Web App of the Week: Huffduffer | Maximum PC
A nice write-up of Huffduffer from Maximum PC.
A nice write-up of Huffduffer from Maximum PC.
The blog of the book by Gavin Bell.
Another Huffduffer-style sign-up form, this time from the good folks at Automattic. Very cute.
Margaret Atwood is all kinds of wonderful.
A nice-looking jQuery plugin for HTML5's audio element, with fallback to a Flash player. I might just end up using this on Huffduffer.
I hereby declare April to be HTML5 Month …at least for me. I’m about to embark to on a month of markup pedagogy. I’ll be expounding on the language features of HTML5 at various locations across meat- and cyberspace.
It all starts on April 7th in Seattle. That’s where I’ll be delivering one half of A Day Apart. My brother in arms, Dan the CSS3 Man, will be delivering the other half. While An Event Apart itself has sold out, workshop places are still available so if you’re going to be anywhere near the emerald city, grab a ticket for $449.
After that, my next HTML5 appearance will be virtual. You can join me on April 12th for the first hour of the HTML5 Online Conference. I’ll be setting the scene and acting as warm-up man for Bruce, Peter and Remy. It’s not quite the same as being in the same room as such luminaries, but it won’t increase your carbon footprint. You can get a ticket for $150.
Finally, my pièce de résistance on April 23rd will be a full-day workshop on HTML5 for Web Designers. Don’t let the title fool you; it just means that I’ll be dealing with semantics, structural elements,
input types and outline algorithms rather than offline storage,
canvas or drag’n’drop: language features rather than platform features, mostly. The workshop will take place at the rather excellent Lighthouse facilities right here in Brighton, in the same building as the Clearleft office. Book your place for £395 (or £195 if you’re a student).
I’m going to be living and breathing HTML5 for most of April. If all goes according to plan, the month will be topped off with the first publication from A Book Apart.
More on that later…
So you like the idea of a Science Hack Day? Well, okay then. Let’s make it happen.
I’ve set up a wiki at sciencehackday.pbworks.com. You know the drill: if you see something that needs editing or adding to, go right ahead and do it.
There’s not much up there at the moment, so I’d appreciate anything you can add in the way of:
Don’t think that you have to be a coder to participate. There’s plenty of room for data visualisations, directories of awesomeness, educational tools and anything else you feel inspired to make.
There’s still the little matter of a venue to sort out but I’m sure we’ll come up with something. If you have any ideas… add ‘em to the wiki.
Let’s make this happen.
A thoughtful piece by John Gruber on HTML5 video: yes, software patents are toxic to the web but perhaps H.264 isn't the worst offender.
Excellent news: Brian is writing a book.
I’ve tried to articulate my feelings about data preservation, digital decay and the loss of our collective culture down the memory hole. I’ve written about Tears in the Rain, Magnoliloss and Linkrot. I’ve spoken about Open Data, The Long Web and All Our Yesterdays.
But all of my words are naught compared to a single piece of writing by Joel Johnson on Gizmodo. It’s called Raiding Eternity. From the memories stored on Flickr, past the seed bank of Svalbard, out to the Voyager golden record, it sweeps and soars in scope …but always with a single moment at its center, a single life, a single death.
Please read it. It is beautiful and it is truthful.
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
This is wonderful: sad, beautiful, and wonderful ...it's what I've been trying so hard to clumsily articulate. Read it. And smile. And weep.
A eulogy to Alex Chilton.
Here's a Kickstarter project worth supporting: fund a documentary on crafting typefaces.
Screw Chuck Norris. Douglas Crockford is the true originator of awesomeness in the audience.
The nerdgasmic result of a collision between linguistics and Star Wars.
There are many reasons to go to South by Southwest Interactive: meeting up with friends old and new being the primary one. Then there’s the motivational factor. I always end up feeling very inspired by what I see.
This year, that feeling of inspiration was front and centre. First off, I tried to impart some of it on the How to Rawk SXSW panel, which was a lot of fun. Mind you, I did throw some shit at the fan by demonstrating how wasteful the overstuffed schwag bags are. I hope I didn’t get MJ into trouble.
My other public appearance was on The Heather Gold Show which was bags of fun. With a theme of
Get Excited and Make Things, the topic of inspiration was bandied about a lot. It was a blast. Heather is a superb host and the other guests were truly inspirational. I discovered a kindred spirit in fellow excitable geek, Gina Trapani.
The actual panels and presentations at SXSW are the usual mixture of hit and miss, although the Cooking For Geeks presentation was really terrific. Any presenter who hacks the audience’s taste buds during a presentation is alright with me.
But by far the most inspirational thing I’ve seen was a panel hosted by Tantek on Open Science. The subject matter was utterly compelling and the panelists were ludicrously articulate and knowledgeable:
The URLs were flying thick and fast: the Signtific thought experiment game, the collaborative Galaxy Zoo—now joined by Moon Zoo—and the excellent Spacehack directory.
I was struck by the sheer volume of scientific data and APIs out there now. And yet, we aren’t really making use of it. Why we aren’t we making mashups using Google Mars? Why haven’t I built a Farmville-style game with Google Moon?
Halfway through the panel, I turned to Riccardo and whispered,
We should organise a Science Hack Day.
I’m serious. It would probably be somewhere in London. I have no idea where or when. I have no idea how to get a venue or sponsors. But maybe you do.
What do you think? Everyone I’ve mentioned the idea to so far seems pretty excited about the idea. I’ll try to set up a wiki for brainstorming venues, sponsors, APIs, datasets and all that stuff. In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment here.
I got excited. Now I want to make things …with science! Are you with me?
This will be very, very handy for my day-to-day front end development work.
Mark's superb book is available in HTML for free. Read it now but be warned: it will only make you want to buy the real deal.
I’m about to head off to Austin for South by Southwest, the annual Bacchanalian geek festival. I’m speaking on a panel again, but this year, the emphasis is very squarely on having fun. MJ very kindly asked me to represent the British contingent on her How to Rawk SXSW panel.
It will be a fun, if somewhat bittersweet affair: Brad Graham was also going to be on the panel. Ol’ bastard Death has put paid to that. Southby won’t be quite the same without him. But while there won’t be a Break Bread with Brad, there will be Break Bread for Brad, shortly after the panel on Friday afternoon.
Given my recent musings on the transience of domains, I can’t help but wonder what will happen to the bradlands.com domain. I hope it doesn’t go the way of Leslie Harpold’s online legacy at smug.com and harpold.com.
Anyway, I’ll be taking a break from my doom-laden predictions of the disappearance of our collective online culture to drink beer and eat barbecue in Texas. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Oh, and I’ll be having a good ol’ chinwag on The Heather Gold Show on Saturday. Come along if you’re around.
As is now traditional, I’ve updated Adactio Austin with a selection of hCalendared, hCarded hand-picked parties that I’ll be checking out. Compared with the whizz-banginess of location-aware real-time iPhone apps, it seems positively quaint.
If you’re going to Austin too and you spot me amongst the heaving throngs of geeks, say hello. We can have a Shiner Bock together.
Edit some CSS rules and this in-browser code editor will automatically update related browser-specific declarations.
The most beautiful piece of letterpress art from Cameron thus far.
James Bridle's lovely notebook for his first visit to South by Southwest.
PPK proposes a new buzzword for standards-based mobile development: HTML5 Apps. Definition: "an iPhone app that works on several other platforms, too, and doesn’t have to go through the app store approval process."
Three back-to-back talks on web design at South by Southwest.
Nifty old-school 8-bit tiles superimposed on OpenStreetMap data.
The geeks of the UK have been enjoying a prime-time television show dedicated to the all things webby. Virtual Revoltution is a rare thing: a television programme about the web made by someone who actually understands the web (Aleks, to be precise).
Still, the four-part series does rely on the usual television documentary trope of presenting its subject matter as a series of yin and yang possibilities. The web: blessing or curse? The web: force for democracy or tool of oppression? Rhetorical questions: a necessary evil or an evil necessity?
The third episode tackles one of the most serious of society’s concerns about our brave new online world, namely the increasing amount of information available to commercial interests and the associated fear that technology is having a negative effect on privacy. Personally, I’m with Matt when he says:
If the end of privacy comes about, it’s because we misunderstand the current changes as the end of privacy, and make the mistake of encoding this misunderstanding into technology. It’s not the end of privacy because of these new visibilities, but it may be the end of privacy because it looks like the end of privacy because of these new visibilities*.
Inevitably, whenever there’s a moral panic about the web, a truism that raises its head is the assertion that The Internets Never Forget:
On the one hand, the Internet can freeze youthful folly and a small transgressions can stick with you for life. So that picture of you drunk and passed out in a skip, or that heated argument you had on a mailing list when you were twenty can come back and haunt you.
We seem to have a collective fundamental attribution error when it comes to the longevity of data on the web. While we are very quick to recall the instances when a resource remains addressable for a long enough time period to cause embarrassment or shame later on, we completely ignore all the link rot and 404s that is the fate of most data on the web.
There is an inverse relationship between the age of a resource and its longevity. You are one hundred times more likely to find an embarrassing picture of you on the web uploaded in the last year than to find an embarrassing picture of you uploaded ten years ago.
If a potential boss finds a ten-year old picture of you drunk and passed out at a party, that’s certainly a cause for concern. But such an event would be extraordinary rather than commonplace. If that situation ever happened to me, I would probably feel outrage and indignation like anybody else, but I bet that I would also wonder
Hmmm, where’s that picture being hosted? Sounds like a good place for off-site backups.
The majority of data uploaded to the web will disappear. But we don’t pay attention to the disappearances. We pay attention to the minority of instances when data survives.
This isn’t anything specific to the web; this is just the way we human beings operate. It doesn’t matter if the national statistics show a decrease in crime; if someone is mugged on your street, you’ll probably be worried about increased crime. It doesn’t matter how many airplanes successfully take off and land; one airplane crash in ten thousand is enough to make us very worried about dying on a plane trip. It makes sense that we’ve taken this cognitive bias with us onto the web.
As for why resources on the web tend to disappear over time, there are two possible reasons:
The problem with the first instance is obvious. A commercial third-party responsible for hosting someone else’s hopes and dreams will pull the plug as soon as the finances stop adding up.
I’m sure you’ve seen the famous chart of Web 2.0 logos but have seen Meg Pickard’s updated version, adjusted for dead companies?
You cannot rely on a third-party service for data longevity, whether it’s Geocities, Magnolia, Pownce, or anything else.
That leaves you with The Pemberton Option: host your own data.
This is where the web excels: distributed and decentralised data linked together with hypertext. You can still ping third-party sites and allow them access to your data, but crucially, you are in control of the canonical copy (Tantek is currently doing just that, microblogging on his own site and sending copies to Twitter).
Distributed HTML, addressable by URL and available through HTTP: it’s a beautiful ballet that creates the network effects that makes the web such a wonderful creation. There’s just one problem and it lies with the URL portion of the equation.
Domain names aren’t bought, they are rented. Nobody owns domain names, except ICANN. While you get to decide the relative structure of URLs on your site, everything between the colon slash slash and the subsequent slash belongs to ICANN. Centralised. Not distributed.
Cool URIs don’t change but even with the best will in the world, there’s only so much we can do when we are tenants rather than owners of our domains.
In his book Weaving The Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee mentions that exposing URLs in the browser interface was a throwaway decision, a feature that would probably only be of interest to power users. It’s strange to imagine what the web would be like if we used IP numbers rather than domain names—more like a phone system than a postal system.
But in the age of Google, perhaps domain names aren’t quite as important as they once were. In Japanese advertising, URLs are totally out. Instead they show search boxes with recommended search terms.
I’m not saying that we should ditch domain names. But there’s something fundamentally flawed about a system that thinks about domain names in time periods as short as a year or two. It doesn’t bode well for the long-term stability of our data on the web.
On the plus side, that embarrassing picture of you passed out at a party will inevitably disappear …along with almost everything else on the web.
Loving Godzilla 17 syllables at a time.
A detailed look at traditional and digital publishing, considered from the content out.
Hillman Curtis's new film about David Byrne and Brian Eno will be premiering at Southby. Should be fun.
A handy shortcut for when you just can't recall the exact syntax of border-radius.
Aegir "two blogs" Hallmundur.