For almost a century and a half the West Pier has been Britain’s most iconic pier. Renowned for its wonderful architectural style, it has been visited and enjoyed by millions. Even today with its sculptural remains casting an eerie beauty over the seafront, the West Pier is still the most photographed building in Brighton.
Exemplars proposing various solutions for the resilience of digital data and computation over long timeframes include the Internet Archive; redundantly distributed storage platforms such GlusterFS, LOCKSS, and BitTorrent Sync; and the Lunar supercomputer proposal of Ouliang Chang.
Each of these differs in its approach and its focus; yet each shares with Vessel and with one another a key understanding: The prospects of Earth-originating life in the future, whether vast or diminishing, depend upon our actions and our foresight in this current cultural moment of opportunity, agency, awareness, ability, capability, and willpower.
This doorslam turned out to be bad for business.
A magnificent presentation from Maciej that begins by drawing parallels between the aviation industry in the 20th century and the technology industry in the 21st:
So despite appearances, despite the feeling that things are accelerating and changing faster than ever, I want to make the shocking prediction that the Internet of 2060 is going to look recognizably the same as the Internet today.
Unless we screw it up.
And I want to convince you that this is the best possible news for you as designers, and for us as people.
But if that sounds too upbeat for you…
Too much of what was created in the last fifty years is gone because no one took care to preserve it.
We have heroic efforts like the Internet Archive to preserve stuff, but that’s like burning down houses and then cheering on the fire department when it comes to save what’s left inside. It’s no way to run a culture. We take better care of scrap paper than we do of the early Internet, because at least we look at scrap paper before we throw it away.
And then there’s this gem:
It finishes with three differing visions of the web, one of them desirable, the other two …not so much. This presentation is a rallying cry for the web we want.
Let’s reclaim the web from technologists who tell us that the future they’ve imagined is inevitable, and that our role in it is as consumers.
This sounds like it could be a very useful tool to introduce early in projects to get a shared understanding of progressive enhancement.
Here’s a really nifty use of the
:checked behaviour pattern that Charlotte has been writing about—an interface for choosing a note from a piano keyboard. Under the hood, it’s a series of radio buttons and labels.
I think the distinction between ‘how it works’ and ‘how it looks’ is blurrier than we think.
A great run-down by Heydon of just one ARIA property: aria-label.
SmashingConf Oxford 2015: Richard Rutter on Don’t Give Them What They Want, Give Them What They Need
A great case study from Richard, walking through the process of redesigning the website for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
A profile of the great work Aaron and Seb have been doing at the Cooper Hewitt museum. Have a read of this and then have a listen again to Aaron’s dConstruct talk.
This time it’s a great article by Karen Menezes filled with practical examples showing where you can use flexbox today.
A really handy interactive intro to flexbox. Playing around with the properties and immediately seeing the result is a real help.
The Guardian have hit the big red button and made their responsive site the default. Great stuff!
(top tip: don’t read the comments)
Remember Aaron’s dConstruct talk? Well, the Atlantic has more details of his work at the Cooper Hewitt museum in this wide-ranging piece that investigates the role of museums, the value of APIs, and the importance of permanent URLs.
As I was leaving, Cope recounted how, early on, a curator had asked him why the collections website and API existed. Why are you doing this?
His retrospective answer wasn’t about scholarship or data-mining or huge interactive exhibits. It was about the web.
I find this incredibly inspiring.
A great presentation on web components by Marcy, with an emphasis on keeping them accessible.
Steve Albini’s barnstorming keynote address at Melbourne’s Face the Music conference.
I mentioned this a little while back, but it’s worth remembering just how many people are using Opera Mini …and how many more are about to join them.
Bring it on!
I should fork this on Github and add instructions for exporting your Huffduffer data.
Yesterday, Aaron gave a great talk at BD Conf about forms. In one example, he was using
aria-describedby. I was a bit confused by the differences between
aria-labelledby, so Aaron has very helpfully clarified the distinction.
internet.org might more accurately be called very-small-piece-of-internet.org
I hope that many of you will watch me on this journey, and follow in my wagon tracks as I leave the walled cities and strike out for the wilderness ahead.
A look back at how Twitter evolved over time, with examples of seemingly-trivial changes altering the nature of the discourse.
Kevin finishes with a timely warning for those of us building alternatives:
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
Josh walks through the process he took to enabling SSL on his site (with particular attention to securing assets on CloudFront).
Alice Bartlett shares her experience of getting aria-live regions to work in a meaningful way.
A peak at a near-future mundane dystopia from Joanne McNeil that reminds me of Brian’s spime story
Watch the skies: James Bridle’s balloon will be hovering above London distributing wifi.
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.
Guardian beta · The container model and blended content – a new approach to how we present content on the Guardian
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.
Brian Aldiss: ‘These days I don’t read any science fiction. I only read Tolstoy’ | Books | The Guardian
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.
Planetary: collecting and preserving code as a living object | Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York
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.
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.
Forty Years of Movie Hacking: Considering the Potential Implications of the Popular Media Representation of Computer Hackers from 1968 to 2008
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.
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.