Tags: story

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The Internet Should Be a Public Good | Jacobin

A gripping history lesson of the internet and the ARPANET before it, emphasising the role of government funding.

Silicon Valley often likes to pretend that innovation is the result of entrepreneurs tinkering in garages. But most of the innovation on which Silicon Valley depends comes from government research, for the simple reason that the public sector can afford to take risks that the private sector can’t.

It’s precisely the insulation from market forces that enables government to finance the long-term scientific labor that ends up producing many of the most profitable inventions.

Today we have an internet effectively controlled by a small number of private companies.

Instead of trying to escape the bigness of the Internet, we should embrace it — and bring it under democratic control. This means replacing private providers with public alternatives where it’s feasible, and regulating them where it’s not.

There is nothing in the pipes or protocols of the Internet that obliges it to produce immense concentrations of corporate power. This is a political choice, and we can choose differently.

The scorpion express | Butterick’s Practical Typography

This is easily the most wrong-headed piece of writing I’ve read in a long time.

“But cus­tomers ben­e­fit from smaller file sizes too, be­cause that makes web pages faster.” Cer­tainly, that was true in 1996. And some web de­vel­op­ers per­sist with po­lit­i­cal ob­jec­tions. But with to­day’s faster con­nec­tions—even on mo­bile—op­ti­miz­ing for file size is less use­ful than ever.

I’ll leave it to you to see the logical flaws in every one of the arguments presented here by Matthew Buterick. Meanwhile I’m going to get off his lawn.

The web is not print and other stories

Rachel takes a look back at twenty years of building on the web. Her conclusion: we’ve internalised constraints that are no longer relevant, and that’s holding us back from exploring new design possibilities:

Somehow the tables have turned. As the web moves on, as we get CSS that gives us the ability to implement designs impossible a few years ago, the web looks more and more like something we could have build with rudimentary CSS for layout. We’ve settled on our constraints and we are staying there, defined by not being print.

The Long, Remarkable History of the GIF

The history of the GIF—a tale of licensing, compression, and standards.

The rise and fall of the Gopher protocol | MinnPost

A deep dive into the history of Gopher. For a while there, it looked like it was going to be bigger than the World Wide Web.

This article is filled with timely details:

The programmers were young guys, mostly in their 20s and, like McCahill, mostly huge Nirvana fans. Paul Lindner, a coding wunderkind from northern Minnesota who was dubbed the Gopher Dude for his evangelism, had long metal-head hair and signed Gopher emails with lyrics like “You have to spit to see the shine” from Babes in Toyland. Early Gopher servers were named Mudhoney, Danzig, and Anthrax.

Ah, Babes In Toyland! It’s like the soundtrack to my time in art college in the early 90s. I remember one of the best gigs ever being a triple bill of The Sultans Of Ping, Babes In Toyland, and Theraphy? at Sir Henrys in Cork.

Empire of the Air: The Imperial Airship Service

The first in a series of articles looking at the history of British airships a century ago …just in time for the revival.

The History of the URL: Path, Fragment, Query, and Auth - Eager Blog

Another dive into the archives of the www-talk mailing list. This time there are some gems about the origins of the input element, triggered by the old isindex element.

The Future of Browser History — Free Code Camp

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. It feels like a user’s browser history is an incredibly rich seam of valuable information just waiting to be presented in a more interesting way.

The History of Email - Eager Blog

The ancestors of the Internet were kind enough to give us a communication standard which is free, transparent, and standardized. It would be a shame to see the tech communication landscape move further and further into the world of locked gardens and proprietary schemas.

The Forgotten Kaleidoscope Craze in Victorian England | Atlas Obscura

A wonderful investigation of a culture-shifting mobile device: the kaleidoscope. A classic Gibsonian example of the street finding its own uses for technology, this story comes complete with moral panics about the effects of augmenting reality with handheld devices.

(I’m assuming the title wasn’t written by the author—this piece deals almost exclusively with pre-Victorian England.)

25 years ago the world changed forever | W3C Blog

On August 6th, 1991, Tim Berners-Lee sent a message to alt.hypertext newsgroup announcing his WorldWideWeb project.

The Woman Who Put Men On The Moon [Comic]

Margaret Hamilton:

Never let fear get in the way! Don’t be afraid to continue even when things appear to be impossible, even when the so-called “experts” say it is impossible. Don’t be afraid to stand alone, to be different, to be wrong, to make and admit mistakes, for only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

The History of the URL: Domain, Protocol, and Port - Eager Blog

From the ARPANET to the internet, this is a great history of the Domain Name System:

Root DNS servers operate in safes, inside locked cages. A clock sits on the safe to ensure the camera feed hasn’t been looped. Particularly given how slow DNSSEC implementation has been, an attack on one of those servers could allow an attacker to redirect all of the Internet traffic for a portion of Internet users. This, of course, makes for the most fantastic heist movie to have never been made.

An Event Apart News: Ten Years, Ten Speakers: Part II

Ten of us reminisce about where we were and what we were doing a decade ago.

Ten years ago I was writing on my blog. Lots of other people were writing on their blogs back then too. That would soon change, though. Twitter and Facebook were picking up steam and soon they’d be luring bloggers away with enticing and seductive short-form convenience. I’ve stubbornly continued writing on my own site. I fully intend to keep on writing there for the next ten years too.

ForEveryone.Net - Trailer on Vimeo

I can’t wait for this documentary to come out (I linked to its website a while back).

Persistent Domains by Tim Berners-Lee

This sixteen year old cool URI has not changed. I think this idea of domains entering an archive state is worth pursuing.

Also, I love the science fictional footnote “Note for readers after 2100”.

The Internet | Thought Economics

The World Wide Web, with all of its pages, blogs and so on- has allowed human expression in ways that would have been uneconomic and out of reach before. The most dramatic effect has been this ability for almost anyone to express himself or herself whenever they want to- and potentially be heard by many others.

Vint Cerf there, taking part in this wide-ranging discussion with, among others, Kevin Kelly and Bob Metcalfe.

The introduction leans a bit too heavily on Nicholas Carr for my liking, but it ends up in a good place.

The internet connects us cognitively and becomes a membrane through which our minds can interact, manifesting a whole new iteration of our species, who have begun to exist in a connected symbiotic relationship with technology.

The internet is the first technology we have created, that makes us more human.

Jeremy Keith | < A > | HTML Special, CSS Day on Vimeo

The video of my talk on hypertext at the HTML Special before CSS Day. I’m pretty with my delivery here. There’s a bit of Q&A afterwards as well.

The Languages Which Almost Were CSS - Eager Blog

A wonderful deep dive into the history of styling languages before CSS. I love spelunking down these internet history potholes—fascinating stuff!

Revisionist History Podcast

Malcolm Gladwell’s new podcast is very good: perfect for huffduffing. And I really, really like the website—lovely typography, illustrations, and subtle animations.

Typography for User Interfaces | Viljami Salminen

The history and physiology of text on screen. You can also see the slides from the talk that prompted this article.

Brief History of the Internet - Internet Timeline | Internet Society

From twenty years ago, a look back at the origins of the internet, written by its creators.

ARPAWOCKY

RFC 527

Man-Computer Symbiosis

J. C. R. Licklider’s seminal 1960 paper. I’ve added it to this list of reading material.

The title should, of course, read “Person-Computer Symbiosis.”

Progressive web apps – let’s not repeat the errors from the beginning of responsive web design | justmarkup

Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it:

When people learned about responsive design, there were many wrong assumptions. The iPhone and early Android phones all had the same screen size (320x480px) and people thought it is a good idea to change the design based on these device-specific sizes.

We wouldn’t do that now, right? We wouldn’t attempt to create something that’s supposed to be a progressive web app, only to make it device-specific, right?

We are still at the beginning of learning about the best ways to build Progressive Web Apps. I hope it will make many more people aware of progressive enhancement. I hope that nobody makes the error again and concentrates on the device part.

Bad Character - The New Yorker

A fascinating thought experiment from Ted Chiang:

So let’s imagine a world in which Chinese characters were never invented in the first place. Given such a void, the alphabet might have spread east from India in a way that it couldn’t in our history, but, to keep this from being an Indo-Eurocentric thought experiment, let’s suppose that the ancient Chinese invented their own phonetic system of writing, something like the modern Bopomofo, some thirty-two hundred years ago. What might the consequences be?

How Literature Became Word Perfect | New Republic

An engaging look at the history of word processing, word processed by Josephine Livingstone.

Wicked Ambiguity and User Experience

This is my kind of talk—John Snow’s cholera map, the Yucca Mountain think-tank, the Pioneer plaque, the Voyager record, the Drake equation, the Arecibo signal, and the love song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

♫ These are a few of my fav-our-ite things! ♫

Claude Shannon, the Father of the Information Age, Turns 1100100 - The New Yorker

A lovely profile of Claude Shannon (concluding with an unexpected Brighton connection).

The history of ‘this website is well-crafted’ hints | Holovaty.com

Adrian runs through the history of well-crafted websites:

  • 1990s: Dynamic websites
  • 2002: All-CSS layouts
  • 2003: Nice URLs
  • 2005: Ajax
  • 2009: Custom web fonts
  • 2010: Responsive web design

I think he’s absolutely right with his crystal ball too:

What’s a big hint that a site is crafted by forward-looking web developers? I’d say it’s service workers, the most interesting thing happening in web development.

But leaving trends aside, Adrian reminds us:

Some things never go out of style. None of the following is tied to a particular time or event, but each is a sign a website was made by people who care about their craft:

  • Making sure the site works without JavaScript
  • Semantic markup
  • Following accessibility standards

An Event Apart News: The Contributions of Others: A Session with Jeremy Keith

Eric asked me some questions and I was only too happy to give some answers.

The New York Herald, August 7, 1865

A transatlantic cable, hurrah!

What Comes Next Is the Future: Trailer 2 on Vimeo

I particularly like Ethan’s Stop Making Sense era David Byrne suit.

Interview with Håkon Wium Lie — net magazine — Medium

A trip down memory lane with Håkon.

It’s not like the web has been done. This is history in the making. The web is only 25 years old. It’s going to be around for a long time, so there are lots of things to develop.

Messages to the Future, by Heather Ryan · The Manual

History, as the future will know it, is happening today on the web. And so it is the web that we must capture, package, and preserve for future generations to see who we are today.

Digital archivists run up against mismatched expectations:

But did you know that a large majority of web users think that when sharing their thoughts, images, and videos online they are going to be preserved in perpetuity? No matter how many licenses the general population clicks “Agree” to, or however many governing policies are developed that state the contrary, the millions of people sharing their content on websites still believe that there is an implicit accountability that should be upheld by the site owners.

Julie Rubicon

The act of linking to this story is making it true.

“I don’t think there’s any law against this,” I said. How could there be a law against something that’s not possible?

Cosmic Surgery by Alma Haser — Kickstarter

Well, here’s an art project with a difference: it comes with a web site built by Josh, a story written by Piers Bizony, and a book made by Emily.

ForEveryone.net

A film about Tim Berners-Lee and the World Wide Web. Details are scarce right now but watch this space.

Why I like the new Met logo (and why you should give it a chance): Design Observer

Michael Bierut on that logo …and graphic design in general.

Graphic designers, whether we admit it or not, are trained for the short term. Most of the things we design have to discharge their function immediately, whether it’s a design for a book or a poster, a website or an infographic, a sign system, or a business card. In school critiques, architecture and industrial design students produce models. Graphic designers produce finished prototypes. As a result, the idea that we create things that are unfinished, that can only accrue value over time, is foreign to us. It’s so easy for us to visualize the future, and so hard to admit that we really can’t. That’s what we face every time we unveil a new logo.

Building Inspector by NYPL Labs

A wonderful Zooniverse-like project from the New York Public Library:

Help unlock New York City’s past by identifying buildings and other details on beautiful old maps.

The New Web Typography › Robin Rendle

A wonderfully thoughtful piece on typography, Jan Tschichold and the web. This really resonated with me:

It’s only been over the past year or so in which I’ve recognised myself as a ‘Web designer’ with a capital W, as I now believe that something happens to information and technology, and even typography itself, when people pass through these interconnected networks and interact with hypertext.

It’s for these reasons that I don’t believe in “digital design” or “designing for screens” and it’s why I’m often attracted to one particular side of this spectrum.

Robin proposes three “principles, suggestions, outlines, or rather things-that-I-ought-to-be nervous-about when setting text on the web”:

  1. We must prioritise the text over the font, or semantics over style.
  2. We ought to use and/or make tools that reveal the consequences of typographic decisions.
  3. We should acknowledge that web typography is only as strong as its weakest point.

There’s an in-depth look at applying progressive enhancement to web type, and every single link in the resources section at the end is worth investigating.

Oh, and of course it’s beautifully typeset.

Hand Ax Technology - A Legend In Sustainability

Even more intriguing than their vast distribution across three continents is their time depth. Acheulean hand axes have been found at sites spanning 1.5 million years of human existence, dating from roughly 1.6 million years ago to about 100,000 years ago. That makes the Acheulean ax the most sustainable technology that members of our genus (Homo) ever developed. Consider, in contrast, the amount of technological change that has occurred in just the last 150 years (since the first telephone call), one ten-thousandth the amount of time the Acheulean hand ax was made and used. Or consider the amount of technological change in just the last 10 years (since the first iPhone was introduced), one one-hundred-fifty-thousandth the amount of time that Acheulean hand axes were made and used. In the memorable words of my former professor Arthur J. Jelinek, hand axes represent “mind-numbing technological stability.”

The End of Big Data | Motherboard

A great piece of near-future sci-fi from James.

I enforce from orbit, making sure all the mainframes that used to track and store every detail of our lives are turned off, and stay off. And as the sun comes up over Gloucestershire this morning, there they are, resplendent in the mist-piercing light of RITTER’s multispectral sensors: terabytes of storage laid out around the scalped doughnut of the former GCHQ building. Enough quantum storage to hold decades of the world’s pillow talk. Drums of redundant ethernet cable stacked stories-high. Everything dismantled, disconnected, unshielded. Everything damp with morning dew.

The elements of HTML

A complete list of HTML elements, past and present. They’re all hyperlinked to the relevant specs.

A Flag for No Nations | booktwo.org

This a magnificent piece of writing from James …all about pieces of metal fabric.

A single technology – the vacuum-deposition of metal vapour onto a thin film substrate – makes its consecutive and multiple appearances at times of stress and trial: at the dawn of the space age, in orbit and on other planets, at the scene of athletic feats of endurance, in defence and offence in the mountains of the Hindu Kush, on the beaches of the European archipelago. These are moments of hope as well as failure; moments when, properly utilised, technological progress enables us to achieve something which was beyond our capabilities before. And yet: we are still pulling bodies from the water wrapped in material which was meant to send us into space.

The Heroine’s Journey. - WordRidden

I think I’ve shown great restraint in not linking to loads of think-pieces about Star Wars and The Force Awakens, because believe me, I’ve been reading—and listening to—a lot.

What Jessica has written here is about The Force Awakens. But more than that, it’s about Star Wars. But more than that, it’s about childhood. But more than that…

What I’m saying is: if you only read one thing about the new Star Wars film, read this.

20 Years Ago Today

A lovely reminiscence from Matt on how he came to fall in love with the World Wide Web.

I really hope he posts this on his own site—it’ll be a shame when this disappears along with everything else being posted to Medium.

Mike Hill - Industrial Design in Entertainment on Vimeo

A terrific analysis of industrial design in film and games …featuring a scene-setting opening that delineates the difference between pleasure and happiness.

Interactive Storytelling | Codrops

I think this might be the most tasteful, least intrusive use of scroll events to enhance a Snowfallesque story. It’s executed superbly.

You can read all about the code. Interestingly, it’s using canvas to render the maps even though the maps themselves are being stored as SVG.

(There’s a caveat saying: “This is a highly experimental project and it might not work in all browsers. Currently there is no IE support.” I don’t think that’s true: the story works just in IE …that browser just doesn’t get the mapping enhancements.)

Untangling the Tale of Ada Lovelace—Stephen Wolfram Blog

A detailed history of Babbage and Lovelace through the lens of Wolfram’s work today:

Ada seems to have understood with some clarity the traditional view of programming: that we engineer programs to do things we know how to do. But she also notes that in actually putting “the truths and the formulae of analysis” into a form amenable to the engine, “the nature of many subjects in that science are necessarily thrown into new lights, and more profoundly investigated.” In other words—as I often point out—actually programming something inevitably lets one do more exploration of it.

If this piques your interest, I highly recommend the Babbage biography The Cogwheel Brain by Doron Swade.

Peaceful Reflection

Paul takes a look back at a time in his life one decade ago. This is a great piece of personal writing.

Web History Primer

Written in 2001, this history of the web takes in CERN, hypertext, the ARPANET, SGML, and lots more.

A Brief(ish) History of the Web Universe – Part I: The Pre-Web | briankardell

This is a wonderful, wonderful look back at the state of hypertext in the run-up to the creation of the World Wide Web.

My jaw may have dropped when I saw the GML markup.

Now I’m going to read part two.

Old Weather: Whaling

A subset of one of my favourite sites on the web:

Explore the Arctic of the past from the deck of a whaling ship.

Choose your vessel and get transcribing.

oldweb.today

Such a vividly nostalgic project. Choose an obsolete browser. Enter a URL. Select which slice of the past you want to see.

Digital archives in action. Access drives preservation.

How David Hume Helped Me Solve My Midlife Crisis - The Atlantic

A fascinating detective story of the Enlightenment, told from a very personal perspective.

I Dreamed of a Perfect Database | New Republic

A really nice piece by Paul Ford on the history of databases and the dream of the Semantic Web.

Sometimes I get a little wistful. The vision of a world of connected facts, one big, living library, remains beautiful, and unfulfilled.

One thing though: the scrolling on this page is sooooo janky that I had to switch off JavaScript just to read these words comfortably.

The System of the World Wide Web

A fascinating ten-year old essay looking at the early days of the web and how it conquered FTP and Gopher.

And though glitz, politics, hard work, and competitors’ mistakes all played a role in the success of the web, there are also aspects of the architecture that ensured the web would catch on. I think the web won because of the URI.

URIs are everywhere, and what’s vaguely funny now is the idea that they’re something special. But they’re very special: URI management is the fundamental consideration behind the design of web sites, web applications, and web services. Tim Berners-Lee originally intended URIs to be invisible, but they’re too useful for that.

Strange Horizons Fiction: Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs, by Leonard Richardson

A riotously great short story…

“It always comes down to that, doesn’t it?” said the voice in disgust, now circling around Tark. “Whether a successful Internet filmmaker can also be insane. Given that his quote-unquote insanity is also the fuel for his objectively measurable success as an entrepreneur. And whether it makes sense to judge him by the standards of talking dinosaurs from Mars.”

Museum of Endangered Sounds

Sounds from our collective technological past.

(I’ll look past the fact that the sound labelled “ZX Spectrum” is using an image of an Amstrad PCP 464)

Dumb Cuneiform. We’ll take your tweets and make them permanent clay tablets.

There’s something about this that I really like: a message transmitted via a modern communications medium converted into the oldest form of writing.

Where Did the Internet Begin? - The Atlantic

Ingrid begins her tour into the internet and into the past with a visit to room 3240 at UCLA, home to the first node on the ARPAnet.

In a strikingly accurate replica of the original IMP log (crafted by UCLA’s Fowler Museum of Cultural History) on one of the room’s period desks is a note taken at 10:30 p.m., 29 October, 1969—“talked to SRI, host to host.” In the note, there is no sense of wonder at this event—which marks the first message sent across the ARPANET, and the primary reason the room is now deemed hallowed ground.

The Okinawa missiles of October | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Pssst! Wanna read something scary for Halloween? Well, this should make you shit your pants.

Seriously though, if the event described here turn out to be true, it is one of the most frightening moments in the history of our species.

<input> I ♡ you, but you’re bringing me down – Monica Dinculescu

The sad history of input elements.

I wish I could share in the closing optimism:

Now imagine the future where Web Components are supported natively, and someone else is allowed to write a <better-input>, an element that is a real, encapsulated DOM element, and not just a div soup. Imagine using this <better-input> that isn’t implemented differently in each browser, that looks the same everywhere, and that probably also knows how to bake you a cherry pie.

But I all I can think is:

Now imagine the future where Web Components are supported natively, and everyone is allowed to write a million variations of <my-idea-of-a-better-input>, an element that is an inaccessible div soup under the hood.

It’s the IMP

There are Inception-like layers of nostalgia here: firstly, this web series of web pages made by Matt are a throwback to an earlier era, and secondly, the story being told goes all the way back to the birth of the ARPAnet.

Advanced storytelling: Narrative. In space. Over time. | Ellen de Vries

I’m loving Ellen’s thoughts on taking storytelling to the next level.

Let’s say that we’ve got a lot of useful storytelling models for design now. Achievement unlocked. Let’s move on to discuss narrative structure, in space, over time.

Periodic Table of Storytelling

Combining the molecules of narrative tropes to create stories.

The Fifth Dragon on Tor.com

A short story by Ian McDonald set in the same universe as his new novel Luna: New Moon.

Her Code Got Humans on the Moon—And Invented Software Itself | WIRED

A profile—published on Ada Lovelace Day—of Margaret Hamilton’s work on the Apollo project.

The Internet’s Dark Ages - The Atlantic

The promise of the web is that Alexandria’s library might be resurrected for the modern world. But today’s great library is being destroyed even as it is being built.

A fascinating account of one story’s linkrot that mirrors the woeful state of our attitude to cultural preservation on the web.

Historians and digital preservationists agree on this fact: The early web, today’s web, will be mostly lost to time.

BBC iWonder - Who made the web so hard to control?

A great little primer on the origins of the internet and the web, by Aleks.

Histography - Timeline of History

A nice navigable timeline of historical events from Wikipedia.

Project Apollo Archive on Flickr

This is so, so wonderful—hundreds and hundreds of photographs from all of the Apollo missions. Gorgeous!

The shots of Earth take my breath away.

WorldWideWeb: Proposal for a HyperText Project

Sometimes it’s nice to step back and look at where all this came from. Here’s Tim Berners-Lee’s proposal from 1990.

The current incompatibilities of the platforms and tools make it impossible to access existing information through a common interface, leading to waste of time, frustration and obsolete answers to simple data lookup. There is a potential large benefit from the integration of a variety of systems in a way which allows a user to follow links pointing from one piece of information to another one.

The CompuServe of Things

We need the Internet of Things to be the next step in the series that began with the general purpose PC and continued with the Internet and general purpose protocols—systems that support personal autonomy and choice. The coming Internet of Things envisions computing devices that will intermediate every aspect of our lives. I strongly believe that this will only provide the envisioned benefits or even be tolerable if we build an Internet of Things rather than a CompuServe of Things.

The Web is Ruined and I Ruined it by David Siegel

Here’s a classic. David Siegel—of Creating Killer Websites fame—outlines exactly why he turned his back on that 1×1 spacer .gif trick he invented.

Crafting A Bridge Between Storytelling & UX Design

I kind of want to link to every one of John’s post chronicling his 90 days at Clearleft, but this one is particular good, I think: how narrative ideas from the world of storytelling can help unlock some design problems.

Cameron’s World

A wonderful collection of treasures excavated from GeoCities. Explore, enjoy, and remember what a crime it is that Yahoo wiped out so much creativity and expression.

Dave Shea – – beyond tellerrand DÜSSELDORF 2015 on Vimeo

A wonderful, wonderful history of the web from Dave at this year’s Beyond Tellerrand conference. I didn’t get to see this at the time—I was already on the way back home—so I got Dave to give me the gist of it over lunch. He undersold it. This is a fascinating story, wonderfully told.

So gather round the computer, kids, and listen to Uncle Dave tell you about times gone by.

Deep Time : A History of the Earth

This infographic offers a visual way to explore the various stages of the Earth’s history using a 12 hour clock analogy.

Meet Walter Pitts, the Homeless Genius Who Revolutionized Artificial Intelligence

The fascinating story of logic, learning, and the origins of electronic computing. Russell, Shannon, Turing, Wiener, Von Neumann …they’re all in there, woven around the tragic figure of Walter Pitts.

It is a sad and beautiful world.

Thanks to their work, there was a moment in history when neuroscience, psychiatry, computer science, mathematical logic, and artificial intelligence were all one thing, following an idea first glimpsed by Leibniz—that man, machine, number, and mind all use information as a universal currency. What appeared on the surface to be very different ingredients of the world—hunks of metal, lumps of gray matter, scratches of ink on a page—were profoundly interchangeable.

Efficient Web Type, c. 1556

A long zoom and then a deep dive into web typography.

Web Design - The First 100 Years

A magnificent presentation from Maciej that begins by drawing parallels between the aviation industry in the 20th century and the technology industry in the 21st:

So despite appearances, despite the feeling that things are accelerating and changing faster than ever, I want to make the shocking prediction that the Internet of 2060 is going to look recognizably the same as the Internet today.

Unless we screw it up.

And I want to convince you that this is the best possible news for you as designers, and for us as people.

But if that sounds too upbeat for you…

Too much of what was created in the last fifty years is gone because no one took care to preserve it.

We have heroic efforts like the Internet Archive to preserve stuff, but that’s like burning down houses and then cheering on the fire department when it comes to save what’s left inside. It’s no way to run a culture. We take better care of scrap paper than we do of the early Internet, because at least we look at scrap paper before we throw it away.

And then there’s this gem:

We complained for years that browsers couldn’t do layout and javascript consistently. As soon as that got fixed, we got busy writing libraries that reimplemented the browser within itself, only slower.

It finishes with three differing visions of the web, one of them desirable, the other two …not so much. This presentation is a rallying cry for the web we want.

Let’s reclaim the web from technologists who tell us that the future they’ve imagined is inevitable, and that our role in it is as consumers.

Blinking Fever - Tantek

A heartbreaking tale of companionship, memory and loss.

The Internet That Was (and Still Could Be) - The Atlantic

A fantastic piece by David Weinberger on the changing uses of the internet—apparently in contradiction of the internet’s original architecture.

Some folks invented the Internet for some set of purposes. They gave it a name, pointed to some prototypical examples—sharing scientific papers and engaging in email about them—shaping the way the early adopters domesticated it.

But over time, the Internet escaped from its creators’ intentions. It became a way to communicate person-to-person via email and many-to-many via Usenet. The web came along and the prototypical example became home pages. Social networking came along and the prototype became Facebook.

Domain Stories | Citizen Ex

The fascinating tales behind Top Level Domains as part of James and Nat’s Citizen Ex project. So far there’s .scot, .cymru, and .ly, with more to come.

Paul Ford: What is Code? by Paul Ford

It seems grossly unfair to refer to this as an article. It’s a short book. It’s a very good short book; lucid and entertaining in equal measure. A very enjoyable read.

It is, unfortunately, surrounded by some distracting “enhancements” but perhaps you can use your cleaner-upper software of choice to route around their damage: Instapaper, Pocket, Readability, whatever works for you.

The real story of how the Internet became so vulnerable | The Washington Post

The first in a series of articles about the architecture of the internet and its security issues, this is a great history lesson of how our network came to be.

What began as an online community for a few dozen researchers now is accessible to an estimated 3 billion people. That’s roughly the population of the entire planet in the early 1960s, when talk began of building a revolutionary new computer network.

Mutant Materials and Video Spaces: 20 years of MoMA on the web

Much of the web’s early cultural and design history is at risk, despite efforts by the Internet Archive and renegade archivists. One of our realizations after 20 years on the web is that our responsibility isn’t just to the new; we also need to preserve what’s been built in the past.

The Web (Browser) We Forgot - Kimberly Blessing (Think Brownstone) keynote - YouTube

This is a wonderful presentation by Kimberley at O’Reilly’s Fluent Conference, running through the history of the Line Mode Browser and the hack project we worked on at CERN to emulate it.

The Failed Promise of Deep Links — Backchannel — Medium

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.

Sound Mirrors

Before there was radar, there were acoustic mirrors along the coast of England—parabolic structures designed to funnel the distant sound of approaching aircraft.

Alex Feyerke: Step Off This Hurtling Machine

I love this talk.

Alex takes a long-zoom look at the web and our technology stacks, from ’60s counterculture to start-up culture, touching on open source and the indie web along the way.

Bruce Lawson’s personal site  : The misadventures of my meteorological nipples

Truly great literature not only tells us more about the human condition, it also tells us more about ourselves and does so in a beautiful way that changes us forever more.

So anyway, this is about Bruce’s nipples.

15 Years of Dao · An A List Apart Blog Post

On the fifteenth anniversary of A Dao Of Web Design people who make websites share their thoughts.

Paul Ford’s is a zinger:

I don’t know if the issues raised in “A Dao of Web Design” can ever be resolved, which is why the article seems so prescient. After all, the Tao Te Ching is 2500 years old and we’re still working out what it all means. What I do believe is that the web will remain the fastest path to experimenting with culture for people of any stripe. It will still be here, alive and kicking and deployed across billions of computing machines, in 2030, and people will still be using it to do weird, wholly unexpected things.

Natasha Lampard, Friday, 27 March 2015

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.

isolani - Web Standards: Flash’s slide into irrelevance

Mike runs through the history of Flash. Those who forget the history of the web are doomed to repeat it:

The struggle now seems to be turning to native apps versus non-native apps on the mobile platform. It is similar to Flash’s original battle ground: the argument that the Web technology stack is not suitable for building applications with a polished user-experience.

Tweets out of Context

Primer, but Twitter.

Killing Time at Lightspeed

Interstellar travel time dilation and status updates: a clever narrative combo.

Line Mode | Parallel Transport

Worth remembering:

The Web is the printing press of our times; an amazing piece of technology facilitating a free and wide-scale dissipation of our thoughts and ideas. And all of it is based on this near 20-year old, yet timeless idea of the Hyper Text Markup Language.

Five Easy Ways to Be a Better Web Professional — sixtwothree.org

  1. Know Your History
  2. Know Your Medium
  3. Respect Those Who Came Before You
  4. Respect Your Audience
  5. Get Involved

“Nope, You’re Dead Now” — Matter

Ant told us this harrowing story in the office two weeks ago. I honestly can’t imagine what it would be like to be in this situation.

The Queen Of Code

A short documentary on the wonderful Grace Hopper.

Adrian Roselli: All of This Has Happened Before and Will Happen Again

Everyone who calls for WebKit in Internet Explorer is exactly the same kind of developer who would have coded to Internet Explorer 15 years ago (and probably happily displayed the best viewed in badge).

Truth.

It’s happening again, and every petulant, lazy developer who calls for a WebKit-only world is responsible.

Thoughts on Pagination

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately; alternate ways of paginating through the past e.g. by day instead of by arbitrary amount.

The Emularity « ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason documents some pretty amazing levels of emulation in JavaScript:

That’s Netscape 1.0n, released in December of 1994, running inside Windows 3.11, released in August of 1993, running inside of Google Chrome 39.0.2171.99 m, released about a week ago, on a Windows 7 PC, released in 2009.

But when it comes to trying to navigate the web with that set-up, things get a bit depressing.

Competing on “Chrome”, From the Notebook of Aaron Gustafson

First, the browsers competed on having proprietary crap. Then, the browsers competed on standards support. Now, finally, the browsers are competing on what they can offer their users.

Websites of Christmas Past, Present and Future ◆ 24 ways

A superb article by Josh on planning for progressive enhancement—clearly laid out and carefully explained.

On File Formats, Very Briefly, by Paul Ford · The Manual

A history lesson and a love letter to the early web, taking in HTML, Photoshop, and the web standards movement.

Those were long years, the years of drop-shadows. Everything was jumping just slightly off the screen. For a stretch it seemed that drop-shadows and thin vertical columns of text would define the web. That was before we learned that the web is really a medium to display slideshows, as many slideshows as possible, with banner ads.

On HTML5 and the Group That Rules the Web

Paul Ford’s potted history of web standards, delivered in his own inimitable style.

Reading through the standards, which are dry as can be, you might imagine that standardization is a polite, almost academic process, where wonks calmly debate topics like semicolon placement. This is not the case.

The Web Is Read/Write

The transcript of Owen’s talk at The Web Is. It’s a wonderful, thoughtful meditation on writing, web design, and long-term thinking.

One of the promises of the web is to act as a record, a repository for everything we put there. Yet the web forgets constantly, despite that somewhat empty promise of digital preservation: articles and data are sacrificed to expediency, profit and apathy; online attention, acknowledgement and interest wax and wane in days, hours even.

Web Standards for the Future on Vimeo

A cute videolette on web standards.

How URL started as UDI — a brief conversation with @timberners_lee @W3C #TPAC - Tantek

Tantek shares a fascinating history lesson from Tim Berners-Lee on how the IETF had him change his original nomenclature of UDI—Universal Document Identifier—to what we now use today: URL—Uniform Resource Locator.

“Alan Bean Plus Four”

A warm-hearted short story about a moonshot. By Tom Hanks.

The Hummingbird Effect — How We Got to Now

How the printing press led to the microscope, and chlorination transformed women’s fashion—Steven Johnson channels James Burke.

Hypertext as an agent of change | A Working Library

The text of Mandy’s astounding dConstruct talk.

Marvellous stuff!

Digital Amnesia - YouTube

A documentary on our digital dark age. Remember this the next time someone trots out the tired old lie that “the internet never forgets.”

If we lose the past, we will live in an Orwellian world of the perpetual present, where anybody that controls what’s currently being put out there will be able to say what is true and what is not. This is a dreadful world. We don’t want to live in this world. —Brewster Kahle

It’s a terrible indictment of where our priorities were for the last 20 years that we depend essentially on children and maniacs to save our history of this sort. —Jason Scott

44 Medieval Beasts That Cannot Even Handle It Right Now

Look, I would never usually link to a “listicle” on Buzzfeed, but this is all kinds of cumulative mirth.

Jeffrey Zeldman: 20 years of Web Design and Community on Vimeo

A really nice little documentary about my friend Jeffrey.

The Internet’s Original Sin - The Atlantic

Ethan Zuckerman riffs on Maciej’s talk at Beyond Tellerrand about the vortex of nastiness that we’ve spiralled down thanks to the default business model of the web: advertising.

Web Archeology - daverupert.com

A bit of web history reacted by Paravel: the Microsoft homepage from 1994. View source to see some ooooold-school markup.

Ah, memories!

A Spacecraft for All: The Journey of the ISEE-3

A nice bit of interactive citizen science storytelling from Google.

Note: if you have Adblock Plus installed, this won’t load at all. Funny that.

A lot can change in 6 years - Allen Pike

An astute comparison of the early years of the web with the early years of the app store. If there’s anything to this, then the most interesting native apps are yet to come. App Store 2.0?

A Brief History of Bloggering - The Morning News

An alternative history from a parallel timeline.

He started coding his own just weeks after Tim Berners-Lee, a tunnel engineer helping to build the STERN protein collider, discovered ancient scrolls buried in the Swiss soil that revealed the secrets of HTML.

Urban Giants on Vimeo

A look at the architectural history of the network hubs of New York: 32 Avenue of the Americas and 60 Hudson Street. Directed by Davina Pardo and written by her husband Andrew Blum, author of Tubes: A Journey to the Centre of the Internet.

These buildings were always used as network hubs. It’s just that the old networks were used to house the infrastructure of telephone networks (these were the long line buildings).

In a way, the big server hotel of New York—111 Eight Avenue—was also always used to route packets …it’s just that the packets used to be physical.

The Eccentric Genius Whose Time May Have Finally Come (Again) - Doug Hill - The Atlantic

A profile of Norbert Wiener, and how his star was eclipsed by Claude Shannon.

Sana’a (Idle Words)

A new essay from Maciej on Idle Words is always a treat, and this latest dispatch from Yemen is as brilliantly-written as you’d expect.

The Man Who Turned Paper Into Pixels on Vimeo

A short film about Claude Shannon and Information Theory — not exactly as in-depth as James Gleick’s The Information, but it does a nice job of encapsulating the fundamental idea.

How We Got To Now with Steven Johnson - YouTube

Steven Johnson’s new television series will be shown on BBC in a few months time. Looks like it’s going to be good Burkian fun.

N’existe Pas by Bruce Sterling on The Dissident Blog

A short story set in a science-fictional future that just happens to be our present.

Bruce Lawson’s personal site  : Happy Birthday, BASIC

Bruce’s love letter to BASIC.

The closest I’ve ever come to that “a-ha!” moment I had when I first wrote something in BASIC was when I first wrote something in HTML.

What Comes Next Is the Future by Matt Braun

This has the potential to be a terrific little documentary. What say we get it funded?

And They All Look Just the Same

Greg isn’t just lamenting a perceived “sameness” in web design here. He’s taking a long-zoom view and pointing out that there’s always a sameness …and you can choose to go along with it or you can choose to differentiate.

Airbag Intl. / Archives

Greg says:

We need a web design museum.

I am, unsurprisingly, in complete agreement. And let’s make lots of copies while we’re at it.

Google Night Walk

A nice stroll around Marseilles at night without any of the traditional danger.

Rise of the IndieWeb - Amber Case - FutureTalks - YouTube

A great talk by Amber on the history of personal publishing and the ideas and technologies driving the Indie Web movement.

1995 Vannevar Bush symposium: closing Panel

So Doug Engelbart, Alan Kay, Ted Nelson, and Tim Berners-Lee walk into a panel…

Meet the Geniuses on a Quixotic Quest to Archive the Entire Internet | TIME.com

A short video featuring Jason Scott and Brewster Kahle. The accompanying text has a shout-out to the line-mode browser hack event at CERN.

Our Comrade The Electron

This is a wonderful piece by Maciej—a magnificent historical narrative that leads to a thunderous rant. Superb!

Origins of Common UI Symbols

A lovely little tour of eleven ubiquitous icons.

Early History of HTML - 1990 to 1992

A fascinating look at the early history of HTML, tracing its roots from the dialect of SGML used at CERN.

Operation War Diary

A collaboration between Zooniverse and the Imperial War Museum. Now citizen scientists can become citizen historians by classifying diaries from World War One.

The Console Living Room : Free Software : Download

Here’s a nice Christmas gift from Jason and the archinauts at the Internet Archive: tons of games for living room consoles of the early ’80s, all playable in your browser, thanks to emulation in JavaScript.

WarGames Magazine Identified By Michael Walden

Now this is what I call research:

Through the use of my knowledge of computer magazines, my sharp eyes, and other technical knowledge, I have overcome the limited amount of information available in the video content of WarGames and with complete certainty identified the exact name and issue number of the magazine read on screen by David L. Lightman in WarGames.

Spimes: A Happy Birthday Story « optional.is/required

Expanding on an exercise from last year’s Hackfarm, Brian and Mike have written a deliciously dystopian near-future short story.

Happy 17th Birthday CSS | Web Directions

A lovely history lesson on CSS from John.

Flickr: The British Library’s Photostream

This is a wonderful addition to the already-wonderful Flickr Commons: over one million pictures from the British Library, available with liberal licensing.

Y’know, I’m worried about what will happen to my own photos when Flickr inevitably goes down the tubes (there are still some good people there fighting the good fight, but they’re in the minority and they’re battling against the douchiest of Silicon Valley managerial types who have been brought in to increase “engagement” by stripping away everything that makes Flickr special) …but what really worries me is what’s going to happen to Flickr Commons. It’s an unbelievably important and valuable resource.

The (other) Web we lost

John shares his concerns about the increasing complexity involved in developing for the web.

Proto HTML

A nice bit of markup archeology, tracing the early development of HTML from its unspecced roots to the first drafts.

I recognise some of the extinct elements from the line-mode browser hack days at CERN e.g. HP1, HP2, ISINDEX, etc.

Against the Balkanization of the Web

A fascinating snapshot from 1995, arguing for the growing power of HTML instead of the siren song of proprietary formats.

I’m very happy that this is still available to read online 18 years later.

Chloe Weil — Our Ragged History

In describing her approach to building the wonderful Julius Cards project, Chloe touches on history, digital preservation, and the future of the web. There are uncomfortable questions here, but they are questions we should all be asking ourselves.

Steve & Steve: a graphic novel by Patrick Sean Farley

This is absolutely delightful, nicely weird, and thoroughly entertaining.

CERN: Line Mode Browser « optional.is/required

Brian writes up his experience working on the line-mode browser hack event at CERN.

The Hole in Our Collective Memory: How Copyright Made Mid-Century Books Vanish by Rebecca J. Rosen in The Atlantic

Copyright correlates significantly with the disappearance of works rather than with their availability.

Robert Cailliau’s world wide web on Dazed Digital

From CERN to singularity - the digital pioneer and cofounder of the WWW on 20 years of webscapades.

Internet and Web Pioneers: Robert Cailliau - YouTube

Once you get past the cheesy intro music, there are some gems from Robert Cailliau in here.

LMB hack days: Jeremy Keith

I took a little time out of the hacking here at CERN to answer a few questions about the line-mode browser project.

The document that officially put the World Wide Web into the public domain on 30 April 1993. - CERN Document Server

Earlier today, thanks to Robert Cailliau, I held the only notarised copy of this document. That was quite a feeling.

Omni Reboot: Hackers Of The Renaissance

This history of hacking.

Information doth wish to be free.

Omni Reboot | THE LANDLINE

Omni returns with a Bruce Sterling short story that marries alternative history and satire with a dash of digital preservation.

Go ahead, just wait a year, or two years, or maybe five years. Then try to find this, later. There will be no sign of this website, because it’s just made of pixels. No remains of the machine that you read it with, either.

The Best Thing I Ever Created by Jeremy Keith on The Shutterstock Blog

Shutterstock are running a series on their blog called “The Best Thing I Ever Created” and they asked me for a contribution. So I wrote about The Session.

NSA-Proof Your Email! Consider your Man Card Re-Issued. Never be Afraid Again.

We shouldn’t be protecting ourselves. We should be protecting each other.

A Timeline made with Timeglider, web-based timeline software

Improve your word power: here’s a timeline of terms used to describe male genitalia throughout history. And yes, there is a female equivalent.

The creation of Missile Command and the haunting of its creator, Dave Theurer

The story behind the classic arcade game Missile Command and the toll it took on its creator:

Theurer’s constant strides for perfection left him working his body to the point that Missile Command’s premise started to manifest itself in his subconscious, sneaking into his dreams and turning them to nightmares.

There was something about the sound of those explosions, the feeling of the trackball in your hand, and the realisation that no matter how well you played, you could only delay the inevitable.

THE END

BBC - Blogs - Adam Curtis - BUGGER

Adam Curtis usually just pours forth apopheniac ramblings, but this is a really great collection of pieces from the archive on the history of incompetence in the spying world.

Y’know, the best explanation I’ve heard so far of the NSA and GCHQ’s sinister overreaching powers is simply that they need to come up with bigger and bigger programmes to justify getting bigger and bigger budgets. Hanlon’s Law, Occam’s Razor, and all that.

Not Real Programming by John Allsopp

A terrific long-zoom look at web technologies, pointing out that the snobbishness towards declarative languages is a classic example of missing out on the disruptive power of truly innovative ideas …much like the initial dismissive attitude towards the web itself.

The Future of Programming

A wonderful presentation by time-traveller Bret Viktor.

Online communities

Caterina Fake takes a heartfelt look at the history of online communities:

The internet is full of strangers, generous strangers who want to help you for no reason at all. Strangers post poetry and discographies and advice and essays and photos and art and diatribes. None of them are known to you, in the old-fashioned sense. But they give the internet its life and meaning.

NSA: The Decision Problem by George Dyson

A really terrific piece by George Dyson taking a suitably long-zoom look at information warfare and the Entscheidungsproblem, tracing the lineage of PRISM from the Corona project of the Cold War.

What we have now is the crude equivalent of snatching snippets of film from the sky, in 1960, compared to the panopticon that was to come. The United States has established a coordinated system that links suspect individuals (only foreigners, of course, but that definition becomes fuzzy at times) to dangerous ideas, and, if the links and suspicions are strong enough, our drone fleet, deployed ever more widely, is authorized to execute a strike. This is only a primitive first step toward something else. Why kill possibly dangerous individuals (and the inevitable innocent bystanders) when it will soon become technically irresistible to exterminate the dangerous ideas themselves?

The proposed solution? That we abandon secrecy and conduct our information warfare in the open.

From Beyond the Coming Age of Networked Matter, a short story by Bruce Sterling

H.P. Lovecraft meets James Bridle in this great little story commissioned by the Institute For The Future.

The Hut Where the Internet Began by Alexis C. Madrigal in The Atlantic

A wonderful article looking at the influence that Vannevar Bush’s seminal article As We May Think had on the young Douglas Engelbart.

Why the Web Doesn’t Need Another CSS Zen Garden - YouTube

A great history lesson from Dave.

Ah, I remember when the CSS Zen Garden was all fields. Now get off my CSS lawn.

Line-mode browser dev days at CERN

Squee! I’m going to CERN on the 19th and 20th of September to take part in this hackday-like project to recreate the first line-browser.

If you want to help out, fill in the application form.

Break the Page

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.

The irregular musings of Lou Montulli: The reasoning behind Web Cookies

A fascinating look at the history of cookies …from the inventor of cookies.

Teenage Diaries Revisited

Fascinating fodder for Huffduffer:

Beginning in 1996, Radio Diaries gave tape recorders to teenagers around the country to create audio diaries about their lives. NPR’s All Things Considered aired intimate portraits of five of these teens: Amanda, Juan, Frankie, Josh and Melissa. They’re now in their 30s. Over this past year, the same group has been recording new stories about where life has led them for our series, Teenage Diaries Revisited.

A Woman’s Place — Everything Old is New Again — Medium

In a piece for Medium commissioned by Matter, Jon Norris describes a little-known aspect of the UK’s information technology history:

Gender equality is still a major issue in the technology industry, but 50 years ago one British company was blazing trails.

mezzoblue § 10 Years

Wow! The CSS Zen Garden is a decade old. Crazy! It’s a true piece of web history …and it’s back!

The open internet and the web

A history lesson from Vint Cerf. I can’t help but picture him as The Architect in The Matrix Reloaded.

When Tim Berners-Lee invented and released the World Wide Web (WWW) design in late 1991, he found an open and receptive internet in operation onto which the WWW could be placed. The WWW design, like the design of the internet, was very open and encouraged a growing cadre of self-taught webmasters to develop content and applications.

The First Website by Mark Boulton

Mark writes about his work with CERN to help restore the first website to its original URL.

I have two young children and I want them to experience the early web and understand how it came to be. To understand that the early web wasn’t that rudimentary but incredibly advanced in many ways.

Cern

It was twenty years ago today:

On 30 April 1993 CERN published a statement that made World Wide Web technology available on a royalty free basis, allowing the web to flourish.

Bradshaw’s Guide For Tourists in Great Britain

Keep it under your hat, but Paul has soft-launch his Project Portillo. And very nice it is too.

Histories Past

Documenting history through photography.

National Geographic Found

Celebrating 125 years of National Geographic, this Tumblr blog is a curated collection of photography from the archives. Many of the pictures are being published for the first time.

The canonical smart city: A pastiche by Adam Greenfield’s Speedbird

Sorta sci-fi from Adam.

Consider this a shooting script for one of those concept videos so beloved of the big technology vendors.

Google Keep? It’ll probably be with us until March 2017 - on average

Charles Arthur analyses the data from Google’s woeful history of shutting down its services.

So if you want to know when Google Keep, opened for business on 21 March 2013, will probably shut - again, assuming Google decides it’s just not working - then, the mean suggests the answer is: 18 March 2017. That’s about long enough for you to cram lots of information that you might rely on into it; and also long enough for Google to discover that, well, people aren’t using it to the extent that it hoped.

Life as German POW by Carl Lehman

My friend Dan’s stepfather Carl passed away recently, aged 90. His experiences during World War II were quite something.

Out of Eden — A Walk Through Time

I like this idea of slow journalism: taking seven years to tell a story.

Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz - Stuff

The biggest plot holes of World War Two.

Warning: contains spoilers.

Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog

A fascinating blog documenting the secrecy around nuclear weaponry, past and present, by Alex Wellerstein of the American Institue of Physics.

www-talk

Here’s a treasure trove of web history: an archive of the www-talk list dating back to 1991. Watch as HTML gets hammered out by a small group of early implementors: Tim Berners-Lee, Dave Raggett, Marc Andreessen, Dan Connolly…

Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek - Multimedia Feature - NYTimes.com

Excellent journalism combined with excellent art direction into something that feels just right for the medium of the web.

The Web We Lost - Anil Dash

Oh, my! This excellent, excellent post from Anil Dash is a great summation of what has changed on the web, and how many of today’s big-name services are no longer imbued with the spirit of the web.

Either you remember how things used to be and you’ll nod your head vigorously in recognition and agreement …or you’re too young to remember this, and you won’t quite believe that is how things worked.

This isn’t some standard polemic about “those stupid walled-garden networks are bad!” I know that Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn and the rest are great sites, and they give their users a lot of value. They’re amazing achievements, from a pure software perspective. But they’re based on a few assumptions that aren’t necessarily correct. The primary fallacy that underpins many of their mistakes is that user flexibility and control necessarily lead to a user experience complexity that hurts growth. And the second, more grave fallacy, is the thinking that exerting extreme control over users is the best way to maximize the profitability and sustainability of their networks.

Twitter Engineering: Implementing pushState for twitter.com

A really nice explanation by Todd Kloots of Twitter’s use of progressive enhancement with Ajax and the HTML5 History API. There’s even a shout for Hijax in there.

The Charge of the Scan Brigade « ASCII by Jason Scott

Live in or near San Francisco? Interested in preserving computer history? Then you should meet up with Jason this Friday:

This Friday, October 5th, the Internet Archive has an open lunch where there’s tours of the place, including the scanning room, and people get up and talk about what they’re up to. The Internet Archive is at 300 Funston Street. I’m here all week and into next.

Web History, a timeline

This is right up my alley: a timeline of the history of hypertext, starting with Borges.

Eric’s Archived Thoughts: The Web Behind

This ticks all my boxes: a podcast by Eric and Jen about the history of the web. I can’t wait for this to start!

Unsung Heroes of Web and Interaction Design: Derek Powazek – Jeffrey Zeldman Presents The Daily Report

Jeffrey quite rightly singles out Derek Powazek for praise.

It was his site Fray that made me realise I wanted to build things on the web.

Lanyrd: the early days | The Lanyrd Blog

This is a rather lovely history of the first two years of Lanyrd, starting with that honeymoon-turned-startup.

I really like the way that Lanyrd’s communications reflect the personalities of Simon and Nat: utterly brilliant, but also a little bonkers, with far more animals than would be reasonably expected.

heather powazek champ - Message in a bottle: The Mirror Project

The Mirror Project is back! The Mirror Project is back!

This warms the cockles of my nostalgic little heart.

Infovore » ghostcar

Tom describes his Foursquare ghost.

Stories and Tools - Anil Dash

This post is ten years old, but I think it might still be the best attempt to demarcate a difference between web “sites” and web “apps”: think of them as stories and tools.

It’s also remarkably prescient about the need for an effort exactly like HTML5:

A widely-distributed, standards-compliant, browser and platform-independent library of functions that would perform the basic user interface functions for a web-based tool, relying on the server side only for the logic and data sourcing.

Help me raise money to buy Nikola Tesla’s old laboratory - The Oatmeal

This is so crazy, it just might work. Matt wants the internet to buy Wardenclyffe and turn it into a Tesla museum.

A Tall Tail by Charles Stross | Tor.com

A terrific little conspiracy theory short story from Charles Stross set at last year’s (very real) 100 Year Starship gathering.

The Time Traveler’s Cookbook: Meat-Lover’s Edition : NPR

A PDF to download and read that is both funny and fascinating.

Twitter without Hashbangs

Remember when I linked to the story of Twitter’s recent redesign of their mobile site and I said it would be great to see it progressively enhanced up to the desktop version? Well, here’s a case study that does just that.

A List Apart: Articles: ALA Summer Reading Issue

How about this for a trip down memory lane—a compendium of articles from over a decade of A List Apart, also available as a Readlist epub. It’s quite amazing just how good this free resource is.

The only thing to fault is that, due to some kind of clerical error, one of my articles has somehow found its way onto this list.

If this were Twitter, you’d be at-replying me with the hashtag “humblebrag”, wouldn’t you?

oldtweets - Laughing Meme

Kellan explains the tech behind Old Tweets …and also the thinking behind it:

I think our history is what makes us human, and the push to ephemerality and disposability “as a feature” is misguided. And a key piece of our personal histories is becoming “the story we want to remember”, aka what we’ve shared.

Vint Cerf: We Knew What We Were Unleashing on the World | Wired Business | Wired.com

I could listen to Vint Cerf all day.

I think that it’s perfectly reasonable to have packets raining down from satellites, IP packets just literally raining down from satellites and being picked up by hundreds, if not millions, of receivers at the same time.

The Evolution of the Web

A nice timeline visualisation of recent history.

Jess & Russ

This is so lovely! The story of Jessica and Russ’s romance, illustrated by fifteen of their friends.

Welcome to History Mesh

This is rather wonderful: a DevFort project for navigating interweaving strands of history, James Burke style.

Super hero - a set on Flickr

History with a sprinkling of Photoshopped fiction.

Cherbourg-Normandy 1944

Monday 31 May 1669 (Pepys’ Diary)

Nine years and five months after he began publishing every entry in Samuel Pepys’ diary, Phil Gyford posts the last entry.

The origin of the blink tag

Have you thought “There must be a good reason for the blink element.” Well, read on.

The Jig Is Up: Time to Get Past Facebook and Invent a New Future - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic

An excellent longish-zoom article by Alexis Madrigal with an eerily accurate summation of the current state of the web. Although I think that a lack of any fundamentally new paradigms could be seen as a sign of stabilisation as much as stagnation.

The Truth About the East Wind

This is a terrific piece of writing from Robin Sloan, entertaining and cheeky. Plug in headphones, and start reading and scrolling.

The East Wind was about to get a call from an angry star.

Shirky: View Source… Lessons from the Web’s massively parallel development.

An oldie but a goodie: Clay Shirky looks at the design principles underlying HTML in order to figure out what made it so successful. Even though this is fourteen years old, there are plenty of still-relevant insights here.

The true fathers of computing | Technology | The Observer

An interview with George Dyson, whose next book—Turing’s Cathedral—sounds like it’ll be right up my alley.

Thinking About Futurism | Science & Nature | Smithsonian Magazine

A collection of articles on the tricksy art of Futurism from—amongst others—Bruce Sterling, Annalee Newitz, and Matt Novak, creator of the Paleofuture blog.

Earth Station: The Afterlife of Technology at the End of the World - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic

The wonderful story of an odd place:

The Jamesburg Earth Station is a massive satellite receiver in a remote valley in California. It played a central role in satellite communications for three decades, but had been forgotten until the current owner put it up for sale, promoting it as a great place to spend the apocalypse.

Webstock ‘12: Jeremy Keith - Of Time and the Network on Vimeo

The video of my talk from Webstock, all about wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff like networks and memory.

Forget Your Past – Timothy Allen | Photography | Film

A trip to Buzludzha in Bulgaria, a derelict monument to an abandoned ideology.

The Lively Morgue

Photographs from the archive of the New York Times.

BibliOdyssey: Channelling Martian Maps

Beautiful 19th century maps of Mars.

One Div Zero: A Brief, Incomplete, and Mostly Wrong History of Programming Languages

A genuinely amusing alternative history of programming languages.

«Once Upon» by Olia Lialina & Dragan Espenschied

What would Google+, YouTube and Facebook have looked like in 1997?

College Misery: Henchminion Sends In the Tale of “The Magna Carta Essay!”

A trojan horse for plagiarised college papers, much like the fakery on maps (“Lie Close”, “Arlington”) and in dictionaries; traps to be sprung on the hapless copy’n’paster.

Predicting the Future of Computing - Interactive Feature - NYTimes.com

An interactive timeline where we, the wise crowd, can add our predictions (although the timeline for the past, showing important technological breakthroughs, is bizarrely missing Cooke and Wheatsone’s telegraph).

We Are Historians | 1sixty

A beautiful reminder that by publishing on the web, we are all historians.

Every color you choose and line of code you write is a reflection of you; not just as a human being in this world, but as a human being in this time and place in human history. Inside each project is a record of the styles and fashions you value, the technological advancements being made in the industry, the tone of your voice, and even the social and economic trends around you.

Follow the lives of four Londoners during World War 2 via Twitter – Network’43

A nicely-designed project to highlight everyday life in a three-week period in England in 1943 by imagining how four people would have used Twitter.

The Next 6 Billion | Web Directions

John reinforces the importance of universal access above the desire to build only for the newest shiniest devices:

Universality is a founding principle of the web. It is the manifesto the web has been built on, and I believe one of the key drivers of the almost unimaginable success of the web over these last two decades. We ignore that at the web’s peril.

Steve Jobs and the actually usable computer - W3C Blog

While others recall Steve Jobs’s legacy with Apple, Tim Berners-Lee recounts the importance of NeXT.

Innovation Starvation | World Policy Institute

A rallying cry from Neal Stephenson for Getting Big Stuff Done.

Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma | Magazine

There are echoes of “the footage” from Gibson’s Pattern Recognition in this strange tale of a cold war radio signal.

The Deleted City

This is quite beautiful. An interactive piece that allows you to dig through the ruins of Geocities like an archeologist.

Such wanton destruction! I’ll never forgive those twunts at Yahoo.

Fuckers.

My speech to the IAAC | Ben Hammersley’s Dangerous Precedent

A great speech by Ben Hammersley that ties together multiple strands of life in the 21st century.

The shape of our future book — Satellite — Craig Mod

Craig has written down his dConstruct talk, the one that completely polarised opinion. Personally, I loved it.

The Technium: Why the Impossible Happens More Often

A wonderful reminder by Kevin Kelly of the amazing interconnected world we live in, thanks to network effects.

Understanding 9/11: A Television News Archive

A truly impressive achievement by Archive.org: all the television footage from September 11th, 2001 gathered in one place on the web.

Responsive web design from the future — Warpspire

I really like the thinking that’s gone into the design of Github, as shown in this presentation. It’s not really about responsive design as we commonly know it, but boy, is it a great deep dive into the importance of URLs and performance.

Terry Bisson’s “They’re Made Out of Meat” on Huffduffer

A classic (very) short science fiction story that posits an interesting solution to the Fermi paradox.

Out of this World: China Miéville: what if?

China Miéville gives a rundown of some underrated classics of the alternative history subgenre …including Richard Curtis’s Notting Hill.

Nanolaw with Daughter (Ftrain.com)

A superbly written piece of near-future legal-dystopian speculative fiction. Damn, that Paul Ford can write!

One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age | Digging through the Geocities Torrent

A blog devoted to sifting through the gems in the Geocities torrent. This is digital archeology.

Cranking | 43 Folders

I got your work/life balance right here. Merlin means it, man.

I love him.

Red Plaques

Even more historic significance than blue plaques.

Story Matters

Magazine creators share their experiences of going digital.

A History of the Future in 100 Objects | Mssv

Adrian Hon’s Kickstarter project has already reached its goal. I can’t wait for the podcasting to start.

Wired 9.03: Founding Father

Here’s a gem from the past: a thoroughly fascinating and gripping interview with Paul Baran by Stewart Brand. It’s thrilling stuff—I got goosebumps.

Main Articles: ‘Domesday Redux: The rescue of the BBC Domesday Project videodiscs’, Ariadne Issue 36

The fascinating story of the BBC Domesday Project and its subsequent fate.

The purpose of the CAMiLEON project was to demonstrate the value of emulation in preserving not only the data stored in obsolete systems but the behaviour of the systems themselves - in this case one of the very first interactive multi-media systems. The aim was to reproduce the original user experience as accurately as possible, and the CAMiLEON team argued that the slight faults in images as displayed from the analogue discs were a part of that experience, and should not be cleaned up as Andy proposed to do. Our aim was different - we wanted to preserve the data with the highest quality available consistent with longevity.

Pulling the plug on the BBC’s internet history « 853

The BBC’s decision to actively delete old content (rather than simply allowing it to take up some space on a server) really gets my blood boiling.

The BBC asked the public to contribute their memories of World War Two to a website between June 2003 and January 2006…” and five years later some suit decided to bin them.

My Father’s Final Gift « Aza on Design

The beautifully-written and moving story of a father’s last gift to his son. The father is Jef Raskin; the son is Aza Raskin.

The Magical Mystical Ley Line Locator « Tom Scott

This was one of my favourite hacks at History Hack Day: enter a location anywhere in England to find out if it’s located on a ley line of mystical magical energy, man!

A History of the World in 100 Seconds on Vimeo

A gorgeous visualisation of Wikipedia data from History Hack Day. Watch the shape of the world emerge over time.

Lost Bomber – Techbelly

Using data to help put a single death in the family into a wider perspective.

Bletchley Park and History Hackday Request | Amplified

Let’s make the Bletchley Park data machine-readable so we can start mining the stories they contain (like Old Weather).

Bletchley Park need help to catalogue and create a proper archive of these decrypts.

I want in!

Notabilia – Visualizing Deletion Discussions on Wikipedia

Visualisations of the history of controversial Wikipedia articles.

FuturICT: FuturIcT

An attempt to turn psychohistory into reality using a “Knowledge Accelerator.”

Long Live the Web: Scientific American

An inspiring State Of The Web address by Tim Berners-Lee. He can't resist pitching linked data at the end, but it's mostly a stirring call to arms.

Old Weather - Our Weather's Past, the Climate's Future

What a superb project! Forget Mechanical Turk — this is the way to harness the collective intelligence of humans: transcribing weather observations made by naval ships at the beginning of the twentieth century. It's all grist for the climate model mill.

The History Hackday blog - Home

This is a brilliant idea: a History Hackday in London. Get in touch with Matt if you can help out.

YTTM.tv - Pick a year, click refresh, and TRAVEL THROUGH TIME.

YouTube Time Machine: this is beautiful and fascinating. Set phasers to WWILF.

Time Travel Explorer

Now this is how to do a location-based app: overlays of London through time ...in the palm of your hand.

Abyss & Apex : Fourth Quarter 2007: Wikihistory

An oldie but goldie: time travel in the age of the internet.

What's Wrong With 'X Is Dead' - Science and Tech - The Atlantic

An excellent long-zoom rebuttal by Alexis Madrigal of the whole "The web is dead" guff on Wired right now.

BBC - Dimensions - Index

New from BERG: superimposing historical events onto familiar landscapes.

The origins of abc | I love typography, the typography and fonts blog

A wonderful history of our alphabet. Set aside some time to read this.

On Digital History- - Georgian London

Lucy Inglis, curator of Georgian London, on the role she and other bloggers play.

Early History of HTML - 1990 to 1992

A wonderful document outlining the earliest history of the tags we know and love today.

Historypin | Home

Old photos placed on a map. Quite engrossing.

Rise and Fall

Mike Stenhouse has graphed civilisation longevity: a nice bit of long zoom perspective.

Olia Lialina. A Vernacular web. Indigenous and Barbarians.

A wonderful trip down memory lane to the amateur web of the 90s.

My Life as a Religious Parable | Workbench

The popesquatter reveals all.

Timothy McSweeney's Internet Tendency: Letters from the Hellbox.

In praise of Gutenberg's contribution to typography.

Reocities , rising from the ashes - RIP Geocities...

Here lies what we could salvage from the ashes of GeoCities.

A Brief History of HTML | Aten Design Group

An entertaining and accurate history of markup up to and including HTML5.

droidMAKER: DROIDMAKER book now downloadable, FREE!

A free PDF of the inside story of George Lucas, his intensely private company, and their work to revolutionize filmmaking. Discover the birth of Pixar, digital video editing, videogame avatars, THX sound, and a host of other icons of the media age.

Ficly - A better, shorter story

Ficlets is back ...as Ficly. Take that, AOL: this site is just too good to roll over and die.

Paleo-Future - Paleo-Future Blog

A look into the future that never was. This stuff is right up my alley.

Ugly and neglected fragments (Phil Gyford’s website)

Phil Gyford on why he will miss Geocities. "It’s only thanks to the efforts of people like the Internet Archive and Archive Team that we’ll have a record of what people, rather than companies, published in the past. As companies like Yahoo! switch off swathes of our online universe little fragments of our collective history disappear. They might be ugly and neglected fragments of our history but they’re still what got us where we are today."

sydneypadua.com » Blog Archive » The Lovelace Adventures Pt 2

I think this has to be my favourite contribution to Ada Lovelace day. Brilliant!

FeraLabs » Blog Archive » Where the world’s first transatlantic email was sent from

The start of a campaign to get a blue plaque for Sussex Uni, site of the world's first transatlantic email.

Forever's Not So Long

Un film du Garrett Murray.

The original proposal of the WWW, HTMLized

This is the ur-spring: Tim Berners Lee's original proposal for "Mesh", later "World Wide Web."

A daily diary of Depression-era life, told on Twitter.: The Social Path

This is wonderful: a line-a-day diary from the 1930s turned into a Twitter account. It's like a microblogging version of Pepys's journal via RSS.

English Russia » Abandoned Russian Polar Nuclear Lighthouses

"Now, there are signs “RADIOACTIVITY� written with big white letters on the approaching paths to the structure but they don’t stop the abandoned exotics lovers."

Historical Tweets

Twitter through the ages.

The Whale Hunt / A storytelling experiment / by Jonathan Harris

An experiment in human storytelling, using a photographic heartbeat of 3,214 images to document an Eskimo whale hunt in Barrow, Alaska.

Fray Issue 2: Geek - Windhammer by Rob Weychert

Rob's story of Air Guitar Championhood is in issue no. 2 of Fray magazine: Geek.

Maneki Neko - ScottWiki

It's been years since I read this charming Bruce Sterling short story but there isn't a week goes by that I don't think of it. It has grown more relevant over time.

volition (13 September, 2008, Interconnected)

A wonderful short story by Matt Webb, who is clearly still thinking about movement (his theme from Web Directions North earlier this year).

Virtual Worlds

An interactive, collaborative timeline of the history and development of virtual worlds, open for anyone to edit.

The Long Now Foundation - Essays

Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine.

Gross Things That Happen To Your Body: Ten Days In The Life Of A Tampon

The writing is wonderful; the subject matter, not so much.

Gin, Television, and Social Surplus - Here Comes Everybody

Clay Shirky's talk at the Web 2.0 Expo — how contributing to the Web allows to use our intelligence far better than watching TV.

Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone | The New York Sun

The heartening story of a mother who allows her child some independence instead of living in fear of a Black Swan.

Extenuating Circumstances – SXSW: The Web That Wasn’t

Dan Hon's very extensive notes from Alex Wright's great talk at South by Southwest, The Web That Wasn't.

Pharyngula: EXPELLED!

The story of Professor Myers' foiled attempt to see the creationist propaganda movie, Expelled.

We Tell Stories - 'The 21 Steps', by Charles Cumming

The first of the We Tell Stories series is online. It's a clever piece of storytelling using Google Maps to full effect.

kottke.org is ten years old today (kottke.org)

kottke.org is 10. Many happy returns, Jason.

Sniff browser history for improved user experience

I saw Niall explain this at the Social Graph Foo Camp. It's crazy stuff that could be used for good or for evil.

Understanding art for geeks - a photoset on Flickr

Normally LOL is a throwaway little phatic interjection but I really did laugh out loud at some of the pictures in this photoset.

Flickr: The Commons

Here's a fantastic collaboration with the Library of Congress. We are being asked to collectively tag historic pictures with no known copyright restrictions. Wonderful idea! Are you watching, British Library?

Nanotech Used 2000 Years Ago to Make History's Sharpest Swords | Wired Science from Wired.com

Could it be that swords made of wootz steel—as described in The Baroque Cycle—were so sharp because their blades contained fullerenes?

From The Magazine : Radar Online : Cory Doctorow imagines a world in which Google is evil

Scroogled is a short story by Cory Doctorow that's especially timely.

Fray: The Quarterly of True Stories

The site that sparked my love affair with the web returns as a quarterly book.

John Logie Baird: the home of the inventor of the medium has been reduced to rubble - Independent Online Edition > Media

With a disgusting disregard for history, the Bexhill home of John Logie Baird has been demolished. Here's a potted biography of the proto-geek who steampunked his way into our living rooms.

Jeffrey Zeldman: King of Web Standards

Hail to the King... so says Business Week.

Burningbird » How I Got My Harry Potter Book

Forget fan fiction. This is the best piece of Potter-related writing you'll read in a while.

The Amateur Gourmet: "Ratatouille" & Jewish Assimilation (an essay, with spoilers)

The Amateur Gourmet compares Remy's trials and tribulations in Ratatouille to the quintessential story of Jewish assimilation in the 20th Century.

One Sentence - True stories, told in one sentence.

Fray.com meets Twitter: one-sentence long true stories. This is the kind of thing that reminds why I work on the Web.

Time, History and the Internet - barcamplondon2 on take one onion by Gavin Bell

Gavin Bell has posted the slides from his excellent talk at BarCamp London 2.

The B-List: A chronicle of the Ages of the Web

Supremely geeky but funny look at the history of the Web via Tolkien.

The Six-Word Memoir Contest: presented by SMITH Magazine and Twitter

Send a six word message to Twitter prefixed with "smithmag" and you could win an iPod nano. Go on, give Earnest Hemmingway a run for his money.

The Promise of a Post-Copyright World | QuestionCopyright.org

The origins and history of copyright. Copyright was originally designed to subsidize distribution, not creation. Not much has changed... until now.

Overcaffeinated : Photography

That Sergio is one lucky stiff(y).

Stodge.org » Blog Archive » Struck By Lightning

"The moment of electrocution is hard to describe. One instant I was running up a hill, the next moment I saw only white. What I heard was massive and ear-splitting. I felt nothing and sensed utter disorientation."

Royal Society | About the Society | Library and Archives | Using the Library | Group tours & talks

I think this could be a fun side-event to organise around @media: a guided tour of the Royal Society. What self-respecting geek wouldn't like that?

Mike Davidson: Who Would You Be... If You Were A Woman?

Mike follows on from his original question "who would you be?" by adding the subclause "if you were a woman". My answer: Hedy Lamarr.

Oakland Tribune - Op-Ed

Send your battered old copy of 1984 to the Oakland Tribune. When they get 537 copies, they will be sent to every member of the House of Representatives and Senate.

The case of the 500-mile email

A great bit of geek detective work.

The Graphing Calculator Story

The fascinating story of an application built by ex-employees sneaking into Apple.

Overcaffeinated : A story

Sergio posts a fragment of a short story that would make Cory Doctorow proud.