I guest-edit .net magazine

Web 2.1. Zeldman guest-edits .net magazine.

A List Apart and .net magazine have long admired each other. So when .net editor Dan Oliver did me the great honor of asking if I wished to guest edit an issue, I saluted smartly. The result is now arriving in subscriber post boxes and will soon flood Her Majesty’s newsstands.

In .net magazine Issue No. 206, on sale 17th August in UK (and next month in the US, where it goes by the name “Practical Web Design”), we examine how new standards like CSS3 and HTML5, new devices like iPhone and Droid, and maturing UX disciplines like content strategy are converging to create new opportunities for web designers and the web users we serve:

  • Exult as Luke Wroblewski shows how the explosive growth of mobile lets us stop bowing to committees and refocus on features customers need.
  • Marvel as Ethan Marcotte explains how fluid grids, flexible images, and CSS3 media queries help us create precise yet context-sensitive layouts that change to fit the device and screen on which they’re viewed.
  • Delight as Kristina Halvorson tells how to achieve better design through coherent content wrangling.
  • Thrill as Andy Hume shows how to sell wary clients on cutting-edge design methods never before possible.
  • Geek out as Tim Van Damme shows how progressive enhancement and CSS3 make for sexy experiences in today’s most capable browsers—and damned fine experiences in those that are less web-standards-savvy.

You can also read my article, which asks the musical question:

Cheap, complex devices such as the iPhone and the Droid have come along at precisely the moment when HTML5, CSS3 and web fonts are ready for action; when standards-based web development is no longer relegated to the fringe; and when web designers, no longer content to merely decorate screens, are crafting provocative, multi-platform experiences. Is this the dawn of a newer, more mature, more ubiquitous web?

Today’s web is about interacting with your users wherever they are, whenever they have a minute to spare. New code and new ideas for a new time are what the new issue of .net magazine captures. There has never been a better time to create websites. Enjoy!


Photo by Daniel Byrne for .net magazine. All rights reserved.

Real Publishers Ship

Jeremy Keith

Yippee! Jeremy Keith’s HTML5 For Web Designers (A Book Apart, 2010) ships Friday.

In this brilliant and entertaining user’s guide, Jeremy Keith tells web designers what they need to know about the web’s new markup language—and the first version of HTML designed for a web of applications, not just documents.

Photo: Jason Santa Maria.


Crowdsourcing Dickens

As an experiment in new new media thinking, I recently crowdsourced a new new literature version of Charles Dickens’s musty old old old lit chestnut, Great Expectations—the familiar tale of Pip, Ms Havisham, the convict Magwitch, et al.

Creative excellence and spin-worthy results required a pool of 10,000 people who had never read Great Expectations. Fortunately, I had access to 10,000 recent American college graduates, so that was no problem.

To add a dab of pseudoscience and appeal obliquely to the copyleft crowd, I remixed the new work’s leading literary themes with the top 20 Google search queries, using an algorithm I found in the mens room at Penn Station.

The result was a work of pure modern genius, coming soon to an iPad near you. (Profits from the sale will be used to support Smashing Magazine’s footer and sidebar elements.)

Gone was the fusty old title. Gone were the cobwebbed wedding cake and other dare I say emo images. It was goodbye to outdated characters like Joe the blacksmith and the beautiful Estella, farewell to the love story and the whole careful parallel between that thing and that other thing.

Gone too was the tired old indictment of the Victorian class system, and by implication of all economic and social systems that separate man from his brothers in Christ, yada yada. As more than one of my young test subjects volunteered in a follow-up survey, “Heard it.”

In place of these obsolete narrative elements, the students and the prioritized Google searches created, or dare I say curated, a tale as fresh as today’s algorithmically generated headlines.

The results are summarized in the table below.

Old Great Expectations New Great Expectations
On Christmas Eve, Pip, an orphan being raised by his sister, encounters the convict Magwitch on the marshes. n/a
The convict compels Pip to steal food from his sister’s table, and a file from her husband the blacksmith’s shop. Pip thereby shares the convict’s guilt and sin—but his kindness warms the convict’s heart. Guy on girl
Pip’s sister, Mrs. Joe, abuses him. Her husband loves Pip but is unable to protect him or offer him a future beyond blacksmithing. Girl on girl (multiple entries)
Pip meets Miss Havisham, an old woman abandoned on her wedding day, who sits in her decrepit house, wearing a yellowing wedding gown, her only companion the beautiful and mysterious girl Estella. Pip falls in love with Estella, but Miss Havisham has trained the girl to break men’s hearts. Guy on guy
Pip visits Miss Havisham until his apprenticeship with Joe the blacksmith begins. Pip hates being a blacksmith and worries that Estella will see him as common. Two girls, one guy
Mrs Joe suffers a heart attack that leaves her mute. A kind girl named Biddy comes to take care of Mrs Joe. After Mrs Joe’s death, Biddy and Joe will marry. Meanwhile, Pip comes into an unexpected inheritance and moves to London, where he studies with a tutor and lives with his friend Herbert. Dragons
Pip believes Miss Havisham is his benefactor and that she intends him to marry Estella, whom he still adores. Day by day, Estella grows more cruel. Pip never tells her of his love for her. Wizards
One stormy night, Pip discovers that his benefactor is not Miss Havisham but the convict Magwitch. The news crushes Pip, but he dutifully allows Magwitch to live with him—worrying, all the while, because Magwitch is a wanted man who will be hanged if discovered. Explosions
Miss Havisham repents having wasted her life and perverted Estella. She is caught in a fire. Pip heroically saves her but she later dies from her burns. Soon afterwards, Pip and Herbert try to help Magwitch escape, but Magwitch’s old enemy Compeyson—who happens to be the man who abandoned Miss Havisham at the altar—betrays Magwitch to the authorities. Magwitch and Compeyson struggle. Compeyson dies and Magwitch is taken to prison. Gunfights
Pip now realizes that Magwitch is a decent man and tries to make Magwitch’s last years happy ones. He also discovers that Magwitch is Estella’s father. Magwitch dies in prison shortly before he was to be executed. Pip tells the dying Magwitch of his love for Estella. Fistfights
Pip becomes ill and is nursed back to health by Joe, whom Pip recognizes as a good man in spite of his lack of education and “class.” Pip goes into business overseas with Herbert. Eventually he returns to England and visits Joe, who has married Biddy. They have a child named Pip. As the book ends, the middle-aged Pip makes one last visit to Miss Havisham’s house, where he discovers an older and wiser Estella. There is the implication that Pip and Estella may finally be together. Anal

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.


Real Fonts and Rendering: The New Elephant in the Room

My friend, the content strategist Kristina Halvorson, likes to call content “the elephant in the room” of web design. She means it’s the huge problem that no one on the web development team or client side is willing to acknowledge, face squarely, and plan for….

Without discounting the primacy of the content problem, we web design folk have now birthed ourselves a second lumbering mammoth, thanks to our interest in “real fonts on the web“ (the unfortunate name we’ve chosen for the recent practice of serving web-licensed fonts via CSS’s decade-old @font-face declaration—as if Georgia, Verdana, and Times were somehow unreal).…

Put simply, even fonts optimized for web use (which is a whole thing: ask a type designer) will not look good in every browser and OS.

Zeldman

Jeffrey Zeldman, Real Fonts and Rendering: The New Elephant in the Room
22 December, 2009
24 ways: The Advent Calendar for Web Developers


Short URL: zeldman.com/?p=3319

Mission of Promo

Zeldman

The third edition of Designing With Web Standards has hit the shelves; excerpts and interviews are hitting digital airwaves everywhere. Among the latest:


  • Creative Expert interviews Zeldman and Marcotte about DWWS3e, live, with call-in questions. Very nice. Broadcast 30 October, 2009; podcast published 31 October 2009.
  • Author Talk: Jeffrey Zeldman Interview, an audio podcast at Peachpit. “Author and co-founder of The Web Standards Project Jeffrey Zeldman talks to publisher Nancy Aldrich-Ruenzel about the 3rd Edition of his book Designing with Web Standards. He also reveals why writers ‘can’t edit themselves.'” Published 11 November 2009.
  • The Future of Web Standards is a free sample chapter for your reading pleasure. Published 12 November 2009.
  • Jeffrey Zeldman On The Setup, a Waferbaby joint, takes a break from the DWWS3e fever to talk hardware and software. Published 13 November 2009.

Coming soon:

  • Video interview with Michael Nolan
  • Typography Q&A with Ellen Lupton in Print Magazine
  • And more!

Watch for major announcements Monday Tuesday.

Short URL: zeldman.com/?p=2902

Kickstart Sundman’s Creation

John Sundman is looking for your financial support so he can finish writing and publish his new novel, Creation Science, “a technothriller about scary science—like designer DNA, brain hacking & mind control, computer viruses and biological viruses.”

Sundman is the author of three previous novels: Acts of the Apostles, Cheap Complex Devices, and The Pains.

Apostles is a personal favorite of mine: a thriller only a geek could write (Sundman has decades of experience in computer programming), with real characters, frenetic action and suspense, salty dialog, and serious ideas behind the hot cyber action. If Dan Brown read Sundman, he would understand that thrillers about ideas don’t have to be claustrophobic, one-dimensional, and absurd. If he took Sundman to heart, he would write better books, although they would sell fewer copies.

Which brings it back to you. Sundman is a brilliant author who, for political, intellectual, or other reasons shuns mainstream publishing and success. If we are to keep enjoying his works, we need to help him realize them. I was proud to contribute to Designing Obama and equally delighted to do likewise by Creation Science. If you enjoy good writing and modern independent fiction, I urge you to support this book.

Short URL: zeldman.com/?P=2886

17 Tweets

  1. http://webtrendmap.com/ by IA Inc. is farking amazing and beautiful. Congratulations, @iA.
  2. OH: “Type means the letters.”
  3. http://www.biggestapple.net/ is an exquisite new blog by a Wodehouse fan and non-designer (but you’d never know).
  4. My 5-year-old just spent 10 minutes showing me the correct way to massage her foot. My little girl is becoming a woman.
  5. HTML5 Super Friends declaration of support: http://www.zeldman.com/superfriends/
  6. In the park with the kid and friends, watching the sunlit hours melt away. It is the mellow end of summer and our bodies know it.
  7. http://bit.ly/InfXh Installing Snow Leopard: What you need to know. Fewer options make for simpler installation.
  8. The difference between marriage and divorce is, in divorce, the person who’ll never have sex with you again has her own apartment.
  9. “HTML 5 and me” by Jeremy Keith: http://bit.ly/sOqt7
  10. Dreamed about Mackenzie Phillips and woke up with a $500 a day habit.
  11. RT @leeclowsbeard Every client wants something new. And three examples of where it’s worked before. (via @Coudal)
  12. #twitterwit is now in bookstores. It’s an honor to have my work appear in the same volume as real writers like Ashton Kucher.
  13. Laura Dern’s hair is the scariest thing in Blue Velvet.
  14. @sourjayne At a certain level, you don’t write a resume, you write a paragraph.
  15. @sourjayne A multi-page resume suggests you’re narcissistic or inexperienced. These are not desired qualities in an employee.
  16. @sourjayne A 1-page resume shows you’re aware the person reading it has no time to waste — proving you’re experienced + have people skills.
  17. Actually, Barnes & Noble, I think I’ll save *100%* on Dan Brown’s follow-up to The Da Vinci Code.

Have another?

ShortURL: zeldman.com/?p=2554

Kindling II

Refer to the previous post on Kindle. Two salient points, omitted from the previous discussion and verified this morning, are worth mentioning:


  • The Kindle edition of Designing With Web Standards, 2nd Edition, is free of conversion errors, to the best of our knowledge. As an author who hopes to sell copies of his work, I should have pointed that out in my initial post.
  • Kindle for iPhone can sometimes create the appearance that a Kindle edition is missing content. Before contacting the publisher to report an error, try switching to the smallest available font size and then re-viewing the page that appeared to be missing some content. Asides, in particular, suffer from this problem, in which text is present but exceeds the viewport, and there is no scrolling mechanism or indication that additional content exists.

ShortURL: zeldman.com/x/59

Kindling

The process by which books are converted to Kindle format introduces errors which do not get corrected. Every publisher knows this, though none will say so on record.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with Kindle or its format. The problem is one of economics. The cost of a printed book covers some degree of proofing and checking—not enough, but some. The cost of a Kindle book does not support editorial quality control, and the multi-step conversion process, handled in bulk by third parties, chops out content and creates other errors that no one fixes because no one is there to do QA.

I love the idea of Kindle. I love Kindle on my iPhone. As the economics of publishing continues to change, perhaps one day soon, a Kindle edition will contain the same text as the printed book. Until it does, Kindle is great for light reading. But if it’s critical that every word, comma, and code sample come through intact, for now, you’re better off with print.

Update

Two salient points I should have made in this post are covered in Kindling II, posted 27 August 2009.

ShortURL: zeldman.com/x/58