Archive: August, 2010


                    5th                     10th                     15th                     20th                     25th                     30th     

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Lanyrd | the social conference directory

The latest creation from Simon and Nat. It's surprisingly addictive and useful — play around with it for a bit and you'll see what I mean. Lovely stuff.

Hipster Dinosaurs - Imgur

Yeah, seen it. It's not as funny as the first meme.

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Team meme

I’m somewhat fascinated by the divisive spin on fandom taken by Twilight fans—you know; the whole Team Edward or Team Jacob debate. I wonder what it would be like to take the same approach to more important issues…

Get those T-shirts printed!

The secret, however, is knowing when to stop. I do not want to see “I’m with Team HTML5” vs. “I’m with Team Flash.”

TeuxDeux Part Deux

I’ve tried a few different to-do list apps in my time: Ta-da List, Remember The Milk. They’re all much of a muchness (although Remember The Milk’s inability to remember me on return visits put me off it after a while).

The one that really fits with my mental model is TuexDeux. It’s very, very simple and that’s its strength. It does one thing really well.

Now it has been updated with a few little changes.

TeuxDeux Part Deux on Vimeo

I’m very pleased to see that it has become more flexible and fluid. I’ve said it before but I really think that web apps should aim to be adaptable to the user’s preferred viewing window. With more content-driven sites, such as webzines and news articles, I understand why more control is given to the content creator, but for an application, where usage and interaction is everything, flexibility and adaptability should be paramount, in my opinion.

Anyway, the new changes to TeuxDeux make it better than ever. Although…

If I had one complaint—and this is going to sound kind of weird—it’s that you mark items as done by clicking on them (as if they were links). I kind of miss the feeling of satisfaction that comes with ticking a checkbox to mark an item as done.

I told you it was going to sound kind of weird.

The Wilderness Downtown

A nifty interactive video for Arcade Fire's "We Used To Wait." It claims to be built in HTML5 but actually uses XHTML 1.0 and HTML 4.01 doctypes throughout. *sigh*

Flickr: NASA on The Commons' Photostream

NASA is now part of Flickr Commons: loads of wonderful science-related pictures with no known copyright restrictions.

Expedition 55 Launch

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Sweet Talking Your Computer -

Personality in software. Pieces of technology are people too.


Whenever I take a trip somewhere—like Copenhagen, for example—it’s a good opportunity to catch up on what I’ve been huffduffing. Trains, planes and buses are the killer apps of personal podcasting. In many ways, Huffduffer becomes more useful the further away you are from a computer and an internet connection.

I didn’t get the chance to see Mark speak at this year’s Web Directions @media in London, but now that I’ve listened to his talk on Designing Grid Systems, I’m cursing the two-track format of the conference and the fact that I couldn’t be in two places at once. This talk is superb; one of the best presentations I’ve ever heard. It’s got a fantastic long-zoom perspective and completely crystalises and clarifies the fundamental problem with the approach taken to most web design today: canvas in, rather than content out. Do yourself a favour and huffduff this today.

Mark Boulton — Designing grid systems on Huffduffer

The audio from the hot topics panel I moderated at the same conference is also available for your huffduffing pleasure and you can read a transcript of the panel right here in the articles section of my site.

Web Directions @media: Jeremy Keith — Hot Topics on Huffduffer

Matt Ridley’s usual area of expertise is in evolutionary biology but lately he’s turned his Darwinian gaze to the evolution of man-made systems. His talk on How Prosperity Evolves, based on his latest book The Rational Optimist is a fascinating look at how ideas have sex with each other.

How Prosperity Evolves on Huffduffer

Two new podcasts showed up on my radar recently. One is The Box from web designer Tim Van Damme. Episode 1 features a short, snappy interview with Neven Mrgan, one of the creators of the iPhone game The Incident. Expect more short snappy interviews to follow.

The Box - Episode 1: Neven Mrgan on Huffduffer

The other new podcast is called The Incomparable, a chat show about sci-fi and geek culture. The first episode, We’ll Always Have Zeppelins began with a discussion of China Miéville’s The City and The City (which I’m planning to read now) and finished with a look at Cory Doctorow’s For The Win. While I was sitting in a chair in the sky listening to the discussion, I remembered that I had downloaded the ePub version from I began reading it on my iPod Touch and now I’m hooked.

We’ll Always Have Zeppelins — The Incomparable on Huffduffer

So that’s just some of the stuff I’ve been listening to:

…and I haven’t even mentioned the prolific audio output of Dan’s excellent 5by5 network.

If audio isn’t your bag, then you might enjoy the beautiful-looking videos from Put This On, a web series about dressing like a grown-up from the ever-brilliant Jesse Thorn and Adam Lisagor. You’re welcome.


A nifty exploration of architecture and urban planning that describes itself as "a set of interlinked concepts, models, speculations, probings, essays and artefacts based on urban systems."

Big Questions Online

A site that aims to ask and explore the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality, with a focus on science, religion, markets and morals.

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Scandinavian sojourn

I’ve been on a little trip to Copenhagen. Usually when I go to Denmark, it’s for Reboot but alas, there is no Reboot this year. Instead, I was there for Drupalcon.

I have to admit, it was quite a surprise to be asked to speak at a Drupal event. After all, I don’t use the Drupal framework. To be fair, I don’t use any framework—though I did dabble with Django once. Clearleft is a backend-agnostic company: we do UX, IA, front-end, but we’ve deliberately avoided committing to one particular server-side solution.

Anyway, I was kinda nervous about addressing a large group of programmers devoted to a PHP framework that I’m not that familiar with. I needn’t have worried. Everyone was incredibly welcoming and I got a very warm reception.

I had been asked along to speak about HTML5 but rather than just run through a whole bunch of features in the spec, I thought it would be more interesting to talk about why features have been added to HTML5. So I concentrated on the design principles driving the development of the specification.

I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. The whole thing was streamed live and it’s all been recorded and posted online.

The Drupal community is clearly very vibrant: the 1000+ people gathered in Copenhagen were very enthusiastic about their chosen platform. That said, I did sense some frustration from the theming community—it isn’t always the easiest to change the markup and CSS that’s output by Drupal. This is something that Dries acknowledged in his keynote and people like Jen Simmons are fighting the good fight to improve Drupal’s front-end output.

The Drupal community also know how to party. This was the first conference I’ve been to that had its own beer; the rather excellent Awesomesauce from the world-renowned Mikkeller.

All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. And I had enough time before my flight back to Blighty to nip across to Malmö in Sweden, where Emil showed me the sights.

Then it was time to catch a ludicrously comfy train across a remarkable bridge, past a stunning wind farm to the snazilly-designed airport to catch my flight home.

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Mule Design Studio’s Blog: Why We Don’t Deliver Photoshop Files

Yes, yes, yes: "A PSD is a painting of a website.” We don’t spend weeks or months understanding a client’s complex needs and issues to make them paintings.

BBC - Radio 4 Blog: Some changes to the Radio 4 web site

A few notes on the recent re-align of the Radio 4 website by Clearleft.

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

HTML5 Pour Les Web Designers – Jeffrey Zeldman Presents The Daily Report

Zoot alors! Mon book is high in the iTunes Store Français. Quelle surprise!

MPEG LA’s AVC License Will Not Charge Royalties for Internet Video That Is Free to End Users Through Life of License | Business Wire

Well, well, well. It looks like h264 is not going to be torpedoing us with any submarine patents anytime soon ...but this only applies to end users, not browser makers. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

The Box

Excellent huffduffing fodder: "The Box is a series of short interviews with people who make cool stuff, hosted by Tim Van Damme."

Periodic Table of the Elements - Josh Duck

Cute illustration of different content types in HTML (though, personally, I would put sectioning content — section, article, nav, aside — into their own group).

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Slight return

Tantek is bringing back the blog after skipping an entire year:

I had gone from owning (most of) my content, to digital sharecropping. The past two years I watched life-changing, brilliant, and some long-lived sites get killed by owners that knew not what they had, or just gave up.

Leo Laporte is doing the same:

I feel like I’ve woken up to a bad social media dream in terms of the content I’ve put in others’ hands. It’s been lost, and apparently no one was even paying attention to it in the first place. I should have been posting it here all along.

I approve of this ongoing process of Pembertonisation.

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Eat Tweet | a twitter cookbook

Maureen's book is out and about. Get over 1000 bite-sized recipes.

Friday, August 20th, 2010


A JavaScript/SVG library for displaying maps in a variety of interesting ways.

PaintbrushJS v0.1 Demo Page

A fantastic bit of image manipulation JavaScript from Dave.

Frank Chimero

A whole bunch of Jenny Holzerisms for you to turn into bumper stickers.

Web Directions @media 2010 Hot Topics Panel

A panel I moderated at Web Directions @media in London in June 2010.

Thursday, August 19th, 2010


The newest web fonts delivery service is a collaboration between five foundries: The Font Bureau, Ascender, Roger Black, Petr van Blokland and DevBridge.

HTML5 Reference | Metal Toad Media

HTML5 resources, gathered together in one place.

A Content Book Apart :

Erin is writing about content strategy for A Book Apart. This is good news for everyone.

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

What's Wrong With 'X Is Dead' - Science and Tech - The Atlantic

An excellent long-zoom rebuttal by Alexis Madrigal of the whole "The web is dead" guff on Wired right now.

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

BBC - Dimensions - Index

New from BERG: superimposing historical events onto familiar landscapes.

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Unicorn Being a Jerk : C. W. Moss

That unicorn is such a jerk.

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Journalism Warning Labels « Tom Scott

Excellent! Warning labels for bad journalism for you to print off and stick on.

The origins of abc | I love typography, the typography and fonts blog

A wonderful history of our alphabet. Set aside some time to read this.

Article vs. Section: We've Finally Gone Mad - Opinions - MIX Online

A great post from the frontline of markup. This is just a taste of the confusion to come.

Friday, August 13th, 2010



You keep using that word.

In a comment on one of Jeffrey’s blog posts, Tantek wrote:

We as a community that is learning/relearning/teaching all this stuff need to vigilantly clarify what’s what rather than calling things “HTML5″ that are not actually HTML5 (e.g. CSS3, Geolocation, etc. etc.), and correct the marketing messages being shouted from various rooftops so we can better understand and reliably build HTML5 websites and web applications that use HTML5.

Jeff Croft argues just the opposite:

Sometimes we just need a word to rally behind. And put in job descriptions. And claim we “support” (another word that is mostly meaningless). It’s a language thing and a human psychology thing.

For the most part, I think what Jeff is saying is fine …assuming we’re talking about managers, marketers, and other people who aren’t making websites for a living. For the rest of us down in the trenches, I think it is important to understand what is in which spec. As Jeff later clarifies:

That “HTML5” means something different to marketers than it does to web developer is an annoyance, no doubt — but I don’t think it hinders us any real way, and I don’t know that we need to, as Tantek suggests, “vigilantly clarify” the matter.

Fair enough. If someone in middle management wants to use the term HTML5 where they previously used, say, “Web 2.0”, that’s fine. But here’s the problem…

A couple of weeks ago, I got a got phone call out of the blue from a local web developer. My mobile number is listed right here—anyone is free to call me whenever they want. He had a reasonable enquiry. He wanted to know if he could pop ‘round to the Clearleft office and buy a copy of my new book directly from me rather than ordering it online.

Alas no, I said. That’s my personal stash, not for resale.

But while he had me on the phone, he asked a couple of questions about what’s in the book. I started talking about semantics and forms. He asked Does it cover CSS?

No. Nope. Definitely not. The book is very specifically about HTML5, not CSS3.

And then he said But CSS3 is part of HTML5, isn’t it?

He’s not in management. He’s not in marketing. He builds websites. And the scary thing is, I think he’s probably fairly representative of many working web developers.

Don’t get me wrong: I honestly don’t care that much about whether something like geolocation is technically part of HTML5 or not: that’s a fairly trifling matter. But CSS3? C’mon! In what universe is it in any way acceptable that a web developer wanting to learn about web fonts begins by Googling for HTML5?

Still, it could be worse. At least, to the best of my knowledge, no working web developers are quite as misinformed as the New Media Age journalist who listed some HTML5 Key Facts such as:

  • Supports sophisticated typography…
  • Supports social content and sharing…
  • Key features are part of CSS3…

Clarifying what is and isn’t in HTML5 isn’t pedantry for pedantry’s sake. It’s about communication and clarity, the cornerstones of language.

In Politics and the English Language, George Orwell wrote:

A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better.


Beautiful map visualisations by Aaron Straup-Cope.

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Unsuck It

An excellent resource for deciphering corporate business-speak gibberish (I'm going to need this when I'm eavesdropping on Andy Budd making phone calls).

Yakuza 3 reviewed by Yakuza - Boing Boing

The game Yakuza 3 as reviewed by 3 Yakuza.

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

HTML5 Boilerplate - A rock-solid default for HTML5 awesome.

Another set of default HTML/CSS/JS templates with some very clever ideas built in (courtesy of the always-brilliant Paul Irish).

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Web science a new frontier - Find Events - The Royal Society

This looks like being a thoroughly excellent event at The Royal Society, featuring Tim Berners-Lee and Albert-Laszlo Barabasi.

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Google Public Policy Blog: A joint policy proposal for an open Internet

Google reaffirms its commitment to net neutrality ...except when it comes to wireless broadband, of course, because that's *totally* different, right? This disgusts me.

Surfin’ Safari - Blog Archive » The HTML5 Parsing Algorithm

The latest Webkit nightly includes the HTML5 parsing algorithm. Now it's a race between Firefox, Safari and Chrome to see which will be first (non-beta) browser to ship with the new parser.

HTML5 Reset

Barebones templates for HTML5 documents. It needs a bit of work but it's a nifty idea.

On Digital History- - Georgian London

Lucy Inglis, curator of Georgian London, on the role she and other bloggers play.

Science Online London 2010 - Home

It's a shame that this clashes with dConstruct — it looks like a great event.

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

CaptchArt - captchart's posterous

Captchas reinterpreted into art.

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Hypertext history

I’m not a big fan of acronyms in general but I like the word WWILF: What Was I Looking For. It’s such a webby word.

You know the drill: you start looking at a Wikipedia page about zeppelin crashes and before you know it, you’re reading about ekranoplans and Dyson spheres. That’s wwilfing.

Interestingly, there’s no Wikipedia entry for wwilfing. Maybe it should just redirect to the page about .

I’ve found the wwilfing motherlode for markup nerds like me: The Early History of HTML. It’s a short document, but each link will send you down a rabbit hole of geek history.

Thrill to the original code by Tim Berners-Lee for parsing hypertext! Gasp at the first document ever published on the web!

Interestingly, that first ever web page almost validates as HTML5. It’s just missing a doctype, which—as the spec makes clear—is only required for legacy reasons. Oh, the irony!

As an aside, the world’s first ever web site went live exactly nineteen years ago on August 6th, 1991. I know that because the front page of Wikipedia had it listed under “On this day…” I was wwilfing again.

Back to that document about the early history of HTML… it’s a fascinating look at the origins of many of the elements that we use to build web pages today. I knew that HTML was based on SGML but I always thought that Sir Tim came up with the elements in HTML Tags himself. It turns out that many of the elements come directly from an existing flavour of SGML already in use at CERN called GMLguide.

That’s a textbook example of the that are now codified for HTML5:

Speaking of HTML5, check out this excerpt from an email Tim Berners-Lee sent to Dan Connolly in 1991, describing how HTML should work:

I would in fact prefer, instead of <H1>, <H2> etc for headings [those come from the AAP DTD] to have a nestable <SECTION>..</SECTION> element, and a generic <H>..</H> which at any level within the sections would produce the required level of heading.

That’s right: the outline algorithm for sectioning content in HTML5 was first proposed nineteen years ago!

If you’re as fascinated as I am by the history of the web, you’ll enjoy re-reading the original proposal by Tim Berners-Lee for a global hypertext system, which is famously described as vague but exciting. I’m struck by the relevance of the opening problem statement, Losing Information at CERN:

The problems of information loss may be particularly acute at CERN, but in this case (as in certain others), CERN is a model in miniature of the rest of world in a few years time. CERN meets now some problems which the rest of the world will have to face soon.

The proposed solution—what would become the World Wide Web—is ingenious:

We should work toward a universal linked information system, in which generality and portability are more important than fancy graphics techniques and complex extra facilities.

The aim would be to allow a place to be found for any information or reference which one felt was important, and a way of finding it afterwards. The result should be sufficiently attractive to use that it the information contained would grow past a critical threshold, so that the usefulness of the scheme would in turn encourage its increased use.

The original problem still remains. The web hasn’t solved the problem of data loss but it has provided us with the means to quickly and easily share incredible amounts of data …but will that data simply disappear again?

The Beauty of Semantic Markup, Part 2: strong, b, em, i ~ A Blog Not Limited

A great bit of research from Emily. She correctly values data more than opinion.

Early History of HTML - 1990 to 1992

A wonderful document outlining the earliest history of the tags we know and love today.


This looks like an excellent event: learn about programming without being a programmer.

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

The Jean-Paul Sartre Cookbook

"Tuna Casserole Ingredients: 1 large casserole dish Place the casserole dish in a cold oven. Place a chair facing the oven and sit in it forever. Think about how hungry you are. When night falls, do not turn on the light."

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Red Eye - Abstract City Blog -

An excellent way to document a journey.

HTML Resource Packages

An interesting performance proposal from mozilla that will degrade nicely in legacy browsers.

A Hundred and One Wankers

A blog chronicling one cyclist's encounters with wankers on the road.

Interesting Letterhead Designs | Letterheady

A fantastic blog of letterheads. Some of the typographic choices are perfect.

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

What The Fuck Is My Social Media Strategy?

Making it up so you don't have to — somewhat like my New Media Company Name generator from a few years back.