The technologies you use, the tools you build with, are just that: tools. Learn to use them, and learn to use them well. But always remember that those tools are there to serve you, you are not there to serve your tools.
Wednesday, April 11th, 2018
Friday, April 6th, 2018
In the past, when I brushed off new advances or updates to technology and processes I preferred to stick with a simple path of “it still works fine,” but in doing so I realize now that I have l lost a lot beginning with the ability to function with current best practices in certain areas of my skill sets and the degradation a few projects, especially Airbag.
Wednesday, September 27th, 2017
- Don’t underestimate CSS
- Share and participate
- Pick the right tools
- Get to know the browser
- Learn to write maintainable CSS
Friday, July 14th, 2017
This resonates a lot—we’ve been working on something similar at Clearleft, for very similar reasons:
We rode the folk knowledge train until it became clear that it was totally unscaleable and we struggled to effectively commute know-how to the incoming brains.
At Made By Many, they’ve sliced it into three categories: Design, Technology, and Product Management & Strategy. At Clearleft, we’re trying to create a skills matrix for each of these disciplines: UX, UI, Dev, Research, Content Strategy, and Project Management. I’m working on the Dev matrix. I’ll share it once we’ve hammered it into something presentable. In the meantime, it’s good to see exactly the same drivers are at work at Made By Many:
The levels give people a scaffold onto which they can project their personalised career path, reflecting their progression, and facilitating professional development at every stage.
Tuesday, February 21st, 2017
Mike lists five tool skills he looks for in a designer (not that every designer needs to have all five):
- Visual Design & Animation
- Interaction Design
- Getting Things Done
Swap the first one out for some markup and CSS skills, and I reckon you’ve got a pretty good list for developers too.
Monday, November 2nd, 2015
Be willing to look like a dork:
Embarrassment about what others think has to be the biggest block to any learning. Embarrassment of looking silly. Embarrassment of looking stupid for asking the question everyone else is wondering about but no one is willing to make.
Chimes nicely with Charlotte’s recent piece, Be comfortable looking like an idiot.
Thursday, August 20th, 2015
Following on from her great conversation with Jen on The Web Ahead podcast, Rachel outlines a strategy to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the deluge of tools, frameworks, libraries, and techniques inundating front-end developers every day:
Learn your core skills well. Understand HTML and CSS, be able to build a layout without leaning on a framework. Get a solid understanding of how a website actually gets from the server to a browser, an understanding of security and accessibility. These are the basics, the constants. These things change slowly. These things sit underneath all the complexity and the tooling, the CMSs and the noise of thousands of people all trying to make their mark on this industry.
She also makes this important point:
As you are doing this don’t forget to share what you know.
Monday, July 14th, 2014
My interest in rich client-side apps has almost entirely reversed, and now I’m more interested in doing good ol’ server rendering with the occasional side of progressive enhancement, just like we did it in 2004.
This post resonates with me 100%.
Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
I can very much relate to what Dan is talking about here. I have no idea what I do any more.
No doubt we’ll always feel we’re behind the curve as there always seems like more to learn. That’s OK. No-one knows it all, but it is hard knowing what people expect of you.
Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
I like Cennydd’s thoughts on the fundamental difference between skill and process:
Skilled people without a process will always find a way to get things done. Skill begets process. But process doesn’t beget skill.
Sunday, March 4th, 2012
What do I know?
On our way back from New Zealand, Jessica and I stopped off in Sydney for a day. That same evening, the “What Do You Know?” event was going on—a series of five minute lightning talks from Sydney’s finest web geeks.
Maxine asked me if I could do a turn so I put together a quick spiel called Five Things I Learned from the Internet. Those five things are:
- How to wrap headphone cables in a tangle-free way.
- How to fold a T-shirt in seconds.
- How to tie shoelaces correctly (thanks, Adam).
- How to eat a cupcake (thanks, Tara).
- How to peel a banana (thanks, Kyle) with a bonus lesson on the bananus.
At least one of those things will blow your mind. Pwshoo!
Friday, December 16th, 2011
A plea for more time.
We tend to think in 2 to 5 year scales, maybe we need to be thinking in longer time lines about our own careers and skills.
Monday, July 4th, 2011
Farewell to June
June was a busy month.
- I went to Newcastle for the DIBI conference, which was quite excellent. I was very pleased with the talk I gave—called “One Web”. I think the talks were recorded on video so I hope they’ll be showing up on a video-sharing site before too long.
- I spoke on the Using Blue podcast about all sorts of design- and development-related topics.
- I went to An Event Apart Atlanta which was, as always, excellent. As usual, it was the people that really made the event so special.
- I made it back to Brighton just in time for Ampersand, which was genuinely wonderful …just ask anyone who was there.
- There was an excellent Skillswap featuring Ben Terrett and Ben Bashford that finished up with a lively discussion moderated by yours truly. You had to be there for the discussion, but you can listen to the two talks.
- Then I hopped back across the Atlantic for Indie Web Camp in Portland, which was inspiring and invigorating.
July is looking a lot calmer. I’m going to be in Brighton for the whole month. I will, however, be using the time to prepare for the onslaught of events in the coming months. In September alone, Brighton will play host to a whole slew of events falling under the banner of the Brighton Digital Festival:
I’m going to be spending my non-travelling time this month preparing a workshop to precede dConstruct. Keep an eye on the site for more details very soon.
Oh, and remember: tickets for dConstruct go on sale this Tuesday, July 5th.
Friday, June 10th, 2011
Thursday, April 7th, 2011
After spending almost a month on the other side of the Atlantic, it was nice to return to Brighton to find it in the first bloom of Spring. Just a day or two after I returned, I was able to enjoy a nice wander around the Spring Harvest food festival sampling the culinary delights and randomly bumping into fellow geeks like Aral, Steve and Mark.
Such is the scenius of Brighton. There’s always plenty of smart folk around to gather together with, as evidenced by the multitude of geek gatherings like Build Brighton, dotBrighton and UX Brighton. Last night it was the turn of Skillswap, expertly organised by James.
Skillswap hasn’t been about swapping skills for quite a while. Instead it has morphed into a curated evening of related short snappy presentations sometimes followed by an ensemble Q and A. Last night’s theme was Skillswap Seeking Stories and it was a humdinger.
Phil Gyford expounded on his wonderful Pepys’ Diary project and how it has been nurtured over time. Gavin O’Carroll spoke about Spacelog—one of my favourite sites—and the structure of narratives, games and websites. The marvellous Matthew Sheret, who really impressed me at History Hackday, wrapped it up with a demonstration of the power that each of us has to use the internet to tell stories with our data. “You are Time Lords!” he exclaimed, and illustrated his points with some lovely artwork he commissioned from Tom Humberstone.
It was very generous of Phil, Gavin and Matt to give up their time and travel down from London to deliver such a fantastic evening of thought-provoking entertainment. Seriously, it was better than some paid conferences I’ve been to. And—thanks to the sponsorship from Madgex—there was free beer (“free” as in “free beer” …as in “beer!” …as in “free beer!!”).
Saturday, October 30th, 2010
It’s been a busy week in Brighton. Tantek was in town for a few days, which is always a recipe for enjoyable shenanigans.
The latter half of the week has been a whirlwind of different events. There was a Skillswap on Wednesday and on Thursday, I gave a talk at the Async meet-up, which was quite productive. It gave me a chance to marshall some of my thoughts on responsive enhancement.
The week finished with Layer Tennis. I was honoured—and somewhat intimidated—to be asked to provide the commentary for the Moss vs. Whalen match. Holy crap! Those guys are talented. I mean, I knew that anyway but to see them produce the goods under such a tight deadline was quite something.
Meanwhile, I just blathered some words into a textarea. When it was all done, I read back what I had written and it’s actually not that bad:
- There Will Be Blood
- Bacon Nation
- Zoom In. Now Enhance.
- It Ain’t Meat, Babe
- Longpork Is For Closers
- Bass. How Low Can You Go?
- Dead Rising
- Troll Man
- Craven Applause
It was a somewhat stressful exercise in writing on demand, but it was a fun way to finish up the week.
Now, however, I must pack a bag and fly to San Diego. No rest for the wicked
Sunday, December 6th, 2009
The Scenius of Brighton
It seems like Brighton has a high scenius level.
There doesn’t seem to be any particular reason why Brighton should be a geekier place than any other UK town. Sure, we could retroactively discover geographical or social conditions that favour Brighton but I think the truth is that it’s just a large-scale Schelling point.
And it’s not just a geek thing either. The music scene in Brighton is maintaining its reputation, although the scene is somewhat lessened by the recent demise of The Gilded Palace of Sin.
Occasionally, the worlds of geekiness and music mesh to form a glorious venn diagram of fun. The £5 App Musical Christmas Special was one such scenius supercollider. It featured free booze, live music from 100 Robots, and many tales of hackery including a demo of the absolutely wonderful Therething from Toby Cole of Build Brighton, one of the many Brighton geek institutions.
Lest I become too comfortable in my Brighton hive, I’m off to explore another geek scene tomorrow. I’m going over to Belfast to meet the geeks of N’orn Ireland. I’ll be speaking at Refresh Belfast about personal projects in general and the building of Huffduffer in particular. I’m looking forward to it. If you’re in the area, come along and say hello.
Saturday, January 31st, 2009
The slides from Richard's superb Skillswap presentation.