I was reading O'Reilly's Learning XML Book and read the following
HTML was in some ways a step backward.
To achieve the simplicity necessary to
be truly useful, some principles of
generic coding had to be sacrificed.
… To return to the ideals of
generic coding, some people tried to
adapt SGML for the web … This proved
This reminded me of a StackOverflow Podcast where they discussed the poorly formed HTML that works on browsers.
My question is, would the Internet still be as successful if the standards were as strict as developers would want them to be now?
Lack of standard enforcement didn't hurt the adoption of the web in the slightest. If anything, it helped it. The web was originally designed for scientists (who generally have little patience for programming) to post research results. So liberal parsers allowed them to not care about the markup - good enough was good enough.
If it hadn't been successful with scientists, it never would have migrated to the rest of academia, nor from there to the wider world, and it would still today be an academic exercise.
But now that it's out in the wider world, should we clamp down? I see no incentive for anyone to do so. Browser makers want market share, and they don't get it by being pissy about which pages they display properly. Content sites want to reach people, and they don't do that by only appearing correctly in Opera. The developer lobby, such as it is, is not enough.
Besides, one of the reasons front-end developers can charge a lot of money (vs. visual designers) is because they know the ins and outs of the various browsers. If there's only one right way, then it can be done automatically, and there's no longer a need for those folks - well, not at programmer salaries, anyway.