Archive: August, 2007


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Friday, August 31st, 2007

Twitter Blocks

A lovely visual of contacts of your Twitter contacts, exploring those six degrees.

Propeller falling from the sky and nearly killing/severely hurting somebody - a photoset on Flickr

A paraglider loses a propellor over Brighton Marina. Citizen journalism ensues.

Man picks up propeller

Thursday, August 30th, 2007 :: Thoughts on (and pics of) the original Macintosh User Manual

Peter Merholz takes a trip down memory lane with pictures from the first Mac user manual.

Coudal Partners

Jim premiered this film at An Event Apart in Chicago. The whole room was in stitches.

The Amateur Gourmet - Cooking My Trip Part Two: Rigatoni with Cherry Tomato Sauce

I keep coming back to this recipe. Simple and delicious.

She car go

As befits a place known as The Windy City, my visit was something of a whirlwind.

I got into Chicago with a day to spare before An Event Apart kicked off. I made the most of that blessedly sunny day; walking out to Navy Pier, down Lake Shore to the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium, stopping for a typical specimen of the Chicago hot dog on the way. By the time I walked back to my hotel—stopping for an obligatory mirror shot at the bean—I was fairly knackered and happy to spend the evening relaxing in the company of my fellow speakers.

The conference itself was great. From Eric’s mind-blowing opening talk to Jim’s relaxed film-filled closing, the quality remained consistently high although it dipped a little at the start of the second day when I took to the stage and made the audience mimic Eric’s patented devil horns.

As great as the speakers were, the crowd were the real stars. I had some great conversations with the smart standards-savvy folk who came to the conference and followed on to the post-presentation drinkipoos. The opening night party was lubricated by the generous and dangerous guys at Media Temple. I’ll be seeing them again next week at the dConstruct pre-party.

An Event Apart wrapped up yesterday. Today I had some time to kill before heading for home. I spent it taking in the wonderful architecture from the vantage point of a river boat tour followed by a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago. They were both gratifying cultural experiences but I don’t think they could quite compare to the late-night visits I had already paid to Chicago’s true cultural icon, the Billy Goat Tavern.

It feels like I just got here but here I am, back at the airport. Having experienced most of Chicago’s tourist attractions—art, architecture, hot dogs, pizza and cheezborger—I am currently engaged in the one activity that every visitor to Chicago really can’t avoid: sitting in O’Hare for hours, waiting for a delayed flight.

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Open Social Graph @ Plaxo

Try Plaxo's identity consolidator for yourself. Give it a URL that includes rel="me".

Plaxo to ship online identity aggregator based on microformats | ScobleShow: Videoblog about geeks, technology, and developers

The guys at Plaxo have not only implemented social network portability, they're sharing the code.

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007


This is quite clearly the greatest animated .gif in the history of animated .gifs. Nice one, Paul.

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

The London Evening Standard Headline Generator

Using photographs of actual headlines from the Evening Standard.


Following on from a drunken evening in Brighton, there is now a LOLcat alternative to tinyurl.

Friday, August 24th, 2007

Illinois apart

Things are busy, busy, busy at Clearleft. As well as the regular client work, we’re on the home stretch for dConstruct 2007. I’ve been slacking off with the podcast and I really need to knuckle down and hammer out the format for the upcoming microformats workshop. The food blog and DOM Scripting blog have been sorely neglected too but that’s nothing new.

I really shouldn’t be taking any time out right now but I can’t resist the lure of a few days in Chicago. I have the great honour of being asked to speak at An Event Apart, the traveling roadshow for people who make websites. Tomorrow morning I’ll be getting the bus to Heathrow where a plane awaits, ready to whisk me across the pond.

I’ve never been to Chicago before. I hear the skyline is breathtaking. I’ve been reading up on the local attractions on offer and before the conference kicks off I’m hoping to make it to the aquarium and the Field Museum (where a Darwin exhibition is currently running).

Most of all, I’m determined to sample and . My explorations will, of course, be documented on Flickr.

iPhone sim free

Looks like the iPhone has been unlocked. Jesus phones want to be free. - Statetris

Very very cool and addictive cross between Tetris and geography knowledge. It took me 19:45 to get all of Europe on a medium setting. That's pathetic.

The Serif - Your daily dose of design inspiration - The Serif

"£5000 in £10 and £20 notes were individually dropped around the streets of London with a removable sticker." Clever.

25 Worlds Weirdest Animals

Sad, sad blobfish. Freaky, freaky aye-aye.

UT| Event delegation without a JavaScript library

A nice succinct explanation of how to roll your own JavaScript event delegation from Andy Hume.

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

GOOD 006 - Transparency - Weights and Measures

A really nice visual representation of just how isolated the Imperial system is.

i love typography

A new blog dedicated to, yup... typography. Looks like a keeper.

Location, location, location

A couple of months ago I wrote:

Jessica speculated a while back about reverse Google Maps. Suppose that when you entered an address, instead of just showing you the top-down view of that point on the planet, you also got to see how the sky would look from that point. Enter a postcode; view the corresponding starmap.

It isn’t in Google Maps yet but it is in Google Earth. The newest version features a button labeled “Switch between Sky and Earth”. This new Sky feature allows you to navigate photographs of space taken from the Palomar observatory and the Hubble telescope. It’s just one more example of what you can do with geodata.

Location information is the basis for a lot of the mashups out there—of which, Overplot remains my favourite. The possibilities in mashing up geodata with timestamps are almost limitless.

Getting datetime information is relatively easy. Every file created on a computer has a timestamp. Almost everything published on the Web is also timestamped: that’s the basis of lifestreams.

I look forward to the day when geostamps are as ubiquitous as timestamps. If every image, every blog post, every video, every sound file had a longitude and latitude as well as a date and time… I can’t even begin to imagine the possibilities that would open up.

I’m not the only one thinking about this. Responding to the question, what parts of the Web need to be improved or fixed in order for the Web of today to evolve into the Web of the future?, Jeff Veen writes:

I wish every device that was capable of talking to the network could send its geolocation. I’d like this to be fundamental—let’s send longitude and latitude in the HTTP header of every request. Let’s make it as ubiquitous and accessible as the time stamp, user agent, and referring URL.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that every electronic device needs to be geo-aware. As long as devices can communicate easily, you may ever only need one location-aware device. Suppose my phone has GPS or some other way of pinpointing location. As long as that device can communicate with my computer, perhaps using Bluetooth, then my computer can know my location: a very short string of two numbers. Once my computer has that data, my location can be broadcast and a whole ecosystem of services can be enhanced. Sites built around travel or events are the obvious winners but I can imagine huge benefits for music sites, photo sharing or any kind of social networking site that boils down to real-world activity.

The technology isn’t quite ubiquitous enough yet and there are privacy concerns (though the granularity of geodata negates a lot of the worst fears) but I hope that as the usefulness of geodata becomes clearer, location enhanced services can really begin to bloom. - Sexy Girls Moaning Your IP Address!

This is waaaaaay better than

Packing Sucks on Vimeo

In preparation for their move to Brighton, Simon and Nat have recorded a time-lapse video of their packing stuff.

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Arsebook | Welcome to Arsebook!

Arsebook is an anti-social utility that connects you with the people YOU HATE.

Monday, August 20th, 2007


It’s never too early to start thinking about South By Southwest. The Clearleft posse booked some rooms at The Hampton Inn in downtown Austin months ago. Now it’s time to think about what you might like to see on stage in Texas. The panel picker is live and hungry for your clicks.

There’s a bunch of design and development panels on offer from my friends and colleagues. I’m not voting for most of those though because:

  1. they don’t need my votes and
  2. I want my friends to spend their time partying with me instead of preparing presentations.

Speaking of which, there’s a panel with my name on it. That’s mostly because Brian had already reached his limit of three panel ideas and asked me to take over. Please don’t vote for it—I don’t want to spend the whole time worrying about keeping my voice. Besides, there are many more panels worthy of your attention.

There are almost 700 presentations to choose from. To make your choice a little easier, these are the panels I think I voted for—the Ajax powered panel picker is built with dynamic disappearing stars—ordered more or less in order of interest:

  1. The Web That Wasn’t

    What if the Web had turned out differently? Before Tim Berners-Lee came along, a number of now-mostly-forgotten information scientists were pursuing competing visions that in many ways surpassed today’s Web. By exploring the Web that wasn’t, we can find tantalizing clues to a Web that may yet be.

  2. Go For IT! Attracting Girls to Technology

    As the technology workforce changes and outsourcing becomes more feared, it is difficult to attract smart, qualified youth to technical careers (especially girls). This session will survey current programs encouraging computing education, discuss what these programs are missing, and suggest what the techie community can do to help.

  3. Totally Wired Teens: How Teens are Using Your Applications

    Listen to real teens talk about the role technology plays in their lives from the time they wake up to their cell phones to sending that last text message at 2 a.m. Anastasia Goodstein will moderate a panel composed of Austin area teenagers to find out where they go online, what types of web design and features they love — and more importantly, which ones they don’t.

  4. ‘Redrum in the Rue Morgue’: Collaboration in International Communities

    Do Italian citizens of Second Life stand physically closer than Canadians? Are Portuguese more prone to blog than French? Is collaboration in international communities being driven more by the platform selected than by the culture(s)? The panelists will discuss how people interact and collaborate in international online communities.

  5. Meet The Architects

    Meet the Architects: the people who design and think about buildings and those who do the same for websites. The panel also introduces everyone to some of the most active and provocative design-based online communities out there.

  6. Adult Conversations: Sex, Intimacy & Online Relationships

    ‘Sex’ is one of the most commonly searched terms online. From MySpace to online personals, the Internet allows a growing number of consenting adults to keystroke their way to new relationships. Join sociologists, bloggers and sex researchers to discuss how the Internet is changing interpersonal relationships and human sexuality now.

  7. Designing Social Media: Interface Tricks and Tips

    We all know the core concepts — Identity, Presence, Relationships, etc — but how do these manifest themselves in our design choices? From avatars or log-in pages, a million tiny choices make the difference between lively community and crickets chirping. We’ll teach you how to make social software social!

  8. Lost in Translation? Top Website Internationalization Lessons

    How do you publish software or content for a global audience? Our expert panel discusses lessons learned translating and localizing. Leaders from Flickr, Google, iStockphoto and the Worldwide Lexicon will tackle various marketing issues; how to translate the ‘feel’ of a Web site, and; best practices for software and content translation.

  9. Designing for Freedom

    In a world where an increasingly diverse set of people are stumbling around the internet, the role of design becomes even more important. This panel will focus on a discussion on how to to design products considering user freedom and user empowerment at every step of the development process.

  10. What Women Need to Succeed

    Some feel that women have a tougher time succeeding in a man’s tech world. This panel will examine the facts, ideas and theories surrounding what it takes for women to be empowered and successful as business owners and contractors.

  11. Stop With the Web 2.0 Already

    We must put an end to Web 2.0. The buzzwords have affected Web design clients to the point where they just want the latest without having any clue about the implications of what they are asking for. A site for an electrical company really does not need social networking.

  12. DataPlay: Living Games

    Our movements in real space and virtual space are tracked by pedometers, GPS units, keystroke loggers, spyware and myware. How can we have fun with all our data trails? I will discuss examples of surveillance data-driven entertainment including our “Passively Multiplayer Online Game”: PMOG transforms the existing topography of the Internet into a game world for players to vandalize, annotate, and curate.

  13. All About Storytelling

    Whether you blog, write for a website, or have a need to present important technical information in a way that is meaningful, you are a storyteller. Humans have used the art of storytelling over thousands of years as a means of sharing socially relevant, inspiring, and dangerous information. Learn how to convey your concept, philosophy, or technology in ways that your clients, readers, and customers will understand and appreciate.

  14. The Great Debate: Is Web 2.0 Bulls#!t?

    Six people. Two teams. Six minutes each. The Great Debate will use a formal debate structure to allow some of the Web’s best thinkers and communicators to convince you that Web 2.0 is/isn’t a load of tripe. Sincere argument, fiery rhetoric, or insulting ridicule: any approach accepted.

  15. Social Design Strategies

    Now that social networking is quickly becoming a regular feature set, designers need to understand the dynamics of designing experiences that encourage social behavior, while giving individuals a sense of privacy, personal gain, and ownership. How do you create a symbiotic relationship that maximizes discovery, game-play, connections, and communication? We’ll examine a breadth of examples and explore their pros and cons.

Portable social networking // James Aylett's diary

James has some quick'n'dirty Python code for extracting relationship data from social networking sites.

QuirksBlog: Getting rid of the semi-professionals

A thoughtful post from PPK on the quality (or lack of it) in discourse around Web standards.

I've switched

A micro campaign to get people using switched extension blocks, you know four ways, multi plug sockets, this kind of thing, with switches

The Serif - Your daily dose of design inspiration - The Serif

An interview with type designer, Eric Olson.

CrunchNotes » What A Comment Stream Would Look Like In A Meeting

Following on from my thoughts about comments on blogs, this video resonates.

Hot topics transcribed

If you cast your browser over to the articles section you’ll find the latest conference transcript. This time it’s the Hot Topics Panel from @media 2007 in London.

I had a lot of fun moderating the panel with Joe, Dan, Drew and Richard. I still wish there was a recording of the Hot Topics panel in San Francisco with Joe, Tantek, Andy and Cameron—that one has a special place in my memory.

As usual I used Casting Words to get the initial transcript done. The quality wasn’t too bad. I still had to do some tweaking to correct misheard words and misattributed sentences. The real problem was how long the transcription took. Casting Words gives a rough delivery time of 7 to 14 days but this one took closer to a month. They do offer a faster but much more expensive expedited service. I hope that the long wait for the normal service isn’t intended as an incentive to push the expedited service.

Don’t forget that the RSS feed of the articles section doubles up as a podcast so you can subscribe with iTunes and take the original recordings with you on your iPod. If you want to check the accuracy of the finished article, you can always listen along to the mp3. Curiously, Joe’s announcement of his retirement from Web accessibility doesn’t make an appearance.

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

@media 2007 Hot Topics Panel

A free-form panel I moderated at the London leg of the @media 2007 conference.

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

Social Network Portability | Google Groups

A mailing list to discuss portable social networks.

CSS Training Courses with

Want to learn CSS kung-fu? Get thee to Maidenhead on October 29th and you can learn from the best: Rachel Andrew and Drew McLellan.

frameboX - Salad

Giger's alien made of vegetables, Arcimboldo style.

Friday, August 17th, 2007

Brad's Thoughts on the Social Graph

Another take on social network portability.

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Brighton geek venues

Natalie put together this handy map of geeky hangouts in Brighton.

Cleverest crows opt for two tools

Crows is smart. And yes, I am using the "Bookmark this..." link at the end of the article.


There’s been a lot of buzz lately around a new CSS framework called Blueprint. It’s basically a collection of resources pulled together from other sources: Khoi’s grids, Richard’s vertical rhythm, Eric’s reset and more.

Some people—including contributors to the CSS—have expressed their reservations about the non-semantic class names used in the framework. That’s a valid concern but, as Simon pointed out in the comments to Mark’s post, you don’t have to restrict yourself to those class names: you can always add your own semantics to the markup.

I don’t see myself using Blueprint. It just seems too restrictive for use in a real-world project. Maybe if I’m building a grid-based layout that’s precisely 960 pixels wide it could save me some time, but I’m mostly reminded of the quote apocryphally attributed to Henry Ford about the Model T:

The customer can have any color he wants so long as it’s black.

Unless I’m creating cookie-cutter sites, I don’t think a CSS framework can help me. That said, I think a framework like Blueprint has its place.

At Clearleft, a lot of our work involves wireframing. Every Information Architect has their own preference for tools and formats for creating wireframes and prototypes: some use Visio, others Omnigraffle. James and Richard usually start with paper and then move on to HTML, CSS and even a dab of JavaScript.

This results in quick wireframes that illustrate hierarchy, are addressable and allow for a good level of interaction. Creating HTML wireframes requires a different mindset to creating documents intended for the Web. You don’t have to worry about cross-browser CSS, bulletproof markup or unobtrusive JavaScript. With those concerns out of the equation, the benefits of using cookie-cutter code really come to the fore.

So while I might have reservations about using a JavaScript library on a production site, I’d have no such qualms when it comes to generating a quick prototype. The same goes for Blueprint. I think it could be ideally suited to HTML wireframes.

I may be a bit of a control freak, but I’d no sooner use a CSS framework for a live site than I’d use clip art for images. I firmly believe that creating good markup is a craft that, like good design, takes time. It may seem unrealistic to some, but I don’t want to compromise that quality without a very good reason.

That’s my hard-nosed attitude when it comes to creating documents for the World Wide Web. If the documents are intended purely as wireframes for internal use, then my attitude softens considerably. Then I think a framework like Blueprint could really shine.

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Jeffrey Zeldman Presents : What crisis?

I was feeling very browbeaten after Molly's tirade but count on Jeffrey to put things in perspective.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Pull down the walled gardens

The need for portable social networks hits the mainstream press: Professor Michael Geist writes an article for the BBC website.

The Eachday Blog — Die Speech Bubble Logo, Die.

“Attention all startups, it’s a bad idea to hang your ID hat on a speech bubble. Just don’t.”

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

How To Mix Fonts: Typeface Cheat Sheet

A cheat sheet for combining typefaces. No hard and fast rules but a handy guide to print out and use.

adaptive path » blog » Charmr Project

Charmr is a design concept for diabetes management devices proposed by Adaptive Path following a process of research and iteration.

Unstoppable Robot Ninja

Sidesh0w is dead! Long live the new Ethan! I for one welcome our unstoppable robot ninja overlords.

Anguish Languish

Tired of using "lorem ipsum dolor..." for placeholder copy? Use real English words that, while apparently non-sensical, transform into stories when spoken aloud.


I’m still thinking about blog comments so I thought I’d get a few hyperlinks and blockquotes out of my system.

Dave Winer promotes the idea of blog-to-blog conversations rather than the easier solution of providing a comment form:

That’s what’s important about blogs, not that people can comment on your ideas. As long as they can start their own blog, there will be no shortage of places to comment.

That’s exactly what Tantek does on his blog by displaying any Technorati links (reactions) back to his posts.

Joel Spolsky expands on the problem with comments:

They are a part of the problem, not the solution. You don’t have a right to post your thoughts at the bottom of someone else’s thoughts. That’s not freedom of expression, that’s an infringement on their freedom of expression.

When a blog allows comments right below the writer’s post, what you get is a bunch of interesting ideas, carefully constructed, followed by a long spew of noise, filth, and anonymous rubbish that nobody … nobody … would say out loud if they had to take ownership of their words.

This issue of taking responsibility for, and hosting your own words also lies behind Andy Rutledge’s attitude to feedback:

Anyone who feels the need to comment on what I write may send an email to me just as easily as writing a comment in some form on my site. Further, if someone takes issue with what I say, they may write about it from their own website and take responsibility for what they put forth, as everyone should.

But perhaps the best justification comes from John Gruber during a podcast chat transcribed by Shawn Blanc:

I wanted to write a site for someone it’s meant for. That reader I write for is a second version of me. I’m writing for him. He’s interested in the exact same things I’m interested in; he reads the exact same websites I read… If I turn comments on, that goes away. It’s not that I don’t like sites with comments on, but when you read a site with comments it automatically puts you, the reader, in a defensive mode where you’re saying, “what’s good in this comment thread? What can I skim?”

The comments over on Digg are, of course, an extreme example of just how puerile comments can be but at least they’re quarantined over there. I’ve never understood why a site owner would actually want to get Dugg and invite those kind of people over to piss on the furniture. As Jason Kottke put it:

Digg sents lots of traffic but IMO it’s mostly useless. They usually read only one page, send stupid emails, and never visit again.

And yet, again and again, I see sites like Digg and YouTube held up as paragons of community and interaction. I was chatting with Andy at work about how many potential clients treat community as some kind of checklist; comments: check, ratings: check, tagging: check. Thomas Vander Wal has come up against the same attitude. His solution is to point people to this Kevin Federline page on Amazon and ask Now, do you still want tagging?

I’m always impressed when site owners can provide a new, different way of fostering interaction. I really like the way uses the proto-machinetag syntax of for:username to allow sharing between users. It’s so much more discreet than the pre-filled emails that most sites use for user-to-user communication. It allows for a network to develop in an understated, organic way.

Monday, August 13th, 2007

Apple - Pro - Profiles - Joshua Davis

A profile on of Flash designer par excellénce, Josh Davis.


Sometimes I write something here in my journal and open up the post for comments. It doesn’t happen very often, maybe one in ten posts. That’s because I still firmly believe in my corollary of Sturgeon’s Law for blogs:

Comments should be disabled 90% of the time.

No doubt there are still those who believe that what I am doing is somehow anti-community. The fallacy there is in equating comments with community. Choose a random video on YouTube or a random story on Digg, read each and every comment and then tell me that the comments contribute to any kind of community discussion. They are shining examples of antisocial networking.

As for the oft-quoted justification that comments on blogs enable conversation, I’m going to quote my past self again:

The best online conversations I’ve seen have been blog to blog: somebody posts something on their blog; somebody else feels compelled to respond on their own blog. The quality of such a response is nearly always better than a comment on the originating blog for the simple reason that people care more about what appears on their own site than on someone else’s.

I’m guilty of this myself. I chimed in with some comments on Jeff Croft’s latest post. There was some subsequent miscommunication between Jeff and myself that I think was partly due to the medium: a textarea at the end of a blog post has a low barrier to entry but it’s that same ease of access that discourages deeper reflection. If I had crafted a response here on my own site, I probably wouldn’t have hit the curt tone that I unintentionally wrote in and I’m sure our mutual misunderstandings could have been avoided. Jeff has now deleted the back and forth we had in the comments as is his prerogative and that’s probably for the best.

I often wonder why so many writers are so keen to have comments on their blogs considering the burden it places on them. Managing a centralised community (the kind fostered by blog comments) is hard work. I know this from all the effort I put in over at The Session. It takes a lot of time and it can be extremely frustrating (though, admittedly, it can also be very rewarding).

Between my ill-advised contributions to Jeff’s blog post and a particularly heavy week of cat-herding at The Session, I was feeling less than optimistic about the nature of online communication. Then I made the mistake of reading the responses to Molly’s open letter to organisations beginning with W. I became very despondent indeed.

I find it very depressing to see people I consider to be good friends bickering. The really discouraging aspect is that these disagreements are based on such minor differences. I’m reminded of Gulliver’s Travels in which a debate about the correct way to crack an egg eventually leads to war.

For crying out loud, we’re all on the same side here, people! We have so, so much in common and yet here we are, focusing on the few differences that separate us. Step back. Look at the big picture. We are comrades, not enemies.

Leaving aside the trolling and petulance in the comments—which should hardly surprise me, given my opinion of most blog comments—the contents of Molly’s post is equally dispiriting but for different reasons.

Molly is calling for more action from the W3C and the WaSP. She’s right, of course. Things have been far too quiet at the Web Standards Project. I’ve been feeling guilty about my own lack of activity and Molly’s rallying cry has increased that feeling.

But here’s the thing… I don’t think I can muster the requisite energy. I’m not saying that the work of the DOM Scripting Task Force is done but the perception of JavaScript has come along way since we wrote our manifesto. Two years ago, I really felt that something had to be done. I couldn’t just sit still. My colleagues and I were motivated to get out there and encourage best practices. A lot of that came from frustration: anger is an energy. Today, that flame burns lower. I’m not saying that best practices are widespread but they’re more widespread than they were and I got the feeling that there are a lot of good developers out there who could do a better of job of spreading the word than me.

This has happened before. I caught the CSS bug back in 2001. I started evangelising at any opportunity; mailing lists, blogs and so on. A few years later, I was kind of burned out but in a good way. I couldn’t muster the necessary enthusiasm for activism but that was okay: plenty of other people came along with abundant time and energy. I was free to get on with actually building websites, using standards instead of just talking about them.

Well, apparently it’s not enough to just use best practices. Molly—and others I’m sure—want to see much more direct action. But I can’t force myself into action. I certainly can’t get behind the conspiracy theory that Molly is seeing in Mozilla and Adobe collaborating on JavaScript… it’s bad when companies don’t sit down and talk to each other but it’s worse when they do? I just don’t get it.

I’m also getting tired of the no-win situation: you can either get passionate about a cause and be labeled a zealot or you can keep your head down and be labeled complacent. To quote Molly: Fuck. That.

I honestly don’t think I can muster the requisite enthusiasm to contribute to mailing lists, blog posts and other fora for advancing best practices. I am, however, very willing to lead by example; to publish online using standards and validate what I put out there. Maybe that isn’t enough. But I’m drawing a line.

I can appreciate how much effort someone like Molly has put into fighting the good fight over the years. But I can also see the toll it has taken and I don’t think I’m willing to pay that price. I’m not feeling quite as nihilistic as Brothercake but I can certainly relate to his conclusion:

So screw the endless arguments. I’m just going to quietly get on with doing what I think is the right thing to do, in the way I think it should be done.

There are still topics that get me excited. Microformats have rekindled my love of markup and I don’t see that excitement fading anytime soon.

In amongst all the doom and gloom that’s being weighing on everyone’s shoulders lately, I’m immensely buoyed by Aral’s outlook. I share his optimism regarding the collaboration between the worlds of Web standards and Flash. Crucially, I think that what Aral and I feel is bolstered by interaction and communication in the real world.

I love the Web. I really do. But sometimes I think that one good natter over a beer is worth a thousand mailing lists or a million blog comments. For that reason, I intend to maintain as much meatspace standards activity as I can: conferences, workshops, local meetups… but don’t expect too much in the way of emails, articles or other online evangelism from me. I’m going to be too busy building a better Web to spend much time talking about building a better Web.

Comments are, most emphatically, closed.

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

The Man in Blue > Experiments > Left Right

Contribute to Cameron's experiment. Just choose: left or right?

Last Exit to Nowhere

Great collection of fictional locations—Summerisle, Overlook Hotel—and companies—Wayland Yutani, Tyrell Corporation, Hudsucker Industries...

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

Friday, August 10th, 2007

BBC NEWS | UK | Designs for taking on criminals

Making the link between good product design and discouraging crime.


A collection of websites incorporating noteworthy visual design elements.

Oxford Geek Night 3 | 25th July 2007

Videos ands slides from the recent Oxford Geek Night.

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

Apple doesn’t get the Web

Now, now, don’t go jumping to any conclusions. I’m not Apple-bashing here, I’m just sayin’…

Apple make great products—those new iMacs, the iPhone, all that stuff. And the operating system and desktop software that ships on a Mac is, for the most part, superb. But in the fast-moving, messy world of online services I don’t think the genius-led design of Apple can compete with the truckloads of nimble young upstarts making snazzily addictive products on the Web. Competing against a behemoth like Microsoft is one game; competing against an ecosystem of hungry start-ups and bedroom coders is a different proposition.

But I’m not complaining. I quite like this status quo. As long as Apple keep making great hardware and software, I’m happy. I’ll just look elsewhere for examples of great design on the Web… and when I say design, I definitely mean more than simply visual design.

The Benefits of Facebook "Friends:" Social Capital and College Students' Use of Online Social Network Sites

"In addition to assessing bonding and bridging social capital, we explore a dimension of social capital that assesses one's ability to stay connected with members of a previously inhabited community, which we call maintained social capital."

How Not To Get Noticed » SlideShare

Slides based on a usability analysis of Wordpress by some of the Happy Coggers.


In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve got a real thing about portable social networks. And I’m not the only one. At a recent meetup in San Francisco a bunch of the Web’s finest minds got together to tackle this issue. You can track the progress (and contribute) on the microformats wiki.

Ever since then, Brian Oberkirch has been doing a sterling job documenting the issues involved:

Head on over there, read what Brian has to say and join in the conversation in the comments.

Lest you think that this is some niche itch that needs to be scratched, I can tell you from personal experience that everybody I’ve spoken to thinks that is a real issue that needs tackling. Heck, even Wired News is getting upset in the article Slap in the Facebook: It’s Time for Social Networks to Open Up:

We would like to place an open call to the web-programming community to solve this problem. We need a new framework based on open standards. Think of it as a structure that links individual sites and makes explicit social relationships, a way of defining micro social networks within the larger network of the web.

Weirdly, the same article then dismisses XFN, saying Trouble is, the data format doesn’t yet offer any tools for managing friends. That’s kind of like dismissing HTML because it doesn’t offer you a way of managing your bookmarks. XFN is a format—a really simply format. Building a tool to manage relationships would be relatively easy. But you have to have the format before you can have the tool.

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

UK Smoking Ban Leads to Rise in Texting

"The sharp increase has been attributed to smokers keeping themselves occupied as they're forced outdoors and away from their mates. Many are also turning to their phones as a distraction and a way to avoid temptation."

The Snowclones Database

A blog dedicated to cataloguing snowclones. Brilliant!


Stop what you’re doing and watch this utterly charming and beguiling video entitled Wordmaking: What it take to succeed in hacking English and invent a new word. It’s a presentation by as part of the TechTalks series at Google.

How is it that I had never come across the term before?* I asked Jessica this rhetorical question and the next thing you know, I’m learning all about . Clearly I need to improve my linguistic knowledge.

On a tangentially related note, I’ve discovered kindred spirits out there in blogland, to whit:

Ever notice hand-written signs with letters in all-caps, except for the letter L? It looks like an uppercase i … WHY DO PEOPlE WRITE lIKE THIS?

*Update: Edward O’Connor points me to his wife’s blog, The Snowclone Database.

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

What Is Your Provenance?

If you missed it at XTech in Paris, here's a chance to see Gavin Bell's excellent musings on identity and consolidation from a talk he gave at Google.

lowercase L

A blog devoted entirely to instances of all-caps writing that uses lowercase letter Ls.

Jeffrey Zeldman: King of Web Standards

Hail to the King... so says Business Week.

Digital Web Magazine - Hacking on Open APIs

The second part of Gareth's series for Digital Web on APIs. This time he's got some PHP code samples for parsing XML and JSON.

The National Day of Awesomeness! March 10, 2008

Because everyone needs a chance to be awesome. Add this date to your diary.

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

Syncotype Your Baselines —

Here's a handy little bookmarklet that overlays a grid on a web page—very handy for tweaking vertical rhythm and aligning to a baseline. Amazon FPS, Amazon Flexible Payment Service: Amazon Web Services

PayPal has a new competitor. Amazon is now offering a payment services to developers.

» Undercover NBC Dateline reporter bolts from DEFCON 2007 | George Ou |

Pwn3d! "Undercover reporter Michelle Madigan (Associate Producer of NBC Dateline) got a little more than she bargained for when she tried to sneak in to DEFCON 2007 with hidden cameras to get someone to confess to a felony."

Blueprint: A CSS Framework

Pulling together a bunch of CSS tricks from a range of sources: reseting, baseline typography and grids (fixed width, unfortunately).

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

International Chindogu Society

In the same way that moving a mouse on a desk corresponds to moving a cursor on a screen, you can now, using a simple grid, easily direct people to the area of the back you want scratched.

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

A List Apart: Articles: Reviving Anorexic Web Writing

I love this article by Amber Simmons. The truth shines through.

Web Rankings Shakeup: It's About Time

I suspect David Sleight was hovering over Catherine Holahan's shoulder while she wrote this.

Mingle2 - The Blogger Spelling Test

Take the blogger spelling test and hang your head in shame if you score anything less than 90%.

Walk Score - How walkable is your house?

Find out whether you really need a car in your neighbourhood. My place got a score of 75 which is pretty darn good.

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007


John Allsopp and the fine folks at Westciv have released a really neat bookmarklet called XRAY. Drag it to your toolbar, visit any website and click on the bookmarklet to reveal a hovering DOM inspector. Clicking on any element in the currently loaded document will reveal not just its position in the DOM tree but also all the styles being applied to it.

Now I now what you’re going to say: You can do this already in Firebug! Yes, you can but Firebug is a browser-specific plugin. XRAY will work on any Mozilla-based browser or Safari (though it doesn’t yet work in Internet Explorer).

Much as I love tools like Firebug and YSlow, I always feel uneasy about being locked into a specific browser—regardless of whether that browser comes from the Microsoft Death Star or the Mozilla Rebel Alliance. That seem uneasiness also stops me from getting too excited about Greasemonkey scripts. They’re great but I wish that the same functionality was available to all browsers.

Anyway, that’s why I like (sorry Tantek, I can’t really get behind the term “favelet”). XRAY is particularly lovely example of the craft. For another lovely examplar, be sure to grab the microformats bookmarklet from fellow Brightonian Remy Sharp.