This is design engineering.
Monday, January 9th, 2023
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023
Marcin’s book is coming along nicely—you just know it’ll be a labour of love.
You’ve never seen a book on technology like this. Shift Happens is full of stories – some never before told – interleaved with 1,000+ beautiful full-color photos across two volumes.
The Kickstarter project launches in February. In the meantime, there are some keyboard-based games here for you to enjoy.
Monday, December 26th, 2022
I love just about every answer that Martin Rees gives in this wide-ranging interview.
Saturday, December 24th, 2022
An Event Apart
My trip to California went well. It was bookended with a few days in San Diego on either end. I relished the opportunity to hang with family and soak up the sunshine.
In the middle was my outing to San Francisco for An Event Apart. There were some great talks: Krystal talking about onboarding, Miriam blowing my mind with cascade layers, Eric diving deep into the
:has() selector, and David closing out the show with a superb call to arms.
I gave my talk on declarative design at the very start of the event, just the way I like it. I was able to relax and enjoy all the other talks without having mine on my mind.
The talk went down well. I thought maybe I might have the chance to repeat it at another An Event Apart sometime in 2023.
But that won’t happen. An Event Apart has closed its doors:
Seventeen years ago, in December 2005, we held our first conference in Philadelphia. The event we just held in San Francisco was our last.
Whenever I was invited to speak at An Event Apart, I always responded in the affirmative and always said it was an honour to be asked. I meant it every time.
It wasn’t just me. Ask anyone who’s spoken at An Event Apart. They’ll all tell you the same thing. It was an honour. It was also a bit intimidating. There was a definite feeling that you had to bring your A game. And so, everyone did. Of course that just contributed to the event’s reputation which only reinforced the pressure to deliver a top-notch presentation.
I’m really going to miss An Event Apart. I mean, I get why all good things must come to an end (see also: dConstruct), but it feels like the end of an era.
My first time speaking at An Event Apart was in 2007. My last time was in San Francisco this month.
Thank you, Eric, Jeffrey, Toby, Marci, and the entire An Event Apart crew. It has been my privilege to play a small part in your story.
- Be Pure. Be Vigilant. Behave
- San Francisco
- Pattern In The Process
- Future Shock Treatment
- Seattle, Boston, Minneapolis, Washington DC, San Diego
- Paranormal Interactivity
- Seattle, Boston, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Washington DC, San Francisco
- Design Principles
- The Spirit Of The Web
- Atlanta, Washington DC, Chicago, Austin, San Francisco
- The Long Web
- Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, Orlando, San Francisco
- Seattle, Austin, San Francisco
- Seattle, Boston, Orlando, San Francisco
- Resilience, Evaluating Technology
- Seattle, Denver
- Evaluating Technology
- Seattle, Boston
- The Way Of The Web
- Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco
- Going Offline
- Design Principles For The Web
- The State Of The Web
- Online, San Francisco
- In And Out Of Style
- Declarative Design
All twelve are out, and all twelve are excellent deep dives into exciting web technologies landing in browsers now.
Monday, December 19th, 2022
AI becomes a stand-in term for whatever technologies and techniques are new, shiny, and just beyond the grasp of our understanding. We use it to gesture at a future we cannot fully comprehend or currently realise. As soon as we do, it will no longer be “AI.”
Sunday, December 11th, 2022
NASA is posting some lovely pictures on Flickr from the first Artemis mission.
Saturday, November 26th, 2022
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a site that’s not run by an amoral billionaire chaos engine, or algorithmically designed to keep you doomscrolling in a state of fear and anger, or is essentially spyware for governments and/or corporations? Wouldn’t it be nice not to have ads shoved in your face every time you open an app to see what your friends are up to? Wouldn’t it be nice to know that when your friends post something, you’ll actually see it without a social media platform deciding whether to shove it down your feed and pump that feed full of stuff you didn’t ask for?
Wouldn’t that be great?
Monday, November 21st, 2022
This is a genuinely lovely use of machine learning models: provide a prompt for an illustration to print out and colour in.
Mike explains his motivation for building this:
My son’s super into colouring at the moment and I’ve been struggling to find new stuff for him.
In order to thoroughly attend to every pertinent aspect of the spec, fantasai asked us each to read one sentence aloud to the group. At which point we were all asked whether we thought the sentence made sense, and to speak up if we didn’t understand any of it or if it wasn’t clear.
Rich documents the excellent and fascinating process used in a recent W3C workshop (though what he describes is the very opposite of groupthink, so don’t let the title mislead you):
I’d never come across the person-by-person, sentence-by-sentence approach before. I found it particularly effective as a way of engaging a group of people, ensuring collective understanding, and gathering structured feedback on a shared document.
Wednesday, November 16th, 2022
Two weeks ago I was on stage for two days hosting Leading Design in London.
Last week I was on stage for two days hosting Clarity in New Orleans.
It was an honour and a pleasure to MC at both events. Hard work, but very, very rewarding. And people seemed to like the cut of my jib, so that’s good.
With my obligations fulfilled, I’m now taking some time off before diving back into some exciting events-related work (he said, teasingly).
Jessica and I left New Orleans for Florida on the weekend. We’re spending a week at the beach house in Saint Augustine, doing all the usual Floridian activities: getting in the ocean, eating shrimp, sitting around doing nothing, that kind of thing.
But last night we got to experience something very unusual indeed.
We stayed up late, fighting off tiredness until strolling down to the beach sometime after 1am.
It was a mild night. I was in shorts and short sleeves, standing on the sand with the waves crashing, letting my eyes adjust to the darkness.
We were looking to the south. That’s where Cape Canaveral is, about a hundred miles away.
A hundred miles is quite a distance, and it was a cloudy night, so I wasn’t sure whether we’d be able to see anything. But when the time came, shortly before 2am, there was no mistaking it.
An orange glow appeared on the ocean, just over the horizon. Then an intense bright orange-red flame burst upwards. Even at this considerable distance, it was remarkably piercing.
It quickly travelled upwards, in an almost shaky trajectory, until entering the clouds.
This is so cool—Ariel was on BBC World TV News live during the Artemis launch!
Tuesday, October 25th, 2022
You’ll notice that I’m in that line-up, but don’t worry—I’m not giving a talk. I’ll be there as host. That means I get to introduce the speakers before they speak, and ask them a question or two afterwards.
I really, really enjoy hosting events. And yet I always get quite anxious in the run-up. I think it’s because there isn’t much I can do to prepare.
During The Situation, I had something of an advantage when I was hosting UX Fest. The talks were pre-recorded, which meant that I could study them ahead of time. At a live event, I won’t have that luxury. Instead, I need to make sure that I pay close attention to each talk and try to come up with good questions.
Based on past experience, my anxiety is unwarranted. Once I’m actually talking to these super-smart people, the problem isn’t a lack of things to discuss, but the opposite—so much to talk about in so little time!
I keep trying to remind myself of that.
See, it’s different if I’m speaking at an event. Sure, I’ll get nervous, but I can do something about it. I can prepare and practice to alleviate any anxiety. I feel like I have more control over the outcome when I’m giving a talk compared with hosting.
In fact, I do have a speaking gig on the horizon. I’ll be giving a brand new talk at An Event Apart in San Francisco in December.
It was just a month ago when Jeffrey invited me to speak. Of course I jumped at the chance—it’s always an honour to be asked—but I had some trepidation about preparing a whole new talk in time.
I’ve mentioned this before but it takes me aaaaaaaages to put a talk together. Don’t get me wrong; I think it’s worth it. I may not be good at much, but I know I can deliver a really good conference talk …once I’ve spent ridiculously long preparing it.
But more recently I’ve noticed that I’ve managed to shorten this time period. Partly that’s because I recklessly agree to prepare the talk in a shorter amount of time—nothing like a deadline to light a fire under my ass. But it’s also because a lot of the work is already done.
When I have a thought or an opinion about something, I write it down here on my own website. They’re brain farts, but their my brain farts. I consider them half-baked, semi-formed ideas.
For a conference talk, I need something fully-baked and well-formed. But I can take a whole bunch of those scrappy blog posts and use them as raw material.
There’s still a lot of work involved. As well as refining the message I want to get across, I have to structure these thoughts into a narrative thread that makes sense. That’s probably the hardest part of preparing a conference talk …and the most rewarding.
So while I’ve been feeling somewhat under the gun as I’ve been preparing this new talk for An Event Apart, I’ve also been feeling that the talk is just the culmination; a way of tying together some stuff I’ve been writing about it here for the past year or two.
It’s still entirely possible that the talk could turn out to be crap, but I think the odds are in my favour. I’ve been able to see how the ideas I’ve been writing about have resonated with people, so I can feel pretty confident that they’ll go down well in a talk.
As for the topic of the talk? All will be revealed.
Wednesday, October 19th, 2022
Guess which format is going to outlast all these proprietary syndication formats. I’d say RSS, which I believe to be true, but really, it’s HTML.
Tuesday, October 4th, 2022
Monday, September 26th, 2022
Y’know, I started reading this great piece by Claire L. Evans thinking about its connections to systems thinking, but I ended up thinking more about prototyping. And microbes.
Friday, August 5th, 2022
An account of the mother of all demos, written by Steven Johnson.
Wednesday, July 27th, 2022
I really, really enjoyed this deep dive into practical HTML semantics. Sit back and enjoy!
Tuesday, July 19th, 2022
Monday, June 27th, 2022
Do you like the ideas behind Utopia? Do you use Figma?
If the answer to both those questions is “yes”, then James has made a very handy Figma community file for you:
This work-in-progress is intended as a starting point for designers to start exploring the Utopia approach, thinking about type and space in fluid scales rather than device-based breakpoints.