An open-source community effort to map support for web accessibility features across different Assistive Technologies. It’s still early days, but I hope this flourishes — accessibility interop is a complex topic in dire need of de-mystification.
Zeynep Tufekci is worried about what ownership means for always-connected products:
Today, we may think we own things because we paid for them and brought them home, but as long as they run software or have digital connectivity, the sellers continue to have control over the product. We are renters of our own objects, there by the grace of the true owner.
I worry about this a lot, maybe too much. Unless I don’t have a choice, I avoid any device that superflously requires an internet connection (or worse, a smartphone app) like the plague.
Great interview. Frank Chimero is always thought-provoking:
Everyone has their lean years, but I think they make a poor compass. You can always work more. We need to disabuse ourselves of the thought that work is the solution to our problems, or that by keeping up we are getting closer to something worth having. Being more active is not being freer. I won’t romanticise those months on peanut butter and jelly as freedom, but I can confidently say that in retrospect the problems of that time were no better or worse than the ones I’ve experienced at the peak of my successes.
Heydon Pickering and Andy Bell have created a terrific resource for CSS layout patterns following algorithmic design principles.
We make many of our biggest mistakes as visual designers for the web by insisting on hard coding designs. We break browsers’ layout algorithms by applying fixed positions and dimensions to our content.
Instead, we should be deferential to the underlying algorithms that power CSS, and we should think in terms of algorithms as we extrapolate layouts based on these foundations. We need to be leveraging selector logic, harnessing flow and wrapping behavior, and using calculations to adapt layout to context.
This approach is precisely what I’ve been striving for ever since Jen Simmons’s Intrinsic Web Design talk from last year.
When I’m asked to describe design systems work, I say the word that springs immediately to mind is mapmaking. As designers like Matthew Ström and Alla Kholmatova have argued, every website has a design system underneath it. Take yours, for example: your website’s interface is built from a library of components, each shaped by a series of design decisions and business needs. Your design system may not be explicit—maybe you don’t have a polished pattern library, or a set of well-defined design principles, or maybe your documentation’s not as robust as you’d like it to be—but it’s still a system. And in order to improve that system, you have to research it before you can begin to gradually, slowly improve it.
Every additional ingredient should bring a contrast in flavor or texture: If the salad is primarily crunchy, add something soft. If it skews sweet, add something salty or bitter. If it’s on the rich side, use acid to nudge it back to equilibrium. And if what you’re about to throw in achieves none of that? Save it for something else.
Maciej Ceglowski writes about privacy and I want to quote the whole thing:
Ambient privacy is not a property of people, or of their data, but of the world around us. Just like you can’t drop out of the oil economy by refusing to drive a car, you can’t opt out of the surveillance economy by forswearing technology (and for many people, that choice is not an option). While there may be worthy reasons to take your life off the grid, the infrastructure will go up around you whether you use it or not.
Because our laws frame privacy as an individual right, we don’t have a mechanism for deciding whether we want to live in a surveillance society. Congress has remained silent on the matter, with both parties content to watch Silicon Valley make up its own rules. The large tech companies point to our willing use of their services as proof that people don’t really care about their privacy. But this is like arguing that inmates are happy to be in jail because they use the prison library. Confronted with the reality of a monitored world, people make the rational decision to make the best of it.
That is not consent.
One thing that is often forgotten about accessibility is that keeping things simple and utilising semantic HTML gets you most of the way towards providing a fully accessible experience for everyone.
Suggesting that users changing ecosystems is a sufficient antidote to Apple’s behavior is like suggesting that users subject to a hospital monopoly in their city should simply move elsewhere; asking a third party to remedy anticompetitive behavior by incurring massive inconvenience with zero immediate gain is just as problematic as making up market definitions to achieve a desired result.
Brent Simmons on SwiftUI:
The future of app-making looks more and more like web development. Declarative. Semantic. Dynamic — adapting to context (interaction styles, accessibility settings, screen size, etc.). Runtime-editable.
I was just talking with Dave about the accessibility of moving images on the web, and he said:
hm… I wonder if you could use
He then sends the following code:
<picture> <source srcset="no-motion.jpg" media="(prefers-reduced-motion: reduce)"></source> <img srcset="animated.gif alt="brick wall"/> </picture>
Whoa! This is a revelation.
So here’s a question: when did animated movies start selling themselves on their bankable celebrity talent?
Robin Williams was such a treasure.
Emily S. Rueb interviews Jean-Jacques Savin, a French adventurer who “spent 127 days alone in a large, barrel-shaped capsule made of plywood, at the mercy of the winds and currents.” It sounds like he had a lovely time:
If it was nice, I swam, and dove underneath the barrel to catch a fish, sea bream, to supplement my meal.
I made a breakfast in the morning, and a nice dinner in the evening. I had a lot of time to write my book. I played a lot of bluegrass on my mandolin.
When you think about it, it’s pretty nuts that we allow the automatic execution of whatever code a web developer wrote. We don’t do that for anything else, really — certainly not to the same extent of possibly hundreds of webpages visited daily, each carrying a dozen or more scripts.
It’s no coincidence that you never see the comic posted in response to criticism of some understated indie drama or underground Bandcamp musician. You only ever see it used to defend the commercial output of mega-corporations; your Marvel, your Game of Thrones, your Ariana Grande, etc. It’s no surprise, either. A recent development in corporate art is the positioning of it as a cultural underdog, constantly under siege from Haters and Trolls. You see it most with the nerd properties mentioned above. They parry the childhood fear of being bullied for liking nerd stuff into the suggestion that those bullies are still out there, waiting to pounce, and they take the form of everyone who dares to not like the IP in question.
Underlines, the standard, built-in signifier of hyperlinks, the core feature of the web, are beautiful.
This is objectively true. They are aesthetically one of the most delightful visual design elements ever created.
They represent the ideal of a democratized information system. They are a frail monument to the worldwide reach of ideas and discourse. They are proof of our ascension from trees and swamps, a testament to our species’ intelligence, and a witness to our inevitable downfall.