Tags: 2014

15

sparkline

It’s the end of the year as we know it.

It’s the last day of the year. I won’t be going out tonight. I’m going to stay in with Jessica in our cosy home.

The general consensus is that 2014 was a crappy year for human beings on planet Earth. In actuality, and contrary to popular belief, the human race continued its upward trend of improvement in almost all areas. Less violence, less disease, fewer wars, a record-breaking minimum of air crashes, and while the disparity between the richest and the poorest has increased, the baseline level of what constitutes poverty continues to increase throughout the world.

This trend is often met with surprise, or even disbelief. Just ask Matt Ridley and Steven Pinker. We tend to over-inflate the negative and undervalue the positive. And we seem to do it more and more with each passing year (which, in itself, can be seen as part of the overall positive trend: the fact that violence and inequality outrages us now more than ever is, on balance, a good thing). It seems to be part of our modern human nature to allow the bad to overwhelm the good in its importance.

Take my past year, for example. There was so much that was good. It was a good year for Clearleft and I travelled to marvellous places (Tel Aviv, Munich, Seattle, Austin, San Diego, Riga, Freiburg, Bologna, Florida, and more). I ate wonderful food. I read. I wrote. I listened. I spoke. I attended some workshops. I ran some workshops. I learned. I taught. I went to some great events. I organised Responsive Day Out 2 and dConstruct. I even wrote the occasional bit of code.

But despite all of that, 2014 is a year that feels dominated by death.

It started at the beginning of the year with the death of Jessica’s beloved Oma. The only positive spin I can put on it is that she had a long life, and she died surrounded by her family (Jessica included). But it was still a horrible event.

For the first half of the year, the web community was united behind Eric as he went through the unimaginable. Then, in June, Rebecca died. And the web community was united in sorrow. It was such an outrage against all that is good in this world.

I visited Eric that day. I tried to convey how much the people of the web were feeling for him. I couldn’t possibly convey it, but I had to try. I offered what comfort I could, but some situations are so far beyond normalcy that literally nothing can be done.

That death, the death of a child …there’s something so wrong, so obscene about it.

One month later, Chloe killed herself.

I miss her. I miss her so much.

So I understand why, despite the upward trends in human achievement, despite all the positive events of the last twelve months, 2014 feels like a year of dread and grief. I understand why so many people are happy to see the back of 2014. Good riddance, right?

But I still don’t want to let the bad—and boy, was it ever bad—crush the good. I’m seeing out the year as I mean to go on: eating good food, drinking good wine, reading, writing, and being alive.

It’s the last day of the year. I won’t be going out tonight. I’m going to stay in with Jessica in our cosy home.

Indie web building blocks

I was back in Nürnberg last week for the second border:none. Joschi tried an interesting format for this year’s event. The first day was a small conference-like gathering with an interesting mix of speakers, but the second day was much more collaborative, with people working together in “creator units”—part workshop, part round-table discussion.

I teamed up with Aaron to lead the session on all things indie web. It turned out to be a lot of fun. Throughout the day, we introduced the little building blocks, one by one. By the end of the day, it was amazing to see how much progress people made by taking this layered approach of small pieces, loosely stacked.

relme

The first step is: do you have a domain name?

Okay, next step: are you linking from that domain to other profiles of you on the web? Twitter, Instagram, Github, Dribbble, whatever. If so, here’s the first bit of hands-on work: add rel="me" to those links.

<a rel="me" href="https://twitter.com/adactio">Twitter</a>
<a rel="me" href="https://github.com/adactio">Github</a>
<a rel="me" href="https://www.flickr.com/people/adactio">Flickr</a>

If you don’t have any profiles on other sites, you can still mark up your telephone number or email address with rel="me". You might want to do this in a link element in the head of your HTML.

<link rel="me" href="mailto:jeremy@adactio.com" />
<link rel="me" href="sms:+447792069292" />

IndieAuth

As soon as you’ve done that, you can make use of IndieAuth. This is a technique that demonstrates a recurring theme in indie web building blocks: take advantage of the strengths of existing third-party sites. In this case, IndieAuth piggybacks on top of the fact that many third-party sites have some kind of authentication mechanism, usually through OAuth. The fact that you’re “claiming” a profile on a third-party site using rel="me"—and the third-party profile in turn links back to your site—means that we can use all the smart work that went into their authentication flow.

You can see IndieAuth in action by logging into the Indie Web Camp wiki. It’s pretty nifty.

If you’ve used rel="me" to link to a profile on something like Twitter, Github, or Flickr, you can authenticate with their OAuth flow. If you’ve used rel="me" for your email address or phone number, you can authenticate by email or SMS.

h-entry

Next question: are you publishing stuff on your site? If so, mark it up using h-entry. This involves adding a few classes to your existing markup.

<article class="h-entry">
  <div class="e-content">
    <p>Having fun with @aaronpk, helping @border_none attendees mark up their sites with rel="me" links, h-entry classes, and webmention endpoints.</p>
  </div>
  <time class="dt-published" datetime="2014-10-18 08:42:37">8:42am</time>
</article>

Now, the reason for doing this isn’t for some theoretical benefit from search engines, or browsers, but simply to make the content you’re publishing machine-parsable (which will come in handy in the next steps).

Aaron published a note on his website, inviting everyone to leave a comment. The trick is though, to leave a comment on Aaron’s site, you need to publish it on your own site.

Webmention

Here’s my response to Aaron’s post. As well as being published on my own site, it also shows up on Aaron’s. That’s because I sent a webmention to Aaron.

Webmention is basically a reimplementation of pingback, but without any of the XML silliness; it’s just a POST request with two values—the URL of the origin post, and the URL of the response.

My site doesn’t automatically send webmentions to any links I reference in my posts—I should really fix that—but that’s okay; Aaron—like me—has a form under each of his posts where you can paste in the URL of your response.

This is where those h-entry classes come in. If your post is marked up with h-entry, then it can be parsed to figure out which bit of your post is the body, which bit is the author, and so on. If your response isn’t marked up as h-entry, Aaron just displays a link back to your post. But if it is marked up in h-entry, Aaron can show the whole post on his site.

Okay. By this point, we’ve already come really far, and all people had to do was edit their HTML to add some rel attributes and class values.

For true site-to-site communication, you’ll need to have a webmention endpoint. That’s a bit trickier to add to your own site; it requires some programming. Here’s my minimum viable webmention that I wrote in PHP. But there are plenty of existing implentations you can use, like this webmention plug-in for WordPress.

Or you could request an account on webmention.io, which is basically webmention-as-a-service. Handy!

Once you have a webmention endpoint, you can point to it from the head of your HTML using a link element:

<link rel="mention" href="https://adactio.com/webmention" />

Now you can receive responses to your posts.

Here’s the really cool bit: if you sign up for Bridgy, you can start receiving responses from third-party sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc. Bridgy just needs to know who you are on those networks, looks at your website, and figures everything out from there. And it automatically turns the responses from those networks into h-entry. It feels like magic!

Here are responses from Twitter to my posts, as captured by Bridgy.

POSSE

That was mostly what Aaron and I covered in our one-day introduction to the indie web. I think that’s pretty good going.

The next step would be implementing the idea of POSSE: Publish on your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere.

You could do this using something as simple as If This, Then That e.g. everytime something crops up in your RSS feed, post it to Twitter, or Facebook, or both. If you don’t have an RSS feed, don’t worry: because you’re already marking your HTML up in h-entry, it can be converted to RSS easily.

I’m doing my own POSSEing to Twitter, which I’ve written about already. Since then, I’ve also started publishing photos here, which I sometimes POSSE to Twitter, and always POSSE to Flickr. Here’s my code for posting to Flickr.

I’d really like to POSSE my photos to Instagram, but that’s impossible. Instagram is a data roach-motel. The API provides no method for posting photos. The only way to post a picture to Instagram is with the Instagram app.

My only option is to do the opposite of POSSEing, which is PESOS: Publish Elsewhere, and Syndicate to your Own Site. To do that, I need to have an endpoint on my own site that can receive posts.

Micropub

Working side by side with Aaron at border:none inspired me to finally implement one more indie web building block I needed: micropub.

Having a micropub endpoint here on my own site means that I can publish from third-party sites …or even from native apps. The reason why I didn’t have one already was that I thought it would be really complicated to implement. But it turns out that, once again, the trick is to let other services do all the hard work.

First of all, I need to have something to manage authentication. Well, I already have that with IndieAuth. I got that for free just by adding rel="me" to my links to other profiles. So now I can declare indieauth.com as my authorization endpoint in the head of my HTML:

<link rel="authorization_endpoint" href="https://indieauth.com/auth" />

Now I need some way of creating and issuing authentation tokens. See what I mean about it sounding like hard work? Creating a token endpoint seems complicated.

But once again, someone else has done the hard work so I don’t have to. Tokens-as-a-service:

<link rel="token_endpoint" href="https://tokens.indieauth.com/token" />

The last piece of the puzzle is to point to my own micropub endpoint:

<link rel="micropub" href="https://adactio.com/micropub" />

That URL is where I will receive posts from third-party sites and apps (sent through a POST request with an access token in the header). It’s up to me to verify that the post is authenticated properly with a valid access token. Here’s the PHP code I’m using.

It wasn’t nearly as complicated as I thought it would be. By the time a post and a token hits the micropub endpoint, most of the hard work has already been done (authenticating, issuing a token, etc.). But there are still a few steps that I have to do:

  1. Make a GET request (I’m using cURL) back to the token endpoint I specified—sending the access token I’ve been sent in a header—verifying the token.
  2. Check that the “me” value that I get back corresponds to my identity, which is https://adactio.com
  3. Take the h-entry values that have been sent as POST variables and create a new post on my site.

I tested my micropub endpoint using Quill, a nice little posting interface that Aaron built. It comes with great documentation, including a guide to creating a micropub endpoint.

It worked.

Here’s another example: Ben Roberts has a posting interface that publishes to micropub, which means I can authenticate myself and post to my site from his interface.

Finally, there’s OwnYourGram, a service that monitors your Instagram account and posts to your micropub endpoint whenever there’s a new photo.

That worked too. And I can also hook up Bridgy to my Instagram account so that any activity on my Instagram photos also gets sent to my webmention endpoint.

Indie Web Camp

Each one of these building blocks unlocks greater and greater power:

Each one of those building blocks you implement unlocks more and more powerful tools:

But its worth remembering that these are just implementation details. What really matters is that you’re publishing your stuff on your website. If you want to use different formats and protocols to do that, that’s absolutely fine. The whole point is that this is the independent web—you can do whatever you please on your own website.

Still, if you decide to start using these tools and technologies, you’ll get the benefit of all the other people who are working on this stuff. If you have the chance to attend an Indie Web Camp, you should definitely take it: I’m always amazed by how much is accomplished in one weekend.

Some people have started referring to the indie web movement. I understand where they’re coming from; it certainly looks like a “movement” from the outside, and if you attend an Indie Web Camp, there’s a great spirit of sharing. But my underlying motivations are entirely selfish. In the same way that I don’t really care about particular formats or protocols, I don’t really care about being part of any kind of “movement.” I care about my website.

As it happens, my selfish motivations align perfectly with the principles of an indie web.

dConstruct 2014

dConstruct is all done for another year. Every year I feel sort of dazed in the few days after the conference—I spend so much time and energy preparing for this event looming in my future, that it always feels surreal when it’s suddenly in the past.

But this year I feel particularly dazed. A little numb. Slightly shellshocked even.

This year’s dConstruct was …heavy. Sure, there were some laughs (belly laughs, even) but overall it was a more serious event than previous years. The word that I heard the most from people afterwards was “important”. It was an important event.

Here’s the thing: if I’m going to organise a conference in 2014 and give it the theme of “Living With The Network”, and then invite the most thoughtful, informed, eloquent speakers I can think of …well, I knew it wasn’t going to be rainbows and unicorns.

If you were there, you know what I mean. If you weren’t there, it probably sounds like it wasn’t much fun. To be honest, “fun” wasn’t the highest thing on the agenda this year. But that feels right. And even though it wasn’t a laugh-fest, it was immensely enjoyable …if, like me, you enjoy having your brain slapped around.

I’m going to need some time to process and unpack everything that was squeezed into the day. Fortunately—thanks to Drew’s typical Herculean efforts—I can do that by listening to the audio, which is already available!

Slap the RSS feed in your generic MP3 listening device of choice and soak up the tsunami of thoughts, ideas, and provocations that the speakers delivered.

Oh boy, did the speakers ever deliver!

Warren Ellis at dConstruct Georgina Voss at dConstruct Clare Reddington at dConstruct Aaron Straup Cope at dConstruct Brian Suda at dConstruct Mandy Brown at dConstruct Anab Jain at dConstruct Tom Scott at dConstruct Cory Doctorow at dConstruct

Listen, it’s very nice that people come along to dConstruct each year and settle into the Brighton Dome to listen to these talks, but the harsh truth is that I didn’t choose the speakers for anyone else but myself. I know that’s very selfish, but it’s true. By lucky coincidence, the speakers I want to see turn out to deliver the best damn talks on the planet.

That said, as impressed as I was by the speakers, I was equally impressed by the audience. They were not spoon-fed. They had to contribute their time, attention, and grey matter to “get” those talks. And they did. For that, I am immensely grateful. Thank you.

I’m not going to go through all the talks one by one. I couldn’t do them justice. What was wonderful was to see the emerging themes, ideas, and references that crossed over from speaker to speaker: thoughts on history, responsibility, power, control, and the future.

And yes, there was definitely a grim undercurrent to some of those ideas about the future. But there was also hope. More than one speaker pointed out that the future is ours to write. And the emphasis on history highlighted that our present moment in time—and our future trajectory—is all part of an ongoing amazing collective narrative.

But it’s precisely because the future is ours to write that this year’s dConstruct hammered home our collective responsibility. This year’s dConstruct was a grown-up, necessarily serious event that shined a light on our current point in history …and maybe, just maybe, provided some potential paths for the future.

This week in Brighton

This is my favourite week of the year. It’s the week when Brighton bursts into life as the its month-long Digital Festival kicks off.

Already this week, we’ve had the Dots conference and three days of Reasons To Be Creative, where designers and makers show their work. And this afternoon Lighthouse are running their annual Improving Reality event.

But the best is yet to come. Tomorrow’s the big day: dConstruct 2014. I’ve been preparing for this day for so long now, it’s going to be very weird when it’s over. I must remember to sit back, relax and enjoy the day. I remember how fast the day whizzed by last year. I suspect that tomorrow’s proceedings might display equal levels of time dilation—I’m excited to see every single talk.

Even when dConstruct is done, the Brighton festivities will continue. I’ll be at Indie Web Camp here at 68 Middle Street on Saturday on Sunday. Also on Saturday, there’s the brilliant Maker Faire, and when the sun goes down, Brighton will be treated to Seb’s latest project which features frickin’ lasers!

This is my favourite week of the year.

Georgina Voss at dConstruct

It’s exactly two weeks until dConstruct. I AM EXCITE!!!11ELEVEN!! If you’ve already got your ticket: excellent! If not, you can still get one. It’s not too late.

There is a change to the advertised line-up…

Alas, Jen can no longer make it to Brighton. Circumstances have conspired to make trans-atlantic travel an impossibility. It’s a real shame because I was really looking forward to her talk, but these things happen (and she’s gutted too: she was really looking forward to being in Brighton for this year’s dConstruct).

But never fear. We’ve swapped out one fantastic talk for another fantastic talk. Brighton’s own Georgina Voss has very kindly stepped into the breach. She’s going to knock your socks off with her talk, Tethering the Hovercraft:

A careen through grassroots innovation, speculative design, supply chains and sexual healthcare provision, lashing down over-caffeinated flailing into the grit of socio-technical systems.

Awwww yeah!

I had the chance to see Georgina speak a few months back at Lighthouse Arts and it was terrific. She is the perfect fit for this year’s dConstruct—she really is living with the network.

It’s a shame that Jen can’t join us for this year’s dConstruct but, my goodness, what a great day it’s going to be—now with added Vossomeness!

Anab Jain at dConstruct

The countdown to dConstruct 2014 has well and truly begun. It’s just three and a half weeks away, and I am very excited.

I have some good news and bad news.

The bad news is that Leila Johnston can no longer make it—she has decided to cancel all her public speaking engagements to focus on the next Hack Circus event.

But the (very) good news is that Anab Jain will be speaking! Yay!

I had actually approached Anab earlier when I was still putting together the line-up for this year’s dConstruct, but it didn’t look like she could fit it into her schedule. Then as the line-up of speakers coalesced, it became clearer and clearer that she would be the perfect person to talk about Living With The Network and I was filled with regret.

Now that she has so graciously agreed to step in at such short notice, I couldn’t be happier. Seriously, I am so excited about the line-up that I’m like a kid counting down the days until Christmas.

There are still tickets available for dConstruct 2014. If you haven’t got yours yet, well, you should fix that. (Have I mentioned how excited I am about this year’s line-up? I’m quite, quite excited about this year’s line-up.)

If you’re the gambling kind, you can try your luck at winning a ticket to the conference, thanks to our lovely sponsors SiteGround. Fill in their short survey and you’re in with a chance.

Regardless of how you get hold of ticket, get hold of a ticket. And I’ll see you at the magnificent Brighton Dome on Friday, September 5th for a day of superb brain-bending entertainment from Warren Ellis, Mandy Brown, Cory Doctorow, Clare Reddington, Tom Scott, Aaron Straup Cope, Jen Lowe, Brian Suda …and Anab Jain!

dConstruct 2014 schedule

I’ve published the schedule for this year’s dConstruct. Curating an event like this doesn’t stop when the speakers have been finalised. Figuring out the flow of the day is another aspect that I really wanted to get right. It’s like making a mixtape.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve got planned …but maybe I’ll add the “subject to change” caveat just in case I change my mind:

Registration
Warren Ellis
Jen Lowe
Break
Clare Reddington
Aaron Straup Cope
Lunch
Brian Suda
Mandy Brown
Leila Johnston
Break
Tom Scott
Cory Doctorow
After-party

Regardless of what order the talks end up in, I’m really excited about seeing every single one of them.

Warren’s talk is simply called “A Cunning Plan”:

Inventing the next twenty years, strategic foresight, fictional futurism and English rural magic: Warren Ellis attempts to convince you that they are all pretty much the same thing, and why it was very important that some people used to stalk around village hedgerows at night wearing iron goggles.

Jen’s is “Enigmas, not Explanations: a Speculative Nonfiction”:

A wander through indescribable projects, magical realisms, and the fantastical present. A speculation on resonances within the network and the good that can come from making questions without answers.

Clare will talk about “Memes for Cities”:

A giant water slide. A talking lamppost. A zombie chase game. These recent city interventions were enabled by networks of people, technology and infrastructure, making the world more playful and creating change. In this Playable City talk, Clare will take on the functional image of a future city, sharing how to design playful experiences that change our relationships with the places we live and work.

Aaron’s talk is intriguely titled “Still Life with Emotional Contagion”.

I love where Brian is going with “Humans Are Only a Self-driving Car’s Way of Making Another Self-driving Car”:

Over 10,000 years ago we lived in balance with the network. Since then we’ve tried to control, rule and bend it to our whims. In all that time, we’ve never asked ourselves if we’re building something that controls us?

Mandy will be talking about “Hypertext as an Agent of Change”:

Mandy Brown contemplates how hypertext has changed us, and what change is yet to come.

Leila’s talk will be the autobiographical “Running Away with the Circus”:

Lessons of launching your own magazine and event series, how to make it work, what not to do, and how to keep the right attitude and get interesting stuff done against the odds.

Tom will take us on a journey to 2030:

Privacy’s dead. What happens next?

And finally, Cory will declare “Information Doesn’t Want to be Free”:

There are three iron laws of information age creativity, freedom and business, woven deep into the fabric of the Internet’s design, the functioning of markets, and the global system of regulation and trade agreements.

You can’t attain any kind of sustained commercial, creative success without understanding these laws — but more importantly, the future of freedom itself depends on getting them right.

They all sound bloody brilliant!

There are still plenty of tickets left so if you haven’t got your ticket to dConstruct yet (what’s wrong with you?), you can grab one now.

Cory Doctorow at dConstruct 2014

This year’s dConstruct will be the tenth one. Ten! That’s a cause for celebration.

The very first dConstruct back in 2005 was a small affair. But we pulled off something off a coup by having the one and only Cory Doctorow deliver the closing talk. You can still listen to the talk—along with every dConstruct talk ever—at the dConstruct archive.

Cory Doctorow

It’s a great talk that still holds up a decade later. Cory’s passion for freedom and technology (and maintaining the intersection of both) is palpable.

Here we are in 2014 and the theme for dConstruct is “Living With The Network.” Who better to deliver a keynote address than Cory Doctorow?

That’s right—he’s back!

Cory Doctorow

I love the symmetry of having Cory at the first and the tenth dConstruct. Also: he’s absolutely bloody brilliant!

Get your ticket for dConstruct 2014 now. It’s going to be a magnificent day.

See you on September 5th!

A new website for dConstruct 2014

dConstruct 2014 has a new website. Huzzah!

When I announced the original website two months ago, I was very, very excited about the line-up, but I was less excited about the design of the site itself. To be honest, it was a somewhat rushed affair. It did the job but it didn’t have much pizzazz. I had some design direction—colour, typography, texture—courtesty of Mikey, but I didn’t push it to do anything very interesting.

dConstruct original 320 dConstruct original 600 dConstruct original 768

So Mikey took some time to iterate and revise, and he came up with a gorgeous new design. I think this does a much better job of capturing the spirit of dConstruct.

As well as a revised colour palette and lusher textures, there was also opportunity to do something quite playful in the masthead. Making sites for our own projects always presents a nice opportunity to try out some whacky stuff that we might not get a chance to do on client work.

In this case, the plan was to play with the theme of this year’s dConstruct—Living With The Network—and use it as part of the visual design, literally networking up parts of the interface.

It was a nice chance for me to play around with canvas. But I didn’t dive into code straight away. I had a think about how I could add this an enhancement to the responsive layout.

My plan was to generate a canvas element under the existing elements in the header using z-index to keep them separated while maintaining the appearance of having everything connected up.

Sketching before coding

It worked out pretty well. But I wanted to push it further. How about making it an interactive element that responds to the user?

I know, I know. It’s very silly and frankly a bit wanky, but y’know, it felt like it would be nice and playful.

I had no idea how to do it though. At an internal code review here at Clearleft, I demoed what I had so far and asked for advice. The general consensus was that I should probably be using SVG rather than canvas for making interactive graphical elements. They’re probably right, but I distinctly remember learning about hit detection and mouse events in canvas during Seb’s excellent Creative JS workshop.

So I stuck with canvas and fiddled around with numbers until I got to something that felt lke it reacted nicely to hover events (or touch/clicks if hover isn’t available …or even if it is). requestAnimationFrame was a godsend when it came to getting smooth animations.

Have a play with it. It’s hard to miss. It’s not exactly a subtle easter egg.

The content of the site remains much the same. While I was disatisfied with the original visual design of the site, I’m still pretty chuffed with the copy.

One small change I made was to give the code of conduct its own page (and expand on it a bit). Previously it was included with terms and conditions but there was a good chance that it could’ve been overlooked there.

Anyway, I hope you like the new site. I think Mikey did a terrific job with the design and it was a lot of fun to put together …especially the silly wanky bit. The only slight disadvantage is that the page weight comes in slightly larger than the previous design. But I’ll keep optimising to see if I can shave off some bytes here and there.

Device testing dConstruct Device testing dConstruct

Oh, and you might notice one significant change on the home page. In addition to the speakers that are currently listed, there’s an addendum that reads “…and more”. That’s because the line-up for this year’s dConstruct, awesome as it is, is not yet complete. It’s going to get even better.

If you don’t have your ticket to this year’s dConstruct yet, what are you waiting for?

See you on September 5th.

Ten years of dConstruct

Tickets for dConstruct 2014 have been on sale for just over a week now. If you haven’t nabbed yours yet, here’s the URL:

ti.to/clearleft/dconstruct-2014

This will be the tenth dConstruct. Ten years! It’s pretty crazy to look back through the archive and see how the event has evolved from its humble beginnings in 2005 to last year’s magnificent tour-de-force.

If you missed out last year, the videos are all online. You can watch the talks by Sarah Angliss, Maciej Cegłowski, Dan Williams and all the other terrific presenters.

And after you’ve done that, book your place in the Brighton Dome for Friday, September 5th, 2014. Believe me, you don’t want to miss out on this year’s event.

Ten years! Crazy.

It’s kind of fun to look back at the themes for each year:

dConstruct tickets

Tickets for dConstruct 2014 go on sale on Monday morning at 11am.

I expect there’ll be quite a rush for tickets initially, but don’t worry—if you aren’t able to get to an internet-enabled device to secure your place the moment that tickets go on sale, rest assured that there’ll be tickets available for quite a while. For the past few years, there have been tickets still available right up until a month before the event itself.

That said, you might as well grab your ticket straight away. You definitely don’t want to miss this year’s event. Just look at that amazing line-up.

Oh, and that line-up just got a little bit more amazing. I’m pleased as punch to announce that Jen Lowe will be joining us for dConstruct. Just one more brilliant and talented person to add to the roster of brilliant and talented people who are going to make this year’s dConstruct something else.

If you’re travelling from outside Brighton, then the first thing you might want to do after securing your dConstruct ticket is to find some accommodation. Here’s a dConstruct page on AirBnB listing plenty of available lodgings.

I recommend sticking around for the weekend after dConstruct too. As well as the annual Maker Faire and the Brighton and Hove Food Festival, there’s going to be plenty of other events happening under the banner of the Brighton Digital Festival.

Brighton is definitely the place to be in the first week of September.

And the dConstruct ticket page is definitely the place to be on Monday morning.

(One thing to note: if you’re buying a whole bunch of tickets for your workmates, please make sure to add a name for each ticket. Don’t worry; you’ll be able to update the names on the tickets at any time up ‘till a couple of weeks before the event itself. So even if you’re not sure now who the final attendees will turn out to be, you can adjust the tickets once you figure it out. But you can’t leave the names blank—if you do, I’m afraid the whole order will be cancelled.)

Announcing dConstruct 2014

I’ve been puttin together the website for this year’s dConstruct and I reckon it’s in a decent enough shape to ship, so without further ado, I present to you…

dConstruct 2014 — Living With The Network

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. dConstruct 2014 takes place on September 5th in the Brighton Dome.
  2. Tickets will cost £150+VAT.
  3. Tickets go on sale at 11am on May 19th.
  4. It will be bloody brilliant.

To clarify that last point, it will be bloody brilliant because of the people who will be speaking. Like, ooh, I don’t know …Warren Fucking Ellis!

Mandy Brown!, Aaron Straup Cope!, Clare Reddington!, Tom Scott!, Leila Johnston!, Brian Suda!

I’m ludicrously excited about the line-up for this year’s event, and what’s on the website isn’t even the full roster; there’s more to come. But I can’t contain my excitement any longer and I just have to share this with everyone.

Now, you may not recognise every name on the line-up. Heck, you may not recognise any the names on the line-up. But if you were at dConstruct last year (or the year before) than I hope I’ve earned your trust. And trust me, this is going to be a fantastic day.

So put Monday, May 19th in your calendar so you can grab your ticket when they go on sale (don’t worry—there’s plenty to go around). And put Friday, September 5th in your calendar and I’ll see in the Brighton Dome for the event of the year.*

*Not hyperbole

dConstruct 2013 videos

All the videos from last year’s dConstruct have been posted on Vimeo (with a backup on the Internet Archive). If you were there, you can re-live the fun all over again. And if you weren’t there, you can see just what you missed:

  1. Amber Case
  2. Luke Wroblewski
  3. Nicole Sullivan
  4. Simone Rebaudengo
  5. Sarah Angliss
  6. Keren Elazari
  7. Maciej Cegłowski
  8. Dan Williams
  9. Adam Buxton

Don’t forget the audio is also available for your listening pleasure. Slap the RSS feed into the podcasting application of your choosing.

Revisiting the brilliance of last year’s dConstruct should get you in the mood for this year’s event. Put the date in your calendar: Friday, September 5th. Last year was all about Communicating With Machines. This year will be all about Living With The Network.

More details will be unveiled soon (he said, hoping to cultivate a feeling of mystery and invoke a sense of anticipation).

Return of the Responsive Day Out

When we decided to put on last year’s Responsive Day Out, it was a fairly haphazard, spur-of-the-moment affair. Well, when I say “spur of the moment”, I mean there was just three short months between announcing the event and actually doing it. In event-organising terms, that’s flying by the seat of your pants.

The Responsive Day Out was a huge success—just ask anyone who was there. Despite the lack of any of the usual conference comforts (we didn’t even have badges), everyone really enjoyed the whizz-bang, lickety-split format: four blocks of three back-to-back quickfire 20 minute talks, with each block wrapped up with a short discussion. And the talks were superb …really superb.

It was always intended as a one-off event. But I was surprised by how often people asked when the next one would be, either because they were there and loved it, or because they missed out on getting a ticket but heard how great it was. For a while, I was waving off those questions, saying that we had no plans for another Responsive Day Out. I figured that we had covered quite a lot in that one day, and now we should just be getting on with building the responsive web, right?

But then I started to notice how many companies were only beginning to make the switch to working responsively within the past year. It’s like the floodgates have opened. I’ve been going into companies and doing workshops where I’ve found myself thinking time and time again that these people could really benefit from an event like the Responsive Day Out.

Slowly but surely, the thought of having another Responsive Day Out grew and grew in my mind.

So let’s do this.

On Friday, June 27th, come on down to Brighton for Responsive Day Out 2: Elastic Bugaloo. It will be bloody brilliant.

The format will be mostly the same as last year, with one big change: one of the day’s slots won’t feature three quick back-to-back talks. Instead it will be a keynote presentation by none other than the Responitor himself, Duke Ethan of Marcotte.

There are some other differences from last year. Whereas last year’s speakers all came from within the borders of the UK, this year I’ve invited some supremely talented people from other parts of Europe. You can expect mind-expanding knowledge bombs on workflow, process, front-end technologies, and some case studies.

If you check out the website, you’ll see just some of the speakers I’ve got lined up for you: Stephanie, Rachel, Stephen …but that’s not the full line-up. I’m still gathering together the last few pieces of the day’s puzzle. But I’ve got to say, I’m already ridiculously excited to hear what everyone has to say.

The expanded scope of the line-up means that the ticket price is a bit more this year—last year’s event was laughably cheap—but it’s still a ridiculously low price: just £80 plus VAT, bringing it to a grand total of just £96 all in. That’s unheard of for a line-up of this calibre.

I’m planning to put tickets on sale on two weeks from today on March 25th. Last year’s Responsive Day Out was insanely popular and sold out almost immediately. Make sure you grab your ticket straight away.

To get in the mood, you might want to listen to the podcast or watch the videos from last year.

See you in Brighton on June 27th. This is going to be fun!

(By the way, if your company fancies dropping a few grand to sponsor an after-party for Responsive Day Out 2: The Revenge, let me know. The low-cost, no-frills approach means that right now, there’s no after-party planned, but if your company threw one, they would earn the undying gratitude of hundreds of geeks.)

New year

At the start of 2013, I wrote:

Let’s see what this year brings.

Well, it brought much the same as the year before. Here’s what I wrote about 2012:

Nothing particularly earth-shattering happened, and that’s just fine with me. I made some websites. I did some travelling. It was grand.

That’s also true of 2013.

The travelling was particularly nice. Work—specifically conference speaking—brought me to some beautiful locations: Porto, Dubrovnik, and Nürnberg to name just three. And not all of my travelling was work-related. Jessica and I went to the wonderful San Sebastián to celebrate her fortieth birthday. “I’ll take to you to any restaurant in the world for your birthday”, I said. She chose Etxebarri. Good choice.

Conference-speaking took me back to some old favourites too: Freiburg, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Amsterdam. I’m very lucky (and privileged) to have the opportunity to travel to interesting places, meet my peers, and get up on a stage to geek out to a captive audience. I enjoy the public speaking anyway, but it’s always an extra bonus when it takes me to a nice location. In fact, between you and me, that’s often the biggest criterion for me when it comes to speaking at an event …so if you want me to speak at an event you’re organising in some exotic location, give me a shout.

Mind you, two of my event highlights in 2013 didn’t involve any travelling at all: Responsive Day Out at the start of March, and dConstruct at the start of September, both of them right here in Brighton. I’m really, really pleased with how both of those events turned out. Everyone had a splendid time. I’m already starting to plan the next dConstruct: put Friday, September 5th 2014 in your calendar now. And who knows? …maybe there’ll even be a reprise of the Responsive Day Out in 2014.

Other highlights of the year include travelling to CERN for the line-mode browser dev days, and the inspiring Science Hack Day in San Francisco.

It was a big year for Clearleft. We moved into our lovely new building and hired quite a few new lovely people. So much change in such a short period of time was quite nerve-wracking, to be honest, but it’s all turning out just fine (touch wood).

Last year, I wrote:

I’m going to continue hacking away on Huffduffer and The Session whenever I can in 2013. I find those personal projects immensely rewarding.

Both projects continue to be immensely rewarding, although I probably neglected Huffduffer a bit; I definitely spent more time working on The Session. In 2014 I should really devote more time to adactio.com, because I also said:

I’m also hoping to have time to do some more writing.

I suppose I did a fair amount of wordsmithing here in my journal but perhaps in 2014 I might get my teeth stuck into something more bookish again. We’ll see.

So, all in all, a perfectly fine year for me personally and professionally. Like I said, it was grand.

Looking beyond my own personal sphere, 2013 was far from grand. The worst fears of even the most paranoid conspiracy theorist turned out to be nothing compared to what we found out about GCHQ and the NSA. It would be very easy to become despondent and fatalistic about the dystopian cyberpunk reality that we found ourselves living in.

Or we can look on the bright side, like Bruce Schneier, Glenn Greenwald, and Aral are doing. Schneier points out that the crypto works (it was routed around), Greenwald points to the Pinkerian positive overall trend in human history, and Aral reminds us that we have the power to build the kind of technologies we want to see in the world.

Whatever your reaction—despair, hope, or everything in between—we all owe Edward Snowden an enormous debt for his actions. I’m not sure that I would have had his courage were I in his situation. The year—perhaps the decade—belongs to Edward Snowden.