Digital things look ‘finished’ too soon. When something is a work in progress on a wall, it looks unfinished, so you keep working on it. moving things around, reshaping things, connecting things, erasing things, and making them again. Walls make it easier to iterate. Iteration, in my opinion, is massively correlated with quality.
Friday, July 20th, 2018
Monday, July 2nd, 2018
Okay, I think I’m going to have to get this pack of three notebooks: Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.
Thursday, April 19th, 2018
That new-book smell
The first copies of Going Offline showed up today! This is my own personal stash, sent just a few days before the official shipping date of next Monday.
To say I was excited when I opened the box of books would be an understatement. I was positively squealing with joy!
Others in the Clearleft office shared in my excitement. Everyone did that inevitable thing, where you take a fresh-out-of-the-box book, open it up and press it against your nose. It’s like the bookworm equivalent of sniffing glue.
Actually, it basically is sniffing glue. I mean, that’s what’s in the book binding. But let’s pretend that we’re breathing in the intoxicating aroma of freshly-minted words.
If you’d like to bury your nose in a collection of my words glued together in a beautifully-designed package, you can pre-order the book now and await delivery of the paperback next week.
Sunday, February 11th, 2018
There’s something quite Bridlesque about these lovely books that Brendan is generating from git commits.
Saturday, January 13th, 2018
From the proceedings of the Electronic Computer Symposium in 1952, the remarkable Ida Rhodes describes a vision of the future…
My crystal ball reveals Mrs. Mary Jones in the living room of her home, most of the walls doubling as screens for projected art or information. She has just dialed her visiophone. On the wall panel facing her, the full colored image of a rare orchid fades, to be replaced by the figure of Mr. Brown seated at his desk. Mrs. Jones states her business: she wishes her valuable collection of orchid plants insured. Mr. Brown consults a small code book and dials a string of figures. A green light appears on his wall. He asks Mrs. Jones a few pertinent questions and types out her replies. He then pushes the start button. Mr. Brown fades from view. Instead, Mrs. Jones has now in front of her a set of figures relating to the policy in which she is interested. The premium rate and benefits are acceptable and she agrees to take out the policy. Here is Brown again. From a pocket in his wall emerges a sealed, addressed, and postage-metered envelope which drops into the mailing chute. It contains, says Brown, an application form completely filled out by the automatic computer and ready for her signature.
Wednesday, December 20th, 2017
An interesting Xerox-PARC-like project dedicated to making a programmable platform out of paper and other physical objects.
A humane dynamic medium embraces the countless ways in which human beings use their minds and bodies, instead of cramming people into a tiny box of pixels.
Wednesday, October 11th, 2017
Play the part of an AI pursuing its goal without care for existential threats. This turns out to be ludicrously addictive. I don’t want to tell you how long I spent playing this.
Keep your eye on the prize: remember that money (and superintelligence) is just a means to an end …and that end is making more paperclips.
Wednesday, August 30th, 2017
Toilet paper, barbed wire, shipping containers, and replicants.
Saturday, August 12th, 2017
The ability of the physical world — a floor, a wall — to act as a screen of near infinite resolution becomes more powerful the more time we spend heads-down in our handheld computers, screens the size of palms. In fact, it’s almost impossible to see the visual patterns — the inherent adjacencies — of a physical book unless you deconstruct it and splay it out on the floor.
Craig gives us a walkthrough—literally—of the process behind the beautiful Koya Bound book.
Deciding to make any book is an act of creative faith (and ego and hubris, but these aren’t all exclusionary). But before Dan and I sold any copies of Koya Bound, we walked atop the pages that would become the book, not really knowing if there existed an audience for the book.
Sunday, December 4th, 2016
Well, look at these fresh-faced lads presenting their little hypertext system in 1992. A fascinating time capsule.
Saturday, October 29th, 2016
When it seems like all our online activity is being tracked by Google, Facebook, and co., it comforts me to think of all the untracked usage out there, from shared (or fake) Facebook accounts to the good ol’ sneakernet:
Packets of information can be distributed via SMS and mobile 3G but also pieces of paper, USB sticks and Bluetooth.
Connectivity isn’t binary. Long live the papernet!
We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an ETI signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis.
Saturday, October 8th, 2016
The 1978 short film Farewell, etaoin shrdlu documents the changeover from linotype to digital typesetting at The New York Times.
An evenhanded treatment of the unremitting march of technological progress, Weiss’s film about an outmoded craft is stylistically vintage yet also immediate in its investigation of modernity.
Wednesday, August 24th, 2016
Yummy wallpapers for your desktop, tablet, and phone, from NASA and ESA.
Friday, March 18th, 2016
Someone at Clearleft asked me a question recently about making bookmarklets. I have a bit of experience in that department. As well as making a bookmarklet for adding links to my own site, there’s the Huffduffer bookmarklet that’s been chugging away since 2008.
I told them that there are basically two approaches:
- Have the bookmarklet pop open a new browser window at your service, passing in the URL of the current page. Then do all the heavy lifting on your server.
I favour the first approach. Partly that’s because it makes it easier to update the functionality. As you improve your server-side script, the bookmarklet functionality gets better automatically. But also, if your server-side script doesn’t do its magic, you can always fall back to letting the end user fill in the details.
Here’s an example…
When you click the Huffduffer bookmarklet, it pops open this URL:
page parameter filled in with whatever page you currently have open. Let’s say I’ve got this page currently open in my browser:
If I press the Huffduffer bookmarklet, that will spawn a new window with this URL:
And that’s all it does. Now it’s up to that page on Huffduffer to figure out what to do with the URL it has been given. In this case, it makes a CURL request to figure out what to use as a title, what to use as a description, what audio file to use, etc. If it can’t figure that out, I can always fill in those fields myself by hand.
Content Security Policies (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content_Security_Policy) are great except that they prevent bookmarklets like @instapaper from loading. 😐— Jason Garber (@jgarber) March 16, 2016
But remember this only applies to some bookmarklets. If a bookmarklet just spawns a new window—like Huffduffer’s—then there’s no problem. That approach to bookmarklets was dismissed with this justification:
Citation needed. I submit that Huffduffer and Instapaper provide very similar services: “listen later” and “read later”. Both use cases could be described as “non-trivial”. But only one of the bookmarklets works on sites with strict CSPs.
Bookmarklets are not dead. They may, however, be pining for the fjords. Nobody has a figured out a way to get bookmarklets to work on mobile. Now that might well be a death sentence.
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
I’m so proud of Charlotte right now: last week she gave a conference talk and today she has an article published in A List Apart. Superb work on both fronts!
She does a great job of talking through a collaborative exercise to help teams move from thinking in pages to thinking in patterns.
Monday, March 30th, 2015
100 words 008
Some sea lions bellow,
Some crawl on top of others
As they crowd onto a raft
At the Astoria, Oregon
Municipal mooring docks.
What a beautiful poem! I found it captioning an image on the front page of The Seattle Times newspaper which was left outside my hotel room. The image illustrates a story about sea lions; how the sea lion population is doing great, and how that might spell trouble for the salmon population.
On a March morning,
Federal, state and university biologists
Clear space at the Astoria dock
For a day of research.
Animal news poetry.
Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
The Guardian have hit the big red button and made their responsive site the default. Great stuff!
(top tip: don’t read the comments)
Wednesday, December 17th, 2014
Print out the plans, fold and glue/sellotape the paper together, and you’ve got yourself the best sci-fi robots in recent cinema history.
Thursday, May 15th, 2014
Instapaper is going to add support for fragmentions. Seems like a match made in heaven.