The right to flight: why I’m flying a balloon over London this summer
Watch the skies: James Bridle’s balloon will be hovering above London distributing wifi.
Watch the skies: James Bridle’s balloon will be hovering above London distributing wifi.
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.
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.
Chase Reeves likes Huffduffer so much, he made a video about it.
Documenting depictions of dystopian futures and tracking which ideas are turning out to be predictions.
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.
Eileen Gunn writes in the Smithsonian magazine on the influence of science fiction.
Science fiction, at its best, engenders the sort of flexible thinking that not only inspires us, but compels us to consider the myriad potential consequences of our actions.
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.
This is a wonderful piece by Maciej—a magnificent historical narrative that leads to a thunderous rant. Superb!
A handy way of automating the creation of old-IE stylesheets using Grunt. This follows on from Jake’s work in using preprocessors and conditional comments to send a different stylesheet to IE8 and below—one that doesn’t contain media queries. It’s a clever way of creating mobile-first responsive sites that still provide large-screen styles to older versions of IE.
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.
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.
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.
If you picked up the Guardian this weekend, you’ll have seen some brilliant work by Kyle on the cover (and inside) the magazine section.
A collaboration between Zooniverse and the Imperial War Museum. Now citizen scientists can become citizen historians by classifying diaries from World War One.
Chris has a written a response to my post (which was itself inspired by his excellent An Event Apart presentation) all about CSS, variables, and abstractions.
I love this kind of old-school blog-to-blog discussion.
Expanding on an exercise from last year’s Hackfarm, Brian and Mike have written a deliciously dystopian near-future short story.
A profile of Brian Aldiss in The Guardian.
I still can’t quite believe I managed to get him for last year’s Brighton SF.
I agree completely with the sentiment of this article (although the title is perhaps a bit overblown): you shouldn’t need a separate API—that’s what you’re existing URL structure should be.
I’m not entirely sure that content negotiation is the best way to go when it comes to serving up different representations: there’s a real value in being able to paste a URL into a browser window to get back a JSON or XML representation of a resource.
But this is spot-on about the ludicrous over-engineered complexity of most APIs. It’s ridiculous that I can enter a URL into a browser window to get an HTML representation of my latest tweets, but I have to sign up for an API key and jump through OAuth hoops, and agree to display the results in a specific way if I want to get a JSON representation of the same content. Ludicrous!
A superb piece of hypertext from The Guardian.
This is absolutely delightful, nicely weird, and thoroughly entertaining.
From the lovely people behind Editorially comes STET:
A Writers’ Journal on Culture & Technology
A report from the BBC on this year’s Brighton Digital Festival including interviews with Honor, Timo, and Seb.
Iain M.Banks and dConstruct, together at last.
Aaron Straup-Cope and Seb Chan on the challenges of adding (and keeping) code to the Cooper-Hewitt collection:
The distinction between preservation and access is increasingly blurred. This is especially true for digital objects.
Wikipedia edits converted into Eno-esque sound.
Oh, dear. An otherwise perfectly well-reasoned article makes this claim:
But the internet is peculiarly adapted to deftly pricking pomposity. This is partly because nothing dies online, meaning your past indiscretions are never yesterday’s news, wrapped round the proverbial fish and chips.
Bollocks. Show me the data to back up this claim.
The insidious truism that “the internet never forgets” is extremely harmful. The true problem is the opposite: the internet forgets all the time.
Geocities, Pownce, Posterous, Vox, and thousands more sites are very much yesterday’s news, wrapped round the proverbial fish and chips.
Improve your word power: here’s a timeline of terms used to describe male genitalia throughout history. And yes, there is a female equivalent.
Stuart nails it: the real problem with delegating identity is not what some new app will do with your identity details, it’s what the identity provider—Twitter, Google, Facebook—will do with the knowledge that you’re now using some new app.
This is why I want to use my own website as my identity provider.
A fascinating project to document markings from 1939—designed to be visible from the air—placed all around the Irish coast.
Looks like Google are offering responsive (or at least adaptive) ad sizes.
The Victorian Internet indeed.
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.
A page to demonstrate the conditional CSS technique I documented a while back.
Six months ago, Bastian wrote this fantastic vision of decentralised social web. I want to start making this a reality at the next Indie Web Camp.
I sense the hand of Tom Morris in this. Wikipedia has created a “nearby” page for browsers with geolocation, much like the Wikinear mashup that Simon created with Fire Eagle five years ago.
Dr Harry Halpin writing in the Guardian about the crucial crossroads that we have reached with the very real possibility of DRM mechanisms becoming encoded within HTML:
Most of us are simply happy to launch our browsers and surf the web without a second thought as to how the standards like HTML are created. These standards are in the hands of a fairly small set of standards bodies that have in general acted as responsible stewards for the last few years. The issue of DRM in HTML may be the turning point where all sorts of organisations and users are going to stop taking the open web for granted.
I’ve linked to this before, but with the death of Iain M Banks it’s worth re-reading this fascinating insight into The Culture, one of science fictions’s few realistic utopias.
The brief mention here of The Culture’s attitude to death is apt:
Philosophy, again; death is regarded as part of life, and nothing, including the universe, lasts forever. It is seen as bad manners to try and pretend that death is somehow not natural; instead death is seen as giving shape to life.
Francis Spufford—author of the excellent Backroom Boffins—writes a cover story for the New Humanist magazine remembering Iain Banks with the middle initial M firmly to the fore: it was Iain M Banks—and his creation, The Culture—that took the seemingly passé genre of space opera to new heights.
A great post by Stuart on the prospect of DRM-by-any-other-name in HTML.
The argument has been made that if the web doesn’t embrace this stuff, people won’t stop watching videos: they’ll just go somewhere other than the web to get them, and that is a correct argument. But what is the point in bringing people to the web to watch their videos, if in order to do so the web becomes platform-specific and unopen and balkanised?
It’s great to see the changes that Facebook’s four-person accessibility team have managed to push through.
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.
A profile in The Guardian of the Internet Archive and my hero, Brewster Kahle (who also pops up in the comments).
Armchair travelling to Ballardian locations.
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.
Tantek steps back and offers some practical approaches to reclaiming a more open web from the increasingly tight clutches of the big dominant roach motels.
Notice that he wrote this on his own domain, not on Branch, Medium, Google+, Facebook, or any other black hole.
A handy step-by-step guide to all the ways you can use CSS for layout.
The slides from Andy’s excellent pragmatic talk on performance and aggressive enhancement at the Responsive Day Out.
I believe this may be Australia’s first open device lab. I hope it’s the first of many.
A great meaty piece from Cennydd, diving deep into the tricky question of context.
An in-depth look at the portrayal of hackers on film.
A lovely new responsive(ish) website dedicated to science and the environment.
A collaborative writing tool built by a dream team. I’ve been using it for a while now and it’s very nice indeed.
Communal satellite eyes. A Mac screensaver is also available.
Another Tom Scott project:
I had to take one more quick, cheap shot — and I think a Tumblr blog is the quickest, cheapest shot it’s possible to take.
A really good introduction to front-end performance techniques. Most of this was already on my radar, but I still picked up a handy tip or two (particularly about DNS prefetching).
At this stage it should go without saying that you should be keeping up with this kind of thing: performance is really, really, really important.
Investigating the options for off-world backups.
Data is only as safe as the planet it sits on. It only takes one rock, not too big, not moving that fast, to hit the Earth at a certain angle and: WHAM! Most living species are done for.
How the hell is your Twitter archive supposed to survive that?
A great breakdown of mobile traffic to The Guardian website over time.
The Guardian’s front-end patterns library. The modules section contains their equivalent of a pattern primer. Very nice!
A really terrific piece about wireframing for responsive designs. Again, it’s all about the prototypes.
It’s all about the signalling.
Less wireframing, more prototyping.
A worrying look at how modern web developers approach accessibility. In short, they don’t.
The low-hanging fruit of accessibility fixes; it’s worth bearing these in mind.
Celebrating the work of the tireless men and women who shorten headlines so they’ll fit on your iPhone.
Remember when I linked to the Github repository of The Guardian’s front-end team? Well, now—if you’ll pardon the mixing of metaphors—you can start to kick the tyres of the fruits of their labour. This beta site shows where their experiments with responsive design might lead.
This is quite an astounding piece of writing. Robert Lucky imagines the internet of things mashed up with online social networking …but this was published in 1999!
Useful advice from Tim on preparing your responsive site for IE10’s new “snap mode”. Don’t worry: it doesn’t involve adding any proprietary crap …quite the opposite, in fact.
Chloe uses interactive text in an attempt to explain what lexical-gustatory synesthesia is like.
A great in-depth explanation by Aarron on why Mailchimp dropped their Facebook and Twitter log-in options. Partly it was the NASCAR problem, but the data (provided by user testing with Silverback) also brought up some interesting issues.
Well, this is quite something. Matt will be interviewing the creators of Bloom in London this Friday. You might have heard of that Eno chap.
Those clever chaps at The Guardian are experimenting with some mobile-first responsive design. Here’s how it’s going so far.
Another great in-depth round-up from Brad, this time looking at your options for complex navigation patterns in responsive designs.
This starts out a bit hand-wavy with analogue nostalgia, but it wraps up with some genuinely good ideas for social software.
This cold-war era soviet manual for post-nuclear life is as fascinating as it is horrifying.
A good recap of the recent online/offline/does-it-really-matter discussion …although it does lend a bit too much credence to the pronouncements of that king of trolls, Nicholas Carr.
I think Derek is on to something here. Maybe online communities and profit are simply incompatible?
The bigger you go, the harder the road. Meanwhile, small, focused, and yes, exclusionary community sites flourish.
You know what? I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all.
An excellent follow-up to the recent posts on the myth of mobile context.
You often hear about cutting content to cut clutter. I support this—if you’re cutting the clutter from everywhere, not just a mobile experience.
Maybe the answer isn’t cutting. Maybe it’s learning better skills for designing and structuring complex information to be usable and enjoyable in small spaces.
The history of the WELL, a truly remarkable community.
It’s worth remembering sometimes just how amazing Twitter can be.
People who don’t know us wanted to send their friendship to a 15 year old learning-disabled girl who was sad. For no reason other than their own humanity. This is a beautiful thing.
Cameron’s travelling to Ethopia to help with Charity Water, thanks to the generosity of the users of Authentic Jobs.
Sure, this is a bleedin’ one-to-one copy of feckin’ Wikipedia. Give it an aul’ spin.
A really great markup and CSS pattern for “content first, navigation second” from Aaron.
Jake demonstrates his technique for preprocessor-generated stylesheets for older versions of Internet Explorer (while other browsers get the same styles within media queries).
This is an excellent idea from Jake: use a preprocessor to automatically spit out a stylesheet for older versions of IE that includes desktop styles (garnered from the declarations within media queries).
If you’re a dab hand with Ruby and you’d like to see this in SASS, you can help.
Nine years and five months after he began publishing every entry in Samuel Pepys’ diary, Phil Gyford posts the last entry.
Robin Sloan compares Facebook and Google in an interesting way:
Really, Facebook is the world’s largest photo sharing site—that also happens to be a social network and a login system.
Google is getting good, really good, at building things that see the world around them and actually understand what they’re seeing.
Some sensible advice from Oliver Reichenstein. Cluttering your social media icons isn’t helping and may actively be hindering your audience.
This is kinda funny (because it’s kinda true).
A heartbreaking article about just how badly Yahoo fucked up with Flickr. It’s particularly sad coming out right as the Flickr devs roll out an improved uploader and a more liquid photo page …but it seems like band-aid development at this point.
An algorithmically-generated font sounds like a terrible idea but I actually quite like the end result.
The Old Aesthetic.
Advice on creating responsive designs from Google. It’s not exactly the best tutorial out there (confusing breakpoints with device widths) but it’s great to see the big guns getting involved.
Dan writes about how data saved his life. That is not an exaggeration.
He describes how, after receiving some very bad news from his doctor, he dived into the whole “quantified self” thing with his health data. Looking back on it, he concludes:
If I were still in the startup game, I have a pretty good idea of which industry I’d want to disrupt.
Another call for design-based (rather than device-based) breakpoints in responsive sites.