The closing hot topics panel I moderated at this year’s Mobilism conference in Amsterdam, featuring Remy, Wilto, Jake, and Dan.
Sunday, June 30th, 2013
Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
A great history lesson from Dave.
Ah, I remember when the CSS Zen Garden was all fields. Now get off my CSS lawn.
This is a really nice and simple idea: view photos from a specific place taken at a specific time. Voyeuristic fun.
Sunday, June 23rd, 2013
Defending Earth against asteroids, just like the Spaceguard organisation described in Rendezvous With Rama.
Detect. Deflect. Defend.
Thursday, June 20th, 2013
I love this. I love this sooooo much! The perfect reminder of what makes the web so bloody great:
You and I have been able to connect because I wrote this and you’re reading it. That’s the web. Despite our different locations, devices, and time-zones we can connect here, on a simple HTML page.
The battle between web fonts and performance. Ian Feather outlines some possible solutions, but of course, as always, the answer is “it depends”.
This is what Medium is for.
If you want to read some of Dan Catt’s lesser thoughts, he has his own blog.
Pretty motherfuton funny.
Wednesday, June 19th, 2013
The line-up for this year’s Improving Reality conference looks great (as always).
It’s the day before dConstruct so why not come on down to Brighton a day early and double your fun?
Corridors in science fiction films.
Dr Harry Halpin writing in the Guardian about the crucial crossroads that we have reached with the very real possibility of DRM mechanisms becoming encoded within HTML:
Most of us are simply happy to launch our browsers and surf the web without a second thought as to how the standards like HTML are created. These standards are in the hands of a fairly small set of standards bodies that have in general acted as responsible stewards for the last few years. The issue of DRM in HTML may be the turning point where all sorts of organisations and users are going to stop taking the open web for granted.
Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
Google’s track record is not looking good. There seems to be a modus operandi of bait-and-switch: start with open technologies (XMPP, CalDav, RSS) and then once they’ve amassed a big enough user base, ditch the standards.
Oh, no! How horrid! Now Twitter won’t control the “user experience” of that widget!
Instead, the person who actually posted the tweets in the first place gets to decide how they should be displayed. Crazy idea, isn’t it?
A terrific case study in progressive enhancement: starting with a good ol’ form that works for everybody and then adding on features like Ajax, SVG, the History API …the sky’s the limit.
Saturday, June 15th, 2013
This echoes what Scott Jenson has been saying: the current trend with connected devices is far too reliant on individual proprietary silos instead of communicating with open standards.
So instead of talking directly to one another, devices on today’s nascent Internet of Things now communicate primarily with centralized servers controlled by a related developer or vendor. That works, after a fashion, but it also leads to a bunch of balkanized subnetworks in which devices can communicate perfectly well with each other - but can’t actually talk to devices on any other balkanized subnetwork.
An interesting observation on the changes in Apple’s advertising campaigns: it’s no longer about “here’s how great you (the user) can be”, instead it’s increasingly about “here’s how great we (the company) can be.”
I’ve linked to this before, but with the death of Iain M Banks it’s worth re-reading this fascinating insight into The Culture, one of science fictions’s few realistic utopias.
The brief mention here of The Culture’s attitude to death is apt:
Philosophy, again; death is regarded as part of life, and nothing, including the universe, lasts forever. It is seen as bad manners to try and pretend that death is somehow not natural; instead death is seen as giving shape to life.
Google’s plan to bring internet connectivity to remote areas by using balloons wafting in the stratosphere.
Considering that Google seems to put as much time and effort into its April Fool’s jokes as it does into its real projects, you’d be forgiven for assuming this was a spoof.
Friday, June 14th, 2013
I gave the opening keynote at the Beyond Tellerand conference a few weeks back. I’m talked about the web from my own perspective, so expect excitement and anger in equal measure.
This was a new talk but it went down well, and I’m quite happy with it.
Thursday, June 13th, 2013
Ben is rightly worried by the blasé attitude in the tech world to the PRISM revelations. Perhaps that attitude stems from a culture of “log everything by default”?
I think there’s a deep rooted trait within this industry that sedates the outrage. That is the normality, complicity, and dependency on ‘surveillance’ in the software we make.
The web’s walled gardens are threatened by the decentralised power of RSS.
Google is threatened by RSS. Google is closing down Google Reader.
Twitter is threatened by RSS. Twitter has switched off all of its RSS feeds.
It will dip and diminish, but will RSS ever go away? Nah. One of RSS’s weaknesses in its early days—its chaotic decentralized weirdness—has become, in its dotage, a surprising strength. RSS doesn’t route through a single leviathan’s servers. It lacks a kill switch.
My presentation from the Industry conference in Newcastle a little while back, when I stepped in for John Allsopp to deliver the closing talk.
Wednesday, June 12th, 2013
Good news from Google: it’s going to start actively penalising sites for perpetrating the worst practices for mobile e.g. redirecting a specific “desktop” URL to a the homepage of the mobile site, or for shoving a doorslam “download our app” message at users.
I wish that we could convince people not to do that crap on the basis of it being, well, crap. But when all else fails, saying “Google says so” carries a lot of weight (see also: semantics, accessibility, yadda, yadda, yadda).
James gets profiled in Vanity Fair …which is, frankly, kind of weird.
It’s also so bizarre to read about his SXSW New Aesthetic panel as being such a pivotal moment: there weren’t that many of us in the room.
Francis Spufford—author of the excellent Backroom Boffins—writes a cover story for the New Humanist magazine remembering Iain Banks with the middle initial M firmly to the fore: it was Iain M Banks—and his creation, The Culture—that took the seemingly passé genre of space opera to new heights.
Monday, June 10th, 2013
An intriguing initiative to tighten up the loop between standards development and implementation.
Vasilis considers the inherent flexibility and unknowability of web design.
I tried to come up with other fields that need to design things for a flexible canvas, in the hope of finding inspiration there. The only media types I could come up with was the art of balloon printing and the art of tattooing.
A terrific quiz about browser performance from Jake. I had the pleasure of watching him present this in a bar in Amsterdam—he was like a circus carny hoodwinking the assembled geeks.
I guarantee you won’t get all of this right, and that’s a good thing: you’ll learn something. If you do get them all right, either you are Jake or you are very, very sad.
Friday, June 7th, 2013
A great post by Stuart on the prospect of DRM-by-any-other-name in HTML.
The argument has been made that if the web doesn’t embrace this stuff, people won’t stop watching videos: they’ll just go somewhere other than the web to get them, and that is a correct argument. But what is the point in bringing people to the web to watch their videos, if in order to do so the web becomes platform-specific and unopen and balkanised?
A well-written piece on the nature of work and value on the web, particularly in the start-up economy.
Thursday, June 6th, 2013
Jake casts a scrutinising eye over the way that browsers load and parse scripts …and looks at what we can do about it.
Wednesday, June 5th, 2013
Jared explains how adding new features can end up hurting the user experience.
Design principles for APIs.
An API is a user interface for developers. Put the effort in to ensure it’s not just functional but pleasant to use.
Carousels are shit. Auto-animating carousels are really shit. Now proven with science!
Tuesday, June 4th, 2013
A really nice piece on Robert McCall, who was artist-in-residence at NASA and worked as conceptual artist on Kubrick and Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Details on how the BBC Responsive News team plan to eventually make their m-dot site scale all the way up to be the default site. This “planting a seed” approach works really well, not least for political reasons.
A new PHP-based content management system. It uses Twig for the templating, which I like.
Monday, June 3rd, 2013
It’s great to see the changes that Facebook’s four-person accessibility team have managed to push through.
A comprehensive look at the current state of things in the world of responsive design, with a look to possible future APIs.