A fascinating look at the history of cookies …from the inventor of cookies.
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.
Colossus …in Lego.
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.
Wow! The CSS Zen Garden is a decade old. Crazy! It’s a true piece of web history …and it’s back!
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.
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.
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.
Keep it under your hat, but Paul has soft-launch his Project Portillo. And very nice it is too.
Documenting history through photography.
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.
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.
My friend Dan’s stepfather Carl passed away recently, aged 90. His experiences during World War II were quite something.
I like this idea of slow journalism: taking seven years to tell a story.
The biggest plot holes of World War Two.
Warning: contains spoilers.
A fascinating blog documenting the secrecy around nuclear weaponry, past and present, by Alex Wellerstein of the American Institue of Physics.
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…
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.
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.
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.
This is right up my alley: a timeline of the history of hypertext, starting with Borges.
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.
The Mirror Project is back! The Mirror Project is back!
This warms the cockles of my nostalgic little heart.
Tom describes his Foursquare ghost.
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.
This is so crazy, it just might work. Matt wants the internet to buy Wardenclyffe and turn it into a Tesla museum.
A PDF to download and read that is both funny and fascinating.
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.
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?
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.
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.
A nice timeline visualisation of recent history.
This is rather wonderful: a DevFort project for navigating interweaving strands of history, James Burke style.
History with a sprinkling of Photoshopped fiction.
Nine years and five months after he began publishing every entry in Samuel Pepys’ diary, Phil Gyford posts the last entry.
Chris Anderson interviews Mark Andreessen.
Have you thought “There must be a good reason for the blink element.” Well, read on.
The Jig Is Up: Time to Get Past Facebook and Invent a New Future - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
An excellent longish-zoom article by Alexis Madrigal with an eerily accurate summation of the current state of the web. Although I think that a lack of any fundamentally new paradigms could be seen as a sign of stabilisation as much as stagnation.
An oldie but a goodie: Clay Shirky looks at the design principles underlying HTML in order to figure out what made it so successful. Even though this is fourteen years old, there are plenty of still-relevant insights here.
An interview with George Dyson, whose next book—Turing’s Cathedral—sounds like it’ll be right up my alley.
A collection of articles on the tricksy art of Futurism from—amongst others—Bruce Sterling, Annalee Newitz, and Matt Novak, creator of the Paleofuture blog.
Earth Station: The Afterlife of Technology at the End of the World - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
The wonderful story of an odd place:
The Jamesburg Earth Station is a massive satellite receiver in a remote valley in California. It played a central role in satellite communications for three decades, but had been forgotten until the current owner put it up for sale, promoting it as a great place to spend the apocalypse.
The video of my talk from Webstock, all about wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff like networks and memory.
A trip to Buzludzha in Bulgaria, a derelict monument to an abandoned ideology.
Photographs from the archive of the New York Times.
Beautiful 19th century maps of Mars.
A genuinely amusing alternative history of programming languages.
What would Google+, YouTube and Facebook have looked like in 1997?
A trojan horse for plagiarised college papers, much like the fakery on maps (“Lie Close”, “Arlington”) and in dictionaries; traps to be sprung on the hapless copy’n’paster.
An interactive timeline where we, the wise crowd, can add our predictions (although the timeline for the past, showing important technological breakthroughs, is bizarrely missing Cooke and Wheatsone’s telegraph).
A beautiful reminder that by publishing on the web, we are all historians.
Every color you choose and line of code you write is a reflection of you; not just as a human being in this world, but as a human being in this time and place in human history. Inside each project is a record of the styles and fashions you value, the technological advancements being made in the industry, the tone of your voice, and even the social and economic trends around you.
A nicely-designed project to highlight everyday life in a three-week period in England in 1943 by imagining how four people would have used Twitter.
John reinforces the importance of universal access above the desire to build only for the newest shiniest devices:
Universality is a founding principle of the web. It is the manifesto the web has been built on, and I believe one of the key drivers of the almost unimaginable success of the web over these last two decades. We ignore that at the web’s peril.
While others recall Steve Jobs’s legacy with Apple, Tim Berners-Lee recounts the importance of NeXT.
A rallying cry from Neal Stephenson for Getting Big Stuff Done.
This is quite beautiful. An interactive piece that allows you to dig through the ruins of Geocities like an archeologist.
Such wanton destruction! I’ll never forgive those twunts at Yahoo.
A great speech by Ben Hammersley that ties together multiple strands of life in the 21st century.
A wonderful reminder by Kevin Kelly of the amazing interconnected world we live in, thanks to network effects.
A truly impressive achievement by Archive.org: all the television footage from September 11th, 2001 gathered in one place on the web.
I really like the thinking that’s gone into the design of Github, as shown in this presentation. It’s not really about responsive design as we commonly know it, but boy, is it a great deep dive into the importance of URLs and performance.
China Miéville gives a rundown of some underrated classics of the alternative history subgenre …including Richard Curtis’s Notting Hill.
A blog devoted to sifting through the gems in the Geocities torrent. This is digital archeology.
Even more historic significance than blue plaques.
Adrian Hon’s Kickstarter project has already reached its goal. I can’t wait for the podcasting to start.
Here’s a gem from the past: a thoroughly fascinating and gripping interview with Paul Baran by Stewart Brand. It’s thrilling stuff—I got goosebumps.
Main Articles: ‘Domesday Redux: The rescue of the BBC Domesday Project videodiscs’, Ariadne Issue 36
The fascinating story of the BBC Domesday Project and its subsequent fate.
The purpose of the CAMiLEON project was to demonstrate the value of emulation in preserving not only the data stored in obsolete systems but the behaviour of the systems themselves - in this case one of the very first interactive multi-media systems. The aim was to reproduce the original user experience as accurately as possible, and the CAMiLEON team argued that the slight faults in images as displayed from the analogue discs were a part of that experience, and should not be cleaned up as Andy proposed to do. Our aim was different - we wanted to preserve the data with the highest quality available consistent with longevity.
The BBC’s decision to actively delete old content (rather than simply allowing it to take up some space on a server) really gets my blood boiling.
The BBC asked the public to contribute their memories of World War Two to a website between June 2003 and January 2006…” and five years later some suit decided to bin them.
This was one of my favourite hacks at History Hack Day: enter a location anywhere in England to find out if it’s located on a ley line of mystical magical energy, man!
Visualising the Republic of Letters.
A gorgeous visualisation of Wikipedia data from History Hack Day. Watch the shape of the world emerge over time.
Using data to help put a single death in the family into a wider perspective.
Let’s make the Bletchley Park data machine-readable so we can start mining the stories they contain (like Old Weather).
Bletchley Park need help to catalogue and create a proper archive of these decrypts.
I want in!
Visualisations of the history of controversial Wikipedia articles.
An attempt to turn psychohistory into reality using a “Knowledge Accelerator.”
An inspiring State Of The Web address by Tim Berners-Lee. He can't resist pitching linked data at the end, but it's mostly a stirring call to arms.
What a superb project! Forget Mechanical Turk — this is the way to harness the collective intelligence of humans: transcribing weather observations made by naval ships at the beginning of the twentieth century. It's all grist for the climate model mill.
This is a brilliant idea: a History Hackday in London. Get in touch with Matt if you can help out.
YouTube Time Machine: this is beautiful and fascinating. Set phasers to WWILF.
Now this is how to do a location-based app: overlays of London through time ...in the palm of your hand.
An excellent long-zoom rebuttal by Alexis Madrigal of the whole "The web is dead" guff on Wired right now.
New from BERG: superimposing historical events onto familiar landscapes.
A wonderful history of our alphabet. Set aside some time to read this.
Lucy Inglis, curator of Georgian London, on the role she and other bloggers play.
A wonderful document outlining the earliest history of the tags we know and love today.
Old photos placed on a map. Quite engrossing.
Mike Stenhouse has graphed civilisation longevity: a nice bit of long zoom perspective.
A wonderful trip down memory lane to the amateur web of the 90s.
In praise of Gutenberg's contribution to typography.
Here lies what we could salvage from the ashes of GeoCities.
A 2004 paper on huffduffing.
A wonderful collection of World War II propaganda artwork.
An entertaining and accurate history of markup up to and including HTML5.
A free PDF of the inside story of George Lucas, his intensely private company, and their work to revolutionize filmmaking. Discover the birth of Pixar, digital video editing, videogame avatars, THX sound, and a host of other icons of the media age.
A look into the future that never was. This stuff is right up my alley.
Phil Gyford on why he will miss Geocities. "It’s only thanks to the efforts of people like the Internet Archive and Archive Team that we’ll have a record of what people, rather than companies, published in the past. As companies like Yahoo! switch off swathes of our online universe little fragments of our collective history disappear. They might be ugly and neglected fragments of our history but they’re still what got us where we are today."
I think this has to be my favourite contribution to Ada Lovelace day. Brilliant!
The start of a campaign to get a blue plaque for Sussex Uni, site of the world's first transatlantic email.
This is the ur-spring: Tim Berners Lee's original proposal for "Mesh", later "World Wide Web."