Rebecca Purple

In 2014 a six year old girl died of brain cancer. Her name was Rebecca Meyer.

I'm telling you this because your browser knows Rebecca's name and her favorite color.

As you can guess from the title, Rebecca's favorite color was purple.

Shortly after Rebecca's death the CSS working group agreed to create a new named color, rebeccapurple in Rebecca's honor. Since 2014 every major browser creator has quietly included this color specification. It sits, silently, impacting nobody and changing nothing, until some web designer is idly scrolling through the list of named colors and sees one that has an actual name in it. (There are two. The other is Alice Blue, named for Theodore Rooseveldt's daughter Alice. in Alice's case, the color name far predates the web.)

Naturally there was some push back when this change was made. People argued that, while of course the death of a child is a tragedy, we don't have room in our standards to memorialize every person who has passed tragically from this Earth. So why should we make an exception for Rebecca, just because her father is close to the Working Group?

I don't know the Working Group's answer. But here's my answer:

Just because we can't do this for everyone doesn't mean we shouldn't do it for anyone. It's important to remember that all of this, all technology, all of society, is made up of individuals living individual lives with problems and triumphs and tragedies, all intermingled. It's okay, once in a while, to do something that isn't efficient, just because it's human. Sometimes we can let a little grace in, we can let a color remind us that technologies and standards are created by people with lives outside of the code they write. Sometimes we can let the spirit of a little girl live in our standards, to stand in for all of us, for all we've lost.