Hear This!

Dan Benjamin, creator of wonderful websites, apps, broadcasts, and platforms and longtime friend of A List Apart and your host, introduces a new venture.

5 by 5 Studios is a new internet broadcasting network, home to shows like EE Podcast, Tack Sharp, The Dev Show, The Ruby Show, and Utility Belt, releasing new episodes every week.

As part of the launch, 5 by 5 announces two new shows hosted by Dan:

NOTE: I’m pleased as punch to be the first Pipeline guest. Come hear us on Friday, January 29th, 2010.

Posthumous Hosting and Digital Culture

THE DEATHS of Leslie Harpold and Brad Graham, in addition to being tragic and horrible and sad, have highlighted the questionable long-term viability of blogs, personal sites, and web magazines as legitimate artistic and literary expressions. (Read this, by Rogers Cadenhead.)

Cool URIs don’t change, they just fade away. When you die, nobody pays your hosting company, and your work disappears. Like that.

Now, not every blog post or “Top 10 Ways to Make Money on the Internet” piece deserves to live forever. But there’s gold among the dross, and there are web publications that we would do well to preserve for historical purposes. We are not clairvoyants, so we cannot say which fledgling, presently little-read web publications will matter to future historians. Thus logic and the cultural imperative urge us to preserve them all. But how?

The death of the good in the jaws of time is not limited to internet publications, of course. Film decays, books (even really good ones) constantly go out of print, digital formats perish. Recorded music that does not immediately find an audience disappears from the earth.

Digital subscriptions were supposed to replace microfilm, but American libraries, which knew we were racing toward recession years before the actual global crisis came, stopped being able to pay for digital newspaper and magazine descriptions nearly a decade ago. Many also (even fancy, famous ones) can no longer collect—or can only collect in a limited fashion. Historians and scholars have access to every issue of every newspaper and journal written during the civil rights struggle of the 1960s, but can access only a comparative handful of papers covering the election of Barack Obama.

Thanks to budget shortfalls and format wars, our traditional media, literature, and arts are perishing faster than ever before. Nothing conceived by the human mind, except Heaven and nuclear winter, is eternal.

Still, when it comes to instant disposability, web stuff is in a category all its own.

Unlike with other digital expressions, format is not the problem: HTML, CSS, and backward-compatible web browsers will be with us forever. The problem is, authors pay for their own hosting.

(There are other problems: the total creative output of someone I follow is likely distributed across multiple social networks as well as a personal site and Twitter feed. How to connect those dots when the person has passed on? But let’s leave that to the side for the moment.)

A suggestion for a business. Sooner or later, some hosting company is going to figure out that it can provide a service and make a killing (as it were) by offering ten-, twenty-, and hundred-year packets of posthumous hosting.

A hundred years is not eternity, but you are not Shakespeare, and it’s a start.

A Feed Apart

Live from San Francisco, it’s An Event Apart, for people who make websites. If you can’t join us here today and tomorrow, enjoy the live feed, designed and coded by Nick Sergeant and Pete Karl.


Composed at The Palace Hotel. Short URL: zeldman.com/?p=3208.

The Stars Look Down


It wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last. Like an angry Hebrew God, he creates things and then, in fits of pique, destroys them.

Sometimes, on the web, communities end because money runs out. Not the case here. Sometimes they end because one company buys another, and that is almost never good for anyone except a couple guys who get rich. Again, not the case here. No money changed hands or ever would have. This was an exchange far below the radar of the venture capitalists who flatten the earth in their endless quest for the gold that leaks from bubbles before they pop.

Here we had a smallish but passionate international community of fun, bright people who not only amused but, yes, loved each other. Now it’s gone. Just like that, poof.

Alas, stars on Twitter have become mere take-out menus hung on the doors of other restaurants.


Short URL: zeldman.com/?p=3198

Blue Beanie Day 2009

International Blue Beanie Day 2009

Bonne journée du chapeau bleu! Now you know how to say “Happy Blue Beanie Day” in French.

Monday 30 November is International Blue Beanie Day in support of web standards. Get your toque on, post a photo, and pop a beanie on your Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook avatars to help spread the word. Let’s take this viral, kids!

Short URL: zeldman.com/?p=3142

Toque o’ the Morning

Download Blue Beanie Day toque for your avatar. Illustration by Kevin Cornell.

Monday, November 30th, 2009 marks the third annual International Blue Beanie Day in Support of Web Standards. Don a blue toque to show your support for web standards, grab a photo of yourself sporting said headgear, and upload it to the Blue Beanie Day 2009 photo pool on Flickr. Got an illustrated Twitter/Flickr avatar? Give it a blue beanie designed by Kevin Cornell. Download the zipped Photoshop file here.

Short URL: zeldman.com/?p=2774

Chicago Deep Dish

Dan Cederholm and Eric Meyer at An Event Apart Chicago 2009. Photo by John Morrison.

For those who couldn’t be there, and for those who were there and seek to savor the memories, here is An Event Apart Chicago, all wrapped up in a pretty bow:

AEA Chicago – official photo set
By John Morrison, subism studios llc. See also (and contribute to) An Event Apart Chicago 2009 Pool, a user group on Flickr.
A Feed Apart Chicago
Live tweeting from the show, captured forever and still being updated. Includes complete blow-by-blow from Whitney Hess.
Luke W’s Notes on the Show
Smart note-taking by Luke Wroblewski, design lead for Yahoo!, frequent AEA speaker, and author of Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks (Rosenfeld Media, 2008):

  1. Jeffrey Zeldman: A Site Redesign
  2. Jason Santa Maria: Thinking Small
  3. Kristina Halvorson: Content First
  4. Dan Brown: Concept Models -A Tool for Planning Websites
  5. Whitney Hess: DIY UX -Give Your Users an Upgrade
  6. Andy Clarke: Walls Come Tumbling Down
  7. Eric Meyer: JavaScript Will Save Us All (not captured)
  8. Aaron Gustafson: Using CSS3 Today with eCSStender (not captured)
  9. Simon Willison: Building Things Fast
  10. Luke Wroblewski: Web Form Design in Action (download slides)
  11. Dan Rubin: Designing Virtual Realism
  12. Dan Cederholm: Progressive Enrichment With CSS3 (not captured)
  13. Three years of An Event Apart Presentations

Note: Comment posting here is a bit wonky at the moment. We are investigating the cause. Normal commenting has been restored. Thank you, Noel Jackson.

Short URL: zeldman.com/?p=2695