If I had to place myself in one camp or the other it would certainly be on the side of the web purists. I’ve dedicated the last 15 years or so to teaching HTML and CSS with a focus on web standards and accessibility. So I feel very strongly that any new methodology that might result in degrading the quality of the underlying code should be examined with a critical eye. However, one thing I’ve learned over the years is not to cling to one specific approach to authoring content with any sort of dogmatic view. The web is a constantly shifting landscape of technologies, strategies, consumers, and content. If there is one thing that we can be 100% sure of, it is change.
Perhaps it’s already too late to change direction. I’m already conditioned for a poor experience when browsing most large media sites. Even over a fast connection most of those sites are slow to load, are so ad and marketing heavy they interrupt the consuming of content, and frequently break. It’s gotten to the point that when I experience a fast, well-constructed site I’m usually shocked. If I feel this way I can only imagine how people not in the industry feel. As they wait for dozens of dependencies to load, or for their browser to render client-side HTML, I wonder how many of them simply shrug and blame their connection?
Clearly the need to continue to educate web professionals and to refine and improve our existing toolsets is important. Our responsibility as a community is to encourage best practices, educate people about their importance, and show a demonstrable difference between the approaches so that there is an incentive to change that is based on more than “it’s the right thing to do.” There are major gains to be had by architecting our code the right way, let’s keep focusing on those and not the means by which we get there.