The ideas and images that come to mind when you think of technology as an instrument are more useful than if you think of it as a tool. Instruments — I’m specifically talking about musical instruments — are a way to create culture.
You approach instruments with a set of expectations and associations that are more humane. It’s built into their very purpose. Instruments are meant to make something for other people, not making things. When you use an instrument, you have an expectation that it is going to take effort to use it well. Using an instrument takes practice. You form a relationship with that object. It becomes part of your identity that you make something with it. You tune it. You understand that there’s no such thing as a “best” guitar in the same way that there’s not necessarily a “best” phone.
Browser implementations of Sol LeWitt’s conceptual and minimal art, many of which only exist as instructions like this:
Vertical lines, not straight, not touching, covering the wall evenly.
The title is quite clickbaity, but this is a rather wonderful retelling of web history on how Content Management Systems may have stifled a lot of the web’s early creativity.
Also, there’s this provocation: we like to rail against algorithmic sorting …but what if the reverse-chronological feed was itself the first algorithm?
The transcript of a talk that is fantastic in every sense.
Fans are organised, motivated, creative, technical, and frankly flat-out awe-inspiring.
I’m soooo excited that Mandy is speaking at Ampersand here in Brighton in June!
Be there or be square.
An astoundingly great piece of writing from Paul Ford, comparing the dot-com bubble and the current blockchain bubble. This resonates so hard:
I knew I was supposed to have an opinion on how the web and the capital markets interacted, but I just wanted to write stuff and put it online. Or to talk about web standards—those documents, crafted by committees at the World Wide Web consortium, that defined the contract between a web browser and a web server, outlining how HTML would work. These standards didn’t define just software, but also culture; this was the raw material of human interaction.
And, damn, if this isn’t the best description the post-bubble web:
Heat and light returned. And bit by bit, the software industry insinuated itself into every aspect of global enterprise. Mobile happened, social networks exploded, jobs returned, and coding schools popped up to convert humans into programmers and feed them to the champing maw of commerce. The abstractions I loved became industries.
Oof! That isn’t even the final gut punch. This is:
Here’s what I finally figured out, 25 years in: What Silicon Valley loves most isn’t the products, or the platforms underneath them, but markets.
Frank has published the (beautifully designed) text of his closing XOXO keynote.
The newest Kirby Ferguson video looks at remixing through the lens of the newest Star Wars film.
A wonderful collection of treasures excavated from GeoCities. Explore, enjoy, and remember what a crime it is that Yahoo wiped out so much creativity and expression.
Steve Albini’s barnstorming keynote address at Melbourne’s Face the Music conference.
I loved this talk from Travis at New Adventures in Web Design, especially when he talked of the importance of Geocities and MySpace in democratising creative expression on the web.
We may have later bonded over that Ze Frank quote while in the toilet at the after-party …there may have even been hugs.
Steven Johnson describes the beautifully chaotic way that ideas collide and coalesce. Oh, and this bit…
Listening to Cerf talk about the origins of the Internet — and thinking about the book project — made me wonder who had actually come up with the original idea for a decentralized network. So that day, I tweeted out that question, and instantly got several replies. One of those Twitter replies pointed to a Wired interview from a decade ago with Paul Baran, the RAND researcher who was partially responsible for the decentralized design.
This is your one-stop shop for envelope-pushing in the browser:
Take some time out to read this. Read all of this. Craig’s thoughts on the nature of publishing today:
Digital’s effect on how we produce, distribute and consume content.
Brendan giving one of the “inspired sessions” at last year’s Flash On The Beach one evening in the Brighton Dome.
Stephen Johnson wrote a book. Frank Chimero did a doodle.
You'll need to use Instapaper/Readability/Safari Reader to make it legible, but this conversation is well worth reading. Now I want to get those books.
It's well worth paying attention to this site, the accompaniment to the four-part series of videos entitled "Everything is a Remix."
A fantastically detailed look by Michael at the evolution of the design of Chewbacca.