The trails of my research

To get my research going I started working on a visual overview of my research area. A technique we use right now is creating so called trails. If I understand the concept correctly, these trails can be seen as the different relevant directions of a mind map. Here’s a link to the complete interactive outline of this mind map. This outline is a living document, it will be updated. So far I’ve found four trails that I want to further explore:

One, two, three, four!

I’m starting a collection and I can use your help

A few months ago I invited two designers to give a guest lecture for my web design students. The first guest, Johan Huijkman, a creative technologist at Q42, gave a brilliant talk about designing accessible websites. The second talk by a former colleague of mine, wasn’t that good. He basically showed a series of images of things he had worked on in the past. During his talk a student interrupted him and asked if he had ever thought about colourblind people. He had noticed that the contrast of almost all the designs was very low. A thing Johan had pointed out before. The second speaker had to admit he hadn’t.

And that’s a terrible shame

The need to use things vs the urge to make things

I’m trying to define the research area for my master. As far as I understand it right now, it’s going to be about the quality of the urge to make things versus the quality of the need to use things. There are people who create stuff, for whatever reason, and the things they make are not always usable for the people who have to use them. I want to find out why.

Ok, but how?

I am a student

A nice eclectic mix of designers, my fellow students. A designer of covers for classical music CDs who believes there is no future in classical music CDs, but who knows there’s a lot of interesting stuff to do with in classical music. An animator who wants to work on huge films, but who doesn’t really want to cooperate. People interested in solving environmental issues, people interested in smart cities. We all have completely different fields of interest. The thing we have in common is the fact that we’re all back to school again.

That’s nice

How do I fix this CSS alignment issue?

I have a CSS alignment issue. I don’t know how to fix this myself. Either my CSS skills are getting rusty, or CSS is still rusty itself. Your help would be very much appreciated. Let me try to describe my problem.

Here it is

The right kind of transcripts

I asked on my blog what kind of transcripts I should use for my podcast: wordly transcripts that leave out certain expletives but don’t correct grammatical errors, literal transcripts that write down every word, including uhms and errrs, or a summary in which grammatical errors are corrected. Most reactions were from people who don’t really need a transcript, but who like them. Some of these people didn’t like the wordly transcripts. They find them confusing. After a bit of thinking I decided to ignore these people because of the fantastic Priority of Constituencies principle, which in this particular case would be:

What?

Accessibility of audio files

One of the first reactions to my new series of podcasts about the definition of quality in digital design was very nice, but I can’t hear it because I’m deaf. And since accessibility is right there in my own definition of quality I decided to transcribe every episode. The first episode is published, and the transcript is done. But now after reading it I have a question about how detailed a transcript should be, especially for the people who really need it.

Questions about details

The Good, The Bad, and The Interesting

I teach at CMD Amsterdam, a digital, interactive design school. My students become digital, interactive designers when they’re done. Indeed, that’s quite a vague job description. We teach all of our students the basics of interaction design, visual interface design and frontend development. Later on they can specialise in all kinds of directions if they want to, but we think it’s necessary for any specialist to know at least the basics of the other specialists they have to work with.

So far so good

Please do use the snippet (but it’s not mine)

I love viewport relative units. And I promote them whenever I have the chance to. I write blogposts about them, I tweet about them, and whenever I have the chance to speak at a conference about CSS, I will talk about them. But alas, I am not clever enough to come up with very clever viewport relative solutions myself, unlike some people might think. I am smart enough to copy them though.

And so should you

I like food, a website

This week Evernote sent me an email in which they explained that from now on I can’t really use their service anymore, unless I start paying for it. I gladly pay for services I use. But Evernote is not really one of them. I only use it to store a few recipes I cook every now and then. So instead of paying 3000 dollars per century in order to read my recipes on any device I like, I decided to pay nothing, close my account, and host my recipes myself.

Sounds like a good idea

Laatste maandelijkse column

Ik merk de laatste tijd dat de drang om te zeuren over de slechte kwaliteit van het web aan het verdwijnen is. Het is natuurlijk niet zo dat alles tegenwoordig hartstikke goed is. Er worden nog altijd voornamelijk hele slechte dingen in elkaar geflanst. Saai. Voorzichtig. Conservatief. En vooral ook heel veel van hetzelfde. Maar de laatste jaren zijn er toch ook wel echt fantastische dingen gemaakt.

Wat dan?

The aesthetic of webby webfonts

Today I listened to the latest Presentable podcast about Typography with Jeff Veen and Jason Santa Maria. They both worked on Typekit, a subscription service for webfonts. Since they worked at, and even came up with the idea of Typekit I didn’t expect such a critical look at the webfont situation. Basically it is a mess of many different kinds of licenses, different file formats, font foundries that try to protect their fonts, and the nature of the web itself. It is possible to come up with hacks that deliver fonts smoothly, but they are still hacks. Not very future friendly, and pretty expensive as well: If you want performance, you will need to host the fonts yourself, and that is still pretty expensive for most foundries.

Such a shame

Chris Wright’s experiments

Today I used Chris Wright’s fantastic Flexbox and animation experiments in one of my workshops to inspire a design team that needed some inspiration. Chris is a genius. His examples are beautiful, and the explanations he writes with his examples are the best. I was lucky enough to meet him in Oxford at Smashing Conf this year where he gave this brilliant talk about enhancing floats with flexbox, and enhancing flexbox with CSS Grid Layout in order to keep things simple.

The Active Idler #3

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.