Tags: history

Websites of Christmas Past, Present and Future ◆ 24 ways

A superb article by Josh on planning for progressive enhancement—clearly laid out and carefully explained.

On File Formats, Very Briefly, by Paul Ford · The Manual

A history lesson and a love letter to the early web, taking in HTML, Photoshop, and the web standards movement.

Those were long years, the years of drop-shadows. Everything was jumping just slightly off the screen. For a stretch it seemed that drop-shadows and thin vertical columns of text would define the web. That was before we learned that the web is really a medium to display slideshows, as many slideshows as possible, with banner ads.

On HTML5 and the Group That Rules the Web

Paul Ford’s potted history of web standards, delivered in his own inimitable style.

Reading through the standards, which are dry as can be, you might imagine that standardization is a polite, almost academic process, where wonks calmly debate topics like semicolon placement. This is not the case.

The Web Is Read/Write

The transcript of Owen’s talk at The Web Is. It’s a wonderful, thoughtful meditation on writing, web design, and long-term thinking.

One of the promises of the web is to act as a record, a repository for everything we put there. Yet the web forgets constantly, despite that somewhat empty promise of digital preservation: articles and data are sacrificed to expediency, profit and apathy; online attention, acknowledgement and interest wax and wane in days, hours even.

Web Standards for the Future on Vimeo

A cute videolette on web standards.

How URL started as UDI — a brief conversation with @timberners_lee @W3C #TPAC - Tantek

Tantek shares a fascinating history lesson from Tim Berners-Lee on how the IETF had him change his original nomenclature of UDI—Universal Document Identifier—to what we now use today: URL—Uniform Resource Locator.

The Hummingbird Effect — How We Got to Now

How the printing press led to the microscope, and chlorination transformed women’s fashion—Steven Johnson channels James Burke.

Hypertext as an agent of change | A Working Library

The text of Mandy’s astounding dConstruct talk.

Marvellous stuff!

Digital Amnesia - YouTube

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

44 Medieval Beasts That Cannot Even Handle It Right Now

Look, I would never usually link to a “listicle” on Buzzfeed, but this is all kinds of cumulative mirth.

Jeffrey Zeldman: 20 years of Web Design and Community on Vimeo

A really nice little documentary about my friend Jeffrey.

The Internet’s Original Sin - The Atlantic

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.

Web Archeology - daverupert.com

A bit of web history reacted by Paravel: the Microsoft homepage from 1994. View source to see some ooooold-school markup.

Ah, memories!

A lot can change in 6 years - Allen Pike

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?

A Brief History of Bloggering - The Morning News

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.

Urban Giants on Vimeo

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 Eccentric Genius Whose Time May Have Finally Come (Again) - Doug Hill - The Atlantic

A profile of Norbert Wiener, and how his star was eclipsed by Claude Shannon.

Sana’a (Idle Words)

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 Man Who Turned Paper Into Pixels on Vimeo

A short film about Claude Shannon and Information Theory — not exactly as in-depth as James Gleick’s The Information, but it does a nice job of encapsulating the fundamental idea.

How We Got To Now with Steven Johnson - YouTube

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.

Bruce Lawson’s personal site  : Happy Birthday, BASIC

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.

What Comes Next Is the Future by Matt Braun

This has the potential to be a terrific little documentary. What say we get it funded?

And They All Look Just the Same

Greg isn’t just lamenting a perceived “sameness” in web design here. He’s taking a long-zoom view and pointing out that there’s always a sameness …and you can choose to go along with it or you can choose to differentiate.

Airbag Intl. / Archives

Greg says:

We need a web design museum.

I am, unsurprisingly, in complete agreement. And let’s make lots of copies while we’re at it.

FIRST web page viewed by “FIRST” browser via c.1965 modem and terminal - YouTube

What a wonderful way to go online!

Rise of the IndieWeb - Amber Case - FutureTalks - YouTube

A great talk by Amber on the history of personal publishing and the ideas and technologies driving the Indie Web movement.

1995 Vannevar Bush symposium: closing Panel

So Doug Engelbart, Alan Kay, Ted Nelson, and Tim Berners-Lee walk into a panel…

Meet the Geniuses on a Quixotic Quest to Archive the Entire Internet | TIME.com

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.

Our Comrade The Electron

This is a wonderful piece by Maciej—a magnificent historical narrative that leads to a thunderous rant. Superb!

Origins of Common UI Symbols

A lovely little tour of eleven ubiquitous icons.

Early History of HTML - 1990 to 1992

A fascinating look at the early history of HTML, tracing its roots from the dialect of SGML used at CERN.

Operation War Diary

A collaboration between Zooniverse and the Imperial War Museum. Now citizen scientists can become citizen historians by classifying diaries from World War One.

The Console Living Room : Free Software : Download

Here’s a nice Christmas gift from Jason and the archinauts at the Internet Archive: tons of games for living room consoles of the early ’80s, all playable in your browser, thanks to emulation in JavaScript.

WarGames Magazine Identified By Michael Walden

Now this is what I call research:

Through the use of my knowledge of computer magazines, my sharp eyes, and other technical knowledge, I have overcome the limited amount of information available in the video content of WarGames and with complete certainty identified the exact name and issue number of the magazine read on screen by David L. Lightman in WarGames.

Happy 17th Birthday CSS | Web Directions

A lovely history lesson on CSS from John.

Ted Nelson’s Eulogy for Douglas Engelbart - YouTube

A searing, angry, heartfelt eulogy.

Flickr: The British Library’s Photostream

This is a wonderful addition to the already-wonderful Flickr Commons: over one million pictures from the British Library, available with liberal licensing.

Y’know, I’m worried about what will happen to my own photos when Flickr inevitably goes down the tubes (there are still some good people there fighting the good fight, but they’re in the minority and they’re battling against the douchiest of Silicon Valley managerial types who have been brought in to increase “engagement” by stripping away everything that makes Flickr special) …but what really worries me is what’s going to happen to Flickr Commons. It’s an unbelievably important and valuable resource.

The (other) Web we lost

John shares his concerns about the increasing complexity involved in developing for the web.

Proto HTML

A nice bit of markup archeology, tracing the early development of HTML from its unspecced roots to the first drafts.

I recognise some of the extinct elements from the line-mode browser hack days at CERN e.g. HP1, HP2, ISINDEX, etc.

Against the Balkanization of the Web

A fascinating snapshot from 1995, arguing for the growing power of HTML instead of the siren song of proprietary formats.

I’m very happy that this is still available to read online 18 years later.

Chloe Weil — Our Ragged History

In describing her approach to building the wonderful Julius Cards project, Chloe touches on history, digital preservation, and the future of the web. There are uncomfortable questions here, but they are questions we should all be asking ourselves.

CERN: Line Mode Browser « optional.is/required

Brian writes up his experience working on the line-mode browser hack event at CERN.

The Hole in Our Collective Memory: How Copyright Made Mid-Century Books Vanish by Rebecca J. Rosen in The Atlantic

Copyright correlates significantly with the disappearance of works rather than with their availability.

Robert Cailliau’s world wide web on Dazed Digital

From CERN to singularity - the digital pioneer and cofounder of the WWW on 20 years of webscapades.

Internet and Web Pioneers: Robert Cailliau - YouTube

Once you get past the cheesy intro music, there are some gems from Robert Cailliau in here.

LMB hack days: Jeremy Keith

I took a little time out of the hacking here at CERN to answer a few questions about the line-mode browser project.

The document that officially put the World Wide Web into the public domain on 30 April 1993. - CERN Document Server

Earlier today, thanks to Robert Cailliau, I held the only notarised copy of this document. That was quite a feeling.

The History of the Internet in a Nutshell

A timeline of technology.

Omni Reboot: Hackers Of The Renaissance

This history of hacking.

Information doth wish to be free.

-… ..- .-. .-. .. – — .— ..- … – .. -.-. . | Burrito Justice

A little sojourn around the Victorian internet.

A Timeline made with Timeglider, web-based timeline software

Improve your word power: here’s a timeline of terms used to describe male genitalia throughout history. And yes, there is a female equivalent.

The creation of Missile Command and the haunting of its creator, Dave Theurer

The story behind the classic arcade game Missile Command and the toll it took on its creator:

Theurer’s constant strides for perfection left him working his body to the point that Missile Command’s premise started to manifest itself in his subconscious, sneaking into his dreams and turning them to nightmares.

There was something about the sound of those explosions, the feeling of the trackball in your hand, and the realisation that no matter how well you played, you could only delay the inevitable.

THE END

BBC - Blogs - Adam Curtis - BUGGER

Adam Curtis usually just pours forth apopheniac ramblings, but this is a really great collection of pieces from the archive on the history of incompetence in the spying world.

Y’know, the best explanation I’ve heard so far of the NSA and GCHQ’s sinister overreaching powers is simply that they need to come up with bigger and bigger programmes to justify getting bigger and bigger budgets. Hanlon’s Law, Occam’s Razor, and all that.

Not Real Programming by John Allsopp

A terrific long-zoom look at web technologies, pointing out that the snobbishness towards declarative languages is a classic example of missing out on the disruptive power of truly innovative ideas …much like the initial dismissive attitude towards the web itself.

The Future of Programming

A wonderful presentation by time-traveller Bret Viktor.

The Pixar Theory by Jon Negroni

I like this theory!

Online communities

Caterina Fake takes a heartfelt look at the history of online communities:

The internet is full of strangers, generous strangers who want to help you for no reason at all. Strangers post poetry and discographies and advice and essays and photos and art and diatribes. None of them are known to you, in the old-fashioned sense. But they give the internet its life and meaning.

NSA: The Decision Problem by George Dyson

A really terrific piece by George Dyson taking a suitably long-zoom look at information warfare and the Entscheidungsproblem, tracing the lineage of PRISM from the Corona project of the Cold War.

What we have now is the crude equivalent of snatching snippets of film from the sky, in 1960, compared to the panopticon that was to come. The United States has established a coordinated system that links suspect individuals (only foreigners, of course, but that definition becomes fuzzy at times) to dangerous ideas, and, if the links and suspicions are strong enough, our drone fleet, deployed ever more widely, is authorized to execute a strike. This is only a primitive first step toward something else. Why kill possibly dangerous individuals (and the inevitable innocent bystanders) when it will soon become technically irresistible to exterminate the dangerous ideas themselves?

The proposed solution? That we abandon secrecy and conduct our information warfare in the open.

The Hut Where the Internet Began by Alexis C. Madrigal in The Atlantic

A wonderful article looking at the influence that Vannevar Bush’s seminal article As We May Think had on the young Douglas Engelbart.

Why the Web Doesn’t Need Another CSS Zen Garden - YouTube

A great history lesson from Dave.

Ah, I remember when the CSS Zen Garden was all fields. Now get off my CSS lawn.

Line-mode browser dev days at CERN

Squee! I’m going to CERN on the 19th and 20th of September to take part in this hackday-like project to recreate the first line-browser.

If you want to help out, fill in the application form.

Break the Page

A lovely site with thoughtful articles on the long-term future of the web.

There’s audio too, which is unfortunately locked up in the unhuffduffable roach motel that is Soundcloud, but I’m hoping that might change.

The irregular musings of Lou Montulli: The reasoning behind Web Cookies

A fascinating look at the history of cookies …from the inventor of cookies.

Teenage Diaries Revisited

Fascinating fodder for Huffduffer:

Beginning in 1996, Radio Diaries gave tape recorders to teenagers around the country to create audio diaries about their lives. NPR’s All Things Considered aired intimate portraits of five of these teens: Amanda, Juan, Frankie, Josh and Melissa. They’re now in their 30s. Over this past year, the same group has been recording new stories about where life has led them for our series, Teenage Diaries Revisited.

Size Isn’t Everything on Flickr

Colossus …in Lego.

Size Isn’t Everything

A Woman’s Place — Everything Old is New Again — Medium

In a piece for Medium commissioned by Matter, Jon Norris describes a little-known aspect of the UK’s information technology history:

Gender equality is still a major issue in the technology industry, but 50 years ago one British company was blazing trails.

mezzoblue § 10 Years

Wow! The CSS Zen Garden is a decade old. Crazy! It’s a true piece of web history …and it’s back!

The open internet and the web

A history lesson from Vint Cerf. I can’t help but picture him as The Architect in The Matrix Reloaded.

When Tim Berners-Lee invented and released the World Wide Web (WWW) design in late 1991, he found an open and receptive internet in operation onto which the WWW could be placed. The WWW design, like the design of the internet, was very open and encouraged a growing cadre of self-taught webmasters to develop content and applications.

The First Website by Mark Boulton

Mark writes about his work with CERN to help restore the first website to its original URL.

I have two young children and I want them to experience the early web and understand how it came to be. To understand that the early web wasn’t that rudimentary but incredibly advanced in many ways.

Cern

It was twenty years ago today:

On 30 April 1993 CERN published a statement that made World Wide Web technology available on a royalty free basis, allowing the web to flourish.

Bradshaw’s Guide For Tourists in Great Britain

Keep it under your hat, but Paul has soft-launch his Project Portillo. And very nice it is too.

Histories Past

Documenting history through photography.

National Geographic Found

Celebrating 125 years of National Geographic, this Tumblr blog is a curated collection of photography from the archives. Many of the pictures are being published for the first time.

Google Keep? It’ll probably be with us until March 2017 - on average

Charles Arthur analyses the data from Google’s woeful history of shutting down its services.

So if you want to know when Google Keep, opened for business on 21 March 2013, will probably shut - again, assuming Google decides it’s just not working - then, the mean suggests the answer is: 18 March 2017. That’s about long enough for you to cram lots of information that you might rely on into it; and also long enough for Google to discover that, well, people aren’t using it to the extent that it hoped.

Life as German POW by Carl Lehman

My friend Dan’s stepfather Carl passed away recently, aged 90. His experiences during World War II were quite something.

Out of Eden — A Walk Through Time

I like this idea of slow journalism: taking seven years to tell a story.

Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz - Stuff

The biggest plot holes of World War Two.

Warning: contains spoilers.

Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog

A fascinating blog documenting the secrecy around nuclear weaponry, past and present, by Alex Wellerstein of the American Institue of Physics.

www-talk

Here’s a treasure trove of web history: an archive of the www-talk list dating back to 1991. Watch as HTML gets hammered out by a small group of early implementors: Tim Berners-Lee, Dave Raggett, Marc Andreessen, Dan Connolly…

The Web We Lost - Anil Dash

Oh, my! This excellent, excellent post from Anil Dash is a great summation of what has changed on the web, and how many of today’s big-name services are no longer imbued with the spirit of the web.

Either you remember how things used to be and you’ll nod your head vigorously in recognition and agreement …or you’re too young to remember this, and you won’t quite believe that is how things worked.

This isn’t some standard polemic about “those stupid walled-garden networks are bad!” I know that Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn and the rest are great sites, and they give their users a lot of value. They’re amazing achievements, from a pure software perspective. But they’re based on a few assumptions that aren’t necessarily correct. The primary fallacy that underpins many of their mistakes is that user flexibility and control necessarily lead to a user experience complexity that hurts growth. And the second, more grave fallacy, is the thinking that exerting extreme control over users is the best way to maximize the profitability and sustainability of their networks.

Twitter Engineering: Implementing pushState for twitter.com

A really nice explanation by Todd Kloots of Twitter’s use of progressive enhancement with Ajax and the HTML5 History API. There’s even a shout for Hijax in there.

The Charge of the Scan Brigade « ASCII by Jason Scott

Live in or near San Francisco? Interested in preserving computer history? Then you should meet up with Jason this Friday:

This Friday, October 5th, the Internet Archive has an open lunch where there’s tours of the place, including the scanning room, and people get up and talk about what they’re up to. The Internet Archive is at 300 Funston Street. I’m here all week and into next.

Web History, a timeline

This is right up my alley: a timeline of the history of hypertext, starting with Borges.

Eric’s Archived Thoughts: The Web Behind

This ticks all my boxes: a podcast by Eric and Jen about the history of the web. I can’t wait for this to start!

Unsung Heroes of Web and Interaction Design: Derek Powazek – Jeffrey Zeldman Presents The Daily Report

Jeffrey quite rightly singles out Derek Powazek for praise.

It was his site Fray that made me realise I wanted to build things on the web.

heather powazek champ - Message in a bottle: The Mirror Project

The Mirror Project is back! The Mirror Project is back!

This warms the cockles of my nostalgic little heart.

Infovore » ghostcar

Tom describes his Foursquare ghost.

Stories and Tools - Anil Dash

This post is ten years old, but I think it might still be the best attempt to demarcate a difference between web “sites” and web “apps”: think of them as stories and tools.

It’s also remarkably prescient about the need for an effort exactly like HTML5:

A widely-distributed, standards-compliant, browser and platform-independent library of functions that would perform the basic user interface functions for a web-based tool, relying on the server side only for the logic and data sourcing.

Help me raise money to buy Nikola Tesla’s old laboratory - The Oatmeal

This is so crazy, it just might work. Matt wants the internet to buy Wardenclyffe and turn it into a Tesla museum.

The Time Traveler’s Cookbook: Meat-Lover’s Edition : NPR

A PDF to download and read that is both funny and fascinating.

Twitter without Hashbangs

Remember when I linked to the story of Twitter’s recent redesign of their mobile site and I said it would be great to see it progressively enhanced up to the desktop version? Well, here’s a case study that does just that.

A List Apart: Articles: ALA Summer Reading Issue

How about this for a trip down memory lane—a compendium of articles from over a decade of A List Apart, also available as a Readlist epub. It’s quite amazing just how good this free resource is.

The only thing to fault is that, due to some kind of clerical error, one of my articles has somehow found its way onto this list.

If this were Twitter, you’d be at-replying me with the hashtag “humblebrag”, wouldn’t you?

oldtweets - Laughing Meme

Kellan explains the tech behind Old Tweets …and also the thinking behind it:

I think our history is what makes us human, and the push to ephemerality and disposability “as a feature” is misguided. And a key piece of our personal histories is becoming “the story we want to remember”, aka what we’ve shared.

Technology - Howard Rheingold - What the WELL’s Rise and Fall Tell Us About Online Community - The Atlantic

The history of the WELL, a truly remarkable community.

Vint Cerf: We Knew What We Were Unleashing on the World | Wired Business | Wired.com

I could listen to Vint Cerf all day.

I think that it’s perfectly reasonable to have packets raining down from satellites, IP packets just literally raining down from satellites and being picked up by hundreds, if not millions, of receivers at the same time.

The Evolution of the Web

A nice timeline visualisation of recent history.

Welcome to History Mesh

This is rather wonderful: a DevFort project for navigating interweaving strands of history, James Burke style.

Super hero - a set on Flickr

History with a sprinkling of Photoshopped fiction.

Monday 31 May 1669 (Pepys’ Diary)

Nine years and five months after he began publishing every entry in Samuel Pepys’ diary, Phil Gyford posts the last entry.

The Man Who Makes the Future: Wired Icon Marc Andreessen | Epicenter | Wired.com

Chris Anderson interviews Mark Andreessen.