This advice works both ways:
This advice works both ways:
Bosses have certain goals, but don’t want to be blamed for doing what’s necessary to achieve those goals; by hiring consultants, management can say that they were just following independent, expert advice. Even in its current rudimentary form, A.I. has become a way for a company to evade responsibility by saying that it’s just doing what “the algorithm” says, even though it was the company that commissioned the algorithm in the first place.
I’m not very convinced by claims that A.I. poses a danger to humanity because it might develop goals of its own and prevent us from turning it off. However, I do think that A.I. is dangerous inasmuch as it increases the power of capitalism. The doomsday scenario is not a manufacturing A.I. transforming the entire planet into paper clips, as one famous thought experiment has imagined. It’s A.I.-supercharged corporations destroying the environment and the working class in their pursuit of shareholder value. Capitalism is the machine that will do whatever it takes to prevent us from turning it off, and the most successful weapon in its arsenal has been its campaign to prevent us from considering any alternatives.
Scroll up to the Kármán line.
A lovely bit of real-time data visualisation from Robin:
It’s a personal project created at home in Wales with an aim to explore and visualise renewable energy systems. Specifically, it aims to visualise live generation from renewable energy systems around Great Britain and to show where that generation is physically coming from.
This describes how I iterate on The Session:
It comes down to this annoying, upsetting, stupid fact: the only way to build a great product is to use it every day, to stare at it, to hold it in your hands to feel its lumps. The data and customers will lie to you but the product never will.
This whole post reminded of the episode of the Clearleft podcast on measuring design.
The problem underlying all this is that when it comes to building a product, all data is garbage, a lie, or measuring the wrong thing. Folks will be obsessed with clicks and charts and NPS scores—the NFTs of product management—and in this sea of noise they believe they can see the product clearly. There are courses and books and talks all about measuring happiness and growth—surveys! surveys! surveys!—with everyone in the field believing that they’ve built a science when they’ve really built a cult.
There’s a broader point here about declarative design:
Setting very specific values may feel like you’re in more control, but you’re actually rescinding control by introducing fragility in the form of overly-specific CSS.
I’ve come to believe the best way to look at our Mars program is as a faith-based initiative. There is a small cohort of people who really believe in going to Mars, the way some people believe in ghosts or cryptocurrency, and this group has an outsize effect on our space program.
Maciej lays out the case against a crewed mission to Mars.
Like George Lucas preparing to release another awful prequel, NASA is hoping that cool spaceships and nostalgia will be enough to keep everyone from noticing that their story makes no sense. But you can’t lie your way to Mars, no matter how sincerely you believe in what you’re doing.
And don’t skip the footnotes:
Fourth graders writing to Santa make a stronger case for an X-Box than NASA has been able to put together for a Mars landing.
Mastodon is not a platform. Mastodon is just a tiny part of a concept many have been dreaming about and working on for years. Social media started on the wrong foot. The idea for the read/write web has always been different. Our digital identities weren’t supposed to end up in something like Twitter or Facebook or Instagram.
Decentralisation, Federation, The Indie Web: There were many groups silently working on solving the broken architecture of our digital social networks and communication channels – long, long before the “web 3” dudes tried to reframe it as their genius new idea.
I’ve been a part of this for many years until I gave up hope. How would you compete against the VC money, the technical and economical benefits of centralised platforms? It was a fight between David and Gloiath. But now Mastodon could be the stone.
The first thirty years of the web may have been an orgy of unregulated expansion, but that era is over. The EU has been a leader with the GDPR, but there’s more coming. And I’m glad. The big players have had plenty of time to get their shit together and they haven’t. It’s time to regulate them as much as we regulate a shot of bourbon.
This is a genuinely lovely use of machine learning models: provide a prompt for an illustration to print out and colour in.
Mike explains his motivation for building this:
My son’s super into colouring at the moment and I’ve been struggling to find new stuff for him.
In order to thoroughly attend to every pertinent aspect of the spec, fantasai asked us each to read one sentence aloud to the group. At which point we were all asked whether we thought the sentence made sense, and to speak up if we didn’t understand any of it or if it wasn’t clear.
Rich documents the excellent and fascinating process used in a recent W3C workshop (though what he describes is the very opposite of groupthink, so don’t let the title mislead you):
I’d never come across the person-by-person, sentence-by-sentence approach before. I found it particularly effective as a way of engaging a group of people, ensuring collective understanding, and gathering structured feedback on a shared document.
This extract from Baldur’s new book is particularly timely in light of the twipocalypse.
One for the server - where you can go wild.
One for the client - that should be thoughtful and careful.
Yes! This! I’m always astounded to see devs apply the same mindset to backend and frontend development, just because it happens to be in the same language. I don’t care what you use on your own machine or your own web server, but once you’re sending something down the wire to end users, you need to prioritise their needs over your own.
This story of the Network Time Protocol hammers home the importance of infrastructure and its maintenance:
Technology companies worth billions rely on open-source code, including N.T.P., and the maintenance of that code is often handled by a small group of individuals toiling away without pay.
Following on from that excellent blog post about removing jQuery from gov.uk, here are the performance improvements in charts and numbers.
This is a great thorough description of the process of migrating gov.uk away from jQuery. It sounds like this guide was instrumental in the process—I love that they’re sharing it openly!
An account of the mother of all demos, written by Steven Johnson.
No matter how fancy your Figma file is or how beautiful and lovingly well organized that Storybook documentation is; the front-end is always your source of truth. You can hate it as much as you like—all those weird buttons, variables, inaccessible form inputs—but that right there is your design system.
Some tough design system love from Robin.
Here’s my advice: take all that aspirational stuff out of your Figma design system file. Put it somewhere else. Your Figma docs should be a mirror of the front-end (because that’s really the source of truth).
At its very core, the rules of the web are different than those of “real” markets. The idea that ownership fundamentally means that nobody else can have the same thing you have just doesn’t apply here. This is a world where anything can easily be copied a million times and distributed around the globe in a second. If that were possible in the real world, we’d call it Utopia.