Hypertext as an agent of change | A Working Library
The text of Mandy’s astounding dConstruct talk.
The text of Mandy’s astounding dConstruct talk.
A great piece by Erin on the value of a code of conduct for conferences, filled with practical advice.
Once you decide to create a code and do it thoughtfully, you’ll find the internet overflows with resources to help you accomplish your goals, and good people who’ll offer guidance and advice. From my own experience, I can say that specificity and follow-through will make your code practical and give it teeth; humane language and a strong connection to your community will make it feel real and give it a heart.
A documentary on our digital dark age. Remember this the next time someone trots out the tired old lie that “the internet never forgets.”
If we lose the past, we will live in an Orwellian world of the perpetual present, where anybody that controls what’s currently being put out there will be able to say what is true and what is not. This is a dreadful world. We don’t want to live in this world. —Brewster Kahle
It’s a terrible indictment of where our priorities were for the last 20 years that we depend essentially on children and maniacs to save our history of this sort. —Jason Scott
You can catch a glimpse of my Daft Punk impression in this video of Seb’s frickin’ lasers.
This episode of Click on the BBC World Service does a great job of distilling some of the ideas and themes from this year’s dConstruct.
Two years ago dConstruct’s theme was “Playing with the Future”. Last year it was “Communicating with Machines”. This year’s theme is “Living with the Network”. Click interviews artists, writers, hackers and coders about surveillance, connected devices, big data, and whether the ideals of the internet have been too far corrupted for them ever to be preserved.
BERG closed its doors today. Their work stands for itself and the agency will be greatly missed.
Warren Ellis shares his memories of the founding of this seminal group.
This year’s Maker Faire in Brighton was excellent as always.
All the audio from this year’s dConstruct. Each and every one of these talks is worth listening to …more than once.
Thoughtful, mind-expanding, brain-blowing stuff.
Slides and transcript from Anab’s terrific dConstruct talk.
Tom Scott’s energetic dConstruct talk.
Craig has redesigned and pulled various bits of his writing from around the web into his own site, prompting some thoughts on the indie web.
There is something about the personal blog, yourname.com, where you control everything and get to do whatever the hell pleases you. There is something about linking to one of those blogs and then saying something. It’s like having a conversation in public with each other. This is how blogging was in the early days. And this is how blogging is today, if you want it to be.
In the days before comments on blogs, you could generally have a thoughtful conversation online without everything degenerating into madness and chaos simply because responding to a post required that you wrote a post on your own blog and linked back. This created a certain level of default accountability because if someone wanted to flame you, they had to do it on their own real estate, and couldn’t just crap all over yours anonymously.
We are on our way to a bright Maneki Neko future.
Look, I would never usually link to a “listicle” on Buzzfeed, but this is all kinds of cumulative mirth.
A really nice little documentary about my friend Jeffrey.
Mat unveils Boston’s open device lab, and provides a beautiful raison d’être while he’s at it:
Websites work everywhere by default, and they stay that way so long as we know how not to break them. That’s what the Open Web means to me: ensuring that entire populations just setting foot on the web for the first time will find it welcoming, regardless of the devices or connections used to get there.
Hyperlinks relating to the talks delivered at An Event Apart in Chicago, including those connected to my rambling musings on progressive enhancement.
Wonderfully creative use of CSS gradients, borders, box-shadows, and generated content.
Opera Mini is about to be installed as the default browser on a few more million phones.
Josh walks through the process he took to enabling SSL on his site (with particular attention to securing assets on CloudFront).
I very much agree with Orde’s framing here: I don’t think it makes much sense to talk about “above the fold” CSS …but it makes a lot of sense to talk about critical CSS.
And, yeah, it’s another example of progressive enhancement.
Alice Bartlett shares her experience of getting aria-live regions to work in a meaningful way.
Modern pop songs retold as Shakespearian sonnets.
I was interviewed for a feature in issue 257 of net magazine.
In this interview, I pause. And continue.
Harry has written down his ideas and recommendations for writing CSS.
Glenn eloquently gives his reasons for building Transmat:
When I was a child, my brothers and I all had a shoebox each. In these we kept our mementoes. A seashell from a summer holiday where I played for hours in the rock pools, the marble from the schoolyard victory against a bully and a lot of other objects that told a story.
Ethan Zuckerman riffs on Maciej’s talk at Beyond Tellerrand about the vortex of nastiness that we’ve spiralled down thanks to the default business model of the web: advertising.
Now this is how to shut down a service: switch to a read-only archive, and make the codebase (without user credentials) available on Github.
Remember when I was talking about refactoring the markup for Code for America? Well, it turns out that Heydon Pickering is way ahead of me.
He talks about the viewpoint of a writer (named Victoria) who wants to be able to write in Markdown, or HTML, or a textarea, without having to add classes to everything. That’s going to mean more complex CSS, but it turns out that you can do a lot of complex things in CSS without using class selectors.
There are slides.
I had a good ol’ chat with Justin Avery from Responsive Web Design Weekly. We talk about performance, Responsive Day Out, and yes, progressive enhancement.
Tantek’s great talk on the Indie Web from Web Directions Code in Melbourne earlier this year.
How computers work:
One day, a man name Alan Turing found a magic lamp, and rubbed it. Out popped a genie, and Turing wished for infinite wishes. Then we killed him for being gay, but we still have the wishes.
Then we networked computers together:
The network is ultimately not doing a favor for those in power, even if they think they’ve mastered it for now. It increases their power a bit, it increases the power of individuals immeasurably. We just have to learn to live in the age of networks.
We are all nodes in many networks. This is a beautiful description of how one of those networks operates.
A peak at a near-future mundane dystopia from Joanne McNeil that reminds me of Brian’s spime story
When Rock’n’roll and Web 2.0 collide, the result is not pretty.
A bit of web history reacted by Paravel: the Microsoft homepage from 1994. View source to see some ooooold-school markup.
Design principles for the newly-formed USDS. I’ve added these to my collection.
A fantastic collection of short videos from Luke on interaction design for devices of all shapes and sizes.
Make yourself a nice cup of tea, hit “Play all”, sit back, relax and learn from the master.
A nice bit of interactive citizen science storytelling from Google.
Note: if you have Adblock Plus installed, this won’t load at all. Funny that.
Those lovely people at Filament Group share some of their techniques for making data tables work across a range of screen sizes.
If you enjoy writing, or want to enjoy writing, just do it. You’ll probably worry that you have nothing to say, or that what you write is terrible, or that you couldn’t possibly write as well as Neil Gaiman. But silence those voices, get your head down and hit publish on something. Anything. And then do it again. And again.
Of course, you might want to ask yourself why you want a parallax effect in the first place.
Cole Peters calls upon designers and developers to realise the power they have to shape the modern world and act accordingly.
It is in those of us who work in tech and on the web that digital privacy may find its greatest chance for survival. As labourers in one of the most pivotal industries of our times, we possess the knowledge and skills required to create tools and ecosystems that defend our privacy and liberties.
I don’t disagree, but I think it’s also important to recognise how much power is in the hands of non-designers and non-developers: journalists, politicians, voters …everyone has a choice to make.
Dan Donald gets to the heart of progressive enhancement:
Assumptions in themselves don’t have to be inherently bad but let’s recognise them for what they are. We know very little but that can hopefully enable us to be far more flexible and understanding in what we create.
The Web Manifest spec is still very much in draft, but it’s worth reading through Bruce’s explanation of it now. Basically, it will provide a way for us to specify in one external file what we currently have to specify in umpteen meta tags and link elements.
An astute comparison of the early years of the web with the early years of the app store. If there’s anything to this, then the most interesting native apps are yet to come. App Store 2.0?
One more reason why you should never sniff user-agent strings: Internet Explorer is going to lie some more. Can’t really blame them though—if developers didn’t insist on making spurious conclusions based on information in the user-agent string, then browsers wouldn’t have to lie.
Oh, and Internet Explorer is going to parse -webkit prefixed styles. Again, if developers hadn’t abused vendor prefixes, we wouldn’t be in this mess.
Scott shares the code that Filament Group are using to determine which style declarations are critical (and can be inlined) and which are non-critical (and can be loaded asynchronously). It makes quite a difference in perceived performance.
By the way, I really, really like the terminology of “critical” and “non-critical” CSS, rather than “above the fold” and “below the fold” CSS.
Dave wanted to figure out if having a responsive site necessarily meant taking a performance hit, so he ran the numbers on his own site. It turns out all of performance-related issues are not related to responsive design.
Zoe uses one little case study to contrast two different CSS techniques: display-table and flexbox. Flexbox definitely comes out on top when it comes to true source-order independence.
A nice profile of BERG’s Little Printer. That Matt Webb is a smart cookie. He is also a very thoughtful cookie.
I met Cesar at An Event Apart in San Diego earlier this year. We had a nice lunchtime chat and he suggested that I come on his show, Pencil vs Pixel. I was, of course, honoured and I accepted his invitation immediately.
If you were in any doubt that Warren Ellis is going to blow the roof off the Brighton Dome at dConstruct, this is what happens when he decides to write a little something every day.
A set of slides from Destiny Montague and Lara Swanson at Etsy with their advice on setting up a device lab. Lara also wrote about the device lab on the Etsy code blog.
I can relate to every single word that Bastian has written here.
The longer I look at boilerplates, build tools, frameworks and ways to make my life as a developer easier, the more I long for the basics.
Some very handy techniques for working with right-to-left text.
Over 700 screenshots of ZX Spectrum games, captured by Jason Scott. Some of these bring back memories.
The challenges of maintaining a living breathing front-end style guide for an always-evolving product (the Lonely Planet website in this case).
Mark Otto talks through the state of Github’s CSS and the processes behind updating it. There’s a nice mix of pragmatism and best practices, together with a recognition that there’s always room for improvement.
This year’s collection of twelve sci-fi stories from Technology Review features three dConstruct speakers: Lauren Beukes, Cory Doctorow, and Warren Ellis.
An alternative history from a parallel timeline.
He started coding his own just weeks after Tim Berners-Lee, a tunnel engineer helping to build the STERN protein collider, discovered ancient scrolls buried in the Swiss soil that revealed the secrets of HTML.
The image-stitching algorithm is trying its best.
Kubrickian pictures taken by the Google robot wherein it captures its own reflection.
The first Lunar Orbiter, Andy Warhol’s Amiga, and George R.R. Martin’s WordStar …the opening address to the Digital Preservation 2014 conference July 22 in Washington, DC.
Just as early filmmakers couldn’t have predicted the level of ongoing interest in their work over a hundred years later, who can say what future generations will find important to know and preserve about the early history of software?
(Mind you, I can’t help but feel that the chances of this particular text have a long life at a Medium URL are pretty slim.)
This was a lot of fun for us. It might even be fun to listen to.
If you haven’t seen Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, then listen ye not—this is a spoilerific podcast episode.
Literally a library of patterns: y’know, for tiling background images. Old school!
If you’re going to check out the New Yorker’s nice new responsive site, might I suggest you start here?
An early look at the just-in-time interactions that Scott has been working on:
Nearby works like this. An enabled object broadcasts a short description of itself and a URL to devices nearby listening. Those URLs are grabbed and listed by the app, and tapping on one brings you to the object’s webpage, where you can interact with it—say, tell it to perform a task.
The Internet forgets every single day.
I’m with Jason.
I encourage you all to take a moment and consider the importance of preserving your online creations for yourself, your family, and for future generations.
James talks about his latest project, The Right To Flight.
Lighthouse are putting on their Improving Reality conference again this year. It’s the day before dConstruct. Come to both!
For your consideration.
If enough people want a print run of this lovely Future Friendly T-shirt, then they’ll make a new batch.
The profits go to the Internet Archive.
A look behind the scenes of gov.uk. I like their attitude to Photoshop comps:
We don’t want a culture of designs being “thrown over a wall” to a dev team. We don’t make “high fidelity mock ups” or “high fidelity wireframes”. We’re making a Thing, not pictures of a Thing.
We don’t have a UX Team. If the problem with your service is that the servers are slow and the UX Team can’t change that, then they aren’t in control of the user experience and they shouldn’t be called the user experience team.
Personally, I’m all for more browsers. The more, the merrier.
Almost six minutes of me squinting in the sun and sharing my reckons while seagulls squawk in the background.
The first in a series of posts looking at the process behind builfing this “quantified self” site:
As with most decisions in my life, I asked myself: What would Tony Stark do?
45 years ago today.
Here’s an intriguing approach to offering a navigation control that adapts as the user scrolls.
I’m not too keen on the way it duplicates the navigation in the markup though. I might have a play to see if I can find a way to progressively enhance up from a link-to-footer pattern to achieve this.
Watch the skies: James Bridle’s balloon will be hovering above London distributing wifi.
A look at the architectural history of the network hubs of New York: 32 Avenue of the Americas and 60 Hudson Street. Directed by Davina Pardo and written by her husband Andrew Blum, author of Tubes: A Journey to the Centre of the Internet.
These buildings were always used as network hubs. It’s just that the old networks were used to house the infrastructure of telephone networks (these were the long line buildings).
In a way, the big server hotel of New York—111 Eight Avenue—was also always used to route packets …it’s just that the packets used to be physical.
The Aaron Swartz film is available on the Internet Archive under a Creative Commons attribution non-commercial share-alike license.
A peek behind the scenes of an interesting new navigation pattern on the Guardian’s still-in-beta responsive site.
You can try it out here
Here’s a dystopian vision of the web in ten years time, where professional developers are the only people able to publish on the web.
A concise case study from gov.uk:
Designing for the constraints of mobile is useful – if we get the fundamentals of the service working on small screens and slow network speeds, it can work on more capable devices.
My interest in rich client-side apps has almost entirely reversed, and now I’m more interested in doing good ol’ server rendering with the occasional side of progressive enhancement, just like we did it in 2004.
This post resonates with me 100%.
Heydon Pickering put together a great collection of accessible self-contained interface patterns that demonstrate smart use of ARIA.
Photos from the first Science Hack Day in China which just wrapped up.
A profile of Norbert Wiener, and how his star was eclipsed by Claude Shannon.
On the fifth anniversary of Pinboard, Maciej reflects on working on long-term projects:
Avoiding burnout is difficult to write about, because the basic premise is obnoxious. Burnout is a rich man’s game. Rice farmers don’t get burned out and spend long afternoons thinking about whether to switch to sorghum.
The good news is, as you get older, you gain perspective. Perspective helps alleviate burnout.
The bad news is, you gain perspective by having incredibly shitty things happen to you and the people you love. Nature has made it so that perspective is only delivered in bulk quantities. A railcar of perspective arrives and dumps itself on your lawn when all you needed was a microgram.
The transcript of Anab Jain’s talk from the FutureEverything Festival.
Words of wisdom from Scott on the clash of brand guidelines and the flexible nature of the web:
One thing I am pretty sure of though, is that having a fast, accessible, user-friendly site can reflect incredibly well on a company, and I’d love to see more guidelines and expectations that prioritize these aspects of a service as branding requirements in addition to the usual visual details.
This (literally) charts the evolution of HTML, tracking which elements have been added and which have been removed.