Archive of: 2019
With a sufficient number of users of an API, it does not matter what you promise in the contract: all observable behaviors of your system will be depended on by somebody.
(via Four Short Links)
We had the second IndieWebCamp in Oxford on Saturday, hosted at the lovely Oxfordshire Central Library.
Normally these are run over two days, with a barcamp on day one, and building things on day two. Unfortunately I could only secure the venue for one day, so we had a compressed version.
I opened with a super super brief overview of the Indie Web, and then we had a quick round table chat about what people were hoping to work on. We had a good mix of first timers and old hands.
For my project I wanted to look at pulling in my bookmarks from Pinboard, using a PESOS approach to mirror them on my site. Pinboard has a great ecosystem of tools that already work for me, so there were a lot of wheels I didn’t want to reinvent.
I made some headway, building a Perch app to handle the content model and the syncing.
The app understands the content I want to pull in, and I have the code to talk to Pinboard working, but those two pieces aren’t talking to each other.
I’d like to think I have two thirds of the puzzle.
Unfortunately I had to leave before the end so didn’t get a chance to completely finish the build. My aim is to find some time in the next few weeks to finish it up and release it to the Perch community.
I’d like to thank Summer Of Hacks for inviting me to be a part of their program (I think I made them stretch the idea of “summer” a bit far), and especially Rich for finishing up the workshop in my absence, Oxfordshire County Libraries for hosting us, and Haybrook for their sponsorship.
Here’s to next year.
Some of the other attendees have written about their experiences of the day.
I’ll link up others as they come in.
I’ve recently got into Critical Role and D&D in general, so this found object from the other week was a nice reminder of the new food for my brain.
Last night I had the great pleasure of joining Sal and Joe from Cinema Under The Stairs along with Simon and Simon, two other CUTS regulars, to get all nerdy and spoileriffic on the first CUTS movie review podcast.
And what else were we going to talk about but Avengers: Endgame. Listen to us dissect scenes, answer questions like does the Soul Stone have warranty period, and generally take a huge deep dive into all things Endgame. Obviously, it’s full of spoilers from the beginning. If you haven’t seen Endgame yet, do so, then come back.
(It’s around 130Mb, so make sure you’re on a fast and uncapped connection)
Some of the things I mentioned in the podcast (also full of spoilers):
- Metafilter Fanfare spoiler post and discussion.
- The Empire Magazine Podcast featuring the Russo Brothers.
- Rob Leane’s article Avengers: Endgame: Celebrating the Unsung Savior of the World.
We had a huge amount of fun doing this, and we’ve talked about doing some more. So subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and we’ll see you soon.
While performing a long overdue catch-up of things I’d bookmarked to read later, I was introduced to the lovely Hebrew word “Firgun” by Jo Franchetti’s talk about mentoring “Being The Help You Wish You’d Had”.
[…] an informal modern Hebrew term and concept in Israeli culture, which describes genuine, unselfish delight or pride in the accomplishment of the other.
I’ve embedded the presentation from FFConf below, and it’s well worth your time. Jo’s slides can be found on Google Docs.
We should work toward a universal linked information system, in which generality and portability are more important than fancy graphics techniques and complex extra facilities.
The aim would be to allow a place to be found for any information or reference which one felt was important, and a way of finding it afterwards. The result should be sufficiently attractive to use that it the information contained would grow past a critical threshold, so that the usefulness the scheme would in turn encourage its increased use.
Sendall wrote ‘Vague, but exciting’ on that proposal.
In 1996 I built my first website (for a friend’s band) which started me on a career that I still love to this day.
Happy 30th birthday World Wide Web, and thank you Tim Berners-Lee.
Nine people came together at CERN for five days and made something amazing. I still can’t quite believe it.
My first job in technology, working on the computer support desk at Coventry University (back in 1995… eek!), involved looking after a number of NeXT machines. So even outside of the Web angle, this project is full of all sorts of nostalgia and memories for me. And how incredible is it that they’ve built the browser inside a browser!
I’m extremely pleased about how this site renders in WorldWideWeb, a testemant to the resilience of plain old semantic HTML
If you want to have a play with any of your own sites, getting started is a little different to these days:
- Launch the WorldWideWeb browser.
- Select “Document” from the menu on the side.
- Select “Open from full document reference”.
- Type a URL into the “reference” field.
- Click “Open”.
And remember, you need to double click on links to activate them.
Rachel Andrew addresses a certain gatekeeping that is happening around web development, and what that means for people getting started:
When we talk about HTML and CSS these discussions impact the entry point into this profession. Whether front or backend, many of us without a computer science background are here because of the ease of starting to write HTML and CSS. The magic of seeing our code do stuff on a real live webpage! We have already lost many of the entry points that we had.
Like many of the “old guard”, I got started by viewing source (and can we just take a second to reflect on how amazing that feature of the Web is), hanging out in forums, and reading books like this.
The first site I ever built is still available via the Wayback Machine. It isn’t pretty, but it still works.
There is something remarkable about the fact that, with everything we have created in the past 20 years or so, I can still take a complete beginner and teach them to build a simple webpage with HTML and CSS, in a day. We don’t need to talk about tools or frameworks, learn how to make a pull request or drag vast amounts of code onto our computer via npm to make that start. We just need a text editor and a few hours. This is how we make things show up on a webpage.
That’s the real entry point here and yes, in 2019 they are going to have to move on quickly to the tools and techniques that will make them employable, if that is their aim. However those tools output HTML and CSS in the end. It is the bedrock of everything that we do, which makes the devaluing of those with real deep skills in those areas so much more baffling.
In her post Rachel highlights a recent Twitter thread from Betsy Haibel that points to a more pernicious reason behind this gatekeeping:
HTML+CSS dev vs JS-first dev Discourse MUST take into account how gender & seniority intersect or they WILL be harmful.— betsythemuffin (@betsythemuffin) 29 January 2019
The divide between how senior women engs frame it and how newer women frame this is NOT a coincidence, and is ESSENTIAL to understanding the debate.
Betsy’s points were eye opening for me, and were something I hadn’t really considered. It made me realise how naive I was back in the day, and how much more I still have to learn.
I was lucky enough to travel to Nottingham last week for the return of New Adventures.
New Adventures holds a very special place in my heart. Along with dConstruct it exposed me to a community of practitioners who cared as much as I did about the possibilities of the web, and through both, I met people who are friends to this day.
So I was hugely excited when I found out that New Adventures was coming back. So much so, I asked my new boss for the time off, while I was on holiday in Berlin, before I’d even started my new gig (thanks John!).
Digital experiences are forming in new ways, requiring us to think smarter, be more efficient and collaborative. In the face of uncertainty, we must ask tough questions about labour and ethics, education and inclusivity, and rediscover ambition through weirdness and fun. Let’s reconvene, recalibrate, and re-energise digital design.
Entering the Albert Hall on Thursday morning brought back a flood of memories. The gorgeous setting (it really is a stunning room), seeing familiar faces milling around, the excellent coffee. Sense memory is a powerful thing. So much so I found myself drawn to the same seat I occupied back during the original run (I know, I’m odd).
I won’t recap every talk as they were videoed, and the recordings will be released in the future, but I did want to share some of my highlights.
Jeremy Keith opened the day with yet another excellent talk, putting the architecture of the Web, the materials we work with, into the wider context of time and rates of change. Pace layers. Showing that if we work with the different layers, our creations are by their very nature more resilient.
This is something I’ve always believed and practised, but Jeremy’s ability to clearly articulate the reasoning why always gives me new ways of talking to others. And as usual, my reading list has grown because of his talk.
Clare Sutcliffe talked about her journey of becoming an overnight CEO for Code Club, going from its inception to eventual merger with the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Clare also talked more personally about what New Adventures meant to her, and how she met her husband there.
I loved Jessica White’s talk on creating multi-disciplined teams by understanding the strengths and weaknesses in ourselves and others, and what we all have to bring to the conversation. Her request to create tiny bits of rebellion wherever we go is still scratching away in the back of my head.
Both Ashley Baxter and Brendan Dawes made me realise that I was spreading myself too thin and as a consequence I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing. Time to cut back on some personal projects, and focus on others.
Helen Joy encouraged us to show compassion in our work. Through a series of examples from her own user research she demonstrated that empathy and understanding of social exclusion and situational disability is as important as permanent disabilities. A staggering statistic that I hadn’t heard before is that 11.3m adults in the UK are below point 5 of the Gov.Uk Digital Inclusion Scale. Basic digital skills, at point 7, is the minimum capability that people need to have in order to use the internet effectively.
She also drew attention to The Copenhagen letter. A Hippocratic oath for builders of technology:
To everyone who shapes technology today
We live in a world where technology is consuming society, ethics, and our core existence.
It is time to take responsibility for the world we are creating. Time to put humans before business. Time to replace the empty rhetoric of “building a better world” with a commitment to real action. It is time to organize, and to hold each other accountable.
Ethan Marcotte wrapped up the day talking about the inherent power in design, power that is increasingly being wielded by companies and governments who do not have our best interests at heart. Touching on Robert Moses’ racist architecture and examples of the freedoms promised but never delivered by technology of the past, it was a sobering look at the state of our industry today.
But, Ethan continued, there is hope, in us. There are challenges for sure, but together we can effect a change. It’s time for us to step up and take responsibility. I have no doubt this will go down as one of the most important talks I’ll see in my career.
Helen’s excellent round up of the day beautifully articulates the feelings that I took away from Nottingham, and that continue to resonate with me.
It seems we have finally started looking outwards: identifying our responsibility and the associated consequences of our actions. We’re pushing past our early egocentric selves and are moving towards maturity. We’re still making our way along this path, learning from each other as we continue to grow. Ethan, rightly, encouraged us to approach this with hope. The talks at New Adventures showed a significant shift in our thinking and from the feedback, this year’s themes seem to have struck a chord.
My hope is that we see New Adventures return next year so we can see what direction these messages have taken us in. The call to action from the opening of the conference was “Now is the time.” I couldn’t agree more. It’s up to us to shape and build our industry, to help it develop and to make the web a better place. Let’s get to it!
I am so happy that New Adventures decided to come back now. It couldn’t be more timely.