I just sent out my third newsletter via e-mail. In it I have some announcements about upcoming (and past) events, some updates about (the depressing) books I read, I highlighted a few blog posts I wrote, I mentioned a thing or two I enjoyed, and I updated the books-published-by-vasilis-counter. If you don’t like e-mail (like I do), you can read the newsletter on the web. But if you do like e-mail, you should subscribe to The Active Idler directly.
There are certain websites whose content I’d rather not read. But every now and then I do visit them, either by accidentally clicking on a disguised link on Twitter, or just to check if the site still exists. I’ve never written a browser plugin before, but I am tempted to create one that replaces the fonts on a list of sites of your choosing with this brilliant Nothing Font. All of a sudden the most offensive texts will turn into lovely looking weird curly works of art.
Last week Five Simple Steps, publisher of books about creating things for the web, shut down. This means that they stop selling their books, and the rights of selling the books go back to the authors. Lucky for us, someone created this website with links to the new places where you can get the books now. Some authors chose to sell their books, and others offer them for free. Not all books are listed here (yet), but it’s a good start.
On the 27th of May, in the beautiful city of Leiden, I will be one of the speakers at the wonderfully eclectic GeeUp conference. I am very much looking forward to listening to all these fantastic speakers. There will be talks about some very, very interesting subjects: what about the legal side of writing code? And what does it mean to provide support for the code you wrote? There’s a talk about ethics and clients. There’s one about making sure your responsive design keeps working once it touches a CMS. A talk about things we can learn from other professions when it comes to responsive design — by yours truly. There’s a talk about automated testing. And there’s a talk about guerilla user testing.
I gave a talk on Smashing Conf in Oxford a few weeks ago. For me as a lecturer doing a lecture in Oxford is of course a fantastic honour. But doing a lecture in Oxford on Smashing Conf is double the honour. The talk is about different ways to create (responsive) layouts on the web. It is also about the idea that we should be playing with CSS a bit more. There are so many new(ish) features that we haven’t fully explored yet, which probably means that there are amazing things we can do that we can’t even imagine yet. (You can watch the video here. I’d love to hear what you think about it)
So, the material
The ever brilliant typography blog Alphabettes — probably the most brilliant blog in recent years — published this brilliant article about their favourite typefaces from the exciting year in type, 1915. It’s brilliant. It’s surprising — I thought company mergers were a more recent invention, don’t ever ask me anything about business — it’s recognisable when it comes to technological innovations, and it’s shocking. A hundred years ago there was this insane First World War in Europe which of course had its destructive and completely useless influence on typography as well. Did I mention that it’s a brilliant post?
I think that analytics are the reason why some quality newspapers turn into cheap populist leaflets over time. They focus on
this is what people want to read instead of on
this is what we want to tell people. If I wrote about the things you want to read about, this blog would be about cats. That’s why, every time I have to write a column, I ask on Twitter what I should write about. And that’s why I always ignore your suggestions. That’s also one of the reasons why I don’t use any analytics on this site. Ben Brooks wrote down a few more reasons why you should kill the analytics scripts on your site.
I’ve always been a proponent of progressive enhancement. I promoted it with clients when I still had those, and I teach it to my students now that I’m a lecturer. But this will have to change. Heydon Pickering, a true master in using valid arguments, wrote this very convincing article called Progressive Enhancement Makes Me Sad. Here’s one final reason not to use it: We do not want sad Heydons.
I really like these Principles of Web Development. For some reason Adam Scott, the author of these principles, thought it necessary to add the word ethical to the name, but to me that seems redundant. These are simply the Principles of Web Development.
What are they?
My neck hurts a bit. I’ve been nodding along while reading this essay about typography on the web by Robin Rendle. It starts with a nice introduction about Jan Tschichold. About his life, and more importantly, about the context of his ideas. And then he goes on to translate these ideas about book typography to our current time, to web typography.
That’s a very nerdy article
The things we write online cease to exist when our servers stop working. This can happen when we stop caring about the things we wrote, when we run out of money, when the host goes bankrupt and eventually when we die. I really don’t know how to reach this exact article under this exact URL in 500 years time. Joel Dueck says it like this in his essay The Unbearable Lightness of Web Pages: