Tags: work

ST4I - Stuff That Talks To The Internet - workshop on Vimeo

Seb will be running this workshop again at the start of February—details here. I can’t recommend it highly enough—it’s so, so good!

Revision 200: The Indie Web on Working Draft on Huffduffer

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!

HUB Interviews - Jeremy Keith on Huffduffer

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.

Living on the Electromagnetic Border

Continuous partial City And The City, courtesy of James.

Those of us who reside on the “right” side of fixed, physical borders seem to cross the electromagnetic border every day, whether overtly, by entering the right passwords and credit card numbers, or covertly, as when using VPNs to watch TV programs viewable only in other territories. Those on the “wrong” side are subjected to a different but analogous battery of tests, intensifying at the physical border but often carried out far from it, in networked enclaves or foreign transit zones or aboard floating teleconference platforms in international waters.

Stop Breaking the Web

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.

Using ServiceWorker in Chrome today - JakeArchibald.com

It’s very early days for ServiceWorker, but Jake is on hand with documentation and instructions on its use. To be honest, most of this is over my head and I suspect it won’t really “click” until I try using it for myself.

Where it gets really interesting is in the comments. Stuart asks “What about progressive enhancement?” And Jake points out that because a ServiceWorker won’t be installed on a first visit, you pretty much have to treat it as an enhancement. In fact, you’d have to go out of your way to make it a requirement:

You could, of course, throw up a splash screen and wait for the ServiceWorker to install, creating a ServiceWorker-dependant experience. I will hunt those people down.

Against Sharing | Jacobin

But under the guise of innovation and progress, companies are stripping away worker protections, pushing down wages, and flouting government regulations. At its core, the sharing economy is a scheme to shift risk from companies to workers, discourage labor organizing, and ensure that capitalists can reap huge profits with low fixed costs.

There’s nothing innovative or new about this business model. Uber is just capitalism, in its most naked form.

Seeing Like a Network — The Message — Medium

How computers work:

One day, a man name Alan Turing found a magic lamp, and rubbed it. Out popped a genie, and Turing wished for infinite wishes. Then we killed him for being gay, but we still have the wishes.

Then we networked computers together:

The network is ultimately not doing a favor for those in power, even if they think they’ve mastered it for now. It increases their power a bit, it increases the power of individuals immeasurably. We just have to learn to live in the age of networks.

We are all nodes in many networks. This is a beautiful description of how one of those networks operates.

The Internet of Things Will Ruin Birthdays — The Message — Medium

A peak at a near-future mundane dystopia from Joanne McNeil that reminds me of Brian’s spime story

The Virtual Haircut That Could Change the World | Design | WIRED

A nice profile of BERG’s Little Printer. That Matt Webb is a smart cookie. He is also a very thoughtful cookie.

Simplicity

I can relate to every single word that Bastian has written here.

The longer I look at boilerplates, build tools, frameworks and ways to make my life as a developer easier, the more I long for the basics.

Google’s ‘Nearby’ Lets Your Smartphone Talk to the Internet of Things | Motherboard

An early look at the just-in-time interactions that Scott has been working on:

Nearby works like this. An enabled object broadcasts a short description of itself and a URL to devices nearby listening. Those URLs are grabbed and listed by the app, and tapping on one brings you to the object’s webpage, where you can interact with it—say, tell it to perform a task.

James Bridle’s Critical View From Above | Crane.tv Contemporary Culture Video Magazine

James talks about his latest project, The Right To Flight.

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.

Valley of the Meatpuppets | superflux

The transcript of Anab Jain’s talk from the FutureEverything Festival.

Girls Imagineer the Future | Curiosity Hub Event

Jacqueline Currie is running Robotics/Bioengineering/Computing workshops for girls (ages 6-16) this Saturday at the University of Brighton.

Frank Chimero – Only Openings

I guess it goes without saying at this point, but this piece from Frank is beautiful and thought-provoking.

This part in particular touched on some things I’ve been thinking about lately:

Design’s golden calf is simplicity. Speaking as someone who sees, makes, and uses design each and every day, I am tired of simple things. Simple things are weak. They are limited. They are boring. What I truly want is clarity. Give me clear and evident things over simple things. Make me things that presume and honor my intelligence. Shun seamlessness. It is another false token. Make me things that are full of seams, because if you give me a seam and I pull the thread, I get to see how the whole world is stitched together. Give me some credit. Show me you trust me.

New product opportunities for the Internet of Normal Things | Berg Blog

I like Matt’s observation here that the simple combination of a barebones data format like HTML delivered over HTTP is a good-enough low-level API for joining up all kinds of internet-connected things.

In the last 60 years, the biggest software platform for interop and integration – for new products, services, businesses, and value creation – has not been Android, or iOS, or Windows, or the PDP-11. The biggest and best platform has been the web.

One implication is that successful products are not necessarily those with seamless, beautiful, tightly-controlled “experiences”, but rather the ones that are capable of talking to each other.

Small things, loosely joined.

James Bridle — Where You Are

The GPS system is a monumental network that provides a permanent “YouAreHere” sign hanging in the sky, its signal a constant, synchronised timecode.

Using Photoshop in Responsive Workflows - Web Standards Sherpa

A nice summation by Dan of when it makes sense to use a graphic design tool like Photoshop and when it makes sense to use a web browser.

4 Million Ravelers

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.

Why we left AngularJS: 5 surprisingly painful things about client-side JS

It’s funny: while I agree with the warning that this article provides (“rich client-side JavaScript frameworks aren’t a good fit for every site, especially content sites”), the reasons given here aren’t the reasons that I have any issues with.

Robin Rendle › A Visual Lexicon

Some great thoughts in here about web development workflow and communication between designers and developers.

I believe that the solution is made up of a variety of tools that encourage conversation and improve our shared lexicon. Tools such as styleguides, pattern libraries, elemental and modular systems that encourage access not only by developers, but by designers, shareholders and editors as well.

Notes on a responsive Guardian redesign – Lozworld™

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.

There are no small changes | Inside Intercom

Des is right, y’know.

Scope grows in minutes, not months. Look after the minutes, and the months take care of themselves.

How did we end up with a centralized Internet for the NSA to mine? - O’Reilly Radar

A great analysis of how centralised hubs are the easiest attack vector for bad actors like the NSA and GCHQ:

How did we get such industry concentration? Why is a network famously based on distributed processing, routing, and peer connections characterized now by a few choke points that the NSA can skim at its leisure?

Photography, hello — Software ate the camera, but freed the photograph by Craig Mod

Craig recently had a piece published in the New Yorker called Goodbye, Cameras. It’s good …but this follow-on piece on his own site is truly wonderful.

Read. Absorb. Ponder.

Being close to the network does not mean being on Facebook, thought it can mean that, too. It does not mean pushing low-res images to Instagram, although there’s nothing wrong with that. What the network represents, in my mind, is a sort of ledger of humanity. The great shared mind. An image’s distance to it is the difference between contributing or not contributing to that shared ledger.

Time - YouTube

The video of my closing talk at this year’s Full Frontal conference, right here in Brighton.

I had a lot of fun with this, although I was surprisingly nervous before I started: I think it was because I didn’t want to let Remy down.

The (other) Web we lost

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

Prerender - AngularJS SEO, BackboneJS SEO, or EmberJS SEO

I despair sometimes.

Here’s a ridiculous Heath-Robinsonesque convoluted way of getting the mighty all-powerful Googlebot to read the web thangs you’ve built using the new shiny client-side frameworks like Angular, Ember, Backbone…

Here’s another idea: output your HTML in HTML.

That solution works for machines and humans. As a bonus, outputting your HTML in HTML avoids turning JavaScript into a single point of failure.

PixelPyros - Free digital fireworks in Brighton

Brightonians, get yourselves along to the Corn Exchange on Monday evening for some fun with Seb’s digital fireworks.

Deskbeers

This looks like something that Clearleft would use. A lot.

I don’t think they deliver to Brighton though.

Moving in, moving on — Paul Robert Lloyd

I’m going to miss having Paul around at Clearleft …and it sounds like he’s going to miss us too.

In many respects, Clearleft can be regarded as a family. Andy and Rich are the parents while perhaps Jeremy is the fun uncle sending postcards from his adventures around the world.

By the way, we’re hiring (two roles, because that’s what it’ll take to fill Paul’s unicorn shoes).

How to see through the cloud

This is a great explanatory piece from James Bridle in conjunction with Mozilla’s Webmaker. It’s intended for a younger audience, but its clear description of how web requests are resolved is pitch-perfect primer for anyone.

The web isn’t magic. It’s not some faraway place we just ‘connect’ to, but a vast and complex system of computers, connected by actual wires under the ground and the oceans. Every time you open a website, you’re visiting a place where that data is stored.

The History of the Internet in a Nutshell

A timeline of technology.

Enabling new types of web user experiences - W3C Blog

Scott gives us an excellent State Of The Web address, looking at how the web can be central to the coming age of ubiquitous computing. He rightly skips through the imitation of native apps and gets down to the potential of just-in-time interactions.

The apparent difficulty of living in my head, freelancing, working for large organisations and then descending in to paranoia.

I have a lot of admiration for Reverend Dan Catt.

I don’t want to be in a position where I say “Hey, I’m working at Google, no no, don’t worry, the good bit of Google”, because goodness knows I did enough of that at Yahoo.

My Metaphorical Job Title - That Emil

Get out my head, Emil! This is pretty much exactly how I feel about my work, especially this bit:

In trying to be the best web developer I can, I feel a need to understand the web. That involves a lot of what some of my friends who are not in the web business think my job is about, i.e. “clicking on funny links all day”. I read copiously about new and old technologies. I bookmark them, I try to classify them, see them in the light of history as well as projected future. Follow up on them. Try them out. Even if they’re not specifically about what I do for a living, the nature of them might have a bearing on my understanding of how other people use the web.

Galaxy Zoo Quench

This is quite remarkable. Now that the Galaxy Zoo project from Zooniverse has successfully classified all its data (already a remarkable achievement), its volunteers are now collaborating on writing a scientific paper.

There’s something going on here. This isn’t just a “cool” or “cute” link—this is the first stirring of something entirely new that is made possible by network technology.

This Recycling Bin Is Stalking You by Siraj Datoo in The Atlantic Cities

I, for one, welcome our new recycling bin panopticon overlords.

You might want to put your phone’s MAC address into this form.

From Beyond the Coming Age of Networked Matter, a short story by Bruce Sterling

H.P. Lovecraft meets James Bridle in this great little story commissioned by the Institute For The Future.

Progressive Enhancement: Still Not Dead. - That Emil

A great post by Emil on the importance of using progressive enhancement for JavaScript — an increasingly unpopular position in today’s climate of client-side-only frameworks and libraries.

There’s something fundamental and robust about being able to request a URL and get back at least an HTML representation of the resource: human-readable, accessible, fault tolerant.

James Somers – Web developer money

A well-written piece on the nature of work and value on the web, particularly in the start-up economy.

Craft a better web.

A new PHP-based content management system. It uses Twig for the templating, which I like.

On Thingpunk

Perhaps we are fetishising physical things because our digital creations are social media junk food:

It’s easy to fetishize Brutalist buildings when you don’t have to live in them. On the other hand, when the same Brutalist style is translated into the digital spaces we daily inhabit, it becomes a source of endless whinging. Facebook, for example, is Brutalist social media. It reproduces much the same relationship with its users as the Riis Houses and their ilk do with their residents: focusing on control and integration into the high-level planning scheme rather than individual life and the “ballet of a good blog comment thread”, to paraphrase Jane Jacobs.

A Stormy Sky of Cranky Clouds by Scott Jenson

Scott points out a really big problem with the current state of the “internet of things”: everyone is inventing their own proprietary walled-garden infrastructure instead of getting together to collaborate on standards.

The single biggest fallacy I want to blow up is this utopian idea that there is this SINGLE thing called ‘The Cloud’. Each company today reinvents their own cloud. The Cloud as a concept is dead and has been for years: we are living within a stormy sky of cranky clouds, all trying to pretend the others don’t exist.

joshje/svg-for-web · GitHub

If, like me, you’ve been using the “export to SVG” plugin for Fireworks and then opening up the resultant file to trim it down, Josh has got you covered: here’s a version of “export to SVG” that will result in much slimmer files.

The Secure Transport of Light on booktwo.org

A beautiful piece by James on the history of light as a material for communication …and its political overtones in today’s world.

What is light when it is information rather than illumination? What is it when it is not perceived by the human eye? Deep beneath the streets and oceans, what is illuminated by the machines, and how are we changed by this illumination?

Meet the Web’s Operating System: HTTP

A lovely description by Paul Ford of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol.

That simple handshake is the firmament upon which we have built trillion-dollar cathedrals and bazaars, the base upon which we construct other protocols and networks.

Reorganization by Trent Walton

Trent hammers home the point that the kind of compartmentalisation that’s traditionally been part and parcel of the web dev workflow just won’t cut it anymore.

The canonical smart city: A pastiche by Adam Greenfield’s Speedbird

Sorta sci-fi from Adam.

Consider this a shooting script for one of those concept videos so beloved of the big technology vendors.

I’m done with the web by Randy Luecke

I find it hard to agree with any part of this. To me, it shows a deep misunderstanding of the web—treating the web as just another platform, without understanding what makes it so special.

I think I may have found my polar opposite.

The hilarious obsession with file size is the start of my frustrations with the web community.

ROCA: Resource-oriented Client Architecture

I like these design principles for server-side and client-side frameworks. I would say that they’re common sense but looking at many popular frameworks, this sense isn’t as common as it should be.

Springboard – Coming soon from Clearleft

The latest Clearleft product will be like having an intensive set of discovery, collaboration, and exploration workshops in a box. Perfect for startups and other small businesses short on time or budget.

It starts in Spring but you can register your interest now.

A Responsive Day Out, Brighton by Hydrant

A nice write-up of the Responsive Day Out with all the right take-aways.

Creating a physical internet to save money and energy on logistics

I remember a talk and discussion at SxSW a few years back about trying to improve the efficiency of trade networks by making them more web-like: there are ships full of empty cargo containers, simply because companies insist on using the container with their logo on it. I really, really like the idea of applying the principles of packet-switching to physical networks.

But here’s the hard part:

The technology is not a problem. We could do it all in 10 years. It’s the business models and the mental models in people’s minds.

Responsive web design: the war has not yet been won

This was the crux of Elliot’s excellent talk at the Responsive Day Out. I heartily concur with this:

Once you overcome that initial struggle of adapting to a new process, designing and building responsive sites needn’t take any longer, or cost any more money. The real obstacle is designers and developers being set in their ways.

Submarine Cable Map

This year’s TeleGeography map of the undersea network looks beautiful—inspired by old maps. I love the way that latency between countries is shown as inset constellations.

Test your app under slow network speeds

Some handy tips for simulating slow network speeds on your machine.

The Creeping Garden

I, for one, welcome our slime mould overlords.

The slime mould is being used to explore biological-inspired design, emergence theory, unconventional computing and robot controllers, much of which borders on the world of science fiction.

Let’s Talk Solar | LOGO24

Here’s a really useful case study for anyone who wants to do “guerrilla” responsive design: when you’re handed a fixed-width mockup but you know that responsive is the way to go:

I started by styling up every element, without layout. The result was a fully elastic layout that effectively served as a mobile, or small screen, layout, which just needed some tweaking of horizontal spacing.

Bingo! And this approach had knock-on benefits as it “supported writing component-based, or modular, CSS”.

A Responsive Design Case Study – David Bushell – Web Design & Front-end Development

I love seeing the process behind responsive projects. This one is particularly nice.

Why Instagram Works — Rainypixels

It’s all about the signalling.

A List Apart: Articles: Responsive Comping: Obtaining Signoff with Mockups

A peak behind the scenes at the responsive design and development workflow at Bearded. It makes a lot of sense.

Connections

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!

The Airfix Responsive Workflow by Jordan Moore — Web Designer

A nice look at some possible ways to approach workflow on a responsive project.

Laying Down our Burdens: Steps towards simplifying the mobile Web

Amen, Lyza, Amen. Instead of treating web development for the multitude of devices out there as an overwhelming nigh-on-impossible task, let’s accept the fact that there are certain things that are beyond our control. And that’s okay.

Let’s build on the commonality core to the web where we can. To do this, I think we need to let go of a few things, to lay down our burdens.

Related: do websites need to look the same in every browser? NO!

Encouraging Better Client Participation In Responsive Design Projects | Smashing Magazine

Andy’s talk from the Smashing Conference in Freiburg.

Scott Jenson | Exploring the world beyond mobile

Excellent! Scott has his own URL now. If you haven’t read everything he has written so far, start from the start and read every single post.

dConstruct glowsticks on Flickr

A beautiful sight: the digital and the physical interacting through glowsticks.

Work is being done here on Vimeo

A short piece on the experiment that James conducted with Lighthouse in the foyer of the Cleareft office building, trying to show some kind of physical representation of coding.

A future friendly workflow | Opinion | .net magazine

Some more thoughts on how our workflow needs to adapt to the current ever-changing device landscape.

The Internet of Things - Readlists

Those articles about the “Internet of Things” I linked to? Here they are in handy Readlist form.

» Explaining the iOS and Android mobile browser usage disparity Cloud Four Blog

A really fascinating analysis by Jason into the apparent disparity in web browsing between Android and iOS devices: it turns out that the kind of network connection could be a big factor.

Matthew Butterick: Reversing the Tide of Declining Expectations

I don’t agree with everything in this presentation—there’s a nostalgic bias to the non-existent “good ol’ days”—but this is still very engaging and thought-provoking.

fberriman » Accidental designer

Everything Frances has written here resonates with me.

I don’t really want a label. I hate labels. I loathe the term “user experience designer”, because I still believe that “user experience” is just a fundamental to what you’re doing, and shouldn’t need stating. There is nothing but user experience design if you’re building products for people.

Derek Powazek - What If Social Networks Just Aren’t Profitable?

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.

Bringing a knife to a gunfight — my slide deck from An Event Apart, Austin 2012 | Stuff & Nonsense

Andy remarks on the same synchronicity I talked about at An Event Apart Austin:

Every An Event Apart conference feels special, but at this one the (unplanned) recurring themes were spooky.

Client/Agency Engagement is F*cked, Waterfall UX Design is a Symptom | disambiguity

Leisa nails it. The real stumbling block with trying to change the waterfall-esque nature of agency work (of which Clearleft has certainly been guilty) can be summed up in two words: sign off.

And from a client’s perspective, this emphasis on sign-off is completely understandable.

It takes a special kind of client to take the risk and develop the level of trust and integration required to work the way that Mr Popoff-Walker any many, many other inhabitants of agency world would like to work.

UX Design at Digital Agencies is F*cked | RossPW

This resonates a lot with me. It also hits very close to home: at Clearleft, we’ve definitely been guilty of taking the wrong approach as described here.

Grids, Design Guidelines, Broken Rules, and the Streets of New York City (Global Moxie)

Josh writes about the importance of using rules and systems as tools without being bound by them.

United Pixelworkers — Brighton

Now you can proudly sport a Pixelworkers T-shirt of England’s finest seaside geek town.

As We May Think - The Atlantic

Vannevar Bush’s original 1945 motherlode of hypertext.

» 29 June 2012, baked by Lea Verou @ The Pastry Box Project

I thoroughly agree with Lea’s approach. It’s all about the craft.

Officrèche: Flexible childcare and office space with parent community

A co-working space in Brighton combined with a crèche: such a great idea!

Welcome Clearleft • MATTER

I’m really pleased to be working with Bobbie on Matter.

Pictures and vision

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.

Responsive workflow

One developer shares how his workflow has changed thanks to responsive design. It’s insightful.

Kiwibank: Standing Up for Something New — Paul Robert Lloyd

Paul interviews the team behind Kiwibank’s responsive homepage. There are some great insights into their process here, like the way that copywriters worked side by side with developers.

API Panel

The video of the panel I moderated on device and network APIs on the second day of Mobilism in Amsterdam. It’s not quite as snappy as the browser panel (which, given the subject matter, is unsurprising) but it was still good fun.

HTML9 Responsive Boilerstrap JS

This amuses me. I am amused.

Mocking Up Is Hard To Do

This seems like an eminently sensible thing to do when building responsive sites: ditch mock-ups entirely. The reasons and the workflow outlined here make a lot of sense.

Toast | A simple CSS framework

This is interesting, not because it’s yet another grid framework (which I never use anyway) but because of the way it’s doing layout: with border-box and inline-block, rather than floats. If you’re only serving up your layout styles to browsers that support media queries (which would discount older versions of IE anyway), this could make a lot of sense.

Sex differences in intimate relationships : Scientific Reports : Nature Publishing Group

Albert-László Barabási and Robin Dunbar are among the authors of this paper — it’s the scale-free network equivalent of the Avengers.

Prontotype :: Data-driven interactive prototyping framework

Mark has put together this rather excellent prototyping tool. It’s basically the V from an MVC system. You can easily move stuff around, change data …all the good stuff you want to do quickly and easily when you’re prototyping in the browser.

» 28 March 2012, baked by Cennydd Bowles @ The Pastry Box Project

I like Cennydd’s thoughts on the fundamental difference between skill and process:

Skilled people without a process will always find a way to get things done. Skill begets process. But process doesn’t beget skill.

Fashionably flexible responsive web design (full day workshop) // Speaker Deck

The slides from Andy’s one-day responsive design workshop are well worth a perusal.

Webstock ‘12: Jeremy Keith - Of Time and the Network on Vimeo

The video of my talk from Webstock, all about wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff like networks and memory.

How I’m implementing Responsive Web Design – JeffCroft.com

Jeff documents some of the techniques he’s using to tackle responsive design, with some tips specifically for SASS.

Responsive Summit » Blog » Elliot Jay Stocks

Elliot jots down some of the issues discussed at the responsive summit.