Margaret Hamilton’s code after scanning and transcribing.
It is a sad and beautiful world wide web:
The technology that let people make web sites never went away. You can still set up a site as if it were 1995. But culture changes, as do expectations. It takes a certain set of skills to create your own web site, populate it with cool stuff, set up a web server, and publish your own cool-stuff web pages. I would argue that those skills should be a basic part of living in a transparent and open culture where individuals are able to communicate on an equal field of play. Some fellow nerds would argue the same. But most everyone else, statistically, just uses Facebook and plays along.
Paul Ford shines a light on the solution:
Standing against this tide of centralization is the indie web movement. Perhaps “movement” is too strong—it’s more an aesthetic of independence and decentralization. The IndieWebCamp web page states: “When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation.” You should own your information and profit from it. You should have your own servers. Your destiny, which you signed over to Facebook in order to avoid learning a few lines of code, would once again be your own.
Beautiful, beautiful writing:
We could still live in that decentralized world, if we wanted to. Despite the rise of the all-seeing database, the core of the internet remains profoundly open. I can host it from my apartment, on a machine that costs $35. You can link to me from your site. Just the two of us. This is an age of great enterprise, no time to think small. Yet whatever enormous explosion tears through our digital world next will come from exactly that: an individual recognizing the potential of the small, where others see only scale.
Why Get on the Indie Web?
In a word, autonomy.
- What is the Indie Web?
- How Can You Get on the Indie Web?,
- Where is the Indie Web? and
- Who is the Indie Web?
The Indie Web is made of people. It’s made by me. It can be made by you too. There’s no gatekeeper. You can join anytime without anyone’s permission. The Indie Web is made by everyone.
A typically superb article by Aaron. Here, he breaks down a resilient approach to building for the web by examining the multiple ways you could add a button to a page. There’s a larger lesson here too:
We don’t control where our web-based products go or how our users access them. All we can do is imagine as many less-than-perfect scenarios as possible and do our best to ensure our creations will continue to do what they’re supposed to do. One of the easiest ways to do that is to be aware of and limit our dependencies.
Here’s a nice little pattern from Dave—showing data tables one column at a time on smaller screens.
Shane gave a talk recently where he outlined his reasons for publishing on the indie web:
Most people reading this will probably have an account at most or all of these sites: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Tumblr, Wordpress. Many also had accounts at Friendster, Tribe, MySpace, Delicious, Magnolia, Gowalla, Geocities. But no one has an account at any of those (on the second list) anymore. And all of the content that we created on those sites is gone.
All of those super emo feeling you posted to MySpace, they’re all gone. Some of the great web designers of our generation got started on Geocities. That stuff is gone forever. And sure, it was sparkling animated GIFs and neon colors. But that’s important history. Yahoo bought it, left it alone for a while, and then decided one day to turn it off.
I’ve been on the web for most of my life, but, without a site to call home, I haven’t been of the web for far too long.
I quite like this step-by-step interface for a form, all cleverly handled with the
:focus pseudo-class. I’d want to refine some of the usability issues before using it in production, but the progressive disclosure is nice.
I think the move away from side projects toward doing a startup day one is not all good. There was something great about the ability to experiment with an idea before committing to it and before sucking other people’s money into it.
Well, this is rather wonderful! A one-stop-shop for exploring UI patterns on CodePen …this is going to be time sink.
Not to sound all “Get off my lawn, kids!” but I think there might be something to this. When you’re requiring hundreds of dependencies to do little tasks that you should be able to code yourself, something’s not right.
But, for the love of all that is programming, write your own bloody basic programming functions. Taking on dependencies for these one-liners is just nuts.
That said, you don’t want reinvent hundreds of wheels either (as most of the comments point out). There’s a balance to be had.
This article on airships has my new favourite sentence in the English language:
During the First World War, Germany and its allies ceased production of sausages so that there would be enough cow guts to make zeppelins from which to bomb England.
Of course it was Simon who pointed me to this. Of course.
When I’ve been helping Codebar students on their personal projects, everything goes great until some kind of server-side processing is needed. Nine times out of ten, that server-side processing simply doing something with the contents of a contact form. This looks like it could be a useful service to plug into little projects like that.
Continuing the topic of public speaking, Jenn has a really good technique for figuring out how to arrange the pieces of your talk without getting bogged down in designing slides.
Lena’s in-depth run-down of how she puts together a conference talk. If you’re new to public speaking, this is well worth reading.
You can do anything with CSS these days.
The missing font generator for Mac OS X.
Very handy for subsetting fonts for the web. It doesn’t (yet) export WOFF2 unfortunately.
Will the Big Think piece you just posted to Medium be there in 2035? That may sound like it’s very far off in the future, and who could possibly care, but if there’s any value to your writing, you should care. Having good records is how knowledge builds.
Twenty-six letters of independent publishing building blocks.
Kelli Anderson’s thesis on the Human Interference Task Force project set up to mark nuclear waste sites for future generations (a project I’ve referenced in some of my talks).
This infographic offers a visual way to explore the various stages of the Earth’s history using a 12 hour clock analogy.
Tantek posts a belated round-up of indie web activity in 2014:
2014 was a year of incredible gains, and yet, a very sad loss for the community. In many ways I think a lot of us are still coping, reflecting. But we continue, day to day to grow and improve the indieweb, as I think Chloe would have wanted us to, as she herself did.
A heartbreaking tale of companionship, memory and loss.
Two-thirds of the way through our 100 days project, Batesy takes stock of his journey so far.
(I should probably mention that I love each and every one of the pieces of hand lettering that he’s done …talented bastard.)
The next Neal Stephenson book sounds like it’s going to be great.
A really great piece by Scott Rosenberg that uses the myopic thinking behind “deep linking” in native apps as a jumping-off point to delve into the history of hypertext and the web.
It’s kind of weird that he didn’t (also) publish this on his own site though.
A long-zoom look at life, work, and success.
I’m not usually a fan of portmanteau neologisms, but I really like Tash’s coining of the word longtrepreneur.
Results of a survey of over 1000 people working on the web. It’s beautifully put together and the overall trajectory regarding responsive design looks pretty positive to me.
There’s more than a whiff of Indie Web thinking in this sequel to the Cluetrain Manifesto from Doc Searls and Dave Weinberger.
The Net’s super-power is connection without permission. Its almighty power is that we can make of it whatever we want.
It’s quite lawn-off-getty …but I also happen to agree with pretty much all of it.
Although it’s kind of weird that it’s published on somebody else’s website.
I had the great honour of being invited to speak on the 200th edition of the Working Draft podcast (there are a few sentences in German at the start, and then it switches into English).
I had a lot of fun talking about indie web building blocks (rel=me, indieauth, webmention, h-entry, etc.). Best of all, while I was describing these building blocks, one of the hosts started implementing them!
A fascinating look at how the humble password gets imbued with incredible levels of meaning.
It reminds me of something I heard Ze Frank say last year: “People fill up the cracks with intimacy.”
A concept browser from Yandex that takes an interesting approach to URLs: on the one hand, hiding them …but then putting them front and centre.
But the main focus of this concept browser is to blur the line between browser chrome and the website it’s displaying.
Stuart has implemented webmentions on his site, which is great. It’s also fitting, as he is the inventor of pingback (of which webmention is a simpler reformulation).
Aaron documents the process of adding webmention support to a static site. He came with an ingenious three-tiered approach:
It’s been a pretty fun mini-project. In the end, I created a useful bit of kit that provides three distinct experiences:
- Static webmentions collected when the site was generated form the baseline experience;
Aaron raises a point that I’ve discussed before in regards to the indie web (and indeed, the web in general): we don’t buy domain names; we rent them.
It strikes me that all the good things about the web are decentralised (one-way linking, no central authority required to add a node), but all the sticking points are centralised: ICANN, DNS.
Aaron also points out that we are beholden to our hosting companies, although—having moved hosts a number of times myself—that’s an issue that DNS (and URLs in general) helps alleviate. And there’s now some interesting work going on in literally owning your own website: a web server in the home.
I’m at Disney World for a special edition of An Event Apart, so this lightning talk from Dan Williams seems appropriate to revisit.
Petra has always been the strong one. She was the best friend that Chloe could have possibly had. Little wonder then that Chloe’s death continues to hit her so hard.
I still can’t fully comprehend it all nor do I have any idea how to learn to move on. All I know is that ever since the day I found out, I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster. I go from being in shock, to being sad and angry, or completely numb.
Petra is getting help now. That’s good. She’s also writing about what she has been going through. That’s brave. Very brave.
She is one of the best human beings I know.
I hope that many of you will watch me on this journey, and follow in my wagon tracks as I leave the walled cities and strike out for the wilderness ahead.
I share the concerns expressed here about the “sizes” attribute that’s part of the new turbo-powered img element (or “the picture element and its associates”, if you prefer). Putting style or layout information into HTML smells bad.
This is a concern that Matt Wilcox has raised:
Change the design and those breakpoints are likely to be wrong. So you’ll need to change all of the client-side mark-up that references images.
I can give you a current use-case: right here on adactio.com, you can change the stylesheet …so I can’t embed breakpoints or sizes into my img elements because—quite rightly—there’s a separation between the structural HTML layer and the presentational CSS layer.
I really like this comparison:
As a zinester and zine librarian, I see the Indie Web as a pretty direct correlation to 1980’s and 1990’s zine culture. The method of production may be completely different (photocopiers and direct mail vs web posts and servers) but the goals are almost identical – controlling the way in which your message and identity are displayed, crafted, and stored while avoiding censorship that corporate media might impose. The end goal of both zine and indieweb technologies is ownership of your own identity without a filter.
But there also challenges:
The key issue right now for diverse populations utilizing the Indie Web is accessibility. As long as the tools for creating & controlling your own identity online are still relatively obtuse & technical to implement, we won’t have great diversity within the Indie Web.
There is something about the personal blog, yourname.com, where you control everything and get to do whatever the hell pleases you. There is something about linking to one of those blogs and then saying something. It’s like having a conversation in public with each other. This is how blogging was in the early days. And this is how blogging is today, if you want it to be.
In the days before comments on blogs, you could generally have a thoughtful conversation online without everything degenerating into madness and chaos simply because responding to a post required that you wrote a post on your own blog and linked back. This created a certain level of default accountability because if someone wanted to flame you, they had to do it on their own real estate, and couldn’t just crap all over yours anonymously.
Glenn eloquently gives his reasons for building Transmat:
When I was a child, my brothers and I all had a shoebox each. In these we kept our mementoes. A seashell from a summer holiday where I played for hours in the rock pools, the marble from the schoolyard victory against a bully and a lot of other objects that told a story.
Tantek’s great talk on the Indie Web from Web Directions Code in Melbourne earlier this year.
Here’s the very brief talk I gave about Indie Web Camp at Aral’s Indie Tech Summit here in Brighton a little while back (I was in the slightly-demeaningly-titled “stop gaps” section).
If you like what you hear, come along to the next Indie Web Camp—also in Brighton—in just over three weeks.
I’m sad about Robin Williams. I was also a little bit angry with him. In much the same way, I was sad about and angry with Chloe Weil when news of her suicide reached me.
A nice profile of BERG’s Little Printer. That Matt Webb is a smart cookie. He is also a very thoughtful cookie.
The image-stitching algorithm is trying its best.
With the usual caveat that I wish this were published on Craig’s own site, I particularly like this passage:
Apps, too, are ephemeral. Some of the most ephemeral software we’ve ever produced. Ephemeral if for no other reason than because of their gated homes. Our apps cower below the fickle whim of App Store Gods, struck down for no reasonable reasons or for very reasonable reasons. It doesn’t matter which, the end result is always the same: gone, forever.
Tantek’s talk at the Personal Democracy Forum on the past, present, and future of independent publishing on the web.
I like the way Aaron thinks. I also like the way he makes.
Fast Company features Aral’s tantalising Indie Phone project that he’s been working on at Clearleft Towers.
Good to see Oskar the dog getting the recognition he deserves.
On the top floor of a commercial building in the old maritime city of Brighton, England, Balkan has been quietly hacking away at Indie Phone for the last several months with the rest of his team—Victor Johansson, an industrial designer, Laura Kalbag, a professional web designer (and Balkan’s partner), and her Husky, Oskar.
Des is right, y’know.
Scope grows in minutes, not months. Look after the minutes, and the months take care of themselves.
You might want to untick the checkbox at the bottom of this screen:
Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.
Have you tried turning it off and on again?
A profile of the Indie Web movement in Wired.
Go! Fight! Win!
If this sounds like your kind of hackery, be sure to come along to Indie Web Camp UK in Brighton right after dConstruct.
A look at the degree of diversity in Android devices, complete with pretty pictures. The term “fragmentation” is usually used in a negative way, but there are great points here about the positive effects for web developers and customers.
You say fragmentation, I say diversity.
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.
A lovely site with thoughtful articles on the long-term future of the web.
There’s audio too, which is unfortunately locked up in the unhuffduffable roach motel that is Soundcloud, but I’m hoping that might change.
A sweet, beautiful love letter to design, from Oliver.
Just like in the Borges short story, you can now see everything at once …from Project Gutenberg, or from Twitter, or from both.
This may be the only legitimate use case for (truly) infinite scrolling.
Dispatches from the disturbing town of Scarfolk, where it is permanently the 1970s:
Scarfolk is more than its famous sewage treatment works, it’s more than its high security mental facilities; it’s more than its world renowned covens; it’s more than its fine reputation which it rebuilt after a spate of grizzly serial killings…
It’s funny and creepy in equal measure. Actually, the creepiness may be the larger measure.
Michael Weinberg’s follow-up whitepaper to “It will be awesome if they don’t screw it up.”
A wonderful collection of misconceptions, often the result of being myzelled when young.
The out-of-copyright books of Olaf Stapledon are available to download from the University of Adelaide. Be sure to grab Starmaker and First And Last Men.
A nice Readlist based on that excellent article by Craig on digital publishing:
This reader is made up of Craigmod’s essay “Subcompact Publishing” and essays linked to in the footnotes.
Craig writes about the hologram of his quantified self.
A step-by-step guide to unDRMing your Kindle books—a prudent course of action given Amazon’s recent unilateral wiping of Kindles.
These short pocketbooks from Five Simple Steps look like they’ll be very handy indeed. Shame they won’t be available in dead-tree format: I bet they’d be really cute.
A really enjoyable interview with Neal Stephenson.
Dan makes a very good point about Little Printer: it’s not the “printer” part that matters; it’s the “little”.
Google’s datadump makes for a fascinating—and worrying—bit of data dumpster diving.
Neal Stephenson would like your help in making a video game about sword-fighting that doesn’t suck.
Jake demonstrates his technique for preprocessor-generated stylesheets for older versions of Internet Explorer (while other browsers get the same styles within media queries).
This is an excellent idea from Jake: use a preprocessor to automatically spit out a stylesheet for older versions of IE that includes desktop styles (garnered from the declarations within media queries).
If you’re a dab hand with Ruby and you’d like to see this in SASS, you can help.
Nine years and five months after he began publishing every entry in Samuel Pepys’ diary, Phil Gyford posts the last entry.
Like the Web Standards Project but for ePub. I approve of this message.
A superb piece of writing from Erin, smashing taboos with the edge of Bladerunner.
Neal Stephenson speaks at Solve For X on the relative timidity of scientific (and science fictional) progress in our current time.
Re-examining Von Neumann probes, reconciling their apparent scarcity with the Fermi paradox.
A masterplan for the moon as a global cemetery. Launch the ashes of your loved ones to the moon (leaving the buckyball container in lunarstationary orbit). Given enough ashes and enough buckyballs, the result is a fertile surface and a atmosphere-trapping layer of fullerine. Terraforming via recycled humans.
Or, if that’s too long-term for you, you can buy a scale-model moon jewel.
Anil shares his thoughts on where there’s room for improvement in 3D printing, or as he calls it, teleporting.
Among the proposed projects from the Shimizu corporation are a space hotel, giant lakes in the desert, and a ring around the moon to harness solar energy.
Past predictions of the future in concept videos.
If you use Sass, this could be a really handy technique for handling IE<9 support with mobile-first responsive designs.
This evolution of Tom Taylor’s microprinter looks like it’s going to be absolutely wonderful (and packed full of personality). Watch this space.
Possibly the least imaginative concept video ever made, this piece commissioned by Blackberry shows a dystopian near-future ruled by security departments run by people with very, very tired arms.
A rallying cry from Neal Stephenson for Getting Big Stuff Done.
September in Brighton is going to be ker-razy! Here’s a nice responsive holding page listing just some of the events that will be going on …dConstruct, Maker Faire, Flash On The Beach and more.
Yet another reason to host your own content instead of sharecropping; danah boyd wakes up one morning to find her Tumblr account has been moved to a different URL.
This is why, when a child posits something ridiculous-sounding, you should encourage them.
A browser-based ePub reader. ‘Cause it’s (X)HTML all the way down, baby.
If I had the right biological equipment, I think I too might offer to bear Stephen Fry’s children …in a song.