moving target that browsers won't adopt for another 10 years, and even then only haphazardly?

Are there other methods of networked content delivery that bypass the browser that might succeed while the browser space (and the content delivered therein) continues to flounder? I'm thinking object/document databases with structured bidirectional, and limited hierarchy (in the system, objects might have internal hierarchy)?

Is the goal/standard of pixel-perfect layout rendering something which the browser is incapable of providing? Might it be the case that CSS is simply too capable of addressing problems which are outside of the ideal scope for defining a consistent style for a page: Let me run with this idea for a moment:

Maybe the problem with XHTML and CSS isn't that it's implemented poorly, but rather that we're trying to use CSS classes and IDs and div tags in an attempt to make pixel-perfect renderings of pages, which is really beyond CSS's "mission." What would web standards and the state of the browser look like, if you dropped CSS IDs (eg. #id-name{ }) and made single instance classes (eg. .class-name{}) verboten? Aside from crashing and burning and completely killing off browser-based applications?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the subject.