The World-Wide Work

I’ve been to a lot of events and I’ve seen a lot of talks. I find that, even after all this time, I always get something out of every presentation I see. Kudos to anyone who’s got the guts to get up on stage and share their thoughts.

But there are some talks that are genuinely special. When they come along, it’s a real privilege to be in the room. Wilson’s talk, When We Build was one of those moments. There are some others that weren’t recorded, but will always stay with me.

Earlier this year, I had the great honour of opening the New Adventures conference in Nottingham. I definitely felt a lot of pressure, and I did my utmost to set the scene for the day. The final talk of the day was delivered by my good friend Ethan. He took it to another level.

Like I said at the time:

Look, I could gush over how good Ethan’s talk was, or try to summarise it, but there’s really no point. I’ll just say that I felt the same sense of being present at something genuinely important that I felt when I was in the room for his original responsive web design talk at An Event Apart back in 2010. When the video is released, you really must watch it.

Well, the video has been released and you really must watch it. Don’t multitask. Don’t fast forward. Set aside some time and space, and then take it all in.

The subject matter, the narrative structure, the delivery, and the message come together in a unique way.

If, having watched the presentation, you want to dive deeper into any of Ethan’s references, check out the reading list that accompanies the talk.

I mentioned that I felt under pressure to deliver a good opener for New Adventures. I know that Ethan was really feeling the pressure too. He needn’t have worried. He delivered one of the best conference talks I’ve ever seen.

Thank you, Ethan.

Have you published a response to this? :


Finally, late this afternoon, I found time to watch the video of a talk by Ethan Marcotte that Jeremy Keith had recommended.

[Y]ou really must watch it. Don’t multitask. Don’t fast forward. Set aside some time and space, and then take it all in.

I did. Set aside the time, watched and only watched, at normal speed.

It was well worth it. A beautifully crafted talk, superbly presented, all one could wish for, thought-provoking and stimulating. And of course I could just leave it at that, an unalloyed “Like”.

Two things, however, call for more.

The first is that to even pretend that the sewing machine could end poverty is to buy into a very dubious proposition, on two counts. There will always be poor and not so poor, and even the UN’s poverty line is adjusted from time to time to reflect that despite rising tides and all that, some boats just remain lower in the water. More importantly, while the sewing machine may not have ended poverty globally, it has most definitely helped an awful lot of people improve their lot. Ethan showed pictures of white folks working in sweatshop conditions, possibly even in the notorious Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Yes, they were exploited. But they did have a job and an income. And then the factories were exported to poorer countries where the same machines and their successors gave the same sorts of people their first step out of absolute poverty. And the process goes on, the poor countries that once housed the sweatshops now affluent enough to buy the cheap clothing produced in the new sweatshop countries. I think the sewing machine did end poverty, for many people.

The second is a technical niggle, but an important one given what Ethan was saying about accessibility. My hearing isn’t 100%, or 20:20, or whatever perfect is when it comes to audio. I found the sound as it emerged from my monitors full of echo. Headphones were better, but it was still obvious that the left channel was a nice, close mic while the right was who knows where picking up almost exclusively reflections. Sure, I could have done a lot more tweaking and just duplicated the left channel, but Jeremy said not to get distracted, so I stuck with the headphones. None of this is the speaker’s fault, of course. But I do wonder, did anyone else have problems with the audio?

Now, of course, I need to find the time and space to work my way through the rest of the programme.

Photo by Adolfo Félix on Unsplash

Books Essentialism by Greg McKeown

I enjoyed Mr. McKeon’s book very much, and was convicted about many of the ways my life has been “designed by default.” I have tended to drift through life. It’s been fine for a while, but as an aspiring leader in my home and at work I need to embrace more clarity and focus.

If 40% of my decisions are made subconsciously, and I realize that my subconscious is largely influenced by the nudges and artifice of my digital surroundings as well as social pressures. It’s the great secret default key to my behavior… and I have invested far too little in designing and protecting my subconcious patterns. I now feel that this is part of “taking every thought captive” and “demolishing strongholds.”

I would recommend this book, especially if you feel pulled in all directions by many good things and you find the best things in life are suffering.

I’ll probably muse on it a little longer and write a longer review soon.

Link to my full notes

Links 1: Peter Thiel — The Portal — Overcast

I’ve been meaning to listen to this for a while now, a long car ride to the beach gave me an opportunity. The collective historical perspective of their two minds is fascinating.

I’m slowly thinking through some of their assumptions… the revolution model of scientific progress, that scientific progress of any kind is inherently good… interesting.

Great discussion on the speed of progress (if you removed all the screens out of a room, how would you tell that time had passed since the 70s,) the issues with hyper-specialization of knowledge work, the self-destructive Malthusian obsession with “growth” leading to a lack of discernment between “cancerous growth” vs. true growth, the mass self-deception required for pretending your way to success, the way tenure is massaging professors into never questioning the university system… really intriguing conversation and ideas. I don’t think I’ve ever been tempted to re-listen to a three hour podcast before. Highly recommended.

Read more…

Implant Teardown

The implant has access to almost all of the personal information available on the device, which it is able to upload, unencrypted, to the attacker’s server. The implant binary does not persist on the device; if the phone is rebooted then the implant will not run until the device is re-exploited when the user visits a compromised site again. Given the breadth of information stolen, the attackers may nevertheless be able to maintain persistent access to various accounts and services by using the stolen authentication tokens from the keychain, even after they lose access to the device.

This is the tail-end of a long post about an iOS 0-day exploit that was in the wild for a while.

Don’t click on random URLs. Make sure you know who sends you stuff. Don’t go looking for pirated material on the internet. Not even your super-secure iPhone is safe.

Read more…

mophie powerstation hub

I’m always looking for neat ways to lighten the load in my bag… this may be a cool way to combine a whole slew of chargers… and a built in battery.

Read more…

The Marvel Symphonic Universe - YouTube

I’m continually sad that Every Frame a Painting is no longer making videos, but this is one of my favorites… highly recommended if you haven’t seen it already.

Read more…

Inside a scam call center - YouTube

I’ve had several friends and family hit by this particular scam. Seeing how the “business” is run and how easily they can get away with it is super fascinating. The way they smoothly move from coaxing and coaching to threatening is… anger-producing.

His sneaky ways to drain the bad guy’s money and protect their victims had me fist pumping in the air at my desk. He’s like a quiet-voiced cyber Paul Kersey.

Read more…

Why the NEW Blender 2.8 is a BIG DEAL - YouTube

Once upon a time, little Evan really wanted to make movies. My brothers wouldn’t act for me, so I did stop motion animation on Legos and when I ran out of bricks… I started looking at 3d animation.

I haven’t looked at it since high school, but it’s cool to see what amazing improvements an OSS community has made to this amazing tool.

Read more…

606 Universal Shelving System | Vitsœ

606 Universal Shelving System Designed by Dieter Rams in 1960 and made by Vitsœ ever since

Heard about this company in Essentialism… the design is lovely although I don’t think I’ll ever afford it.

Read more…

The Beehive - Factorio 1.35kspm Megabase with 1-1 Trains

the output is written in braille because it’s the most compact alphabet I’m aware of and I don’t want to make a bigger one.

I’ve been playing factorio and I’m amazed by the creativity and passion of its community. It makes me excited to build complex and interesting tools and automations at my actual job… I can’t think of many games that push my creativity the same way.

Read more…

Ethan Marcotte | The World-Wide Work

It’s all too easy to design something that excludes people.

Jeremy Keith is right. Set aside time, watch this now. I’m not sure how I feel about unionization, but I definitely agree that we need to take personal responsibility for what we design.

Read more…

Raush-Clearwater Packraft Traverse

It’s an area so wild that what may be the largest cave in Canada with a gaping 100m wide mouth was only discovered last year by a helicopter crew. Hence – moreso than the other ranges – the Caribou’s still have unclimbed peaks, unpaddled rivers and almost no trails – a situation Will wanted to investigate.

I have often lamented that I live past the days of grand exploration and adventure. I guess I haven’t looked hard enough.

Read more…

The Distraction-Free Phone – The Sweet Setup

It’s not hopeless though, and it’s not really the smartphone’s fault that we succumb to the gravitational pull of apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s our own fault for allowing ourselves to get sucked in in the first place.

But what can we do about it?

Read more…

Highlights from Git 2.23

A pretty big release… git switch and git restore feel like sensible additions to the porcelain. A lot easier to explain to be sure.

Read more…

The untold story of America’s brilliant national parks branding

Vignelli came up with a framework called the Unigrid system that provided a set of visual devices to streamline all of the NPS’s maps, pamphlets, and posters. That meant that each title would now run vertically along a brochure’s right side in Helvetica, and designers would work within a modular grid system that dictated where they could place images and text.

It was a boon for the government financially and logistically. “One of the good things about the Vignelli system is that it standardized paper sizes, weights, and types, and it was a grid system where you knew roughly what it was going to look like and how much text you had to have written and how many images might fit,” Smyth says. “It streamlined things quite a lot, and in the end they saved a lot of money from printing by buying things in bulk.” Vignelli’s Unigrid was so successful for the NPS that it’s still in use today.

Great design. Would not mind adding Parks to my collection of books.

Read more…

Electric Geek Transportation Systems

As for me, I have seen the future, and it is absolutely, inexorably, and unavoidably … electric. ⚡

While I am excited about the prospect of electric vehicles, and this article speaks to me when it comes to cars coming into my world as a programmer… I wonder how long the value curve will take to reach me down here in “I don’t buy new cars and I buy ten year old junkers” land.

Read more…

Adding Webmention Support to a Static Site

In an effort to have something like a comments on this site, I have started working on implementing webmentions. I’m excited to join the “IndieWeb,” and have a presence that I own but is still connected.

I have not fully implemented it all… but I hope to soon show webmentions via twitter or indieweb in each article.

Read more…

The Portal Podcast - 3: Werner Herzog

We shall technological utopias coming to an end in our century just as we saw sociological utopias coming to an end in the last century. this kind of illusion, this kind of technical utopia will come to an end in our century … we are going to die. That’s what all of creation points to.

– Werner Herzog

I’ve been finally catching up on this long form interview podcast… and was delighted to see Herzog as a guest. I’ve always had a fascination for Herzog, and this interview did not let me down.

I don’t agree with his worldview, but I admire his sense of duty to his craft and message. Get used to the bear behind you.

Some of his book recommendations in answer to a crowd question:

  • Don’t just read three. Read two thousand books. It’s the constant practice that makes a difference.
  • The Peregrine by JA Baker
  • The Discovery and Conquest of New Spain
  • A Guide for the Perplexed
  • The short stories of Joseph Conrad

# Saturday, August 31st, 2019 at 12:07am


# Shared by Simon Collison on Friday, May 31st, 2019 at 3:32pm

# Shared by Jason Neel on Saturday, June 1st, 2019 at 4:10pm


# Liked by Chris McLeod on Friday, May 31st, 2019 at 2:45pm

# Liked by Adam Onishi on Friday, May 31st, 2019 at 5:33pm

# Liked by Simon Collison on Friday, May 31st, 2019 at 5:33pm

# Liked by New Adventures on Friday, May 31st, 2019 at 5:33pm

# Liked by Ana Adam Širola on Friday, May 31st, 2019 at 5:33pm

# Liked by Jay Greasley 🇪🇺 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏳️‍🌈 on Friday, May 31st, 2019 at 5:33pm

# Liked by Jason Neel on Saturday, June 1st, 2019 at 4:40pm

# Liked by Ethan Marcotte on Sunday, June 2nd, 2019 at 12:26pm

Previously on this day

5 years ago I wrote 100 words 070

Day seventy.

8 years ago I wrote Pepys out

The end of an internet era.

10 years ago I wrote Awe Dee Oh

HTML5 and Flash, sitting in a tree.

12 years ago I wrote Alasgone

The land of the midnight sun.