Dan Benjamin and yours truly discuss the secret history of blogging, transitioning from freelance to agency, the story behind the web standards movement, the launch of A Book Apart and its first title, HTML5 For Web Designers by Jeremy Keith, the trajectory of content management systems, managing the growth of a design business, and more in the inaugural episode of the Pipeline.
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.
Each year since 2007, we’ve asked you, the members of the web design community, a few dozen questions about your professional life, and compared your answers to those of your colleagues. The data you provide and we analyze is the only significant information about our profession as a profession to be published anywhere, by anyone. So please take the survey for people who make websites. The job you save could be your own.
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.
- An Event Apart San Francisco Flickr pool, featuring the photography of Kris Krug plus the attendees of AEA.
- An Event Apart Caption Contest
- They’re Letting Designers Code Now? — ZDNet live-blogs Dave Shea’s An Event Apart presentation
- Seducing Your Users With Web Design — ZDNet live-blogs Andy Budd’s An Event Apart presentation
- Upcoming listing, AEA San Francisco
On the last night of August, 2009, the MFA in Interaction Design at School of Visual Arts opened its doors to eighteen gifted students. The intense program will be like Project Runway, except that it lasts two years, and nobody will be “out.”
Created and chaired by Liz Danzico and Steven Heller, SVA’s MFA in Interaction Design is one of the only graduate-level degrees dedicated to interaction design in the U.S. Over two years of night classes, the program teaches students from diverse backgrounds (including design, computer programming, architecture, and even majors in English literature) to envision and create experiences across all manner of media, including the real world.
Students in this program will not merely become better web or interaction designers. They will develop user experience conventions in media where no such conventions exist.
In a beautiful post at Bobulate, Liz places the opening of the new program in the context of SVA’s history.
As a faculty member, I attended the opening orientation and have the crummy iPhone pictures to prove it.
It was a thrill to meet these talented students, who will spend the next two years haunting the program’s beautiful new design space at night (most of them after working at their day jobs, an SVA tradition).
To attend the program’s many free events, or simply to enjoy it vicariously, follow twitter.com/svaixd. And keep watching the skies.
It’s outrageous that the CSS standard created in 1996 is not properly supported in Outlook 2010. Let’s do something about it.
Hundreds of millions use Microsoft Internet Explorer to access the web, and Microsoft Outlook to send and receive email. As everyone reading this knows, the good news is that in IE8, Microsoft has released a browser that supports web standards at a high level. The shockingly bad news is that Microsoft is still using the Word rendering engine to display HTML email in Outlook 2010.
What does this mean for web designers, developers, and users? In the words of the “Let’s Fix It” project created by the Email Standards Project, Campaign Monitor, and Newism, it means exactly this:
[F]or the next 5 years your email designs will need tables for layout, have no support for CSS like float and position, no background images and lots more. Want proof? Here’s the same email in Outlook 2000 & 2010.
It’s difficult to believe that in 2009, after diligently improving standards support in IE7 and now IE8, Microsoft would force email designers to use nonsemantic table layout techniques that fractured the web, squandered bandwidth, and made a joke of accessibility back in the 1990s.
Accounting for stupidity
For a company that claims to believe in innovation and standards, and has spent five years redeeming itself in the web standards community, the decision to use the non-standards-compliant, decades-old Word rendering engine in the mail program that accompanies its shiny standards-compliant browser makes no sense from any angle. It’s not good for users, not good for business, not good for designers. It’s not logical, not on-brand, and the very opposite of a PR win.
Rumor has it that Microsoft chose the Word rendering engine because its Outlook division “couldn’t afford” to pay its browser division for IE8. And by “couldn’t afford” I don’t mean Microsoft has no money; I mean someone at this fabulously wealthy corporation must have neglected to budget for an internal cost. Big companies love these fictions where one part of the company “pays” another, and accountants love this stuff as well, for reasons that make Jesus cry out anew.
But if the rumor’s right, and if the Outlook division couldn’t afford to license the IE8 rendering engine, there are two very simple solutions: use Webkit or Gecko. They’re both free, and they both kick ass.
Why it matters
You may hope that this bone-headed decision will push millions of people into the warm embrace of Opera, Safari, Chrome, and Firefox, but it probably won’t. Most people, especially most working people, don’t have a choice about their operating system or browser. Ditto their corporate email platform.
Likewise, most web designers, whether in-house, agency, or freelance, are perpetually called upon to create HTML emails for opt-in customers. As Outlook’s Word rendering engine doesn’t support the most basic CSS layout tools such as
float, designers cannot use our hard-won standards-based layout tools in the creation of these mails—unless they and their employers are willing to send broken messages to tens millions of Outlook users. No employer, of course, would sanction such a strategy. And this is precisely how self-serving decisions by Microsoft profoundly retard the adoption of standards on the web. Even when one Microsoft division has embraced standards, actions by another division ensure that millions of customers will have substandard experiences and hundreds of thousands of developers still won’t get the message that our medium has standards which can be used today.
So it’s up to us, the community, to let Microsoft know how we feel.
Participate in the Outlook’s Broken project. All it takes is a tweet.
[tags]browsers, bugs, IE8, outlook, microsoft, iranelection[/tags]
Armed with nothing more than a keen eye, a good seat, a fine camera, and the ability to use it, An Event Apart Seattle attendee Warren Parsons captured the entire two-day show in crisp and loving detail. Presenting, for your viewing pleasure, An Event Apart Seattle 2009 – a set on Flickr.
When you’ve paged your way through those, have a gander at Think Brownstone’s extraordinary sketches of AEA Seattle.
Still can’t get enough of that AEA stuff? Check out the official AEA Seattle photo pool on Flickr.
And here are Luke W’s notes on the show.
Our thanks to the photographers, sketchers, speakers, and all who attended.
[tags]aneventapart, aeaseattle09, AEA, AEA09, Seattle, webdesign, conference, Flickr, sets, Twitter, photos, illustrations, sketches, aneventapart.com[/tags]
RATED FIVE STARS at Amazon.com since the day it was published, Taking Your Talent to the Web (PDF) is now a free downloadable book from zeldman.com:
I wrote this book in 2001 for print designers whose clients want websites, print art directors who’d like to move into full–time web and interaction design, homepage creators who are ready to turn pro, and professionals who seek to deepen their web skills and understanding.
Here we are in 2009, and print designers and art directors are scrambling to move into web and interaction design.
The dot-com crash killed this book. Now it lives again. While browser references and modem speeds may reek of 2001, much of the advice about transitioning to the web still holds true.
It’s yours. Enjoy.
Oh, yes, here’s that ancient Amazon page.
Update – now with bookmarks
Attention, K-Mart shoppers. The PDF now includes proper Acrobat bookmarks, courtesy of Robert Black. Thanks, Robert!
What can I say? I’m a sucker for the gentle touch of a make-up pad. Or of anything, really. I love this photo (shot by Byrne with my iPhone) because it captures the fact that I’m still really a four-year-old. It also shows what a genuine photographer can do with even the humblest of tools.
[tags]photos, photography, shoot, danielbyrne, photographer, zeldman, jeffreyzeldman, profile, bio, interview, .net, .netmag, .netmagazine, .netmagazineUK, myglamorouslife, iphone, candid, shoots, shots, Apple[/tags]
New at WebProfessional.org: in Careers in the Web Profession, WOW’s Bill Culver interviews your humble narrator and Scott Fegette, Technical Product Manager for Dreamweaver at Adobe about the joys, sorrows, challenges, and opportunities of a professional web career.
WebProfessional.org aims to promote the web professional by:
- defining and promoting the title
- providing resources that will assist Web professional to succeed
- serving as a bridge between practitioners and those that teach, governments and industry
[tags]webdesign, webprofession, interviews, zeldman, webprofessional.org[/tags]