Latest Entries

Rotterdam Reflections

Some thoughts after spending a few days in the Netherlands second city.

Two Years Hence

For the last few years I’ve employed a little life hack: signing up my future self to things I would ordinarily avoid.

Apple: it’s not you, it’s me

I tuned in for just a few seconds, but had to turn it off. That’s not enough time to make a reasoned judgement about the content of Apple’s latest keynote of course, but I just couldn’t continue watching.

UpFront Conference

Earlier this month I attended UpFront Conference, an event organised by Dan Donald and other members of Manchester’s digital community.

TTIP and the Near-stateless Global Giants

The feedback loops and network effects permitted by the internet have allowed companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon to become near-monopolies within their chosen fields.

100 Days

I’ve returned to 68 Middle Street just in time for the start of 100 days, a collaborative project where the aim is to complete a creative process every day for one hundred days.

The Billionaire’s Typewriter

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Matthew Butterick’s scrutiny of Medium reveals it to be “a form of hu­man frack­ing”:

In “Death to Type­writ­ers,” Medium in­sists that the type­writer is its “sworn enemy.” In cer­tain ty­po­graphic de­tails, maybe so. But as a de­vice that im­poses ho­mo­ge­neous de­sign, Medium still has a lot in com­mon with the typewriter.

In fact, its ethics are ac­tu­ally worse than the tra­di­tional type­writer. Why? Be­cause Medium’s ho­mo­ge­neous de­sign has noth­ing to do with lim­i­ta­tions of the un­der­ly­ing tech­nol­ogy (in this case, the web)… it’s a de­lib­er­ate choice that lets Medium ex­tract value from the tal­ent and la­bor of others.

Convenience always has a cost.

Jake Archibald: Building SVGO’s Missing GUI

SVGOMG is a wonderful example of how to build a web app in a responsible and accessible way. I asked its creator, Jake Archibald, a few questions about how he designed and developed this native-feeling SVG optimisation application.

Briefly Berlin

Before going freelance, I decided to take some time off during February. Part of this included spending a few days in Berlin.

Creative Direction

For the last year I’ve been working at the Guardian under the leadership of a creative director. I’ve never worked with a creative director before – at least not in the traditional sense – and have found this to be a fascinating yet also frustrating experience; for the first time in my career I’ve not the been the arbiter of good taste.

(Even More) Responsive Answers

Each month net Magazine run a section called Exchange, where four industry experts each answer three questions on a particular topic, asked by their readers and followers on Twitter. I was asked to be the responsive expert in their March issue, which is on sale now.

Changing Gears

I’m leaving the Guardian and going freelance in March.

Naming Things

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My contribution to this year’s 24 ways attempts to tackle one of the most difficult aspects of web development, naming things:

Working in-house may mean working with multiple developers, perhaps in distributed teams, who are all committing changes – possibly to a significant codebase – at the same time. Left unchecked, this codebase can become unwieldy. Coding conventions ensure everyone can contribute, and help build a product that works as a coherent whole.

Even on smaller projects, perhaps working within an agency or by yourself, at some point the resulting product will need to be handed over to a third party. It’s sensible, therefore, to ensure that your code can be understood by those who’ll eventually take ownership of it.

Put simply, code is read more often than it is written or changed. A consistent and predictable naming scheme can make code easier for other developers to understand, improve and maintain…

This is the fourth successive year I’ve been involved with 24 ways (including last year’s redesign), although this article rounds out a year in which I have been deliberately quiet in terms of writing and speaking. I don’t intend for that to be the case in 2015.