Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

100 words 010

  • Nobody writes on their own website any more. People write on Twitter, Facebook, and Medium instead. Personal publishing is dead.
  • You can’t build a complex interactive app on the web without requiring JavaScript. It’s fine if it doesn’t work without JavaScript. JavaScript is ubiquitous.
  • Privacy is dead. The technologies exists to monitor your every movement and track all your communications so it is inevitable that our society will bend to this reality.

These statements aren’t true. But they are repeated so often, as if they were truisms, that we run the risk of believing them and thus, fulfilling their promise.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

100 words 009

Last year at An Event Apart in Seattle I was giving a talk about long-term thinking on the web, using The Session as a case study. As a cheap gimmick, I played a tune on my mandolin during the talk.

Chris Coyier was also speaking. He plays mandolin too. Barry—one of the conference attendees—also plays mandolin. So we sat outside, passing my mandolin around.

Barry is back this year and he brought his mandolin with him. I showed him an Irish jig. He showed me a bluegrass tune. Together we played a reel that crossed the Atlantic ocean.

Monday, March 30th, 2015

100 words 008

Some sea lions bellow,
Some sleep,
Some crawl on top of others
As they crowd onto a raft
At the Astoria, Oregon
Municipal mooring docks.

What a beautiful poem! I found it captioning an image on the front page of The Seattle Times newspaper which was left outside my hotel room. The image illustrates a story about sea lions; how the sea lion population is doing great, and how that might spell trouble for the salmon population.

On a March morning,
Federal, state and university biologists
Clear space at the Astoria dock
For a day of research.

Animal news poetry.

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

100 words 007

I’m staying at the Edgewater hotel in Seattle, an unusual structure that is literally on the water, giving it a nautical atmosphere. The views out on the Puget Sound are quite lovely.

Inside, the hotel has more of a Twin Peaks vibe. It feels less like a hotel and more like a lodge.

The hotel is clearly proud of the many rock stars it has hosted over the years. As you settle into your cosy room, you can imagine what it was like when the Beatles were fishing from their balcony, or Led Zeppelin were doing unspeakable things with mudsharks.

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

100 words 006

We spent the day yesterday wandering around the Fremont neighbourhood of Seattle. Fremont is home to many sculptural landmarks. There’s a statue of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, a rocket ship, an apatosaur topiary, and of course, the Fremont troll.

Now that I’ve seen the Fremont troll, I can confirm that it is real. Which is a bit of shame. Just think about it: how awesome would it be if it didn’t actually exist but everyone in Seattle played along, encouraging tourists to check out the Fremont troll? Then when you got there, you found out that you had, yes, been trolled.

Friday, March 27th, 2015

100 words 005

I enjoy a good time travel yarn. Two of the most enjoyable temporal tales of recent years have been Rian Johnson’s film Looper and William Gibson’s book The Peripheral.

Mind you, the internal time travel rules of Looper are all over the place, whereas The Peripheral is wonderfully consistent.

Both share an interesting commonality in their settings. They are set in the future and …the future: two different time periods but neither of them are the present. Both works also share the premise that the more technologically advanced future would inevitably exploit the time period further down the light cone.

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

100 words 004

I’m staying with my brother-in-law Jeb in Seattle’s Green Lake neighbourhood. Right around the corner from his house, there’s a great little sandwich place called The Butcher & The Baker.

Yes, the mandatory ampersand is there setting off all the hipster alarm bells but, y’know, I’ve been thinking… if the label “hipster” means good food, good coffee, good beer, good music, or good bicycles, well I’m okay with that.

In the case of The Butcher & The Baker, the food is very good indeed. They could probably slap adjectives like “hand-crafted” or “artisinal” on everything they produce.

They make delicious sandwiches.

Hipsters.

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

100 words 003

I measure transatlantic flights in movies watched. Yesterday’s journey from London to Seattle was four movies long.

  1. The Imitation Game: a necessarily fictionalised account of Turing’s life (one of the gotchas about top-secret work is that it’s, well, secret). But couldn’t Tommy Flowers have been given at least a walk-on part?
  2. Fury: Brad Pitt plays Lee Marvin in a war story told through the eyes of the naive rookie as seen in The Big Red One and Saving Private Ryan.
  3. Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part One: The Hungering.
  4. Paddington: just right for the end of a flight.

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

100 words 002

I want to know how it feels to write every day. But it’s not really just about writing. It’s about writing within constraints.

Design requires constraints. It’s a tired old cliché, but there’s something to it. Without constraints, is design even possible? Or is it then art? (not there’s anything wrong with art; I’m just trying to differentiate it from design: notice I didn’t say “just” art.)

The 140 characters of a tweet. The column inches of a newspaper story. The width of a button on an interface. These are all constraints.

It’s not just about writing. It’s about editing.

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

100 words 001

When it comes to writing, there are no shortcuts. Either you’re moving your fingers and putting words onto a screen (or page), or you’re not. Sure, you can lay the groundwork, do your research, and read about what it takes to write, but ultimately you’ve got to make your hands tap those keys (or move that pen).

Hunter S. Thompson wanted to know how it felt to write the great American novel. So he sat in front of his typewriter and typed out The Great Gatsby, word for word.

I want to know how it feels to write every day.