The 1960s idea of “appropriate technology” feels like an early version of the principle of least power.
I’ve lately been trying an exercise where, when reading anything by or about tech companies, I replace uses of the word “infrastructure” with “means of production.”
New technologies don’t have power; for that they’d need a community, documentation, and a thriving ecosystem of ancillary technology. What they have is potential, which resonates with the potential within the startup and the early adopter; perhaps they can all, over time, grow together.
This means startups don’t adopt new technologies despite their immaturity, they adopt them because of that immaturity. This drives a constant churn of novelty and obsolescence, which amplifies the importance of a technologist’s skillset, which drives startups to adopt new technologies.
This flywheel has been spinning for a long time, and won’t stop simply because I’ve pointed out that we’re conflating novelty with technological advancement. Hopefully we can slow it down, though, because I believe it’s causing real harm.
Ainissa Ramirez recounts the story of the transatlantic telegraph cable, the Apollo project of its day.
Richard MacManus has started a blog all about the history of web development—this is going straight to my RSS reader!
Most internet history books, websites, podcasts, etc, are from a business perspective. What’s missing, I believe, is an internet history with a technical point of view: which products were developed, the technologies used, how the web has changed over time, developmental trends, and so on.
Simply put, I want to describe how the web actually works and how that has evolved over the past 25-30 years.
I really like the approach that Carie takes here. Instead of pointing to specific patterns to use, she provides a framework for evaluating technology. Solutions come and go but this kind of critical thinking is a long-lasting skill.
This website is hosted across a network of solar powered servers and is sent to you from wherever there is the most sunshine.
I’m excited by this documentary project from John! The first video installment features three historic “pages”:
- As We May Think,
- Information Management: A Proposal, and
- the first web page.
SETI—the Search for Extra Terrestrial Information processing:
What we get is a computational device surrounding the Asymptotic Giant Branch star that is roughly the size of our Solar System.
You catch more flies with honey than Tailwind.
A Creative Commons licensed web book that you can read online.
Carbon dioxide removal at a climate-significant scale is one of the most complex endeavors we can imagine, interlocking technologies, social systems, economies, transportation systems, agricultural systems, and, of course, the political economy required to fund it. This primer aims to lower the learning curve for action by putting as many facts as possible in the hands of the people who will take on this challenge. This book can eliminate much uncertainty and fear, and, we hope, speed the process of getting real solutions into the field.
I really enjoyed this trip down memory lane with Chris:
From the Web’s inception, an ancient to contemporary history of the Web.
Technologies are always coming out of networks that require other related ideas to have the next one. The fact that we have simultaneous independent invention as a norm works against the idea of the heroic inventor, that we’re dependent on them for inventions. These things will come when all the other pieces are ready.
Chris is gathering end-of-year thoughts from people in response to the question:
What is one thing you learned about building websites this year?
The street finds its own uses for things, and it may be that the use for Google Glass is assistive technology. Here’s Léonie’s in-depth hands-on review of Envision Glasses, based on Google Glass.
The short wait whilst the image is processed is mitigated by the fact a double tap is all that’s needed to request another scene description, and being able to do it just by looking at what I’m interested in and tapping a couple of times on my glasses is nothing short of happiness in a pair of spectacles.
James has penned a sweeping arc from the The Mechanical Turk, Sesame Street, and Teletubbies to Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
Heydon is back on his bullshit, making extremely entertaining and occassionally inappropriate short videos about web stuff.
WEBBED BRIEFS are brief videos about the web, its technologies, and how to make the most of them. They’re packed with information, fun times™, and actual goats. Yes, it’s a vlog, but it isn’t on Youtube. Unthinkable!
The pilot episode is entitled “What Is ARIA Even For?”
A devastating deep dive into the hype of blockchain, written by Jesse Frederik and translated by Hannah Kousbroek:
I’ve never seen so much incomprehensible jargon to describe so little. I’ve never seen so much bloated bombast fall so flat on closer inspection. And I’ve never seen so many people searching so hard for a problem to go with their solution.