A fascinating and inspiring meditation on aerodynamics.
Sunday, May 15th, 2022
Tuesday, April 26th, 2022
Rather than thinking, “how do I combine a bunch of disparate content, templates, and tooling into a functioning website?”, you might think “how do I start at a functioning website with content and then use templates and build tooling to enhance it?”
I think Jim is onto something here. The more dependencies you have in your build process, the likelier it is that over time one of them will become a single point of failure. A progressive enhancement approach to build tools means you’d still be able to launch your site (even if it’s not in its ideal state).
I want to be able to view, edit, and if need be ship a website, even if the build process fails. In essence, if the build does fail I can still take all the source files, put them on a server, and the website remains functional (however crude).
Saturday, January 8th, 2022
The books I have written are created from words invented by others, filled with ideas created by others. Even the few new ideas that are new depend on older ideas to work. What I had to say would probably be said by someone else not long after me. (More probably there have already been said by someone I was not aware of.) I may be the lucky person to claim those rare new ideas, but the worth of my art primarily resides in the great accumulation of the ideas and works of thousands of writers and thinkers before me — what I call the commons. My work was born in the commons, it gets its value by being deeply connected to the commons, and after my brief stewardship of those tiny new bits, it should return to the commons as fast as possible, in as many ways as possible.
Monday, September 20th, 2021
Applying Postel’s Law to relationships:
I aspire to be conservative in what and how I share (i.e., avoid drama) while understanding that other people will say all sorts of unmindful things.
Thursday, September 9th, 2021
Taking the indie web to the next level—self-hosting on your own hardware.
Tired of Big Tech monopolies, a community of hobbyists is taking their digital lives off the cloud and onto DIY hardware that they control.
Wednesday, September 8th, 2021
Coaching on the Clearleft podcast
The first episode is a nice gentle one to ease into things. It’s about coaching …and training …and mentorship. Basically I wanted to find out what the differences are between those three things.
But I must confess, there’s a commercial reason why this episode is coming out now. There’s a somewhat salesy promotion of an upcoming coaching programme with Julia Whitney. This is definitely the most overt marketing I’ve done on the Clearleft podcast, but if you listen to the episode, I think you’ll agree that it fits well with the theme.
Fear not, future episodes will not feature this level of cross-promotion. Far from it. You can expect some very revealing podcast episodes that pull no punches in getting under the skin of design at Clearleft.
Have a listen and hear for yourself.
Wednesday, March 10th, 2021
Your grandmother is not just a starship, she’s a highly individual starship with her own goals and needs!
Tuesday, March 9th, 2021
March 2020 was the month when the coronavirus really hit the fan for much of Europe and North America.
It’s now March 2021. People are understandably thinking about this time last year. Tantek wrote about this anniversary:
We reached our disembarkation stop and stepped off. I put my mask away. We hugged and said our goodbyes. Didn’t think it would be the last time I’d ride MUNI light rail. Or hug a friend without a second thought.
The next morning, before travelling back to Brighton (where we’ve been ever since), we had breakfast together in a nice café.
Eating toast with @Rem.
Usually when I post toast updates, it’s a deliberate attempt to be banal. It harks back to the early criticism of blogging as just being people sharing what they’re having for lunch.
But now I look back at that little update and it seems like a momentous event worth shouting from the rooftops. Breaking bread with a good friend? What I wouldn’t give to do that again!
I can’t wait until I can be together with my friends again, doing utterly ordinary things together. To “wallow in the habitual, the banal” as the poet Patrick Kavanagh put it.
I miss hanging out with Tantek. I miss hanging out with Remy. I miss hanging out.
But I’m looking forward to being in a very different situation in March 2022, when I can look back at this time as belonging to a different era.
Between now and then, there’ll be a gradual, bumpy, asynchronous reintroduction of the everyday social pleasures. I won’t take them for granted. I’ll be posting about toast and other everyday occurrences “wherever life pours ordinary plenty.”
Wednesday, February 10th, 2021
Design leadership on the Clearleft podcast
What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards your podcast player of choice to be reborn?
Why it’s season two of the Clearleft podcast!
Yes, it’s that time again when you can treat your earholes to six episodes of condensed discussion on design-related topics at a rate of one episode per week.
The first episode of season two is all about design leadership. This was a lot of fun to put together. I was able to mine the rich seam of talks from the past few years of Leading Design conferences. I found some great soundbites from Jane Austin and Hannah Donovan. I was also able to include the audio from a roundtable discussion at Clearleft. These debates are a regular occurrence at the UX laundromat, where we share what we’re working on. I should record them more often. There was some quality ranting from Jon, Andy, and Chris.
I think you’ll enjoy this episode if you are:
- a designer thinking about becoming a design leader,
- a designer who wants to remain an individual contributor, or
- a design leader who was once a hands-on designer.
Actually, the lessons here probably apply regardless of your field. Engineers and lead developers will probably relate to the quandaries raised.
The whole thing clocks in at just over 21 minutes.
If you’re not already subscribed to the podcast, you might want to pop the RSS feed into your podcast player.
Sunday, November 1st, 2020
Monday, October 12th, 2020
Clearleft turned fifteen this year. We didn’t make a big deal of it. What with The Situation and all, it didn’t seem fitting to be self-congratulatory. Still, any agency that can survive for a decade and a half deserves some recognition.
I didn’t make too much of a big deal of it back then. I think I was afraid I’d jinx it. I still kind of feel that way. Fifteen years of success? Beginner’s luck.
Despite being one of the three founders, I was never an owner of Clearleft. I let Andy and Rich take the risks and rewards on their shoulders while I take a salary, the same as any other employee.
But now, after fifteen years, I am also an owner of Clearleft.
Clearleft is now owned by an employee ownership trust. This isn’t like owning shares in a company—a common Silicon Valley honeypot. This is literally owning the company. Shares are transferable—this isn’t. As long as I’m an employee at Clearleft, I’m a part owner.
On a day-to-day basis, none of this makes much difference. Everyone continues to do great work, the same as before. The difference is in what happens to any profit produced as a result of that work. The owners decide what to do with that profit. The owners are us.
In most companies you’ve got a tension between a board representing the stakeholders and a union representing the workers. In the case of an employee ownership trust, the interests are one and the same. The stakeholders are the workers.
It’ll be fascinating to see how this plays out. Check back again in fifteen years.
Thursday, October 1st, 2020
I’d like to see more of this thinking – maybe we could call it the future owners test – in contemporary responsible tech work. We mustn’t get so wrapped up in today that we overlook tomorrow.
Tuesday, September 29th, 2020
This is a great way to use a service worker to circumvent censorship:
After the visitor opens the website once over a VPN, the service worker is downloaded and installed. The VPN can then be disabled, and the service worker will take over to request content from non-blocked servers, effectively acting as a proxy.
Thursday, August 27th, 2020
A wonderful introduction to the indie web—Ana really conveys her sense of excitement!
Friday, July 31st, 2020
A really lovely unmonetisable enthusiasm:
All 2,242 illustrations from James Sowerby’s compendium of knowledge about mineralogy in Great Britain and beyond, drawn 1802–1817 and arranged by color.
Monday, May 11th, 2020
Using ligatures to create a s*** font that f***ing censors bad language automatically.
Monday, April 6th, 2020
The cloud gives us collaboration, but old-fashioned apps give us ownership. Can’t we have the best of both worlds?
We would like both the convenient cross-device access and real-time collaboration provided by cloud apps, and also the personal ownership of your own data embodied by “old-fashioned” software.
This is a very in-depth look at the mindset and the challenges involved in building truly local-first software—something that Tantek has also been thinking about.
Friday, February 21st, 2020
- Is this really a problem?
- Does the problem need to be solved?
- Does the problem need to be solved now?
- Does the problem need to be solved by me?
- Is there a simpler problem I can solve instead?
Wednesday, February 5th, 2020
This is something we’ve learned at Clearleft—you can’t create a design system for an organisation, hand it over to them, and expect it to be maintained.
You can’t just hire an agency to create a design system and expect that the system alone will solve something. It won’t do much before the people in the organization align on this idea as well, believe in it, invest in it, and create a culture of collaboration around it.
The people who will be living with the design system must be (co-)creators of it. That’s very much the area we work in now.
Friday, December 13th, 2019
It’s been an absolute pleasure having Holly, Laçin, and Beyza at Clearleft while they’ve been working on this three-month internship project:
Self Treat is a vision piece designed to increase self-management of minor health conditions.
You can also read the blog posts they wrote during the process: