Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
Hey @Mathowie, make sure you pick up plenty of Slack socks while you’re in San Francisco to bring with you to Austin, okay? #socksaddict
Tuesday, September 29th, 2015
This is so, so wonderful—hundreds and hundreds of photographs from all of the Apollo missions. Gorgeous!
The shots of Earth take my breath away.
Here’s an interesting approach to making comments more meaningful:
Instead of blindly publishing whatever people submit, we first ask them to rate the quality and civility on 3 randomly-selected comments, as well as their own. It’s a bit more work for the commenter, but the end result is a community built on trust and respect, not harassment and abuse.
It’s a beautiful day to take the train from Portland to Seattle, so that’s what I’m doing.
Farewell, Portland! You have very nice Andys.
Monday, September 28th, 2015
I completely agree with Cennydd (and Peter, and Leisa). If anyone working on a project—whether they’re a designer, developer, or anything else—isn’t considering the user experience, then what’s the point of even being there? By extension, labelling your work as “UX Design” is as redundant and pointless as labelling it “Good Design.”
But my complaint is with the label, not the activities. It’s the UX Design label that has little value for me. These activities happen in all good design: if you’re not trying to create positive experience then I don’t really understand what you are doing.
I spoke at Responsive Field Day here in Portland on Friday. It was an excellent event. All the talks were top notch.
The day flew by, with each talk clocking in at just 20 minutes, in batches of three followed by a quick panel discussion. It was a great format …but I knew it would be. See, Responsive Field Day was basically Responsive Day Out relocated to Portland.
Jason told me last year how inspired he was by the podcast recordings from Responsive Day Out and how much he and Lyza wanted to do a Responsive Day Out in Portland. I said “Go for it!” although I advised changing to the name to something a bit more American (having a “day out” at the seaside feels very British—a “field day” works perfectly as the US equivalent). Well, Jason, Lyza, and everyone at Cloud Four should feel very proud of their Responsive Field Day—it was wonderful.
As the day unfolded on Friday, I found myself being quite moved. It was genuinely touching to see my conference template replicated not only in format, but also in spirit. It was affordable (“Every expense spared!” was my motto), inclusive, diverse, and fast-paced. It was a lovely, lovely feeling to think that I had, in some small way, provided some inspiration for such a great event.
Jessica pointed out that isn’t the first time I’ve set up an event template for others to follow. When I organised the first Science Hack Day in London a few years ago, I never could have predicted how amazingly far Ariel would take the event. Fifty Science Hack Days in multiple countries—fifty! I am in awe of Ariel’s dedication. And every time I see pictures or video from a Science Hack Day in some far-flung location I’ve never been to, and I see the logo festooning the venue …I get such a warm fuzzy glow.
Y’know, when you’re making something—whether it’s an event, a website, a book, or anything else—it’s hard to imagine what kind of lifespan it might have. It’s probably just as well. I think it would be paralysing and overwhelming to even contemplate in advance. But in retrospect …it sure feels nice.
Sunday, September 27th, 2015
An interview with Andy, reminiscing about the early days of Clearleft.
Sometimes it’s nice to step back and look at where all this came from. Here’s Tim Berners-Lee’s proposal from 1990.
The current incompatibilities of the platforms and tools make it impossible to access existing information through a common interface, leading to waste of time, frustration and obsolete answers to simple data lookup. There is a potential large benefit from the integration of a variety of systems in a way which allows a user to follow links pointing from one piece of information to another one.
This is a wonderful, wonderful description of what it feels like to publish on your own site.
When my writing is on my own server, it will always be there. I may forget about it for a while, but eventually I’ll run into it again. I can torch those posts or save them, rewrite them or repost them. But they’re mine to rediscover.
Saturday, September 26th, 2015
Friday, September 25th, 2015
Here’s the video of the talk I gave at An Event Apart last year.
Guess what it’s about. Go on, guess!
No! It’s about progressive enha… oh.
I refuse to believe that this cramped, stifling, stalkerish vision of the commercial Internet is the best we can do.
The title is hyperbolic, and while I certainly think that the criticisms of HTTP here are justified, I don’t think it will be swept aside by IPFS—I imagine more of a peaceful coexistence. Still, there’s some really good thinking in here and this is well worth paying attention to.
Thursday, September 24th, 2015
Good morning, Portland.
Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015
I’ve been in a contemplative mood lately, probably because I’ve been time travelling.
This year’s dConstruct—which wrapped up just under two weeks ago—marked ten continuous years of running the event. Ten years!
It feels like a lot happened ten years ago. 2005 was the year that Andy, Richard, and I started Clearleft. The evening after dConstruct this year, we threw a party to mark our decadal milestone. What happened at the Clearleft birthday party stays at the Clearleft birthday party.
I had already been living in Brighton for five years before Clearleft was born. That means I’ve been here for fifteen years now. Before that I was living in Freiburg in the heart of Germany’s Black Forest—that’s where Jessica and I first met. In one of those funny twists of fate, we found ourselves travelling back to Freiburg last week, the day after the Clearleft party. It’s like I was going further and further back in my own timeline.
I was in Freiburg to speak at Smashing Conference. I wasn’t on the line-up though. I was the mystery speaker. I took my mysterious duties seriously, so much so that I didn’t even tell Andy, who was also speaking at the event (it was worth it for the look on his face).
Once Smashing Conference was over, Jessica and I made our way to Prague for the Web Expo. When the website for the conference went live, it looked like a Clearleft school reunion: me, Andy H, Cennydd, Anna, and Paul were all on the home page.
I had been to Prague before …but I had never been to the Czech Republic.
That’s right—the last time I was in Prague, it was still in Czechoslovakia. I was there in the early nineties, just a few years after the Velvet Revolution. I was hitch-hiking and busking my way around Europe with my friend Polly (she played fiddle, I played mandolin). When I visit foreign countries now, I get to stay in hotel rooms and speak at conferences. Back then, I sang for my supper and slept wherever I could find a dry spot—usually in a park or on the outskirts of town, far from activity. I remember how cold it was on that first visit to Prague. We snuck into an apartment building to sleep in the basement.
But I also remember extraordinary acts of kindness. When we left Prague, we travelled south towards Austria. We were picked up by an old man in an old car who insisted we should stay the night at his house with his family. He didn’t have much, but he opened up his home to us. We could barely communicate, but it didn’t matter. I will never forget his name: Pan Karel Šimáček.
I remember walking over the border into Austria. That switchover was probably the biggest culture shock of the whole trip. There was quite a disparity in wealth between the two countries.
When we reached Vienna, we met another couple who were travelling through Europe. But whereas Polly and I were travelling out of choice, they were in desperate search of somewhere to call home. Their country, Yugoslavia, was breaking up. One of them was Serbian. The other was Croatian. They were in love. They couldn’t return to where they had come from, but they had nowhere to go. They peppered us with questions. “Do you think England would give us asylum?” I didn’t know what to say.
A few weeks later, we were crossing over the alps down into Italy. We got stuck at a service station for two full days. There wasn’t much there, but I remember there was a Bureau de Change with LCD numbers showing the conversion rates for the many currencies of Europe. Yugoslavia was in the list, but its LCD numbers weren’t illuminated.
Heads up, Brightonian website people: there’s no Homebrew Website Club meetup this week.
Sunday, September 20th, 2015
People of WebExpo Prague: thank you for your very kind response to my talk. Apologies for the technical hitches.
Saturday, September 19th, 2015
Friday, September 18th, 2015
Thursday, September 17th, 2015
Going to Prague. brb
One failure mode is ‘I have run out of paper’, another is ‘my data has been sold to a company I don’t trust’, another is ‘my country has been invaded and they’ve seized all the servers’.
These are things to be designed for. These are user needs too. They have to be embraced.
Wednesday, September 16th, 2015
Just like Nick, John Willshire has put his slides together with the audio from his gobsmackingly good dConstruct presentation on metadesign.
Americans—you should totally go to https://www.responsivefieldday.com/
It’s going to be amazing and there are still tickets available!
Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
Nick Foster has put the audio of his fantastic dConstruct talk together with his slides.
It’s a terrific, thought-provoking presentation, superbly delivered …and it even has some relevance to progressive enhancement! (you’ll know what I mean if you watch/listen to the whole thing)
In my excitement, I ran over my allotted time at @SmashingConf. My apologies—that was unprofessional of me.
Überraschung! I was the mystery speaker at @SmashingConf in Freiburg this morning.
Good to be back.
Monday, September 14th, 2015
Aaron collects some recent examples that demonstrate
- why we should use HTTPS and
- why we should use progressive enhancement.
We celebrated ten years of Clearleft’s existence this weekend. A splendid time was had by all!
John expands on just one part of his superbly dense and entertaining dConstruct talk.
Sunday, September 13th, 2015
They said it couldn’t be done.
Forming a conga line to LCD Soundsystem.
I hereby claim my birthright to the Dad Dancing throne.
Saturday, September 12th, 2015
Planning to head to Unithai for lunch at 1:30 if anyone fancies joining.
Friday, September 11th, 2015
Up and atom for @dConstruct!
Thursday, September 10th, 2015
Brighton in September
I know I say this every year, but this month—and this week in particular—is a truly wonderful time to be in Brighton. I am, of course, talking about The Brighton Digital Festival.
It’s already underway. Reasons To Be Creative just wrapped up. I managed to make it over to a few talks—Stacey Mulcahey, Jon, Evan Roth. The activities for the Codebar Code and Chips scavenger hunt are also underway. Tuesday evening’s event was a lot of fun; at the end of the night, everyone wanted to keep on coding.
I popped along to the opening of Georgina’s Familiars exhibition. It’s really good. There’s an accompanying event on Saturday evening called Unfamiliar Matter which looks like it’ll be great. That’s the same night as the Miniclick party though.
I guess clashing events are unavoidable. Like tonight. As well as the Guardians Of The Galaxy screening hosted by Chris (that I’ll be going to), there’s an Async special dedicated to building a 3D Lunar Lander.
But of course the big event is dConstruct tomorrow. I’m really excited about it. Partly that’s because I’m not the one organising it—it’s all down to Andy and Kate—but also because the theme and the line-up is right up my alley.
Andy has asked me to compere the event. I feel a little weird about that seeing as it’s his baby, but I’m also honoured. And, you know, after talking to most of the speakers for the podcast—which I enjoyed immensely—I feel like I can give an informed introduction for each talk.
I’m looking forward to this near future event.
See you there.
Remy and Julie are paying for diversity scholarships to Full Frontal on November 6th …including travel and accommodation costs.
The deadline for applications is October 2nd. If you know of someone who would benefit from this, please let them know.
Some great advice from Zach Leatherman in this …presentation (I almost said “talk”, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate).
Wednesday, September 9th, 2015
We need the Internet of Things to be the next step in the series that began with the general purpose PC and continued with the Internet and general purpose protocols—systems that support personal autonomy and choice. The coming Internet of Things envisions computing devices that will intermediate every aspect of our lives. I strongly believe that this will only provide the envisioned benefits or even be tolerable if we build an Internet of Things rather than a CompuServe of Things.
Imagine a location service that sold itself on the fact that your personal information was securely contained in its environs, used by you and you alone. You could have devices on your person that used their sensors to know things about you – when you last ate, what your dining preferences are, what your blood-sugar is, and so on, but these devices would have no truck with the cloud, and they would not deliver that information to anyone else for analysis.
Here’s a classic. David Siegel—of Creating Killer Websites fame—outlines exactly why he turned his back on that 1×1 spacer .gif trick he invented.
Tuesday, September 8th, 2015
Friends who are in Brighton for @ReasonsTo: I’ll be in Fitzherberts from about 9:15pm having a pint and listening to Irish tunes.
Ice cold in Copenhagen
I went to Copenhagen last week for the Coldfront conference. It was lovely to be back in Denmark’s capital. I used to go over there ever year when the Reboot conference was running, but that wrapped up a few year’s back so it’s been quite a while since I had the opportunity to savour Copenhagen’s architecture, culture, coffee, food, and beer.
Going to a focused conference like this is a great way of getting a short sharp shock of what’s hot—like a State of the Union address for the web. At Coldfront there were some very clear themes around building for resilience, and specifically routing around the damage of inconsistent connectivity. There was a very clear message—from Paul, Alex, and Patrick (blog imminent)—that the network is not always on our side. Making our sites work offline should be much more of a priority than it currently is.
On a related note, the technology that was mentioned the most was Service Workers …and Jake wasn’t even there! Heck, even I mentioned it in glowing terms in my own little presentation. I was admiring the way it has been designed specifically to be used in a progressive enhancement kind of way.
Monday, September 7th, 2015
This is the best moment to write a blog post:
I just had my responsive images epiphany and I’m writing it all down before I forget everything.
Writing something down (and sharing it) while you’re still figuring it out is, in my opinion, more valuable than waiting until you’ve understood something completely—you’ll never quite regain that perspective on what it’s like to have beginner’s mind.
Sunday, September 6th, 2015
A presentation on progressive enhancement from the Beyond Tellerrand conference held in Düsseldorf in May 2015.
Saturday, September 5th, 2015
Friday, September 4th, 2015
Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015
Going to Copenhagen. brb
Tuesday, September 1st, 2015
Farther From The Madding Crowd: Too Far, Too Madding.
dConstruct 2015 podcast: Nick Foster
dConstruct 2015 is just ten days away. Time to draw the pre-conference podcast to a close and prepare for the main event. And yes, all the talks will be recorded and released in podcast form—just as with the previous ten dConstructs.
The honour of the final teaser falls to Nick Foster. We had a lovely chat about product design, design fiction, Google, Nokia, Silicon Valley and Derbyshire.
I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to these eight episodes. I had certainly had a blast recording them. They’ve really whetted my appetite for dConstruct 2015—I think it’s going to be a magnificent day.
With the days until the main event about to tick over into single digits, this is your last chance to grab a ticket if you haven’t already got one. And remember, as a loyal podcast listener, you can use the discount code ‘ansible’ to get 10% off.
See you in the future …next Friday!