Journal 2924 Links 9720 Articles 82 Notes 6756
Thursday, December 8th, 2022
Good writing advice from Matt.
I find, more often than not, that I understand something much less well when I sit down to write about it than when I’m thinking about it in the shower. In fact, I find that I change my own mind on things a lot when I try write them down. It really is a powerful tool for finding clarity in your own mind. Once you have clarity in your own mind, you’re much more able to explain it to others.
Going to San Diego. brb
The first thirty years of the web may have been an orgy of unregulated expansion, but that era is over. The EU has been a leader with the GDPR, but there’s more coming. And I’m glad. The big players have had plenty of time to get their shit together and they haven’t. It’s time to regulate them as much as we regulate a shot of bourbon.
Wednesday, December 7th, 2022
All along, from the frothy 1990s to the percolating 2000s to the frozen 2010s to today, the web has been the sure thing. All along, it’s been growing and maturing, sprouting new capabilities. From my vantage point, that growth has seemed to accelerate in the past five years; CSS, in particular, has become incredibly flexible and expressive. Maybe even a bit overstuffed — but I’ll take it.
For people who care about creating worlds together, rather than getting rich, the web is the past and the web is the future. What luck, that this decentralized, permissionless system claimed a position at the heart of the internet, and stuck there. It’s limited, of course; frustrating; sometimes maddening. But that’s every creative medium. That’s life.
I decided to listen to what the universe was trying to tell me.
Turns out the universe is mostly just sick and tired of being anthropomorphised.
Leading Design San Francisco 2023
Two months from today I’ll be back in San Francisco for Leading Design. It’s on February 7th and 8th.
This event is long overdue. We’ve never had Leading Design in San Francisco before, but we were all set to go ahead with the inaugural SF gathering …in March 2020. We all know what happened next.
So this event will be three years in the making.
They’ll be sharing their insights, their stories and their ideas — as well as some of their pain from past challenges. It’s all designed to help you navigate your own leadership journey.
I would love to see you in San Francisco! If you’ve attended a Leading Design event before, then you know how transformational it can be. If you haven’t, then now is your chance.
Early bird tickets are still available until mid December, so if you’re thinking about coming, I suggest making that decision now.
If you know anyone in the bay area who’s in a design leadership position, be sure to tell them about Leading Design San Francisco—they don’t want to miss this!
Tuesday, December 6th, 2022
I’m not worried about AI coming for our jobs.
I’m worried about AI coming for our hobbies.
People posting screenshots of AI-generated images and text, like parents proudly pinning their toddler’s latest scribblings on the fridge door.
Monday, December 5th, 2022
Reading The Táin translated by Ciaran Carson.
Jamie Freeman passed away yesterday.
I first met Jamie as a fellow web-nerd way back in the early 2000s when I was freelancing here in Brighton. I did a lot of work with him and his design studio, Message. Andy was working there too. It’s kind of where the seeds of Clearleft were planted.
I remember one day telling them about a development with Salter Cane. Our drummer, Catherine, was moving to Australia so we were going to have to start searching for someone new.
“I play drums”, said Jamie.
I remember thinking, “No, you don’t; you play guitar.” But I thought “What the heck”, and invited him along to a band practice.
Well, it turns that not only could he play drums, he was really good! Jamie was in the band.
It’s funny, I kept referring to Jamie as “our new drummer”, but he actually ended up being the drummer that was with Salter Cane the longest.
Band practices. Concerts. Studio recordings. We were a team for years. You can hear Jamie’s excellent drumming on our album Sorrow. You can also his drumming (and brilliant backing vocals) on an album of covers we recorded. He was such a solid drummer—he made the whole band sound tighter.
But as brilliant as Jamie was behind a drumkit, his heart was at the front of the stage. He left Salter Cane to front The Jamie Freeman Agreement full-time. I loved going to see that band and watching them get better and better. Jonathan has written lovingly about his time with the band.
After that, Jamie continued to follow his dreams as a solo performer, travelling to Nashville, and collaborating with loads of other talented people. Everyone loved Jamie.
This year started with the shocking news that he had inoperable cancer—a brain tumor. Everyone sent him all their love (we recorded a little video from the Salter Cane practice room—as his condition worsened, video worked better than writing). But somehow I didn’t quite believe that this day would come when Jamie was no longer with us. I mean, the thought was ridiculous: Jamie, the vegetarian tea-totaller …with cancer? Nah.
I think I’m still in denial.
The last time I had the joy of playing music with Jamie was also the last time that Salter Cane played a gig. Jamie came back for a one-off gig at the start of 2020 (before the world shut down). It was joyous. It felt so good to rock out with him.
Jamie was always so full of enthusiasm for other people, whether that was his fellow musicians or his family members. He had great stories from his time on tour with his brother Tim’s band, Frazier Chorus. And he was so, so proud of everything his brother Martin has done. It was so horrible when their sister died. I can’t imagine what they must be going through now, losing another sibling.
Like I said, I still can’t quite believe that Jamie has gone. I know that I’m really going to miss him.
I’m sending all my love and my deepest sympathies to Jamie’s family.
Fuck—and I cannot emphasise this strongly enough—cancer.
Sunday, December 4th, 2022
A collection of stylesheets that don’t use class selectors. Think of them as alternatives to default user-agent stylesheets.
Tweaking navigation labelling
I’ve always liked the idea that your website can be your API. Like, you’ve already got URLs to identify resources, so why not make that URL structure predictable and those resources parsable?
That’s why the (read-only) API for The Session doesn’t live at a separate subdomain. It uses the same URL structure as the regular site, but you can request the resources in an alternative format: JSON, XML, RSS.
This works out pretty well, mostly because I put a lot of thought into the URL structure of the site. I’m something of a URL fetishist, but I think that taking a URL-first approach to information architecture can be a good exercise.
Most of the resources on The Session involve nouns like tunes, events, discussions, and so on. There’s a consistent and predictable structure to the URLs for those sections:
And then an idividual item can be found at:
That’s all nice and predictable and the naming of the URLs matches what you’d expect to find:
Tunes, events, discussions, sessions. Those are all fine. But there’s one section of the site that has this root URL:
When I was coming up with the URL structure twenty years ago, it was clear what you’d find there: track listings for albums of music. No one would’ve expected to find actual recordings of music available to listen to on-demand. The bandwidth constraints and technical limitations of the time made that clear.
Two decades on, the situation has changed. Now someone new to the site might well expect to hit a link called “recordings” and expect to hear actual recordings of music.
So I should probably change the label on the link. I don’t think “albums” is quite right—what even is an album any more? The word “discography” is probably the most appropriate label.
Here’s my dilemma: if I update the label, should I also update the URL structure?
Right now, the section of the site with
/tunes URLs is labelled “tunes”. The section of the site with
/events URLs is labelled “events”. Currently the section of the site with
/recordings URLs is labelled “recordings”, but may soon be labelled “discography”.
If you click on “tunes”, you end up at
/tunes. But if you click on “discography”, you end up at
Is that okay? Am I the only one that would be bothered by that?
I could update the URLs to match the labelling (with redirects for the old URLs, of course), but I’m not so keen on this URL structure:
It doesn’t seem as tidy as:
But if I don’t update the URLs to match the label, then I’m just going to have to live with the mismatch.
I’m just thinking out loud here. I think I should definitely update the label. I just won’t make any decision on changing URLs for a while yet.
Saturday, December 3rd, 2022