How about a World Wide Web museum of web design?

Tuesday, 15 April, 2014

I like the sound of this idea, a museum of sorts, for web design artifacts, which possibly includes disassociated. I now regret not better archiving some of my earlier designs, if only for personal reference purposes, but it unfortunate that the interfaces of many websites dating from the 1990s are irretrievably lost.

For too long we have relied upon a service that “archives” other websites but it’s not enough. The archives are tragically incomplete and lack the means to provide the full experience of what used to be. Archive.org does not adequately preserve enough information to serve as a lasting account of the web. We can not rely on large, multi-billion dollar companies to do this for us. Nor can we depend upon individuals to properly archive their PSDs, HTML, their work, which helped to change the world.

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I was a 1990s web designer, I have the tags to prove it

Wednesday, 5 March, 2014

Blink tags, spacer GIFs, and DHTML… if those terms make sense then chances are you were web designing in the 1990s, and possibly, therefore, deserved the rock-star status the job title way of life conferred upon you.

You were a web developer in the 1990s. With that status, you knew you were hot shit. And you brought with you a score of the most fearsome technological innovations, the likes of which we haven’t come close to replicating ever since.

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Web design is dead, or web design as we’ve known it, is dead

Tuesday, 14 January, 2014

Last week we read that blogging was dead. This week it looks as if web design in its death throes. Of course it isn’t, well, not yet, but the line of work today isn’t what it was when I called myself a web designer:

The reason the Web Standards Movement mattered was that the browsers sucked. The stated goal of the Movement was to get browser makers on board with web standards such that all of our jobs as developers would be easier. What we may not have realized is that once the browsers don’t suck, being an HTML and CSS “guru” isn’t really a very marketable skillset. 80% of what made us useful was the way we knew all the quirks and intracries of the browsers. Guess what? Those are all gone. And if they’re not, they will be in the very near future. Then what?

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The Australian Infront turns 15, time to party like it’s 1999

Tuesday, 26 November, 2013

Visual Response 07, Australian Infront

The Australian Infront, a creative and design community I had some part in helping set up in 1999, turns fifteen next year.

I’ve no doubt the Infront crew have a number of events in the pipeline to mark this illustrious occasion, but to get the ball rolling submissions are now open for Visual Response 07, Infront’s long running design-an-image-based-upon-a-single-word challenge, and the theme word this time is, you guessed it, fifteen.

So, read all about it, and get going, you have until Saturday, 7 December, to get something in.

Otherwise, fifteen years is a long time. Over the last week or two, since reading about the upcoming Infront milestone, I’ve found my mind wandering, as my thoughts have drifted back to 1999. It was some year, and the world I live in today differs vastly from the final year of the last century. Then again, it seems nothing has changed at all.

There has been some meandering down memory lane, and recalling of the good old days as it were. I’ve been looking up a few personal websites from the time, that I used to visit regularly. Some are still there, with the same designer, writer, or owner, though they have, needless to say, changed somewhat in fifteen years.

I’ve also been recalling a few old haunts from the day, some of the people I met therein, and recreating, all too vividly at times, some of the situations I found myself in, but hey that’s par for the course for a creative type introvert. It’s really a form of time travel though… if you adhere to the grandfather paradox that is.

This time travel of sorts has not been solely restricted to true-to-life visualisations however. I’ve been quietly rolling the old convertible out of the garage late at night, driving around town, when I’m in town, and going to said places.

I’ve been lucky so far, no one has looked at me like I’m the first Dr Who, or something. So, yes, I’ve been partying, a little, like it was 1999.

Anyway enough reminiscing, maybe there’ll be more another time. We’re back in the present moment now. Carry on.

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Tonight’s homework, memorise the HTML periodic elements

Thursday, 5 September, 2013

Web design could be considered to be a science… certainly for me the process of trying to create a website – that pleased a client – often felt like a never ending experiment, so a periodic table of the 107 elements of the HTML5 markup language seems perfectly appropriate.

It’s been some while since I last used HTML on a day to day basis, but many of the elements, or tags, still look familiar in the fifth, or, I don’t know, should that be seventh – if the XHTMLs are included in the count – inception of the markup language.

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The blink tag has left the building

Friday, 16 August, 2013

The blink element, either you loved it or you hated it, most likely you loathed it, is no more, after Mozilla dropped support for the HTML tag with the latest version, 23, of web browser Firefox.

Lou Montulli, an engineer developing the early versions of Netscape Navigator, one of the first web browsers, who is credited with inventing the much scorned tag, says it was orginally a thought he had for the text displaying only Lynx browser.

A colleague went ahead and coded the tag nonetheless, and it ended up being quietly slipped into the Netscape browser, more as an easter egg, being a treat, or gimmick, of sorts, for web developers of the day. Somehow though people found out about it, and began using it widely, which was not really the intention.

For a short 12 hours the blinking was constrained only to the UNIX version, but it didn’t take long for the blinking to spread to Windows and then the Mac version. I remember thinking that this would be a pretty harmless easter egg, that no one would really use it, but I was very wrong. When we released Netscape Navigator 1.0 we did not document the blink functionality in any way, and for a while all was quiet. Then somewhere, somehow the arcane knowledge of blinking leaked into the real world and suddenly everything was blinking. “Look here”, “buy this”, “check this out”, all blinking. Large advertisements blinking in all their glory. It was a lot like Las Vegas, except it was on my screen, with no way of turning it off.

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The London Underground map get some styles… cascading styles

Thursday, 30 May, 2013

It’s uber geeky but I how could not link to this map of the London Underground made entirely by way of Cascading Style Sheets.

Bookmark on your mobile phone browser for future reference.

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This webpage is the product of thousands of years of innovation

Wednesday, 29 May, 2013

And I, as a former web designer, used to think bringing forth a website was something of an achievement… well, no it isn’t, not by a long shot.

This very webpage you are looking at right now relies on who knows how many other technologies and innovations to even make it’s creation possible:

Let’s take a very sophisticated item: one web page. A web page relies on perhaps a hundred thousand other inventions, all needed for its birth and continued existence. There is no web page anywhere without the inventions of HTML code, without computer programming, without LEDs or cathode ray tubes, without solid state computer chips, without telephone lines, without long-distance signal repeaters, without electrical generators, without high-speed turbines, without stainless steel, iron smelters, and control of fire. None of these concrete inventions would exist without the elemental inventions of writing, of an alphabet, of hypertext links, of indexes, catalogs, archives, libraries and the scientific method itself. To recapitulate a web page you have to re-create all these other functions. You might as well remake modern society.

But who will be bothered with websites in a post fall world? The more sophisticated our way of life becomes, the more vulnerable it leaves us. If you doubt me, take time out to watch Samsara, Ron Fricke’s latest documentary.

Pay particular attention to the images filmed at a food production facility. Think – if you’re not put off from eating chicken, pork, or beef, again that is – for how long most of us would fare if these sorts of processes ever ceased.

Via Kottke.

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GIF is the word, and the verb

Thursday, 22 November, 2012

2012 has been a momentous year for GIFs, or in plainer English, the animations that adorn many websites. Not only have they now been with us for 25 years, the very term has now been named as the Oxford Dictionaries USA Word of the Year:

GIF verb to create a GIF file of (an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event): he GIFed the highlights of the debate

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A website about nothing? You’re looking at one right now

Monday, 12 November, 2012

In the stampede of the mid to late 1990s to be a part of the then relatively new world wide web, or information superhighway to use the parlance of the time, people were putting together all sorts of weird and wonderful websites, solely in the name of having a piece of the cyber action.

Rather than calling a lot of what was on offer at the time useless though, I prefer to think of it as experimental, part of a learning curve, and an attempt to understand what was then a largely unexplored, and unknown, domain.

Whether you were around or not though, The Useless Web offers a pretty good indication of just what was out there at the time.

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