Fiona Shaw was sitting near me on the flight back from Cork (she’s also from Cobh) but I resisted the urge to tell her I thought she was brilliant in Andor (didn’t want to be creepy).
Archive: December, 2022
Saturday, December 31st, 2022
2022 in numbers
I posted 1057 times on adactio in 2022.
That’s a bit more than in 2021.
November was the busiest month with 137 posts.
February was the quietest with 65 posts.
- I blogged 91 times during the year.
- I shared 382 links.
- I posted 583 notes.
That included about 237 notes with photos and 214 replies.
I published one article, the transcript of my talk, In And Out Of Style.
I watched an awful lot of television but managed to read 25 books.
Elsewhere, I huffduffed 130 audio files and added 55 tune settings on The Session in 2022.
I spoke at ten events.
I travelled within Europe and the USA to a total of 18 destinations.
Replying to @firstname.lastname@example.org on mastodon.social
Turns out 3 of my 4 “purchases” were projects I backed on Kickstarter:
- The Wilderness Yet
- Tom Delaney
- Paddy Egan
All great albums!
The other one was Cormac Begley’s excellent “B”.
Replying to @email@example.com on mastodon.social
Replying to @firstname.lastname@example.org on mastodon.social
RIP Jared Leto’s career.
Friday, December 30th, 2022
Words I wrote in 2022
Here’s a highlight reel of some of my blog posts from 2022:
- Today, the distant future — 2022 was once unimaginable to some web folks.
- Installing progressive web apps — How I’m letting people know they can install The Session to their home screens.
- Starting and finishing — Some advice for public speaking.
- Declarative design — Defining the inputs instead of trying to control the outputs.
- Re-evaluating technology — The importance of revisiting past decisions. Especially when it comes to the web.
- Democratising dev — How do we share the means of the web’s production?
- Work ethics — Don’t work hard.
- Accessibility is systemic — The difference between inclusive design and accessibility.
- That fediverse feeling — Mastodon is a vibe shift in the best possible way.
I also published the transcript of my conference talk, In And Out Of Style, a journey through the history of CSS.
Music in 2022
Usually an end-of-year music round-up is a list of favourite recordings released in the year. But in 2022 I wasn’t paying very much attention to new releases. I bought a few albums on Bandcamp. They were mostly of—surprise, surprise—traditional Irish music.
Still, I had a very music-filled 2022. Mostly I was playing mandolin in sessions, both here in Brighton and wherever else my travels took me.
These moments were undoubtedly highlights of the year for me.
Thursday, December 29th, 2022
(Almost) no one cares
Every time I’ve thought “this is a niche subject or random thought, no one will be interested but I’ll publish anyway” someone will let me know that it was the EXACT train of thought they were thinking or thing they were looking for.
Wednesday, December 28th, 2022
Books I read in 2022
I read 25 books in 2022. I wish I had read more, but I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I think no matter how many books I read in any given year, I’ll always wish I had read more.
18 of the 25 books were written by women. I think that’s a pretty good ratio. But only 6 of the 25 books were written by Black authors. That’s not a great ratio.
Still, I’m glad that I’m tracking my reading so at least I can be aware of the disparity.
For the first half of the year, I stuck with my usual rule of alternating between fiction and non-fiction, never reading two non-fiction books or two fiction books back-to-back. Then I fell off the wagon. In the end, only 7 of the 25 books I read were non-fiction. We’ll see whether the balance gets redressed in 2023.
As is now traditional, I’m doing my end-of-year recap, complete with ridiculous star ratings.
I’m very stingy with my stars:
- One star means a book is meh.
- Two stars means a book is perfectly fine.
- Three stars means a book is a good—consider it recommended.
- Four stars means a book is exceptional.
- Five stars is pretty much unheard of.
Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar And Grille by Steven Brust
Even the author doesn’t think this is a particularly good book, and he’s not wrong. But I have a soft spot for it. This was a re-read. I had already read this book years before, and all I rememberd was “sci-fi with Irish music.” That’s good enough for me. But truth be told, the book is tonally awkward, never quite finding its groove. Still a fun romp if you like the idea of a teleporting bar with a house band playing Irish folk.
A Ghost In The Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa
Stunning. I still don’t know whether it’s fiction, autobiography, translation, or some weird mix of all of the above. All that matters is that the writing is incredible. It’s so evocative that the book practically oozes.
Parable Of The Talents by Octavia E. Butler
A terrific follow-up to The Parable Of The Sower. It seems remarkably relevant and prescient. So much so that I’m actually glad I didn’t read this while Trump was in power—I think it would’ve been too much. It’s a harrowing read, but always with an unwavering current of hope throughout.
About Time: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks by David Rooney
A great examination of history and colonialism through the lens of timekeeping. Even for a time-obsessed nerd like me, there are lots of new stories in here.
The Lathe Of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin
While I was reading this, I distinctly remember thinking “Oh, so this is what Philip K. Dick was trying to do!” And I say that as a huge fan of Philip K. Dick. But his exuction didn’t always match up to his ideas. Here, Le Guin shows how it’s done. Turns out she was a fan of Philip K. Dick and this book is something on an homage. I found its central premise genuinely disconcerting. I loved it.
Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit
When someone asked me what I was reading, I was honestly able to respond, “It’s a book about George Orwell and about roses.” I know that doesn’t sound like a great basis for a book, but I thought it worked really well. As a huge fan of Orwell’s work, I was biased towards enjoying this, but I didn’t expect the horticultural aspect to work so well as a lens for examining politics and power.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
A solid sequel to the classic The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s not more of the same: we get a different setting, and a very different set of viewpoints. It didn’t have quite the same impact as the first book, but then very little could. As with The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood stuck with her rule of only including shocking situations if they have actually occurred in the real world.
On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder
I wrote about this book in more detail:
For a book that’s about defending liberty and progress, On Tyranny is puzzingly conservative at times.
No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
Astonishing. I know that a person’s reaction to a book is a personal thing, but for me, this book had a truly emotional impact. I wrote about it at the time:
When I started reading No One Is Talking About This, I thought it might end up being the kind of book where I would admire the writing, but it didn’t seem like a work that invited emotional connection.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. I can’t remember the last time a book had such an emotional impact on me. Maybe that’s because it so deliberately lowered my defences, but damn, when I finished reading the book, I was in pieces.
East West Street by Philippe Sands
An absorbing examination of the origins of international war crimes: genocide and crimes against humanity. The book looks at the interweaving lives of the two people behind the crime’s definitions …and takes in the author’s own family history on the way. A relative of mine ran in the same legal circles in wartime Lviv, and I can’t help but wonder if their paths crossed.
A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine
Just as good as A Memory Called Empire, maybe even more enjoyable. Here we get a first contact story, but there’s still plenty of ongoing political intrigue powering the plot. I can’t wait for the next book in this series!
The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win by Maria Konnikova
A thoroughly enjoyable piece of long-form journalism. It’s ostensibly about the world of high-stakes poker, but there are inevitable life lessons along the way. The tone of this book is just right, with the author being very open and honest about her journey. Her cards are on the table, if you will.
The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett
I wonder how much of an influence this book had on Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle For Leibowitz? They’re both post-apocalyptic books of the Long Now. While this is no masterpiece, Brackett writes evocatively of her post-nuclear America.
Being You: A New Science of Consciousness by Anil Seth
A compelling and accessible examination of a big subject. It doesn’t shy away from inherently complex topics, but manages to always be understable and downright enjoyable. I liked this book so much, I asked Anil to speak at dConstruct.
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
A good fast-paced sci-fi story that acts as a vehicle for issues of identity and socialisation. It’s brief and peppy. I’ll definitely be reading the subsequent books in the Murderbot Diaries series.
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
Not in the same league as Station Eleven, but a solid work, looking at the events before and after the collapse of a Ponzi scheme. It’s not a ghost story, but it’s also not not a ghost story. And it’s not about crypto …but it’s not not about crypto.
The Alchemy Of Us by Ainissa Ramirez
I was really looking forward to reading this, but I ended up disappointed. All the stories about historical inventions were terrifically told, but then each chapter would close with an attempt to draw parallels with modern technology. Those bits were eye-rollingly simplistic. Such a shame. I wonder if they were added under pressure from the publisher to try to make the book “more relevant”? In the end, they only detracted from what would’ve otherwise been an excellent and accessible book on the history of materials science.
Looking back, I notice that The Alchemy Of Us was the last non-fiction book I read this year.
Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler
After reading this, I decided to read the rest of the Patternist series in one go. This scene-setter is almost biblical in scope. The protagonist is like an embodiment of matriarchy, and the antogonist is a frightening archetype of toxic masculinity.
Mind Of My Mind by Octavia E. Butler
All of Butler’s works are about change in some way (as exemplified in the mantra of Earthseed: “God is change”). Change—often violent—is at the heart of Mind Of My Mind. As always, the world-building is entirely believable.
Clay’s Ark by Octavia E. Butler
This works as a standalone novel. Its connection to the rest of the Patternist series is non-existient for most of the book’s narrative. That sense of self-containment is also central to the tone of the novel. You find yourself rooting for stasis, even though you know that change is inevitable.
Pattern Master by Octavia E. Butler
By the final book in the Patternist series, the world has changed utterly. But as always, change is what drives the narrative. “The only lasting truth is Change.”
The Unreal And The Real: Selected Stories Volume 2: Outer Space, Inner Lands by Ursula K. Le Guin
I’ve read quite of few of Le Guin’s novels, but I don’t think I had read any of her short stories before. That was a mistake on my part. These stories are terrific! There’s the classic The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas to kick things off, and the quality is maintained with plenty of stories from the Hainish universe. I was struck by how many of the stories were anthropological in nature, like the centrepiece story, The Matter of Seggri.
The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers
The fourth and final book in the Wayfarers series was a satisfying conclusion. I still preferred Record Of A Spaceborn Few, but that’s probably just because I preferred the setting. As always, it’s a story of tolerance and understanding. Aliens are people too, y’know.
The Táin translated by Ciaran Carson
As a story, this is ludicrous and over the top, but that’s true of any near-mythological national saga. Even though this is an English translation, a working knowledge of Irish pronunciation is handy for all the people and places enumerated throughout. In retrospect, I think I would’ve liked having the source text to hand (even if I couldn’t understand it).
The Star Of The Sea by Joseph O’Connor
I’m less than half way through this, but I’m enjoying being immersed in its language and cast of characters. You’ll have to wait until the end of 2023 for an allocation of stars for this nautical tale of the Great Hunger.
There we have it. I think the lesson this year is: you can’t go wrong with Octavia E. Butler or Ursula K. Le Guin.
And now it’s time for me to pick one favourite fiction and one favourite non-fiction book that I read in 2022.
The pool is a bit smaller for the non-fiction books, and there were some great reads in there, but I think I have to go for Rebecca Solnit’s Orwell’s Roses.
Now I have to pick a favourite work of fiction from the 18 that I read. This is hard. I loved The Lathe Of Heaven and Ghost In The Throat, but I think I’m going to have choose No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood.
If you want to read any of the books I’ve mentioned, you can find them all in this list on Bookshop.org—support independent bookshops! I bought Octavia Butler’s Patternist books at Brighton’s excellent Afori Books, located in Clearleft’s old building at 28 Kensington Street. Do swing by if you’re in the neighbourhood.
Or try your local library. Libraries are like a sci-fi concept made real.
If you’re interested in previous installments of my annual reading updates, you can peruse:
Tuesday, December 27th, 2022
Why the super rich are inevitable
The interactive widgets embedded in this article are excellent teaching tools!
The Independent Type Foundry Advent Calendar 2022 · Matthias Ott – User Experience Designer
For 24 days this month, Matthias featured a different independent type foundry, writing about each one and selecting some lovely examplars of their typefaces.
How We Verified Ourselves on Mastodon — and How You Can Too – The Markup
It gives me warm fuzzies to see an indie web building block like
rel="me" getting coverage like this.
User Stylesheets Are Still Pretty Great and Should Be More Widely Supported — Pixel Envy
If you have even a passing knowledge of CSS, I encourage you to experiment with its possibilities.
Monday, December 26th, 2022
The Institutions of Science With Lord Martin Rees
I love just about every answer that Martin Rees gives in this wide-ranging interview.
Sunday, December 25th, 2022
Saturday, December 24th, 2022
An Event Apart
My trip to California went well. It was bookended with a few days in San Diego on either end. I relished the opportunity to hang with family and soak up the sunshine.
In the middle was my outing to San Francisco for An Event Apart. There were some great talks: Krystal talking about onboarding, Miriam blowing my mind with cascade layers, Eric diving deep into the
:has() selector, and David closing out the show with a superb call to arms.
I gave my talk on declarative design at the very start of the event, just the way I like it. I was able to relax and enjoy all the other talks without having mine on my mind.
The talk went down well. I thought maybe I might have the chance to repeat it at another An Event Apart sometime in 2023.
But that won’t happen. An Event Apart has closed its doors:
Seventeen years ago, in December 2005, we held our first conference in Philadelphia. The event we just held in San Francisco was our last.
Whenever I was invited to speak at An Event Apart, I always responded in the affirmative and always said it was an honour to be asked. I meant it every time.
It wasn’t just me. Ask anyone who’s spoken at An Event Apart. They’ll all tell you the same thing. It was an honour. It was also a bit intimidating. There was a definite feeling that you had to bring your A game. And so, everyone did. Of course that just contributed to the event’s reputation which only reinforced the pressure to deliver a top-notch presentation.
I’m really going to miss An Event Apart. I mean, I get why all good things must come to an end (see also: dConstruct), but it feels like the end of an era.
My first time speaking at An Event Apart was in 2007. My last time was in San Francisco this month.
Thank you, Eric, Jeffrey, Toby, Marci, and the entire An Event Apart crew. It has been my privilege to play a small part in your story.
- Be Pure. Be Vigilant. Behave
- San Francisco
- Pattern In The Process
- Future Shock Treatment
- Seattle, Boston, Minneapolis, Washington DC, San Diego
- Paranormal Interactivity
- Seattle, Boston, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Washington DC, San Francisco
- Design Principles
- The Spirit Of The Web
- Atlanta, Washington DC, Chicago, Austin, San Francisco
- The Long Web
- Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, Orlando, San Francisco
- Seattle, Austin, San Francisco
- Seattle, Boston, Orlando, San Francisco
- Resilience, Evaluating Technology
- Seattle, Denver
- Evaluating Technology
- Seattle, Boston
- The Way Of The Web
- Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco
- Going Offline
- Design Principles For The Web
- The State Of The Web
- Online, San Francisco
- In And Out Of Style
- Declarative Design
Replying to @email@example.com on mastodon.social
It snowed and snowed on Hoth, but Santa never came. What did that make Luke, Han, and Leia?
Rebels without a Claus.
12 Days of Web
All twelve are out, and all twelve are excellent deep dives into exciting web technologies landing in browsers now.
Friday, December 23rd, 2022
Replying to @genmon on mastodon.social
Everyone thinks I’m being sarcastic when they ask “What would you like for Christmas?” and I respond “Socks!”
But I genuinely want good socks!
Thursday, December 22nd, 2022
Going to Cork, like. brb
Reading The Star Of The Sea by Joseph O’Connor.
The API formerly known as Shared Element Transitions is now called View Transitions.
Next up: the Geolocation API will henceforth be known as the Assassination Coordinates API.
Wednesday, December 21st, 2022
Latewood | A Working Library
As this year draws to a close, you might be tempted to make some ambitious new year’s resolutions for yourself. But maybe read this first.
Dormancy isn’t stagnant; it’s potentiating. It’s patient. If you’ve grown a lot in the past however many months or years and now feel that growth coming to a close, don’t fret right away. Wait. Reflect on what you’ve learned. Look for signs of spring. Move to where there’s water, if you need to. But don’t rush. There will be time again for running and jumping, when you’re ready.
The Performance Inequality Gap, 2023 - Infrequently Noted
Strong—and true—words from Alex.
Frontend’s failure to deliver in today’s mostly-mobile, mostly-Android world is shocking, if only for the durability of the myths that sustain the indefensible. We can’t keep doing this.
If you disagree, I encourage you to dive into the data that Alex shares.
Tuesday, December 20th, 2022
Replying to @benjaminparry on mastodon.social
Oh, that’s wonderful news about Anaida!!!
On the topic of the quiz, did anyone notice my…um…“deliberate” mistake with one of the questions/answers? 😬
Mastodon is not a platform. Mastodon is just a tiny part of a concept many have been dreaming about and working on for years. Social media started on the wrong foot. The idea for the read/write web has always been different. Our digital identities weren’t supposed to end up in something like Twitter or Facebook or Instagram.
Decentralisation, Federation, The Indie Web: There were many groups silently working on solving the broken architecture of our digital social networks and communication channels – long, long before the “web 3” dudes tried to reframe it as their genius new idea.
I’ve been a part of this for many years until I gave up hope. How would you compete against the VC money, the technical and economical benefits of centralised platforms? It was a fight between David and Gloiath. But now Mastodon could be the stone.
Pluralistic: Better failure for social media (19 Dec 2022) – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow
Mastodon has gotten two things right that no other social media giant has even seriously attempted:
- If you follow someone on Mastodon, you’ll see everything they post; and
- If you leave a Mastodon server, you can take both your followers and the people you follow with you.
The most common criticism of Mastodon is that you must rely on individual moderators who may be underresourced, incompetent on malicious. This is indeed a serious problem, but it isn’t the same serious problem that Twitter has. When Twitter is incompetent, malicious, or underresourced, your departure comes at a dear price.
On Mastodon, your choice is: tolerate bad moderation, or click two links and move somewhere else.
On Twitter, your choice is: tolerate moderation, or lose contact with all the people you care about and all the people who care about you.
Monday, December 19th, 2022
Empty Pointers and Constellations of AI
AI becomes a stand-in term for whatever technologies and techniques are new, shiny, and just beyond the grasp of our understanding. We use it to gesture at a future we cannot fully comprehend or currently realise. As soon as we do, it will no longer be “AI.”
Sunday, December 18th, 2022
Replying to @firstname.lastname@example.org on mastodon.social
If only there were a novelization of the Star Wars Holiday Special!
No, but seriously though…
The short story The Star by Arthur C. Clarke.
Non-SF: The Dead by James Joyce.
Paul’s indie web project is live!
Meet the little Node.js server with all the parts needed to publish content to your personal website and share it on social networks.
You can read the accompanying blog post.
Imagine a journalist thinking that John Mastodon was a tech entrepreneur!
Everyone knows that John Mastodon was the actor in that movie, Goncharov.
Saturday, December 17th, 2022
Replying to @email@example.com on mastodon.social
I’ve linked to some of my favourites here:
- MD Nichrome
- Proxima Vara
- Roboto Flex
- Mona Sans
- Hubot Sans
And I love Marvin:
Replying to @firstname.lastname@example.org on mastodon.social
Here you go:
Feeling a Mastodon instance cope with the latest influx of people is like being Han Solo in the Millennium Falcon:
“Don’t worry—she’ll hold together! (You hear me, baby, hold together!)”
Replying to @email@example.com on mastodon.social
I really, really enjoyed nerding out!
Friday, December 16th, 2022
99 Good News Stories From 2022
A look at back at what wasn’t in the headlines this year.
Replying to @firstname.lastname@example.org on mastodon.social
That’s something that @email@example.com was pondering recently:
Wednesday, December 14th, 2022
A fractal version of Conway’s Game Of Life: keep zooming out …forever!
Tuesday, December 13th, 2022
Pluralistic: Web apps could de-monopolize mobile devices (13 Dec 2022) – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow
But you can’t have a web app without a web-app-compatible browser, and you can’t get a web-app-compatible browser in Apple’s App Store. The only browsers permitted in the App Store are those based on WebKit, the browser engine behind Safari. This means that every browser on iOS, from Firefox to Edge to Chrome, is just a reskinned version of Safari.
Mona Sans & Hubot Sans
Two new lovely open source variable fonts from Github.
Monday, December 12th, 2022
Just gave a new talk on declarative design at #AEASF—now I can relax and enjoy the other talks!
Thank you to everyone here for being such an attentive audience and allowing me to rant and rave.
Sunday, December 11th, 2022
Going to San Francisco. brb
Artemis I | Flickr
NASA is posting some lovely pictures on Flickr from the first Artemis mission.
Saturday, December 10th, 2022
Friday, December 9th, 2022
Thursday, December 8th, 2022
How to be a writer on a marketing team without sounding like a jerk – A Whole Lotta Nothing
Good writing advice from Matt.
Writing Is Magic - Marc’s Blog
I find, more often than not, that I understand something much less well when I sit down to write about it than when I’m thinking about it in the shower. In fact, I find that I change my own mind on things a lot when I try write them down. It really is a powerful tool for finding clarity in your own mind. Once you have clarity in your own mind, you’re much more able to explain it to others.
Going to San Diego. brb
Derek Powazek - A community isn’t a garden, it’s a bar.
The first thirty years of the web may have been an orgy of unregulated expansion, but that era is over. The EU has been a leader with the GDPR, but there’s more coming. And I’m glad. The big players have had plenty of time to get their shit together and they haven’t. It’s time to regulate them as much as we regulate a shot of bourbon.
Wednesday, December 7th, 2022
A year of new avenues
All along, from the frothy 1990s to the percolating 2000s to the frozen 2010s to today, the web has been the sure thing. All along, it’s been growing and maturing, sprouting new capabilities. From my vantage point, that growth has seemed to accelerate in the past five years; CSS, in particular, has become incredibly flexible and expressive. Maybe even a bit overstuffed — but I’ll take it.
For people who care about creating worlds together, rather than getting rich, the web is the past and the web is the future. What luck, that this decentralized, permissionless system claimed a position at the heart of the internet, and stuck there. It’s limited, of course; frustrating; sometimes maddening. But that’s every creative medium. That’s life.
I decided to listen to what the universe was trying to tell me.
Turns out the universe is mostly just sick and tired of being anthropomorphised.
Replying to @firstname.lastname@example.org on mastodon.social
Replying to @email@example.com on mastodon.social
Replying to @firstname.lastname@example.org on mastodon.social
Leading Design San Francisco 2023
My upcoming appearance at An Event Apart next week to talk about declarative design isn’t the only upcoming trip to San Francisco in my calendar.
Two months from today I’ll be back in San Francisco for Leading Design. It’s on February 7th and 8th.
This event is long overdue. We’ve never had Leading Design in San Francisco before, but we were all set to go ahead with the inaugural SF gathering …in March 2020. We all know what happened next.
So this event will be three years in the making.
Rebacca is doing amazing work, as usual, putting together a fantastic line-up of speakers:
They’ll be sharing their insights, their stories and their ideas — as well as some of their pain from past challenges. It’s all designed to help you navigate your own leadership journey.
I’ll be there to MC the event, which is a great honour for me. And I reckon I’ll be up to the challenge, having just done the double whammy of hosting Leading Design London and Clarity back-to-back.
I would love to see you in San Francisco! If you’ve attended a Leading Design event before, then you know how transformational it can be. If you haven’t, then now is your chance.
Early bird tickets are still available until mid December, so if you’re thinking about coming, I suggest making that decision now.
If you know anyone in the bay area who’s in a design leadership position, be sure to tell them about Leading Design San Francisco—they don’t want to miss this!
Tuesday, December 6th, 2022
I’m not worried about AI coming for our jobs.
I’m worried about AI coming for our hobbies.
Replying to @email@example.com on mastodon.social
Rather than tone-policing what I write, might I suggest just not following me in the first place? Then you’re guaranteed not to see any more snark from me.
People posting screenshots of AI-generated images and text, like parents proudly pinning their toddler’s latest scribblings on the fridge door.
Monday, December 5th, 2022
Reading The Táin translated by Ciaran Carson.
Jamie Freeman passed away yesterday.
I first met Jamie as a fellow web-nerd way back in the early 2000s when I was freelancing here in Brighton. I did a lot of work with him and his design studio, Message. Andy was working there too. It’s kind of where the seeds of Clearleft were planted.
I remember one day telling them about a development with Salter Cane. Our drummer, Catherine, was moving to Australia so we were going to have to start searching for someone new.
“I play drums”, said Jamie.
I remember thinking, “No, you don’t; you play guitar.” But I thought “What the heck”, and invited him along to a band practice.
Well, it turns that not only could he play drums, he was really good! Jamie was in the band.
It’s funny, I kept referring to Jamie as “our new drummer”, but he actually ended up being the drummer that was with Salter Cane the longest.
Band practices. Concerts. Studio recordings. We were a team for years. You can hear Jamie’s excellent drumming on our album Sorrow. You can also his drumming (and brilliant backing vocals) on an album of covers we recorded. He was such a solid drummer—he made the whole band sound tighter.
But as brilliant as Jamie was behind a drumkit, his heart was at the front of the stage. He left Salter Cane to front The Jamie Freeman Agreement full-time. I loved going to see that band and watching them get better and better. Jonathan has written lovingly about his time with the band.
After that, Jamie continued to follow his dreams as a solo performer, travelling to Nashville, and collaborating with loads of other talented people. Everyone loved Jamie.
This year started with the shocking news that he had inoperable cancer—a brain tumor. Everyone sent him all their love (we recorded a little video from the Salter Cane practice room—as his condition worsened, video worked better than writing). But somehow I didn’t quite believe that this day would come when Jamie was no longer with us. I mean, the thought was ridiculous: Jamie, the vegetarian tea-totaller …with cancer? Nah.
I think I’m still in denial.
The last time I had the joy of playing music with Jamie was also the last time that Salter Cane played a gig. Jamie came back for a one-off gig at the start of 2020 (before the world shut down). It was joyous. It felt so good to rock out with him.
Jamie was always so full of enthusiasm for other people, whether that was his fellow musicians or his family members. He had great stories from his time on tour with his brother Tim’s band, Frazier Chorus. And he was so, so proud of everything his brother Martin has done. It was so horrible when their sister died. I can’t imagine what they must be going through now, losing another sibling.
Like I said, I still can’t quite believe that Jamie has gone. I know that I’m really going to miss him.
I’m sending all my love and my deepest sympathies to Jamie’s family.
Fuck—and I cannot emphasise this strongly enough—cancer.
Sunday, December 4th, 2022
dbohdan/classless-css: A list of classless CSS themes/frameworks with screenshots
A collection of stylesheets that don’t use class selectors. Think of them as alternatives to default user-agent stylesheets.
Tweaking navigation labelling
I’ve always liked the idea that your website can be your API. Like, you’ve already got URLs to identify resources, so why not make that URL structure predictable and those resources parsable?
That’s why the (read-only) API for The Session doesn’t live at a separate subdomain. It uses the same URL structure as the regular site, but you can request the resources in an alternative format: JSON, XML, RSS.
This works out pretty well, mostly because I put a lot of thought into the URL structure of the site. I’m something of a URL fetishist, but I think that taking a URL-first approach to information architecture can be a good exercise.
Most of the resources on The Session involve nouns like tunes, events, discussions, and so on. There’s a consistent and predictable structure to the URLs for those sections:
And then an idividual item can be found at:
That’s all nice and predictable and the naming of the URLs matches what you’d expect to find:
Tunes, events, discussions, sessions. Those are all fine. But there’s one section of the site that has this root URL:
When I was coming up with the URL structure twenty years ago, it was clear what you’d find there: track listings for albums of music. No one would’ve expected to find actual recordings of music available to listen to on-demand. The bandwidth constraints and technical limitations of the time made that clear.
Two decades on, the situation has changed. Now someone new to the site might well expect to hit a link called “recordings” and expect to hear actual recordings of music.
So I should probably change the label on the link. I don’t think “albums” is quite right—what even is an album any more? The word “discography” is probably the most appropriate label.
Here’s my dilemma: if I update the label, should I also update the URL structure?
Right now, the section of the site with
/tunes URLs is labelled “tunes”. The section of the site with
/events URLs is labelled “events”. Currently the section of the site with
/recordings URLs is labelled “recordings”, but may soon be labelled “discography”.
If you click on “tunes”, you end up at
/tunes. But if you click on “discography”, you end up at
Is that okay? Am I the only one that would be bothered by that?
I could update the URLs to match the labelling (with redirects for the old URLs, of course), but I’m not so keen on this URL structure:
It doesn’t seem as tidy as:
But if I don’t update the URLs to match the label, then I’m just going to have to live with the mismatch.
I’m just thinking out loud here. I think I should definitely update the label. I just won’t make any decision on changing URLs for a while yet.
Saturday, December 3rd, 2022
Transient Frameworks · Matthias Ott – User Experience Designer
Frameworks come and go. They are transient. Web standards, on the other hand, are the reason the Web is good now and it will become even better in the future.
Today was Salter Cane band practice day with our new drummer, Matthew, who is excellent—it felt soooo good to play as a four piece again!
Simon Collison | Farewell, Twitter
I’ve been feeling exactly what Colly articulates here:
I’m aware that smart friends still tweet passing thoughts without a care, and I can’t understand why. Some seem happy to repost damning articles about the situation and then carry on tweeting without a care.
Thursday, December 1st, 2022
Replying to @blaine on mastodon.social
(And, by the way, I really, really, really appreciate all the work that you and others have done for years that has led to this!)
Replying to @blaine on mastodon.social
It was, I believe, said in anger but not in malice.
I’m just kind of stewing on the way that, of all the comparisons to make, it’s the one that gets increasingly more insulting as events unfold.
A few weeks back, a friend likened something I said to what Elon Musk would say.
They retracted, but with each of Musk’s unhinged proclamations, the insult grows like a virus.
I’m honestly not sure our friendship can get past it.
Fourteen years ago on this day I wrote about how one of my Flickr photos ended up in the first Marvel movie:
Links for Declarative Design
At the end of next week, I will sally forth to California. I’m going to wend my way to San Francisco where I will be speaking at An Event Apart.
I am very much looking forward to speaking at my first in-person AEAs in exactly three years. That was also in San Francisco, right before The Situation.
I hope to see you there. There are still tickets available.
I’ve put together a brand new talk that I’m very excited about. I’ve already written about the prep for this talk:
So while I’ve been feeling somewhat under the gun as I’ve been preparing this new talk for An Event Apart, I’ve also been feeling that the talk is just the culmination; a way of tying together some stuff I’ve been writing about it here for the past year or two.
The talk is called Declarative Design. Here’s the blurb:
Different browsers, different devices, different network speeds…designing for the web can feel like a never-ending battle for control. But what if the solution is to relinquish control? Instead of battling the unknowns, we can lean into them. In the world of programming, there’s the idea of declarative languages: describing what you want to achieve without specifying the exact steps to get there. In this talk, we’ll take this concept of declarative programming and apply it to designing for the web. Instead of focusing on controlling the outputs of the design process, we’ll look at creating the right inputs instead. Leave the final calculations for the outputs to the browser—that’s what computers are good at. We’ll look at CSS features, design systems, design principles, and more. Then you’ll be ready to embrace the fluid, ever-changing, glorious messiness of the World Wide Web!
If you’d a glimpse into the inside of my head while I’ve been preparing this talk, here’s a linkdump of various resources that are either mentioned in the talk or influenced it…
- Declarative design on adactio.com
- Utopia by James Gilyead and Trys Mudford
- Every Layout by Heydon Pickering and Andy Bell
- Be the browser’s mentor, not its micromanager by Andy Bell
- Layout Land by Jen Simmons
- Designing Intrinsic Layouts by Jen Simmons on adactio.com
- A declarative Web Share API on adactio.com
- A polyfill for button type=”share” on adactio.com
- The reason for a share button type on adactio.com
- Share Button Type explainer on Github
- How to (not) make a button by Tomas Pustelnik
- The CSS Mindset by Max Böck
- Contextual Spacing For Intrinsic Web Design by Stephanie Eckles
- The CSS mental model by Peter Paul Koch
- CSS Forces by Tim Brown
- Our web design tools are holding us back by Vasilis van Gemert
- Traditional Web Design Process is Fundamentally Broken by Jason Grigsby
- Web Design Tool Wish List by Jason Grigsby
- Declarative Design Tools (archived) by Jem Gold
- Declarative design systems on adactio.com
- Design systems thinking on adactio.com
- Cascading HTML style sheets — a proposal by Håkon Wium Lie, 1994
- A Dao of Web Design by John Allsopp, 2000
- Responsive Web Design by Ethan Marcotte, 2010