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 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
A really nice little documentary about my friend Jeffrey.
Hyperlinks relating to the talks delivered at An Event Apart in Chicago, including those connected to my rambling musings on 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.
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.
A bit of web history reacted by Paravel: the Microsoft homepage from 1994. View source to see some ooooold-school markup.
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.
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.
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.
A nice profile of BERG’s Little Printer. That Matt Webb is a smart cookie. He is also a very thoughtful cookie.
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.
Some very handy techniques for working with right-to-left text.
The image-stitching algorithm is trying its best.
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.)
Literally a library of patterns: y’know, for tiling background images. Old school!
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.
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.
Almost six minutes of me squinting in the sun and sharing my reckons while seagulls squawk in the background.
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.
Heydon Pickering put together a great collection of accessible self-contained interface patterns that demonstrate smart use of ARIA.
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.
This (literally) charts the evolution of HTML, tracking which elements have been added and which have been removed.
A new essay from Maciej on Idle Words is always a treat, and this latest dispatch from Yemen is as brilliantly-written as you’d expect.
The brilliant George Oates has started a new design company with an emphasis on cultural heritage: “explicit notes to the future, local archives of global content.” Watch this space
This is what Oliver was talking about Responsive Day Out 2 — a new approach to information architecture.
Cast off your sidebars! You have nothing to lose but your grids!
She can only offer you unconditional algo-love.
Perhaps that’s the purest love of all.
A lovely little tale of empowerment through HTML and CSS.
Some good ideas from Matt on the importance of striving to maintain digital works. I find it very encouraging to see other people writing about this, especially when it’s this thoughtful.
Here’s a nice little UI addition to Chrome. When you focus on the URL bar, if the current site has site-specific search discoverable via rel=”search”, then you get a greyed-out hint to press tab so you can start searching the site.
Here’s the chat I had with Jen and Doug about the prospect of DRM in browsers.
Design fiction from a NASA scientist.
I really hope that this is the kind of usage we’ll see for web components: enhancements for the browsers that support them without a good ol’ fashioned fallback for older browsers.
A look at how the website for An Event Apart is using the picture and Picturefill …featuring Jessica as the cover girl.
Alan Kay’s written remarks to a Joint Hearing of the Science Committee and the Economic and Educational and Opportunites Committee in October 1995.
Steven Johnson’s new television series will be shown on BBC in a few months time. Looks like it’s going to be good Burkian fun.
When I’ve been banging on at conferences about digital preservation, personal publishing and the indie web, I’ve been at pains to point out that there are huge opportunities here for startups looking to build valet services to help people publish on their own domain.
Ben and Erin at Known are doing just that, with some backing from KQED, PRX and the Knight Foundation instead of the usual short-sighted Silicon Valley venture capitalism.
One of the jobs of a startup is to look at where the world is going, extrapolating from current trends and domain knowledge, and meet a future need with a product at exactly the right time. We think the time is right for an independent web that is owned by content creators and readers alike.
A free PDF download from NASA on all things SETI, specifically the challenges of interspecies interstellar communication.
A variation on “Christ, what an asshole!”
A truly wonderful piece by Mandy detailing why and how she writes, edits, and publishes on her own website:
No one owns this domain but me, and no one but me can take it down. I will not wake up one morning to discover that my service has been “sunsetted” and I have some days or weeks to export my data (if I have that at all). These URLs will never break.
The campaign to restore out-of-print pulp sci-fi books in electronic formats.
Bruce’s love letter to BASIC.
The closest I’ve ever come to that “a-ha!” moment I had when I first wrote something in BASIC was when I first wrote something in HTML.
Right now, this move to remove URLs from the interface of Chrome is just an experiment …but the fact that Google are even experimenting with it is very disturbing.
“Who? Me? No, I was never going to actually blow the web’s brains out—I just wanted to feel the heft of the weapon as I stroked it against the face of the web.”
This has the potential to be a terrific little documentary. What say we get it funded?
I think I concur with this list. Although I guess it’s worth remembering that, given the size of the CSS spec, this isn’t an overly-long list.
It’s interesting that quite a few of them are about how things are named. It’s almost as if that’s one of the, say, two hardest things in computer science.
Derek’s excellent advice on avoiding over-reliance on data attributes has this brilliant nugget of insight:
In the web front-end stack — HTML, CSS, JS, and ARIA — if you can solve a problem with a simpler solution lower in the stack, you should. It’s less fragile, more foolproof, and just works
A handy little bookmarklet for quickly checking how a site might look at different screen sizes, and you can customise it to use whichever screen sizes you like.
This visual approach to demonstrating how CSS selectors work is really handy.
I’m not sure if I agree completely with every point, but this is a great shortlist of things you can do to make your code more resilient and understandable (thereby making you, by any sensible definition, a better programmer).
I like Matt’s observation here that the simple combination of a barebones data format like HTML delivered over HTTP is a good-enough low-level API for joining up all kinds of internet-connected things.
In the last 60 years, the biggest software platform for interop and integration – for new products, services, businesses, and value creation – has not been Android, or iOS, or Windows, or the PDP-11. The biggest and best platform has been the web.
One implication is that successful products are not necessarily those with seamless, beautiful, tightly-controlled “experiences”, but rather the ones that are capable of talking to each other.
Small things, loosely joined.
The GPS system is a monumental network that provides a permanent “YouAreHere” sign hanging in the sky, its signal a constant, synchronised timecode.
Some interesting thoughts that follow on nicely from Scott Jenson’s ideas around just-in-time interactions:
What if the technology was actually already in the room when we got there? Maybe that’s the kind of Internet-of-things that will be more sustainable and will win long-term.
I love the thinking behind this plugin that highlights the weasel words that politicians are so found of.
A great article by Susan on getting started with creating a styleguide for any project.
I’ve seen firsthand how style guides save development time, make communication regarding your front end smoother, and keep both code and design consistent throughout the site.
We need a web design museum.
I am, unsurprisingly, in complete agreement. And let’s make lots of copies while we’re at it.
A nice stroll around Marseilles at night without any of the traditional danger.
A useful text editor that analyses your writing for excess verbiage and sloppy construction. It helps you process your words, as it were.
I don’t work in the tech industry. I work on the Web.
If your startup gets acquired and shut down by a larger company, this is the way to announce it—no “we’re excited to announce”; no “incredible journey”. Instead there’s an apology and regret (which is exactly what your users will be feeling).
Funny because it’s true:
The thing I regret the most is how my class addiction affected my relationship with HTML.
The transcript of Malarkey’s recent talk. Good thoughtful stuff.
A fascinating look at how Flipboard combines art direction and algorithms to generate layouts.
Bruce’s thoughts on ensuring accessibility in Web Components. He thinks that the vocabulary of ARIA is up to the job, so that’s good enough for me.
A healthy dose of scepticism about Web Components, looking at them through the lenses of accessibility, security, and performance.
I share some of this concern: Web Components might look like handy ready-made out-of-the-box solutions, but the truth is that web developers have to do much more of the hard graft that was traditionally left to the browser.
A short video featuring Jason Scott and Brewster Kahle. The accompanying text has a shout-out to the line-mode browser hack event at CERN.
I like the way Aaron thinks. I also like the way he makes.
This is a wonderful piece by Maciej—a magnificent historical narrative that leads to a thunderous rant. Superb!
One of the most fiendish user-unfriendly (but oh-so-witty) adventure games of all time is now online for you to enjoy with some added graphical flourishes.
I can’t wait to see this documentary on the monumental work at CERN.
A lovely visualisation that combines two of my loves: space, and the correct use of the subjunctive.
Tom is running a Node School at 68 Middle Street on the evening of March 27th. I plan to attend and finally wrap my head around all this Node stuff.
A lovely bit of data celebration from Ravelry on the occasion of their 4 millionth user.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you want to see a successful example of a real social networking site, don’t look at Facebook; look at Ravelry.
The importance of long-term thinking in web design. I love this description of the web:
a truly fluid, chaotic design medium serving millions of imperfect clients
Great suggestions from Dave for podcasters keen on allowing easier sharing.
Oh, how I wish Soundcloud would do this and be less of an audio roach motel!
Mike writes about what it was like being a client for a change. After working with him on the Code for America project, I can personally vouch for him as a dream client:
Clearleft’s pattern deliverables are the special-special that made the final work so strong. Jon Aizlewood’s introduction to the concept convinced me to contact Clearleft. Jeremy Keith’s interest in design systems kicked off the process, and Anna Debenham’s fucking rock star delivery brought it all home.
Some good ideas on the idea of element-level media queries, a feature that developers are crying out for and browser makers are saying is too hard. This post has some thoughts on how to deal with the potential issues.
This may be the only slideshow on a website I’ve ever actually bothered to click all the way through.
Some great thoughts in here about web development workflow and communication between designers and developers.
I believe that the solution is made up of a variety of tools that encourage conversation and improve our shared lexicon. Tools such as styleguides, pattern libraries, elemental and modular systems that encourage access not only by developers, but by designers, shareholders and editors as well.
A great post from Anna on the front-end styleguides she’s worked on for A List Apart and Code for America. ‘Twas a pleasure working with her on the Code for America project.
A-mer-ica! Fuck yeah!
A fascinating look at the early history of HTML, tracing its roots from the dialect of SGML used at CERN.
A great write-up of the design process behind The Guardian’s responsive site. It’s really gratifying to see UX designers talking about performance.
Such a classic game, well worth playing again.