In the fullness of time, the files you create are more important than the tools you use to create them. Apps are ephemeral, but your files have a chance to last.
A false sense of security persists surrounding digitized documents: because an infinite number of identical copies can be made of any original, most of us believe that our electronic files have an indefinite shelf life and unlimited retrieval opportunities. In fact, preserving the world’s online content is an increasing concern, particularly as file formats (and the hardware and software used to run them) become scarce, inaccessible, or antiquated, technologies evolve, and data decays. Without constant maintenance and management, most digital information will be lost in just a few decades. Our modern records are far from permanent.
Years before becoming Prime Minister of the UK, Rishi Sunak wrote this report, Undersea Cables: Indispensable, insecure.
AMP succeeded spectacularly. Then it failed. And to anyone looking for a reason not to trust the biggest company on the internet, AMP’s story contains all the evidence you’ll ever need.
This is a really good oral history of how AMP soured Google’s reputation.
Full disclosure: I’m briefly cited:
“When it suited them, it was open-source,” says Jeremy Keith, a web developer and a former member of AMP’s advisory council. “But whenever there were any questions about direction and control… it was Google’s.”
As an aside, this article contains a perfect description of the company cultures of Facebook, Apple, and Google:
“You meet with a Facebook person and you see in their eyes they’re psychotic,” says one media executive who’s dealt with all the major platforms. “The Apple person kind of listens but then does what it wants to do. The Google person honestly thinks what they’re doing is the best thing.”
Ahmad runs through some of the scenarios where
text-wrap: balance could be handy.
Even though it’s not well-supported yet in browsers, there’s no reason not to start adding it to sites now; it’s classic progressive enhancement.
A new organisation with the stated goal of keeping podcasting open.
My only worry is that many of the companies behind this initiative are focused on metrics and monetization—I hope they don’t attempt to standardise tracking and surveillance in podcasts.
The Podcast Standards Project, a grassroots coalition working to establish modern, open standards, to enable innovation in the podcast industry.
Container queries can’t be used in the
sizes attribute for responsive images. Here, Jason breaks down why that is (spoiler: it’s the lookahead pre-parser) and segues into a truly long term solution: a “magical” image format.
If you’ve ever thought it felt weird to put media conditions inside the HTML for responsive images, this will resonate.
Mat has written this free course for you all about images on the web. Covering image formats, responsive images, and workflows, this is one to keep on speed dial.
Guess which format is going to outlast all these proprietary syndication formats. I’d say RSS, which I believe to be true, but really, it’s HTML.
A great write-up from Hidde on dConstruct 2022 and how the speakers tackled the theme of design transformation:
They talked about turning a series of penstrokes into art, lasers into fireworks, human experiences into novels and patient data collection into a minimal effort task.
A lot of our work in web design and technology has a power to transform and that is wonderful, especially when we manage to be intentional about the how and why.
Kevin takes my eleven-year old remark literally and points out at least you can emulate LaserDiscs:
So LaserDiscs aren’t the worst things to archive, networks of servers running code that isn’t available or archivable are, and we are building a lot more of those these days, whether on the web or in apps.
I love this: Terence takes eleven years to reflect on a comment I made on stage at an event here in Brighton. It’s all about the longevity of the web compared to native apps:
If you wrote an app for an early version of iOS or Android, it simply won’t run on modern hardware or software. APIs have changed, SDKs weren’t designed with forward compatibility, and app store requirements have evolved.
The web has none of that. The earliest websites are viewable on modern browsers.
As wrote at the time, I may have been juicing things up for entertainment:
Now here’s the thing when it comes to any discussion about mobile or the web or anything else of any complexity: an honest discussion would result in every single question being answered with “it depends”. A more entertaining discussion, on the other hand, would consist of deliberately polarised opinions. We went for the more entertaining discussion.
But I think this still holds true for me today:
The truth is that the whole “web vs. native” thing doesn’t interest me that much. I’m as interested in native iOS development as I am in native Windows development or native CD-ROM development. On a timescale measured in years, they are all fleeting, transient things. The web abides.
Improving the information architecture of the Smart Pension member app | Design and tech | Smart – retirement, savings and financial wellbeing
Here’s a really excellent, clearly-written case study that unfortunately includes this accurate observation:
In recent years the practice of information architecture has fallen out of fashion, which is a shame as you can’t design something successfully without it. If a user can’t find a feature, it’s game over - the feature may as well not exist as far as they’re concerned.
I also like this insight:
Burger menus are effective… at hiding things.
Shockingly little. So you should try it, too.
Everything old is new again:
In our current “information age,” or so the story goes, we suffer in new and unique ways.
But the idea that modern life, and particularly modern technology, harms as well as helps, is deeply embedded in Western culture: In fact, the Victorians diagnosed very similar problems in their own society.
Addy takes a deep dive into making sure your images are performant. There’s a lot to cover here—that’s why I ended up splitting it in two for the responsive design course: one module on responsive images and one on the
If you rely on Word, Evernote or Notion, for example, then you can’t work unless you have Word, Evernote, or Notion. You are helpless without them. You are dependent.
But if you only use plain text, you can use any program on any device, forever. It gives great flexibility and peace of mind.
A fascinating four-part series by Lisa Charlotte Muth on colour in data visualisations:
Wait a minute. There is no real difference between the dataome—our externalized world of books and computers and machines and robots and cloud servers—and us. That means the dataome is a genuine alternative living system here on the planet. It’s dependent on us, but we’re dependent on it too. And for me that was nerve-wracking. You get to the point of looking at it and going, Wow, the alien world is here, and it’s right under our nose, and we’re interacting with it constantly.
I like this Long Now view of our dataome:
We are constantly exchanging information that enables us to build a library for survival on this planet. It’s proven an incredibly successful approach to survival. If I can remember what happened 1,000 years ago, that may inform me for success today.