We become obsessed with tools and methods, very rarely looking at how these relate to the fundamental basics of web standards, accessibility and progressive enhancement. We obsess about a right way to do things as if there was one right way rather than looking at the goal; how things fit into the broader philosophy of what we do on the web and how what we write contributes to us being better at what we do.
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.
A collection of cli-fi and cli-fact.
I kind of want to link to every one of John’s post chronicling his 90 days at Clearleft, but this one is particular good, I think: how narrative ideas from the world of storytelling can help unlock some design problems.
Will the Big Think piece you just posted to Medium be there in 2035? That may sound like it’s very far off in the future, and who could possibly care, but if there’s any value to your writing, you should care. Having good records is how knowledge builds.
Following on from her great conversation with Jen on The Web Ahead podcast, Rachel outlines a strategy to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the deluge of tools, frameworks, libraries, and techniques inundating front-end developers every day:
Learn your core skills well. Understand HTML and CSS, be able to build a layout without leaning on a framework. Get a solid understanding of how a website actually gets from the server to a browser, an understanding of security and accessibility. These are the basics, the constants. These things change slowly. These things sit underneath all the complexity and the tooling, the CMSs and the noise of thousands of people all trying to make their mark on this industry.
She also makes this important point:
As you are doing this don’t forget to share what you know.
A wonderful collection of treasures excavated from GeoCities. Explore, enjoy, and remember what a crime it is that Yahoo wiped out so much creativity and expression.
I enjoyed chatting with Marcus and Paul on the Boagworld podcast …mostly because I managed to avoid the topic at hand by discussing sci-fi for half an hour before we settled to the boring stuff about work, business, and all that guff.
Twenty-six letters of independent publishing building blocks.
Benjamin documents his experience at the first Brighton Homebrew Website Club: a most pleasant evening.
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.
Tantek posts a belated round-up of indie web activity in 2014:
2014 was a year of incredible gains, and yet, a very sad loss for the community. In many ways I think a lot of us are still coping, reflecting. But we continue, day to day to grow and improve the indieweb, as I think Chloe would have wanted us to, as she herself did.
Google Fonts aren’t renowned for their quality but this is a beautiful demonstration of what you can accomplish with them.
The full text of Jason’s great talk at this year’s CSS Summit. It’s a great read, clearing up many of the misunderstandings around progressive enhancement and showing some practical examples of progressive enhancement working at each level of the web’s technology stack
A fantastic piece by David Weinberger on the changing uses of the internet—apparently in contradiction of the internet’s original architecture.
Some folks invented the Internet for some set of purposes. They gave it a name, pointed to some prototypical examples—sharing scientific papers and engaging in email about them—shaping the way the early adopters domesticated it.
But over time, the Internet escaped from its creators’ intentions. It became a way to communicate person-to-person via email and many-to-many via Usenet. The web came along and the prototypical example became home pages. Social networking came along and the prototype became Facebook.
A superb illustration of why playing the numbers game and dismissing even a small percentage of your potential audience could be disastrous.
This is the way to approach building for the web:
I want to make as few of those assumptions as possible. Because every assumption I make introduces fragility. Every assumption introduces another way that my site can break.
It’s progressive enhancement, but like Stuart, Tim is no longer planning to use that term.
I really like this impassioned love letter to the web. This resonates:
The web is a worthy monument for society. It cannot be taken away by apps in the app store or link bait on Facebook, but it can be lost if we don’t continue to steward this creation of ours. The web is a garden that needs constant tending to thrive. And in the true fashion of the world wide web, this is no task for one person or entity. It will require vigilance and work from us all.
If you’re not sure if Indie Web Camp is for you, have a read of Charlotte’s take on it:
The reason I didn’t attend last time is because I didn’t know if I had enough experience to spend a weekend working on something completely new. Turns out it doesn’t matter how much coding experience you have. I know I won’t be the only new person at Indie Web Camp. The idea is that we figure out solutions together.
A comparison of when to use percentages and when to use vw/vh in your CSS.
Oh, what a spray! What a lovely spray!
This is a great blow-by-blow account of making an agency website perform better.
I love the side-by-side comparisons with other agencies, including Clearleft—the gauntlet has been thrown down!
The best description of Mad Max: Fury Road. Read.
Grant, like Emma, has recently started blogging again. This makes me very, very happy. And he’s doing it for what I consider to be all the right reasons:
But this is mostly a place for me to capture my thoughts, and an excuse to consider them, and an opportunity to understand them more fully.
The Indieweb approach has a lot in common with Ev’s ideas for Medium, but the key difference is that we are doing it in a way that works across websites, not just within one.
A handy way of quickly finding out how the weather in your area compares to the weather on Mars.
Progressive Enhancement remains the best option for solving web development issues such as wide-ranging browser support, maintenance and future-proofing your application.
The next Neal Stephenson book sounds like it’s going to be great.
Bastian sums up his experience of attending Indie Web Camp:
But this weekend brought a new motivational high that I didn’t expect to go that far. I attended the Indie Web Camp in Düsseldorf, Germany and I’m simply blown away.
François is here at Indie Web Camp Germany helping out anyone who wants to get their site running on https. He wrote this great post to get people started.
This is a wonderful presentation by Kimberley at O’Reilly’s Fluent Conference, running through the history of the Line Mode Browser and the hack project we worked on at CERN to emulate it.
This web series is better than most big-budget hollywood films; witty, entertaining, and perplexing in equal measure.
A beautiful bit of design fiction.
A PDF of Clarke’s classic essay on the follies of prediction. From the 1972 collection The Futurists, edited by Alvin Toffler.
Proving something that Derek Powazek told us 15 years ago:
When we clearly show what is and is not acceptable, the tone does change. People who want to share thoughtful comments start to feel that theirs are welcome, and people who want to spew hatred start to realize theirs are not.
D’hear that, Reddit?
Aaron documents his process of implementing Heydon’s clever quantity queries in CSS.
I am really looking forward to hearing Heydon’s talk at Responsive Day Out.
A long-zoom look at life, work, and success.
I’m not usually a fan of portmanteau neologisms, but I really like Tash’s coining of the word longtrepreneur.
Primer, but Twitter.
Mark Rothko paintings recreated with CSS gradients.
Jeffrey muses on progressive enhancement and future-friendliness.
Beautiful use of CSS transitions and transforms.
Also: CSS is officially the new Flash—”skip intro” is back.
The launch of the Apple watch prompts Brad to remind us of the benefits of being future-friendly.
Once again, responsive design is not about “mobile”, “tablet”, and “desktop”. It’s about creating experiences meant to look and function beautifully on anything that can access the Web. We don’t know what gizmos will be sitting underneath Christmas trees two years from now, but there’s a damn good chance those gadgets will be able to access the Web.
Sorting out hosting is a big stumbling block for people who want to go down the Indie Web route. Frankly it’s much easier to just use a third-party silo like Facebook or Twitter. I’ve been saying for a while now that I’d really like to see “concierge” services for hosting—”here, you take care of all this hassle!”
Well, this initiative looks like exactly that.
These are principles of visual design—hierarchy, rhythm, etc.—nicely explored and explained.
Interstellar travel time dilation and status updates: a clever narrative combo.
It will come as no surprise that I agree with every single word that Tim has written here.
When I look around, I see our community spending a lot of time coming up with new tools and techniques to make our jobs easier. To ship faster. And it’s not that I’m against efficiency, but I think we need to consider the implications of our decisions. And if one of those implications is making our users suffer—or potentially suffer—in order to make our lives easier, I think we need to consider their needs above our own.
A fantastic new site from Ariel and Lisa: a collection of probes that are out in space right now, with oodles of facts for each mission and links through to more resources. SCIENCE!
A beautiful website for ISS-based biology experiments.
Brewster Kahle’s short presentation at NetGain.
A beautiful sci-fi short from the European Space Agency, inspired by the Rosetta mission.
I really enjoyed chatting with the guys on the The Dirt podcast about progressive enhancement, but my goodness; it certainly sounds like I need to switch to decaf! Yappity-yapity-yap!
Everyone who calls for WebKit in Internet Explorer is exactly the same kind of developer who would have coded to Internet Explorer 15 years ago (and probably happily displayed the best viewed in badge).
It’s happening again, and every petulant, lazy developer who calls for a WebKit-only world is responsible.
This is quite amazing!
I remember getting up on Christmas day 2003 (I was in Arizona), hoping to get news of Beagle 2’s successful landing. Alas, the news never came.
For something that size to be discovered now …that’s quite something.
Dropping our films down the memory hole. Welcome to the digital dark age.
As always, systems thinking makes a lot of sense for analysing problems, even if—or, especially if—it’s a social issue.
There’s more than a whiff of Indie Web thinking in this sequel to the Cluetrain Manifesto from Doc Searls and Dave Weinberger.
The Net’s super-power is connection without permission. Its almighty power is that we can make of it whatever we want.
It’s quite lawn-off-getty …but I also happen to agree with pretty much all of it.
Although it’s kind of weird that it’s published on somebody else’s website.
Smart thinking here on the eternal dilemma with loading web fonts. Filament Group have thought about how the initial experience of the first page load could be quite different to subsequent page loads.
There are some good points here comparing HTTP2 and SPDY, but I’m mostly linking to this because of the three wonderful opening paragraphs:
A very long time ago —in 1989 —Ronald Reagan was president, albeit only for the final 19½ days of his term. And before 1989 was over Taylor Swift had been born, and Andrei Sakharov and Samuel Beckett had died.
In the long run, the most memorable event of 1989 will probably be that Tim Berners-Lee hacked up the HTTP protocol and named the result the “World Wide Web.” (One remarkable property of this name is that the abbreviation “WWW” has twice as many syllables and takes longer to pronounce.)
Tim’s HTTP protocol ran on 10Mbit/s, Ethernet, and coax cables, and his computer was a NeXT Cube with a 25-MHz clock frequency. Twenty-six years later, my laptop CPU is a hundred times faster and has a thousand times as much RAM as Tim’s machine had, but the HTTP protocol is still the same.
This a great step-by-step walkthrough from Rey on setting up a remote version of Internet Explorer for testing on Mac.
A short profile of Michael Moorcock’s Elric series (though, for me, Jerry Cornelius is the champion that remains eternal in my memory).
This cat believes in owning its own data.
Chloe would’ve loved this.
This is a nifty little service: if your site has a webmention endpoint, people can comment on your articles by sending an email.
That means you can comment on any post on my site by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (in the email, include the URL of the post you’re commenting on).
Airships in the atmosphere of Venus. More plausible than it might sound at first.
Curiosity’s journey so far, nicely visualised.
If your site is written in Ruby (even if it’s made with a static site generator like Jekyll), you can add webmention support with Jason’s newly-open-sourced code.
You Don’t Need jQuery! – Free yourself from the chains of jQuery by embracing and understanding the modern Web API and discovering various directed libraries to help you fill in the gaps.
The tone is a bit too heavy-handed for my taste, but the code examples here are very handy if you’re weaning yourself off jQuery.
I had the great honour of being invited to speak on the 200th edition of the Working Draft podcast (there are a few sentences in German at the start, and then it switches into English).
I had a lot of fun talking about indie web building blocks (rel=me, indieauth, webmention, h-entry, etc.). Best of all, while I was describing these building blocks, one of the hosts started implementing them!
Tim Carmody on James Cameron’s meisterwerk (and technology in sci-fi films in general).
Scenes of space from sci-fi films.
Sounds like a cute idea, right?
In fact it’s the best thing you’re ever likely to read on Peruvian ursine immigration.
This is an awareness project I can get behind: a Clarke-like Project Spaceguard to protect the Earth from asteroid collisions. This campaign will focus awareness of this issue on one single day…
Now if only the front page of this website actually said when that day will be.
Update: And now it does.
A fascinating look at how the humble password gets imbued with incredible levels of meaning.
It reminds me of something I heard Ze Frank say last year: “People fill up the cracks with intimacy.”
Typeset In The Future is back with another cracking analysis. This time—following on from 2001 and Moon—we’ve got Alien.
In her final recorded message before hypersleep, Ripley notes that she is the sole survivor of the Nostromo. What she forgets to mention is that she has not once in the past two hours encountered any Eurostile Bold Extended.
Stuart has implemented webmentions on his site, which is great. It’s also fitting, as he is the inventor of pingback (of which webmention is a simpler reformulation).
A vision of humanity’s exploration of our solar system.
We’re going back to the moon. With a robot. So we can take sublunarean samples.
You can help fund it on Kickstarter.
Aaron documents the process of adding webmention support to a static site. He came with an ingenious three-tiered approach:
It’s been a pretty fun mini-project. In the end, I created a useful bit of kit that provides three distinct experiences:
- Static webmentions collected when the site was generated form the baseline experience;
I’m an advocate for progressive enhancement. Tom Dale is not. But even though we may disagree on that, there’s a lot to like in his sensible, balanced answers to some sensationalist linkbaity questions.
It’s not that the pace of innovation on the Web is slower, it’s just solving a problem that is an order of magnitude more challenging than how to build and distribute trusted apps for a single platform. As we saw on the desktop, it may take a few years to catch up to all of the capabilities of a native, proprietary platform, but in terms of the impact it will have on humanity, forgive me for not losing sleep if we have to wait a few years for it to arrive.
Aaron raises a point that I’ve discussed before in regards to the indie web (and indeed, the web in general): we don’t buy domain names; we rent them.
It strikes me that all the good things about the web are decentralised (one-way linking, no central authority required to add a node), but all the sticking points are centralised: ICANN, DNS.
Aaron also points out that we are beholden to our hosting companies, although—having moved hosts a number of times myself—that’s an issue that DNS (and URLs in general) helps alleviate. And there’s now some interesting work going on in literally owning your own website: a web server in the home.
Here’s a fun little interview I did recently, mostly about work stuff. It’s available for your huffduffing pleasure.
One thing that really bothers me is the way I repeatedly said “guys” to refer to my colleagues at Clearleft. I must stop doing that.
The UK Space Agency has a magazine called “space:uk” and you can download PDFs of back issues.
We can expect even more stunning images like these from Rosetta soon.
Queen of science fiction.
Angry, but true.
Don’t lock yourself into a comprehensive technology that may just die within the next few months and leave you stranded. With progressive enhancement you’ll never go wrong. Progressive enhancement means your code will always work, because you’ll always focus on providing a minimal experience first, and then adding features, functionality, and behavior on top of the content.
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.
I’m at Disney World for a special edition of An Event Apart, so this lightning talk from Dan Williams seems appropriate to revisit.
A warm-hearted short story about a moonshot. By Tom Hanks.
Petra has always been the strong one. She was the best friend that Chloe could have possibly had. Little wonder then that Chloe’s death continues to hit her so hard.
I still can’t fully comprehend it all nor do I have any idea how to learn to move on. All I know is that ever since the day I found out, I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster. I go from being in shock, to being sad and angry, or completely numb.
Petra is getting help now. That’s good. She’s also writing about what she has been going through. That’s brave. Very brave.
She is one of the best human beings I know.
Patty Toland — Design Consistency For The Responsive Web (Smashing Conference Freiburg 2014) on Vimeo
Patty’s excellent talk on responsive design and progressive enhancement. Stick around for question-and-answer session at the end, wherein I attempt to play hardball, but actually can’t conceal my admiration and the fact that I agree with every single word she said.