Archive: March 6th, 2017

Empire State

I’m in New York. Again. This time it’s for Google’s AMP Conf, where I’ll be giving ‘em a piece of my mind on a panel.

The conference starts tomorrow so I’ve had a day or two to acclimatise and explore. Seeing as Google are footing the bill for travel and accommodation, I’m staying at a rather nice hotel close to the conference venue in Tribeca. There’s live jazz in the lounge most evenings, a cinema downstairs, and should I request it, I can even have a goldfish in my room.

Today I realised that my hotel sits in the apex of a triangle of interesting buildings: carrier hotels.

32 Avenue Of The Americas.Telephone wires and radio unite to make neighbors of nations

Looming above my hotel is 32 Avenue of the Americas. On the outside the building looks like your classic Gozer the Gozerian style of New York building. Inside, the lobby features a mosaic on the ceiling, and another on the wall extolling the connective power of radio and telephone.

The same architects also designed 60 Hudson Street, which has a similar Art Deco feel to it. Inside, there’s a cavernous hallway running through the ground floor but I can’t show you a picture of it. A security guard told me I couldn’t take any photos inside …which is a little strange seeing as it’s splashed across the website of the building.

60 Hudson.HEADQUARTERS The Western Union Telegraph Co. and telegraph capitol of the world 1930-1973

I walked around the outside of 60 Hudson, taking more pictures. Another security guard asked me what I was doing. I told her I was interested in the history of the building, which is true; it was the headquarters of Western Union. For much of the twentieth century, it was a world hub of telegraphic communication, in much the same way that a beach hut in Porthcurno was the nexus of the nineteenth century.

For a 21st century hub, there’s the third and final corner of the triangle at 33 Thomas Street. It’s a breathtaking building. It looks like a spaceship from a Chris Foss painting. It was probably designed more like a spacecraft than a traditional building—it’s primary purpose was to withstand an atomic blast. Gone are niceties like windows. Instead there’s an impenetrable monolith that looks like something straight out of a dystopian sci-fi film.

33 Thomas Street.33 Thomas Street, New York

Brutalist on the outside, its interior is host to even more brutal acts of invasive surveillance. The Snowden papers revealed this AT&T building to be a centrepiece of the Titanpointe programme:

They called it Project X. It was an unusually audacious, highly sensitive assignment: to build a massive skyscraper, capable of withstanding an atomic blast, in the middle of New York City. It would have no windows, 29 floors with three basement levels, and enough food to last 1,500 people two weeks in the event of a catastrophe.

But the building’s primary purpose would not be to protect humans from toxic radiation amid nuclear war. Rather, the fortified skyscraper would safeguard powerful computers, cables, and switchboards. It would house one of the most important telecommunications hubs in the United States…

Looking at the building, it requires very little imagination to picture it as the lair of villainous activity. Laura Poitras’s short film Project X basically consists of a voiceover of someone reading an NSA manual, some ominous background music, and shots of 33 Thomas Street looming in its oh-so-loomy way.

A top-secret handbook takes viewers on an undercover journey to Titanpointe, the site of a hidden partnership. Narrated by Rami Malek and Michelle Williams, and based on classified NSA documents, Project X reveals the inner workings of a windowless skyscraper in downtown Manhattan.

PushCrew Push Notifications for HTTP websites

A nasty service that Harry noticed in his role as chronicler of dark patterns—this exploits the way that browser permissions are presented below the line of death.

World Wide Web, Not Wealthy Western Web (Part 1) – Smashing Magazine

Bruce widens our horizons with this in-depth look at where and how people are accessing the web around the world.

In this article, we’ve explored where the next 4 billion connected people will come from, as well as some of the innovations that the standards community has made to better serve them. In the next part, we’ll look at some of the demand-side problems that prevent people from accessing the web easily and what can be done to overcome them.

“…” —33 Thomas Street, New York

“…”

—33 Thomas Street, New York

33 Thomas Street.

33 Thomas Street.

“UNDER SURVEILLANCE” —60 Hudson, New York

“UNDER SURVEILLANCE”

—60 Hudson, New York

60 Hudson.

60 Hudson.

“HEADQUARTERS The Western Union Telegraph Co. and telegraph capitol of the world 1930-1973” —60 Hudson, New York

“HEADQUARTERS The Western Union Telegraph Co. and telegraph capitol of the world 1930-1973”

—60 Hudson, New York

32 Avenue Of The Americas.

32 Avenue Of The Americas.

“Telephone wires and radio unite to make neighbors of nations” —32 Avenue Of The Americas, New York

“Telephone wires and radio unite to make neighbors of nations”

—32 Avenue Of The Americas, New York

Dulli.

Dulli.

Exploring the internet in New York.

http://seeingnetworks.in/nyc/#places

What should you think about when using Facebook? – Vicki Boykis

To be clear, every company currently does some form of this tracking of users. There would simply be no other way to measure operations. But Facebook has quite clearly been tiptoeing outside the bounds of what is ethically acceptable data business practices for a while.

A thorough round-up of Facebook’s current data collection practices and what you can do about it.

How To Ask for the Truth » Mike Industries

Absolute gold dust from Mike!

I think that having regular 1:1s is really important, but I’m sure I’m not doing them as effectively as I could—the advice in here is going to be invaluable.

There are three types of employees in the world when it comes to disclosing issues:

  1. Those who will always tell you about problems.
  2. Those who will never tell you about problems.
  3. Those who will tell you about problems when asked in the right way.

I love my ones and am frustrated by my twos, but I feel like at least 9 out of 10 people are actually threes.

W3C and EME: it isn’t about preventing DRM but saving the W3C – Baldur Bjarnason

A damning assessment of Tim Berners-Lee’s defeatist portrayal of the W3C:

No matter which side is right, the W3C faces an existential crisis.

Either:

  1. The W3C is a shepherd of the web for all, the web on everything, and a web of trust. But now it is fundamentally compromising its own principles in the name of maintaining industry relevance.
  2. Or, the W3C is merely an industry body for browser vendors to collaborate and its mission statement is nothing more than PR to increase buy-in from the smaller, largely powerless, members.

Both can’t be true. Neither is good news for the organisation.

С Днем Рождения, Валентина Терешкова!

I swore I wouldn’t write another book - Web Designer Notebook

Thinking of writing a book? Here’s some excellent advice and insights from Yaili, who only went and wrote another one.

Let me say this first: writing a book is hard work. It eats up all of your free time and mental space. It makes you feel like you are forever procrastinating and producing very little. It makes you not enjoy any free time. It’s like having a dark cloud hanging over your head at all times. At. All. Times.

For the second time in two weeks, I find myself sitting in a dive bar in America, drinking beer, eating wings, and watching a Pens game.