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The Internet That Was (and Still Could Be) - The Atlantic

A fantastic piece by David Weinberger on the changing uses of the internet—apparently in contradiction of the internet’s original architecture.

Some folks invented the Internet for some set of purposes. They gave it a name, pointed to some prototypical examples—sharing scientific papers and engaging in email about them—shaping the way the early adopters domesticated it.

But over time, the Internet escaped from its creators’ intentions. It became a way to communicate person-to-person via email and many-to-many via Usenet. The web came along and the prototypical example became home pages. Social networking came along and the prototype became Facebook.

Domain Stories | Citizen Ex

The fascinating tales behind Top Level Domains as part of James and Nat’s Citizen Ex project. So far there’s .scot, .cymru, and .ly, with more to come.

adactio.com on Huffduffer

I recorded audio versions of some of my favourite blog posts.

Contextual Styling: UI Components, Nesting, and Implementation Detail by Harry Roberts

Smart thinking from Harry here on a common issue when it comes to naming and styling. As he points out, the solution is not technical, but lies in how you form your mental model:

The design issue here is solved by subtly inverting the problem.

tota11y – an a11y visualization toolkit

A handy little bookmarklet for doing some quick accessibility checks.

It’s time to progress

Many believe we should leave the term “progressive enhancement” behind and start anew, but why not educate developers, clients and stakeholders and change many of the misconceptions surrounding it? Changing the name won’t change anything unless we address the real fundamental problems we have when describing the underlying concepts.

Why availability matters

A superb illustration of why playing the numbers game and dismissing even a small percentage of your potential audience could be disastrous.

It’s not 1% of people who always can’t see your site and 99% of people who always can. It’s 1% of visits. Almost all the people who don’t get your site correctly actually should have been able to. They don’t have JavaScript turned off. They’re not browsing on a WAP phone over a 2g connection from a shanty town. They’re you, in a cellar bar or a hotel room or waiting for the phone network to wake back up.

Thriving in Unpredictability - TimKadlec.com

This is the way to approach building for the web:

I want to make as few of those assumptions as possible. Because every assumption I make introduces fragility. Every assumption introduces another way that my site can break.

It’s progressive enhancement, but like Stuart, Tim is no longer planning to use that term.

as days pass by — Availability

Stuart writes up his thoughts on progressive enhancement following the great discussions at Edge Conf:

So I’m not going to be talking about progressive enhancement any more. I’m going to be talking about availability. About reach. About my web apps being for everyone even when the universe tries to stop it.

When Responsive Images Get Ugly by Taylor Hunt on CodePen

This is a deep, deep dive into responsive images and I can only follow about half of it, but there are some really useful suggestions in here (I particularly like the ideas for swapping out images for print).

2 Kinds of People

Dividing the world in two.

Practical Questions around Web Components - Ian Feather

An in-depth look at where web components stand today, together with some very good questions about where they might be heading tomorrow.

The W3C Mobile Checker

A new handy little performance testing tool from the W3C along the lines of Page Speed Insights.

Web Typography – a handbook by Richard Rutter — Kickstarter

You’ll want to back this—you’ll want to back the hell out of this!

A Practical Guide to SVGs on the web

Handy tips for creating, optimising, and using SVG on the web, be it in CSS or HTML.

Where Do We Go From Here?, From the Notebook of Aaron Gustafson

The full text of Aaron’s magnificent closing keynote from Responsive Day Out.

Writing for Yourself (& the Power of Absolute Positioning)

We should write for ourselves, we should write about whatever we want to. Not just about the web either. Our twitter feeds don’t need to be a highlight reel of our best moments and not every blog post needs to be a stinging critique of the latest javascript framework. They just need to reflect who we are and what we think about and with any luck, when we look back on them, we might learn something about ourselves.

Visual Essentials for Product Design — Cennydd Bowles

This one-day workshop that Cennydd is running in London on July 22nd looks like it’s going to be really good.

adactio : responsiveconf3 on Huffduffer

Just over 48 hours since the third and final Responsive Day Out finished, and all of the audio is available! Here’s the podcast feed.

That Drew is something else.

Responsive Day Out 3 by adactio on SoundCloud

If you were at Responsive Day Out on Friday and you liked the music that was playing during the breaks, here’s the track listing. Creative Commons licensed.

Paul Robert Lloyd | Responsive Principles | CSS Day on Vimeo

I really like the way that Paul’s talk builds on top of ideas laid down by Ethan and Frank. Good stuff.

Jaime Caballero on Instagram: “Live blogging by @adactio. He almost didn’t make it for his 100 words challenge.”

When you’re out celebrating at the end of Responsive Day Out and realise it’s just a few minutes to midnight and you haven’t published your 100 words yet.

Live blogging by @adactio. He almost didn't make it for his 100 words challenge.

A photo posted by Jaime Caballero (@jai_cab) on

Clearleft Graduate Internship

Know any talented recent graduates? Let ‘em know about this 3-month internship at Clearleft.

Tiny two way data binding

I really like this approach that Remy is taking: write some code to one thing, and just one thing. I much prefer my JavaScript to be small pieces loosely joined rather than monolithic.

More of this kind of thing, please!

Paul Ford: What is Code? by Paul Ford

It seems grossly unfair to refer to this as an article. It’s a short book. It’s a very good short book; lucid and entertaining in equal measure. A very enjoyable read.

It is, unfortunately, surrounded by some distracting “enhancements” but perhaps you can use your cleaner-upper software of choice to route around their damage: Instapaper, Pocket, Readability, whatever works for you.

Keep The Web Healthy

I really like this impassioned love letter to the web. This resonates:

The web is a worthy monument for society. It cannot be taken away by apps in the app store or link bait on Facebook, but it can be lost if we don’t continue to steward this creation of ours. The web is a garden that needs constant tending to thrive. And in the true fashion of the world wide web, this is no task for one person or entity. It will require vigilance and work from us all.

Progressive Apps: Escaping Tabs Without Losing Our Soul – Infrequently Noted

I really like Alex’s framing of best-of-breed progressively enhanced websites as “progressive apps” (although Bruce has some other ideas about the naming).

It’s a shame that the add-to-homescreen part isn’t standardised yet though.

Russell Davies: Unbooked: How to live mindfully in a literate world

The many benefits of an analogue detox. There’s neuroscience and everything.

It’s so important that we take the time to connect and switch on.

Countdown to Indie Web Camp Brighton By Charlotte Jackson

If you’re not sure if Indie Web Camp is for you, have a read of Charlotte’s take on it:

The reason I didn’t attend last time is because I didn’t know if I had enough experience to spend a weekend working on something completely new. Turns out it doesn’t matter how much coding experience you have. I know I won’t be the only new person at Indie Web Camp. The idea is that we figure out solutions together.

PHP is the right tool for the job (for all the wrong reasons) - Sam says you should read this

I think there’s a lot of truth to this. By any objective measurement, PHP is clearly inferior to just about every other programming language out there …but its preinstalled out-of-the-box nature means it’s the path of least resistance.

The real story of how the Internet became so vulnerable | The Washington Post

The first in a series of articles about the architecture of the internet and its security issues, this is a great history lesson of how our network came to be.

What began as an online community for a few dozen researchers now is accessible to an estimated 3 billion people. That’s roughly the population of the entire planet in the early 1960s, when talk began of building a revolutionary new computer network.

A Complete Guide to SVG Fallbacks | CSS-Tricks

An up-to-date round-up of the various techniques available when you want to provide a fallback for SVG.

Viewport vs Percentage Units - bitsofco.de

A comparison of when to use percentages and when to use vw/vh in your CSS.

‘That pig was a good influence’ with Jeremy Keith and Jeffrey Zeldman on Unfinished Business on Huffduffer

I had a lot of fun recording this episode with Andrew and Jeffrey. It is occasionally surreal.

Stick around for the sizzling hot discussion of advertising at the end in which we compare and contrast Mad Men and Triumph Of The Will.

Interface Experience Maps, From the Notebook of Aaron Gustafson

This sounds like it could be a very useful tool to introduce early in projects to get a shared understanding of progressive enhancement.

Dev.Opera — Making websites that work well on Opera Mini

Using Progressive Enhancement makes your site better for all users and enables the 275 million users of Opera Mini worldwide.

Amazon.com: Wilton Silver Color Mist: Kitchen & Dining

Oh, what a spray! What a lovely spray!

How we built the new gocardless.com — GoCardless Blog

A classic example of the holy grail of web performance and robustness—start with regular HTML sent from the server, enhance once it’s in the browser …if the browser is capable of it. In this case, it’s using JavaScript (React) on both the server and the browser.

Here Comes the Airplane

Paradigm-busting disruption!

Supercharging page load (100 Days of Google Dev) - YouTube

A straight-faced Jake talks us through the step-by-step iterations for turning a JavaScript-required web thang into a progressively enhanced zippy experience, supercharged with Service Worker.

A few quick links and thoughts on big web problems – Baldur Bjarnason

The system makes the website. Don’t blame the web developer, blame the organisation. A web developer embedded in a large system isn’t the one making the websites.

To make a progressively enhanced website that performs well and loads quickly even on slow connections, you need to first make an organisation that values those qualities over others.

They Write the Right Stuff

This article first appeared in Fast Company almost twenty years ago. It’s a fascinating look into the culture and process that created and maintained the software for the space shuttle. It’s the opposite of Silicon Valley’s “move fast and break things.”

To be this good, the on-board shuttle group has to be very different — the antithesis of the up-all-night, pizza-and-roller-hockey software coders who have captured the public imagination. To be this good, the on-board shuttle group has to be very ordinary — indistinguishable from any focused, disciplined, and methodically managed creative enterprise.

100 days reflections | Clear Thinking - The Clearleft Blog

Two-thirds of the way through our 100 days project, Batesy takes stock of his journey so far.

(I should probably mention that I love each and every one of the pieces of hand lettering that he’s done …talented bastard.)

Changing culture | susan jean robertson

Susan points out some uncomfortable truths. It’s all very well for us to try and create a culture of performance amongst designers and developers, but it will all be nought if we could change the minds of people higher up the chain …who currently just don’t care.

I think she’s spot on when she points to this possible solution:

I think what I’m asking is, who will be the game changer in this conversation? Who will be the large, bulky site that will work towards performance and make it happen and then we will all point to them and say, see they did it. It seems to me that that is what it takes. Much like we pointed to ESPN and being able to use CSS for layout or The Boston Globe and being able to do responsive at a large scale, who will we point to for the performance overhaul?

The Village and The Village

In which Dan simultaneously goes to the Netherlands and Belgium in a Miévillian sort of way.

Have a listen to the dConstruct 2011 talk from Kars for context.

Responsive Principles (Front-end London, May 2015) // Speaker Deck

The slides from Paul’s talk-in-progress on design principles for building responsive sites. He gave us a sneak peak at Clearleft earlier this week. ‘Sgood.

When Neil Armstrong and Edmund Hillary Took a Trip to the North Pole | Atlas Obscura

Hillary, legendary for being the first to scale Mount Everest with teammate Tenzing Norgay, was on board, and Armstrong was, too, saying he was curious to see what the North Pole looked like from ground level, as he’d only seen it from the moon. Astronaut problems.

The web is fast by default, let’s keep it fast | hiddedevries.nl

Apart from the best practices that can often be automated, there are many human decisions that have impact on page speed. A way to make page speed part of the conversation and optimising it part of a website’s requirement, is to set a performance budget.

Making a difference with performance by Jaime Caballero

This is a great blow-by-blow account of making an agency website perform better.

I love the side-by-side comparisons with other agencies, including Clearleft—the gauntlet has been thrown down!

Web! Apps! Fight! : Sally Jenkinson

It’s not about technology, performance and APIs – it’s about people.

Mentorship for the Novice Expert · An A List Apart Column

Every single word that Lyza has written here speaks to me so, so much.

I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m nervous about messing up, but I keep doing this week after week because it feels important.

Get out of my head, Lyza!

My first public speaking experience by Charlotte Jackson, Front-end developer

I felt a great swell of pride watching Charlotte give an excellent presentation at the Talk Web Design conference at Greenwich University.

The Vuvalini | A Working Library

The best description of Mad Max: Fury Road. Read.

Mutant Materials and Video Spaces: 20 years of MoMA on the web

Much of the web’s early cultural and design history is at risk, despite efforts by the Internet Archive and renegade archivists. One of our realizations after 20 years on the web is that our responsibility isn’t just to the new; we also need to preserve what’s been built in the past.

Style Guides with Jeremy Keith

I had a lot of fun chatting with Brad and Anna for the final episode of their small batch podcast on style guides and pattern libraries.

Monica at Mozilla: Tracking Protection for Firefox at Web 2.0 Security and Privacy 2015

I believe that Mozilla can make progress in privacy, but leadership needs to recognize that current advertising practices that enable “free” content are in direct conflict with security, privacy, stability, and performance concerns — and that Firefox is first and foremost a user-agent, not an industry-agent.

Grant Morrison | Starting Over

Grant, like Emma, has recently started blogging again. This makes me very, very happy. And he’s doing it for what I consider to be all the right reasons:

But this is mostly a place for me to capture my thoughts, and an excuse to consider them, and an opportunity to understand them more fully.

Instant Web · An A List Apart Column

More thoughts on the lack of a performance culture, prompted by the existence of Facebook Instant:

In my experience, the biggest barrier to a high-performance web is this: the means of production are far removed from the means of delivery. It’s hard to feel the performance impact of your decisions when you’re sitting on a T3 line in front of a 30 inch monitor. And even if you test on real devices (as you should), you’re probably doing it on a fast wifi network, not a spotty 3G connection. For most of us, even the ones I would describe as pro-performance, everything in the contemporary web design production pipeline works against the very focus required to keep the web fast.

The Web is the network

The Indieweb approach has a lot in common with Ev’s ideas for Medium, but the key difference is that we are doing it in a way that works across websites, not just within one.

GSWO Workshop with Sparkbox

Katie, Divya, and the other great designers and developers at Sparkbox run workshops on HTML and CSS for girl scouts. They’ve shared their resources and I might just borrow some of them for Codebar.

15 Years Ago in ALA: Much Ado About 5K · An A List Apart Blog Post

Zeldman looks back at Stewart Butterfield’s brilliant 5K contest. We need more of that kind of thinking today:

As one group of web makers embraces performance budgets and the eternal principles of progressive enhancement, while another (the majority) worships at the altar of bigger, fatter, slower, the 5K contest reminds us that a byte saved is a follower earned.

Hamburger icon: How these three lines mystify most people - BBC News

The controversial hamburger icon goes mainstream with this story on the BBC News site.

It still amazes me that, despite clear data, many designers cling to the belief that the icon by itself is understandable (or that users will “figure it out eventually”). Why the aversion to having a label for the icon?

Mars Weather

A handy way of quickly finding out how the weather in your area compares to the weather on Mars.

The JavaScript-Dependency Backlash: Myth-Busting Progressive Enhancement

Progressive Enhancement remains the best option for solving web development issues such as wide-ranging browser support, maintenance and future-proofing your application.

The Many Faces of The Web

Instead of coming up with all these new tools and JavaScript frameworks, shouldn’t we try to emphasize the importance of learning the underlying fundamentals of the web? Teach those who are just stepping to this medium and starting their careers. By not making our stack more and more complex, but by telling about the best practices that should guide our work and the importance of basic things.

Seveneves

The next Neal Stephenson book sounds like it’s going to be great.

Indie Web

Bastian sums up his experience of attending Indie Web Camp:

But this weekend brought a new motivational high that I didn’t expect to go that far. I attended the Indie Web Camp in Düsseldorf, Germany and I’m simply blown away.

Killer page load performance – Async

This Async event at 68 Middle Street on June 11th looks like it’s going to good (and relevant to my interests).

Enabling https SSL on your site | Surf the Dream

Justin is at Indie Web Camp Germany with me and he’s been converting Am I Responsive? to https—here’s his write-up.

keyboard (div) ✿ dabblet.com

Here’s a really nifty use of the :checked behaviour pattern that Charlotte has been writing about—an interface for choosing a note from a piano keyboard. Under the hood, it’s a series of radio buttons and labels.

MoMA’s Digital Art Vault

Ben Fino-Radin describes how the MoMA’s archivematica “analyzes all digital collections materials as they arrive, and records the results in an obsolescence-proof text format that is packaged and stored with the materials themselves.”

Barnaby Walters • #TIL there’s a crater on Mercury named after Turlough O’Carolan

The 17th century blind Irish harpist has been immortalised as a crater on Mercury.

Archives in the Digital Age

I’m going to be taking part in a discussion upstairs in The Eagle in Brighton on May 14th, all about digital preservation. I think it’s going to be really fun. It’s free—you should come along.

It’s a Website | treevis

Apps:

Apps must run on specific platforms for specific devices. The app space, while large, isn’t universal.

Websites:

Websites can be viewed by anyone with a web browser.

And that doesn’t mean foregoing modern features:

A web browser must only understand HTML. Further, newer HTML (like HTML 5) is still supported because the browser is built to ignore HTML it doesn’t understand. As a result, my site can run on the oldest browsers all the way to the newest ones. Got Lynx? No problem. You’ll still be able to find matches nearby. Got the latest smartphone and plentiful data? It’ll work there, too, and take advantage of its features.

This is why progressive enhancement is so powerful.

My site will take advantage of newer technologies like geolocation and local storage. However, the service will not be dependent on them.

The Future of the Open Web - Broken Links

I completely understand Peter’s fears here, and to a certain extent, I share them. But I think there’s a danger in only looking to what native platforms can do that the web doesn’t (yet). Perhaps instead we should be looking to strengthen what only the web can offer: ubiquity, access, and oh yeah, URLs.

Google’s authentication-less, on-the-fly image resizing service

Did you know Google runs a free an open image resizing service?

I did not! This could be quite useful. Seeing as it’s an https endpoint, it could be especially useful on https sites that pull images from http domains (and avoid those mixed-content warnings).

The Web (Browser) We Forgot - Kimberly Blessing (Think Brownstone) keynote - YouTube

This is a wonderful presentation by Kimberley at O’Reilly’s Fluent Conference, running through the history of the Line Mode Browser and the hack project we worked on at CERN to emulate it.

Where visual design fits in a process – Occasional writing from @rivalee

I think the distinction between ‘how it works’ and ‘how it looks’ is blurrier than we think.

Future Library – Framtidsbiblioteket

Here’s a lovely project with an eye on the Long Now. Trees that were planted last year will be used to make paper to print an anthology in 2114.

Margaret Atwood is one of the contributors.

DYNAMO | A Science Fiction Webseries by KarmaPirates

This web series is better than most big-budget hollywood films; witty, entertaining, and perplexing in equal measure.

Tips for speakers — Cennydd Bowles

As a speaker and a conference organiser, I heartily concur with just about every item in this list.

Project Kronos on Vimeo

A beautiful bit of design fiction.

Everyone has JavaScript, right?

And that’s why you always use progressive enhancement!

screen shot from the TV series Arrested Development, showing a character whose catchphrase began 'And that's why...'

What does Google need on mobile? — Benedict Evans

The key change in all of this, I think, is that Google has gone from a world of almost perfect clarity - a text search box, a web-link index, a middle-class family’s home - to one of perfect complexity - every possible kind of user, device, access and data type. It’s gone from a firehose to a rain storm. But on the other hand, no-one knows water like Google. No-one else has the same lead in building understanding of how to deal with this. Hence, I think, one should think of every app, service, drive and platform from Google not so much as channels that might conflict but as varying end-points to a unified underlying strategy, which one might characterize as ‘know a lot about how to know a lot’.

Creating the Schedule // beyond tellerrand

Marc and I have chatted before about the challenges involved in arranging the flow of talks at a conference. It’s great that he’s sharing his thoughts here.

ConferenceCall.biz

This is just like a real conference call.

Trigger warning: this is just like a real conference call.

[this is aaronland] did I mention it vibrates?

history is time breaking up with itself

A great piece of hypertext from Aaron on the purpose of museums, the Copper Hewitt Pen, and matter battles.

twoway.st - an independent explorer for the British Museum collection

I like this. It fills like a very webby way to explore a museum collection. Use any axis you like.

This is a sketch made quickly to explore what it means to navigate a museum catalogue made of over two million records. It’s about skipping around quickly, browsing the metadata as if you were wandering around the museum itself in Bloomsbury, or better yet, fossicking about unattended in the archives.

Hazards Of Prophecy by Arthur C. Clarke

A PDF of Clarke’s classic essay on the follies of prediction. From the 1972 collection The Futurists, edited by Alvin Toffler.

Accessibility and Low-Powered Devices | Brad Frost

Brad points out the importance of supporting—which is not the same as optimising for—the non-shiny devices out there.

I really like using the Kindle’s browser as a good baseline for checking that information is available and readable.

Progressive enhancement with handlers and enhancers | hiddedevries.nl

I like this declarative approach to associating JavaScript behaviours with HTML elements.

Keeping it simple: coding a carousel by Christian Heilmann

I like this nice straightforward approach. Instead of jumping into the complexities of the final interactive component, Chris starts with the basics and layers on the complexity one step at a time, thereby creating a more robust solution.

If I had one small change to suggest, maybe aria-label might work better than offscreen text for the controls …as documented by Heydon.

Codebar Brighton came to Clearleft.

Charlotte’s opening remarks at the most recent Codebar were, by all accounts, inspiring.

I was asked to give a short talk about my journey into coding and what advice I would give to people starting out.

The Failed Promise of Deep Links — Backchannel — Medium

A really great piece by Scott Rosenberg that uses the myopic thinking behind “deep linking” in native apps as a jumping-off point to delve into the history of hypertext and the web.

It’s kind of weird that he didn’t (also) publish this on his own site though.

Talking design

Mariana Mota is writing a book on the collaborative design process. She’s sharing her research videos as she goes.

The first video features Gerry Leonidas.

Sound Mirrors

Before there was radar, there were acoustic mirrors along the coast of England—parabolic structures designed to funnel the distant sound of approaching aircraft.

A Lot Of Sorrow

I don’t want to get over you.

On 05 May 2013 The National played the song ‘Sorrow’ for 6 hours…

Profits from the soon-to-be-released recording go to Partners In Health:

A non-profit that brings the benefit of modern medical science to those most in need.

The One-Minute Test — Medium

I really like this idea of Jared’s. Finish up a meeting by having everyone write down the answers to these three questions in 60 seconds:

  1. What was the big idea? (What was the most important thing you heard at the meeting?)
  2. What was your big surprise? (What was the thing you saw or heard that surprised you the most?)
  3. What’s your big question? (What’s the biggest unanswered question you have at this time?)

I can certainly relate to these findings:

We find that it’s not unusual to discover that different people in the room had just attended completely different meetings. People are surprised by things that other people take as a matter of course. People take away a different emphasis about what was discussed. People’s fears and concerns are reflected in their outstanding questions.