Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020
Friday, April 17th, 2020
Future Sync 2020
I was supposed to be in Plymouth yesterday, giving the opening talk at this year’s Future Sync conference. Obviously, that train journey never happened, but the conference did.
The organisers gave us speakers the option of pre-recording our talks, which I jumped on. It meant that I wouldn’t be reliant on a good internet connection at the crucial moment. It also meant that I was available to provide additional context—mostly in the form of a deluge of hyperlinks—in the chat window that accompanied the livestream.
The whole thing went very smoothly indeed. Here’s the video of my talk. It was The Layers Of The Web, which I’ve only given once before, at Beyond Tellerrand Berlin last November (in the Before Times).
As well as answering questions in the chat room, people were also asking questions in Sli.do. But rather than answering those questions there, I was supposed to respond in a social medium of my choosing. I chose my own website, with copies syndicated to Twitter.
Here are those questions and answers…
The first few questions were about last years’s CERN project, which opens the talk:
It was an unbelievable privilege! I was so excited the whole time—I still can hardly believe it really happened!
Later in the presentation, I talked about service workers and progressive web apps. I got a technical question about that:
Great question! Yes, there are limits, but we’re generally talking megabytes here. It varies from browser to browser and depends on the available space on the device.
But files stored using the Cache API are less likely to be deleted than files stored in the browser cache.
More worrying is the announcement from Apple to only store files for a week of browser use:
Finally, there was a question about the over-arching theme of the talk…
Yes! …And that’s why I never once used the phrase “progressive enhancement” in my talk. 🙂
There’s a lot of misunderstanding of the term. Rather than correct it, I now avoid it:
Instead of using the phrase “progressive enhancement”, I now talk about the benefits and effects of the technique: resilience, universality, etc.
Thursday, May 10th, 2018
My publishers asked me some questions. My answers turned out to be more revealing of my inner demons than I was expecting. I hope this isn’t too much oversharing, but I found it quite cathartic.
My greatest fear for the web is that it becomes the domain of an elite priesthood of developers. I firmly believe that, as Tim Berners-Lee put it, “this is for everyone.” And I don’t just mean it’s for everyone to use—I believe it’s for everyone to make as well. That’s why I get very worried by anything that raises the barrier to entry to web design and web development.
Wednesday, April 18th, 2018
A great set of answers from Rachel to frequently asked questions about CSS grid. She addresses the evergreen question of when to use flexbox and when to use grid:
I tend to use Flexbox for components where I want the natural size of items to strongly control their layout, essentially pushing the other items around.
A sign that perhaps Flexbox isn’t the layout method I should choose is when I start adding percentage widths to flex items and setting
flex-growto 0. The reason to add percentage widths to flex items is often because I’m trying to line them up in two dimensions (lining things up in two dimensions is exactly what Grid is for).
Wednesday, November 29th, 2017
Many, many years ago, Tim Berners-Lee wrote this page of answers to (genuinely) frequently asked questions he got from school kids working on reports. I absolutely love the clear straightforward language he uses to describe concepts like hypertext, packet switching, and HTTP.
Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
I can forgive our answer machines if they sometimes get it wrong. It’s less easy to forgive the confidence with which the bad answer is presented, giving the impression that the answer is definitive. That’s a design problem.
Monday, February 13th, 2017
In which I attempt to answer some questions raised in the reading of Resilient Web Design.
Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
A good range of answers for this year’s question, overlapping a bit with 2011’s What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?
Friday, April 29th, 2016
Eric asked me some questions and I was only too happy to give some answers.
Tuesday, January 26th, 2016
Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
The Aaron Swartz film is available on the Internet Archive under a Creative Commons attribution non-commercial share-alike license.
Thursday, January 17th, 2013
A question of time
Some of the guys at work occasionally provide answers to .net magazine’s “big question” feature. When they told me about the latest question that landed in their inboxes, I felt I just had to stick my oar in and provide my answer.
I’m publishing my response here, so that if they decide not to publish it in the magazine or on the website (or if they edit it down), I’ve got a public record of my stance on this very important topic.
The question is:
If you could send a message back to younger designer or developer self, what would it say? What professional advice would you give a younger you?
This is my answer:
Rather than send a message back to my younger self, I would destroy the message-sending technology immediately. The potential for universe-ending paradoxes is too great.
I know that it would be tempting to give some sort of knowledge of the future to my younger self, but it would be the equivalent of attempting to kill Hitler—that never ends well.
Any knowledge I supplied to my past self would cause my past self to behave differently, thereby either:
- destroying the timeline that my present self inhabits (assuming a branching many-worlds multiverse) or
- altering my present self, possibly to the extent that the message-sending technology never gets invented. Instant paradox.
But to answer your question, if I could send a message back to a younger designer or developer self, the professional advice I would give would be:
When, at some point in the future, you come across the technology capable of sending a message like this back to your past self, destroy it immediately!
But I know that you will not heed this advice. If you did, you wouldn’t be reading this.
On the other hand, I have no memory of ever receiving this message, so perhaps you did the right thing after all.
Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
A beautifully presented site wherein Ben and Frank endeavour to answer your design-related questions.
Thursday, May 17th, 2007
John answers some questions about microformats.
Thursday, November 30th, 2006
Fantastic collection of user-tagged content at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.