i am trying to build a jigsaw puzzle which has no lid and is missing half of the pieces. i am unable to show you what it will be, but i can show you some of the pieces and why they matter to me. if you are building a different puzzle, it is possible that these pieces won't mean much to you, maybe they won't fit or they won't fit yet. then again, these might just be the pieces you're looking for. this is summing up, please find previous editions here.
Pernicious Computer Traditions, by Ted Nelson
The computer world is not yet finished, but everyone is behaving as though everything was known. This is not true. In fact, the computer world as we know it is based upon one tradition that has been waddling along for the last fifty years, growing in size and ungainliness, and is essentially defining the way we do everything. My view is that today’s computer world is based on techie misunderstandings of human thought and human life. And the imposition of inappropriate structures through the computer and through the files and the applications is the imposition of inappropriate structures on the things we want to do in the human world.
ted nelson is one of the founding fathers of personal computing and the man who invented hypertext. recently, i've been reading and watching a lot of his stuff and his rebellious view on the current state of computing is particularly interesting. technology is shining back on us and the abstractions we created hurt and limit us. this view is actually quite similar with marshall mcluhan's basic premise "we shape our tools, and our tools shape us".
The Physical Web, by Scott Jenson
You can see this pattern over and over again, we kind of have the old, we slowly work our way into the future, revolve it and then something comes along and scares us and pulls us back to the beginning. So there are two critical psychological points to this shape of innovation, two lessons I think we have to learn. The one is the fact that we have this familiarity, we will always borrow from the past and we have to somehow transcend it. And we just need to appreciate that and talk about that a little bit more to see what we're borrowing. But the other one, I think is also important, is this idea of maturity, because it forms a form of intellectual gravity well. It's like we worked so damn hard to get here, we're not leaving. It kinda forms this local maximum and people just don't want to give it up. We feel like we had somehow gotten to this magical point and it was done. It was like here forever and we can kind of rest. And you can never rest in this business. I think it's important for us to realize both of these two extremes and how we want to break out of this loop.
the two lessons here, that we'll always borrow from the past, and that maturity is an intellectual gravity well that is hard to escape from are very important to grasp and understand. it kinda explains and goes very well together with ted nelson's view above. we get comfortable with what we have and won't give it up lightly. but we have to reconsider our mature designs in order to be able to innovate.
The Web's Grain, by Frank Chimero
We often think making things for the web is a process of simplifying–the hub, the dashboard, the control panel are all dreams of technology that coalesces–but things have a tendency to diverge into a multiplicity of options. We pile on more tools and technology, each one increasingly nuanced and minor in its critical differences. Clearly, convergence and simplicity make for poor goals. Instead, we must aim for clarity. You can’t contain or reduce the torrent of technology, but you can channel it in a positive direction through proper framing and clear articulation.
this inspirational reflection takes us back to reinvestigate how we see and use the web and what our role in creating innovating experiences across the web should be. what would happen if we stopped treating the web like a blank canvas to paint on and instead like a material to build with?