Exemplars proposing various solutions for the resilience of digital data and computation over long timeframes include the Internet Archive; redundantly distributed storage platforms such GlusterFS, LOCKSS, and BitTorrent Sync; and the Lunar supercomputer proposal of Ouliang Chang.
Each of these differs in its approach and its focus; yet each shares with Vessel and with one another a key understanding: The prospects of Earth-originating life in the future, whether vast or diminishing, depend upon our actions and our foresight in this current cultural moment of opportunity, agency, awareness, ability, capability, and willpower.
There’s something so beautifully, beautifully webbish about this: readings of blog posts found through a search for “no one will ever read this.”
Listen to all of them.
A detailed and humorous deep dive into motion design and spatial depth in digital interfaces.
When another company achieves success, there’s a lot of pressure to investigate what they did right and apply that to our own organizations.
But we still have a chance. As long as we run brave organizations made up of even braver souls who are willing to embrace expression, trust their intuition and experiences, and stand up when everyone else is sitting down, we will survive.
A great presentation from Stephen. He takes a thoughtful look at our processes and tools.
Jeffrey weighs on the post I wrote about The Verge. I still feel like there’s a false dichotomy being presented here though: either performance or advertising. But advertising can be performant too. There’s a competitive advantage to be had there.
This infographic offers a visual way to explore the various stages of the Earth’s history using a 12 hour clock analogy.
This is simply wondrous! A microcosm of Borges’s story made real on the world wide web.
We do not simply generate and store books as they are requested — in fact, the storage demands would make that impossible. Every possible permutation of letters is accessible at this very moment in one of the library’s books, only awaiting its discovery.
Huge have released their tool for generating front-end style guides.
Maciej has published the transcript of his magnificent (and hilarious) talk from dConstruct 2013.
This doorslam turned out to be bad for business.
It is a sad and beautiful world.
Thanks to their work, there was a moment in history when neuroscience, psychiatry, computer science, mathematical logic, and artificial intelligence were all one thing, following an idea first glimpsed by Leibniz—that man, machine, number, and mind all use information as a universal currency. What appeared on the surface to be very different ingredients of the world—hunks of metal, lumps of gray matter, scratches of ink on a page—were profoundly interchangeable.
A long zoom and then a deep dive into web typography.
It’s really good to see that Vox are taking measures to fix their atrocious performance problems. The Verge in particular is a case study in how not to serve up text and images on the web. There have been times in the past when I’ve wanted to link to an article there but then thought “I can’t in good conscience put a fellow human through that.”
A tool for getting instant visual feedback on your nth-child selectors. Considering that the way I figure out nth-child selectors is to try randomly changing numbers until it works, this should be quite useful for me.
A magnificent presentation from Maciej that begins by drawing parallels between the aviation industry in the 20th century and the technology industry in the 21st:
So despite appearances, despite the feeling that things are accelerating and changing faster than ever, I want to make the shocking prediction that the Internet of 2060 is going to look recognizably the same as the Internet today.
Unless we screw it up.
And I want to convince you that this is the best possible news for you as designers, and for us as people.
But if that sounds too upbeat for you…
Too much of what was created in the last fifty years is gone because no one took care to preserve it.
We have heroic efforts like the Internet Archive to preserve stuff, but that’s like burning down houses and then cheering on the fire department when it comes to save what’s left inside. It’s no way to run a culture. We take better care of scrap paper than we do of the early Internet, because at least we look at scrap paper before we throw it away.
And then there’s this gem:
It finishes with three differing visions of the web, one of them desirable, the other two …not so much. This presentation is a rallying cry for the web we want.
Let’s reclaim the web from technologists who tell us that the future they’ve imagined is inevitable, and that our role in it is as consumers.
Tantek posts a belated round-up of indie web activity in 2014:
2014 was a year of incredible gains, and yet, a very sad loss for the community. In many ways I think a lot of us are still coping, reflecting. But we continue, day to day to grow and improve the indieweb, as I think Chloe would have wanted us to, as she herself did.
From the people who brought you youmightnotneedjquery.com comes youmightnotneedjqueryplugins.com.
Don’t get me wrong—jQuery is great (some of the plugins less so) but the decision about whether to use it or not on any particular project should be an informed decision made on a case-by-case basis …not just because that’s the way things have always been done.
These sites help to inform that decision.
A really nicely-documented pattern library.
This was a fun way to spend the day—getting my hands dirty with ink and type.
Google Fonts aren’t renowned for their quality but this is a beautiful demonstration of what you can accomplish with them.
The text of Nicole’s excellent talk on writing helpful, human microcopy.
This piece by Cennydd on ethics in digital design reminded me of something Jonathan Harris wrote a while back.
I like that he cautions against hiding the seams:
Designers should also strive to give digital products a healthy balance of seamlessness and interrogability. While it’s appealing to create technology that needs little human intervention, this sort of black box can be a breeding ground for dishonest behaviour.
Here’s the video of the panel I participated in at Edge conference, expertly moderated by Lyza.
Thanks to the video editing, you can’t see the face I’m making when the guy from Facebook talks about user-agent sniffing as a totally cool and reliable way of working.
A heartbreaking tale of companionship, memory and loss.
The full text of Jason’s great talk at this year’s CSS Summit. It’s a great read, clearing up many of the misunderstandings around progressive enhancement and showing some practical examples of progressive enhancement working at each level of the web’s technology stack
OpenGeofiction is a map of an imaginary world, created by a community of worldbuilders. You can take part in this project too.
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.
I recorded audio versions of some of my favourite blog posts.
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.
A handy little bookmarklet for doing some quick accessibility checks.
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.
A superb illustration of why playing the numbers game and dismissing even a small percentage of your potential audience could be disastrous.
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.
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.
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).
Dividing the world in two.
An in-depth look at where web components stand today, together with some very good questions about where they might be heading tomorrow.
You’ll want to back this—you’ll want to back the hell out of this!
Handy tips for creating, optimising, and using SVG on the web, be it in CSS or HTML.
The full text of Aaron’s magnificent closing keynote from Responsive Day Out.
This one-day workshop that Cennydd is running in London on July 22nd looks like it’s going to be really good.
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.
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.
Know any talented recent graduates? Let ‘em know about this 3-month internship at Clearleft.
More of this kind of thing, please!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
An up-to-date round-up of the various techniques available when you want to provide a fallback for SVG.
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.
A deceptively simple but powerful use of flexbox.
This sounds like it could be a very useful tool to introduce early in projects to get a shared understanding of progressive enhancement.
Using Progressive Enhancement makes your site better for all users and enables the 275 million users of Opera Mini worldwide.
Oh, what a spray! What a lovely spray!
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.
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.
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.)
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
It’s not about technology, performance and APIs – it’s about people.
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!
I felt a great swell of pride watching Charlotte give an excellent presentation at the Talk Web Design conference at Greenwich University.
The best description of Mad Max: Fury Road. Read.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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 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.
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.
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?
A handy way of quickly finding out how the weather in your area compares to the weather on Mars.
Progressive Enhancement remains the best option for solving web development issues such as wide-ranging browser support, maintenance and future-proofing your application.
The next Neal Stephenson book sounds like it’s going to be great.
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.
This Async event at 68 Middle Street on June 11th looks like it’s going to good (and relevant to my interests).