A genuinely interesting (and droll) deep dive into derp learning …for typography!
The history and restoratin of a neglected typeface, complete with this great explanation of optical sizing:
Nix illustrated the point with an analogy: “Imagine if we all decided that 10-year-old boys would be the optimal human form,” he says. “Rather than having babies, we just shrunk 10-year-old boys to baby size, and enlarge them to the size of a full grown man. That’s kind of what we’re combatting.”
It is common to refer to universally popular social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest as “walled gardens.” But they are not gardens; they are walled industrial sites, within which users, for no financial compensation, produce data which the owners of the factories sift and then sell. Some of these factories (Twitter, Tumblr, and more recently Instagram) have transparent walls, by which I mean that you need an account to post anything but can view what has been posted on the open Web; others (Facebook, Snapchat) keep their walls mostly or wholly opaque. But they all exercise the same disciplinary control over those who create or share content on their domain.
Professor Alan Jacobs makes the case for the indie web:
We need to revivify the open Web and teach others—especially those who have never known the open Web—to learn to live extramurally: outside the walls.
What do I mean by “the open Web”? I mean the World Wide Web as created by Tim Berners-Lee and extended by later coders. The open Web is effectively a set of protocols that allows the creating, sharing, and experiencing of text, sounds, and images on any computer that is connected to the Internet and has installed on it a browser that can interpret information encoded in conformity with these protocols.
This resonated strongly with me:
To teach children how to own their own domains and make their own websites might seem a small thing. In many cases it will be a small thing. Yet it serves as a reminder that the online world does not merely exist, but is built, and built to meet the desires of certain very powerful people—but could be built differently.
If only our digital social networks were to exhibit this kind of faded grandeur when they no longer exist.
From the library of Alexandria to the imagined canals of mars to the spots on the sun, this is a beautifully written examination of the chronology contained within the bristlecone pine.
The oldest of the living bristlecones were just saplings when the pyramids were raised. The most ancient, called Methuselah, is estimated to be more than 4,800 years old; with luck, it will soon enter its sixth millennium as a living, reproducing organism. Because we conceive of time in terms of experience, a life spanning millennia can seem alien or even eternal to the human mind. It is hard to grasp what it would be like to see hundreds of generations flow out from under you in the stream of time, hard to imagine how rich and varied the mind might become if seasoned by five thousand years of experience and culture.
There is only the briefest passing mention of the sad story of Don Currey.
One might think sending messages to other stars would be a massive, expensive job. No. It isn’t. The Cosmic Call was essentially a crowdfunded hobby project.
The videos from EnhanceConf are started to go up already. Stefan’s talk really struck me—all the talks were great but this one had the most unexpected insight for me. It really clarifies a lot of ideas that I’ve been trying to articulate, but which Stefan crystalises by taking the long-zoom view.
I agree completely with the sentiment of this article (although the title is perhaps a bit overblown): you shouldn’t need a separate API—that’s what you’re existing URL structure should be.
I’m not entirely sure that content negotiation is the best way to go when it comes to serving up different representations: there’s a real value in being able to paste a URL into a browser window to get back a JSON or XML representation of a resource.
But this is spot-on about the ludicrous over-engineered complexity of most APIs. It’s ridiculous that I can enter a URL into a browser window to get an HTML representation of my latest tweets, but I have to sign up for an API key and jump through OAuth hoops, and agree to display the results in a specific way if I want to get a JSON representation of the same content. Ludicrous!
Design principles for APIs.
An API is a user interface for developers. Put the effort in to ensure it’s not just functional but pleasant to use.
I like these design principles for server-side and client-side frameworks. I would say that they’re common sense but looking at many popular frameworks, this sense isn’t as common as it should be.
Investigating the options for off-world backups.
Data is only as safe as the planet it sits on. It only takes one rock, not too big, not moving that fast, to hit the Earth at a certain angle and: WHAM! Most living species are done for.
How the hell is your Twitter archive supposed to survive that?
A fascinating blog documenting the secrecy around nuclear weaponry, past and present, by Alex Wellerstein of the American Institue of Physics.
Wallow in nerd nostalgia and experience the Proustian rush of rebooting old operating systems.
This is like Zooniverse’s Old Weather project, but for restaurant menus: help transcribe thousands of restaurant menus going back to the 1940s.
This move by Google to start executing some POST requests makes me very uneasy: the web is agreement and part of that agreement is that POST requests are initiated by the user.
A superb post by Dan on the bigger picture of what’s wrong with hashbang URLs. Well written and well reasoned.
Tom talks about “Things Rules Do.”
Tim Bray calmly explains why hash-bang URLs are a very bad idea.
This is what we call “tight coupling” and I thought that anyone with a Computer Science degree ought to have been taught to avoid it.
So why use a hash-bang if it’s an artificial URL, and a URL that needs to be reformatted before it points to a proper URL that actually returns content?
Out of all the reasons, the strongest one is “Because it’s cool”. I said strongest not strong.