Of all the buzzwords in tech, perhaps none has been deployed with as much philosophical conviction as “frictionless.” Over the past decade or so, eliminating “friction” — the name given to any quality that makes a product more difficult or time-consuming to use — has become an obsession of the tech industry, accepted as gospel by many of the world’s largest companies.
Blogging about what you are working on is is really valuable for the writer because it forces you to think logically about what you are doing in order to tell a good story.
It’s also really valuable to blog about what you’ve learned, especially if you’ve made a mistake. It makes sure you’ve learned the lesson and helps others avoid making the same mistakes.
I love, love, love all the little details of HTML that Aaron offers up here. And I really like how he positions non-visual user-agents like searchbots, screen readers, and voice assisants as headless UIs.
HTML is a truly robust and expressive language that is often overlooked and undervalued, but it has the incredible potential to nurture conversations with our users without requiring a lot of effort on our part. Simply taking the time to code web pages well will enable our sites to speak to our customers like they speak to each other. Thinking about how our sites are experienced as headless interfaces now will set the stage for more natural interactions between the real world and the digital one.
A web of anxiety: accessibility for people with anxiety and panic disorders [Part 1] | The Paciello Group – Your Accessibility Partner (WCAG 2.0/508 audits, VPAT, usability and accessible user experience)
Enumerating the anti-patterns that cause serious user experience issues that don’t get nearly enough attention:
While such intrusions can be a source of irritation or even stress for many people, they may be complete showstoppers for people with anxiety or panic disorders.
I’m looking forward to reading the follow-up post.
(I was going to say I was anxiously awaiting the follow-up post but …never mind.)
Chris has set up a whole site dedicated to someone-else’s-server sites with links to resources and services (APIs), along with ideas of what you could build in this way.
The transcript of a talk by Charles Stross on the perils of prediction and the lessons of the past. It echoes Ted Chiang’s observation that runaway AIs are already here, and they’re called corporations.
History gives us the perspective to see what went wrong in the past, and to look for patterns, and check whether those patterns apply to the present and near future. And looking in particular at the history of the past 200-400 years—the age of increasingly rapid change—one glaringly obvious deviation from the norm of the preceding three thousand centuries—is the development of Artificial Intelligence, which happened no earlier than 1553 and no later than 1844.
I’m talking about the very old, very slow AIs we call corporations, of course.
This 1993 article by Mark Weiser is relevant to our world today.
Take intelligent agents. The idea, as near as I can tell, is that the ideal computer should be like a human being, only more obedient. Anything so insidiously appealing should immediately give pause. Why should a computer be anything like a human being? Are airplanes like birds, typewriters like pens, alphabets like mouths, cars like horses? Are human interactions so free of trouble, misunderstanding, and ambiguity that they represent a desirable computer interface goal? Further, it takes a lot of time and attention to build and maintain a smoothly running team of people, even a pair of people. A computer I need to talk to, give commands to, or have a relationship with (much less be intimate with), is a computer that is too much the center of attention.
There are some delightfully dark touches to this Cory Doctorow coming-of-age near-future short story of high school students seizing the means of production.
Stop dilly-dallying and just get this work done, okay?
This is a free online video course recorded by Jake a couple of years back. It’s got a really good step-by-step introduction to service workers, delivered in Jake’s typically witty way. Some of the details are a bit out of date, and I must admit that I bailed when it got to IndexedDB, but I highly recommend giving this a go.
There’s also a free course on web accessibility I’m planning to check out.
A free ten part email course on web typography for designers and developers. The end results will be gathered together into a book.
A marvellous story of early twentieth century espionage over the airwaves.
In one proposal, hidden instructions were interspersed within regular, ordinary-looking messages by slightly lengthening the spaces between dots and dashes.
A look at the technical details behind Firefly’s pattern library. The tech stack includes Less, BEM, and some React, but it’s Anna and Danielle that really made it work.
The Museum of Wi-Fi exists to preserve these vestiges of our neighbourhood battlefields.
Some are brilliantly smart, some are just purely gross. They all belong in the museum.
The best of the web is just one click away.
This piece by Cennydd on ethics in digital design reminded me of something Jonathan Harris wrote a while back.
I like that he cautions against hiding the seams:
Designers should also strive to give digital products a healthy balance of seamlessness and interrogability. While it’s appealing to create technology that needs little human intervention, this sort of black box can be a breeding ground for dishonest behaviour.
An early look at the just-in-time interactions that Scott has been working on:
Nearby works like this. An enabled object broadcasts a short description of itself and a URL to devices nearby listening. Those URLs are grabbed and listed by the app, and tapping on one brings you to the object’s webpage, where you can interact with it—say, tell it to perform a task.
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.
I can empathise with Scott’s worries about fragmentation on the front-end with Saas, Styles, LESS, Compass, yada, yada, yada.
I want to share my code with everyone who writes CSS, not a subset of that group.