A browser extension that encrypts and decrypts posts on Facebook—if two users have the extension installed, they can communicate without Facebook being able read their messages.
Sunday, January 27th, 2019
Friday, December 7th, 2018
Designing your design process:
- Know your strengths and focus resources on your weaknesses.
- Learn to identify the immovable objects.
- What has to be perfect now and what can be fixed later?
Sunday, June 3rd, 2018
I’ve come to believe that the goal of any good framework should be to make itself unnecessary.
The ultimate purpose of PhoneGap is to cease to exist.
That makes total sense, especially if your code is a polyfill—those solutions are temporary by design. Autoprefixer is another good example of a piece of code that becomes less and less necessary over time.
But I think it’s equally true of any successful framework or library. If the framework becomes popular enough, it will inevitably end up influencing the standards process, thereby becoming dispensible.
querySelector without jQuery. The library proved the need for the feature. The same is true for a whole load of DOM scripting features.
The same process is almost certain to occur with React—it’s a good bet there will be a standardised equivalent to the virtual DOM at some point.
When Google first unveiled AMP, its intentions weren’t clear to me. I hoped that it existed purely to make itself redundant:
As well as publishers creating AMP versions of their pages in order to appease Google, perhaps they will start to ask “Why can’t our regular pages be this fast?” By showing that there is life beyond big bloated invasive web pages, perhaps the AMP project will work as a demo of what the whole web could be.
Alas, as time has passed, that hope shows no signs of being fulfilled. If anything, I’ve noticed publishers using the existence of their AMP pages as a justification for just letting their “regular” pages put on weight.
Worse yet, the messaging from Google around AMP has shifted. Instead of pitching it as a format for creating parallel versions of your web pages, they’re now also extolling the virtues of having your AMP pages be the only version you publish:
In fact, AMP’s evolution has made it a viable solution to build entire websites.
On an episode of the Dev Mode podcast a while back, AMP was a hotly-debated topic. But even those defending AMP were doing so on the understanding that it was more a proof-of-concept than a long-term solution (and also that AMP is just for news stories—something else that Google are keen to change).
But now it’s clear that the Google AMP Project is being marketed more like a framework for the future: a collection of web components that prioritise performance …which is kind of odd, because that’s also what Google’s Polymer project is. The difference being that pages made with Polymer don’t get preferential treatment in Google’s search results. I can’t help but wonder how the Polymer team feels about AMP’s gradual pivot onto their territory.
If the AMP project existed in order to create a web where AMP was no longer needed, I think I could get behind it. But the more it’s positioned as the only viable solution to solving performance, the more uncomfortable I am with it.
Which, by the way, brings me to one of the most pernicious ideas around Google AMP—positioning anyone opposed to it as not caring about web performance. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s precisely because performance on the web is so important that it deserves a long-term solution, co-created by all of us: not some commandents delivered to us from on-high by one organisation, enforced by preferential treatment by that organisation’s monopoly in search.
It’s the classic logical fallacy:
- Performance! Something must be done!
- AMP is something.
- Now something has been done.
By marketing itself as the only viable solution to the web performance problem, I think the AMP project is doing itself a great disservice. If it positioned itself as an example to be emulated, I would welcome it.
I wish that AMP were being marketed more like a temporary polyfill. And as with any polyfill, I look forward to the day when AMP is no longer necesssary.
I want AMP to become extinct. I genuinely think that the Google AMP team should share that wish.
Monday, July 3rd, 2017
Steven Johnson dives deep into the METI project, starting with the Arecibo message and covering Lincos, the Drake equation, and the Fermi paradox.
He also wrote about what he left out of the article and mentions that he’s writing a book on long-term decision making.
In a sense, the METI debate runs parallel to other existential decisions that we will be confronting in the coming decades, as our technological and scientific powers increase. Should we create superintelligent machines that exceed our own intellectual capabilities by such a wide margin that we cease to understand how their intelligence works? Should we ‘‘cure’’ death, as many technologists are proposing? Like METI, these are potentially among the most momentous decisions human beings will ever make, and yet the number of people actively participating in those decisions — or even aware such decisions are being made — is minuscule.
Thursday, March 30th, 2017
I should do this in the Clearleft kitchen.
Monday, December 26th, 2016
One might think sending messages to other stars would be a massive, expensive job. No. It isn’t. The Cosmic Call was essentially a crowdfunded hobby project.
Sunday, May 10th, 2015
The 17th century blind Irish harpist has been immortalised as a crater on Mercury.
Monday, March 2nd, 2015
This would be better titled “Futures of texting” but it’s an interesting grab-bag of observations. I’ve always felt that SMS has been overlooked as an input mechanism.
(Conversely, I’ve always felt that voice is really over-rated as input mechanism, but under-rated for output.)
Sunday, August 31st, 2014
Saturday, June 15th, 2013
An interesting observation on the changes in Apple’s advertising campaigns: it’s no longer about “here’s how great you (the user) can be”, instead it’s increasingly about “here’s how great we (the company) can be.”
Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
Trying to design a warning message for future generations, without relying on language, writing or current semiotics.
We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture. This place is not a place of honor…no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here… nothing valued is here. What is here is dangerous and repulsive to us.
Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
A good overview of the OpenID panel at OSCON: "Is OpenID a panacea, a placebo, or something in between? Opposing viewpoints took turns on center stage Wednesday afternoon at OSCON 2008. The session entitled "A Critical View of OpenID" started off â€¦
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008
Chris interviews himself about portable social networks and distributed identity.
Monday, October 15th, 2007
A nice little extension to jQuery from Michael Heilemann for displaying unobtrusive feedback messages.
Wednesday, July 25th, 2007
A browser-based IM client from AOL. You heard it here first folks.
Friday, February 23rd, 2007
Worst. Error message. Ever.
Type a message into a textarea. It will be printed, placed in a bottle and thrown off Brighton Pier. You can even choose the bottle.
Tuesday, November 7th, 2006
How to set up iChat to use your Gmail address for a Jabber account (useful for Twitter). I set this up a while back but recently a few people have been asking about this.
Thursday, June 29th, 2006
I think we should get Availabots for Clearleft. I want little toys of Richard and Andy connected to my home machine. Dance, Andy! Dance, Richard!
Monday, December 19th, 2005
You can skin Adium using just XHTML and CSS. Who knew?