Yet another cautionary tale on why you should be homesteading instead of sharecropping.
Monday, July 29th, 2013
I like this theory!
There’s a lot of very opinionated advice here, and I don’t agree with all of it, but this is still a very handy resource that’s been lovingly crafted.
Sunday, July 28th, 2013
Sit back, relax, and enjoy this classic documentary on graphic design, courtesy of its producer Edward Tufte.
The Victorian Internet indeed.
Saturday, July 27th, 2013
This is why the Internet Archive matters. It is now the public record of Obama’s broken promise to protect whistleblowers.
I feel very bad for the smart, passionate, talented people who worked their asses off on change.gov, only to see their ideals betrayed.
Caterina Fake takes a heartfelt look at the history of online communities:
The internet is full of strangers, generous strangers who want to help you for no reason at all. Strangers post poetry and discographies and advice and essays and photos and art and diatribes. None of them are known to you, in the old-fashioned sense. But they give the internet its life and meaning.
Friday, July 26th, 2013
A really terrific piece by George Dyson taking a suitably long-zoom look at information warfare and the Entscheidungsproblem, tracing the lineage of PRISM from the Corona project of the Cold War.
What we have now is the crude equivalent of snatching snippets of film from the sky, in 1960, compared to the panopticon that was to come. The United States has established a coordinated system that links suspect individuals (only foreigners, of course, but that definition becomes fuzzy at times) to dangerous ideas, and, if the links and suspicions are strong enough, our drone fleet, deployed ever more widely, is authorized to execute a strike. This is only a primitive first step toward something else. Why kill possibly dangerous individuals (and the inevitable innocent bystanders) when it will soon become technically irresistible to exterminate the dangerous ideas themselves?
The proposed solution? That we abandon secrecy and conduct our information warfare in the open.
An Event Alarm
I’m at An Event Apart. Somewhere. It’s in a room in a hotel. The room is smaller than the usual ballroom-sized venue, but I know it’s An Event Apart because Luke Wroblewski is giving a talk. I think it’s a talk about how he led a group of people who were trapped in the desert to safety. Somehow he saved them with data.
I’m speaking next. But there’s a pressure on my bladder that I need to relieve. I’ve got another ten or fifteen minutes ‘till my talk so I reckon I have enough time. I go out into the corridor in search of a toilet. I find one and do what I need to do.
But when I go back out into the corridor, I can’t immediately find the room that the conference is in. That’s okay, I think. I’ve still got time. But as I wander the corridor more and more, I start to panic. I’m supposed to be on in five minutes! Now the hotel building seems to be cavernous, like one of those Las Vegas hotel-casino hybrids that contain a labyrinthine mini-city. I’m supposed to be on stage now! Up escalators, down stairs …I can’t find the room. I’m really panicking now. I was supposed to be on stage five ago …Jeffrey’s going to kill me. I grab someone who looks like a hotel employee and beg him to help me: I was supposed to be on stage ten minutes ago! But he can’t help me. I’m really freaking out.
Then I woke up. I don’t think if I’ve ever had the classic “final exam” dream, but I think this is the closest equivalent.
An Event Apart DC is ten days away. I’m giving a new talk. I thought I was prepared for it. My subconscious begs to differ.
A gorgeous interactive visualisation of our local galactic neighbourhood.
The transcript of a terrific talk by Harry on how dark patterns are often driven by a slavish devotion to conversion rates.
Sunday, July 21st, 2013
Brad has done a great job in documenting navigation patterns for responsive designs. More recently I came across Erick Arbé’s similar collection of patterns for responsive navigation. And, of course, at the Responsive Day Out, David gave a presentation on the subject.
As I mentioned in the chat after David’s talk, choosing a pattern doesn’t need to be an either/or decision. You can start with a simple solution and progressively enhance to a more complex navigation pattern.
But you don’t have to stop there. Now that you’ve got a simple solution that works everywhere, you can enhance it for more capable browsers.
I haven’t applied any media queries in this instance, but it would be pretty straightforward to apply absolute positioning or the
display: table hack to display the navigation by default at wider screen sizes. I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader (bonus points: apply the off-canvas from the right of the viewport rather than the left).
Feel free to peruse the somewhat simplistic code. I’m doing a bit of feature detection—or cutting the mustard—to test for
On a recent project, I found myself implementing a number of different navigation patterns: off-canvas, overlay, and progressive disclosure. But each one began as an instance of the simple footer-anchor pattern.
The politics of code.
Friday, July 19th, 2013
A call for developers to let standards bodies know what we want:
It is important that we as developers focus on the right things again. If you encounter a bug, you should not only fix it for your site; you should reach out to browser vendors and web standards people to fix this in a long-term solution. It might cost you a few minutes, but brings a lot of improvement to the whole developer community.
A nice collection of navigation patterns for responsive designs. The demos aren’t using a mobile-first approach, and they’re reliant on jQuery, but they could be easily adapted.
Thursday, July 18th, 2013
H.P. Lovecraft meets James Bridle in this great little story commissioned by the Institute For The Future.
Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
This a great proposal: well-researched and explained, it tackles the tricky subject of balancing security and access to native APIs.
Far too many ideas around installable websites focus on imitating native behaviour in a cargo-cult kind of way, whereas this acknowledges addressability (with URLs) as a killer feature of the web …a beautiful baby that we definitely don’t want to throw out with the bathwater.
Monday, July 15th, 2013
The weather is glorious right now here in Brighton. As much as I get wanderlust, I’m more than happy to have been here for most of June and for this lovely July thus far.
Prior to the J months, I made a few European sojourns.
As usual, I had a lot of fun moderating a panel. This time it was a general “hot topics” panel featuring Remy, Jake, Wilto, and Dan. Smart, opinionated people: just what I want.
Two weeks after Mobilism, I was back on the continent for Beyond Tellerrand in Düsseldorf. I opened up the show with a new talk. It was quite ranty, but I was pleased with how it turned out, and the audience were very receptive. I’ll see about getting the video transcribed so I can publish the full text here.
Alas, I had to miss the second day of the conference so I could down to Porto for this year’s ESAD web talks, where I reprised the talk I had just debuted in Germany. It was my first time in Portugal and I really liked Porto: there’s a lot to explore and discover there.
Two weeks after that, I gave that same talk one last spin at FFWD.pro in Zagreb. I had never been to Croatia before and Jessica and I wanted to make the most of it, so we tagged on a trip to Dubrovnik. That was quite wonderful. It’s filled with tourists these days, but with good reason: it’s a beautiful medieval place.
With that, my little European getaways came to an end (for now). The only other conference I attended was Brighton’s own Ampersand, which was particularly fun this year. The Clearleft conferences just keep getting better and better.
In fact, this year’s Ampersand might have been the best yet. And this year’s UX London was definitely the best yet. I’d love to say that this year’s dConstruct will be the best yet, but given that last year’s was without doubt the best conference I’ve ever been to, that’s going to be quite a tall order.
Still, with this line-up, I reckon it’s going to be pretty darn great …and it will certainly be good fun. So if you haven’t yet done so, grab a ticket now and I’ll see you here in Brighton in September.
Here’s hoping the weather stays good.
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Sunday, July 14th, 2013
A Gov Supreme
I explain the ramifications of responsive design, hammer on about progressive enhancement like a broken record, extoll the virtues of a content-first approach, exhort them to read A Dao of Web Design, and let them know that, oh, by the way, your entire way of working will probably have to change.
Y’see, it’s my experience that the biggest challenges of responsive design (which, let’s face it, now means web design) are not technology problems. Sure, we’ve got some wicked problems when dealing with non-flexible media like bitmap images, which fight against the flexible nature of the web, but thanks to the work of some very smart and talented people, even those kinds of issues are manageable.
No, the biggest challenges, in my experience, are to do with people. Specifically, the way that people work together.
Old waterfallesque processes where visual designers work entirely in Photoshop before throwing PSDs over the wall to developers just don’t cut it any more. Old QA testing processes that demanded visual consistency across all browsers and platforms are just ludicrous.
When I’m doing a workshop and I tell that to designers, developers, and project managers, they often respond by going through the five stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression …I try to work with them through those reactions until they ultimately get to acceptance.
Somewhere between the “bargaining” and “depression” phase, somebody inevitably passes the buck further up the chain:
“Oh, we’d love to do what you’re saying, but our clients would never go for it.” Or “You’ve convinced me but there’s no way our boss will ever agree to this.”
I’ve got to be honest: sometimes I think we use “the client” and “the boss” as a crutch. I’m also somewhat bemused when people ask me for advice to help them convince their client or their boss. I don’t know your boss—how could I possibly offer any relevant advice?
Still, I’ve written about this question of “How do I convince…?” before:
Something I’ve found useful in the past is the ability to point at trailblazers and say “like that!” Selling the idea of web standards became a whole lot easier after Doug redesigned Wired and Mike redesigned ESPN. It’s a similar situation with responsive design: clients are a lot more receptive to the idea now that The Boston Globe site is live.
When it comes to responsive design, there’s one site that should thoroughly shame anyone who claims that they can’t convince their boss to do the right thing: GOV dot UK.
This isn’t some flashy lifestyle business. This isn’t some plucky young disruptive startup. This is the British government, an organisation so stodgy and bureaucratic that there are multiple sitcoms about its stodginess and bureaucracy.
Gov.uk is an inspiration. If the slowest-moving organisation in the country can turn itself around, embrace a whole new way of working, and produce a beautiful, usable, responsive site, then the rest of us really have no excuse.
Saturday, July 13th, 2013
A very handy starting point for creating a front-end style guide.
Friday, July 12th, 2013
Dan’s blog is rapidly turning into one of my favourite destinations on the web.
I hope he comes to an Indie Web Camp.
Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
A good article on Medium on Medium.
Tuesday, July 9th, 2013
Well, this is interesting: it looks like Chrome might stop waiting 300ms for potential double-tap-to-zoom events if the site is using a meta viewport declaration that sets the width to device-width.
Monday, July 8th, 2013
There’s something quite lovely about this: pairs of tweets that are anagrams of one another.
CERN dev days
Don’t you wish that you could go to the birthplace of the web and the home of the most ambitious science project in the history of humanity? Well now you can!
On September 19th and 20th, a small group of developers will get together at CERN to hack on a project to recreate the first line-mode web browser. You can be part of that group. Fill out this form to apply. You’ll get a bursary to cover travel and accommodation. What are you waiting for?
In case you’re thinking “but what could I possibly contribute?” …welcome to my world. Through some clerical error, I’ve managed to get myself on the roster, but I have no idea how I’ll be able to help. Perhaps I can provide some experience from Hack Farm, which was a similar kind of gathering. Although Hack Farm never had a Giant. Hadron. Collider!
See you in Geneva.
A wonderful article looking at the influence that Vannevar Bush’s seminal article As We May Think had on the young Douglas Engelbart.
Thursday, July 4th, 2013
A beautiful eulogy for Doug Engelbart by Bret Viktor, not celebrating the laundry list of his inventions, but celebrating his intent in making the world a better place.
Engelbart had an intent, a goal, a mission. He stated it clearly and in depth. He intended to augment human intellect. He intended to boost collective intelligence and enable knowledge workers to think in powerful new ways, to collectively solve urgent global problems.
Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013
I kind of love the interaction design of this site.
Six months ago, Bastian wrote this fantastic vision of decentralised social web. I want to start making this a reality at the next Indie Web Camp.
Well, this is rather nice. John Maeda uses my list of design principles as a jumping-off point for investigating the differences between design for people and designing for machines.
A superb piece by Marco Arment prompted by the closing of Google Reader. He nails the power of RSS:
RSS represents the antithesis of this new world: it’s completely open, decentralized, and owned by nobody, just like the web itself. It allows anyone, large or small, to build something new and disrupt anyone else they’d like because nobody has to fly six salespeople out first to work out a partnership with anyone else’s salespeople.
And he’s absolutely on the money when he describes what changed:
RSS, semantic markup, microformats, and open APIs all enable interoperability, but the big players don’t want that — they want to lock you in, shut out competitors, and make a service so proprietary that even if you could get your data out, it would be either useless (no alternatives to import into) or cripplingly lonely (empty social networks).
I share his anger.
Well, fuck them, and fuck that.
Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
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.
I sense the hand of Tom Morris in this. Wikipedia has created a “nearby” page for browsers with geolocation, much like the Wikinear mashup that Simon created with Fire Eagle five years ago.
Monday, July 1st, 2013
You can now purchase some very fetching Future Friendly T-shirts from United Pixelworkers and fly your Future Friendly freak flag high!
Best of all, all the profits go to the Internet Archive.
What I fear is that the entire web is basically becoming a slow-motion Snapchat, where content lives for some unknowable amount of time before it dies, lost forever.