Week notes #6

This week I’ve been messing around with a few side projects after a month of heavy freelance work and subsequently I’ve been trying to play catch up with the backlog of articles, talks and posts about front-end development that I’ve let slip by. Earlier in the week I also found some time to write a little about YOU by Austin Grossman (which should be your go-to novel if you’re a fan of video games).

A few days ago Bram Stein wrote an interesting post about the state of web type — my particular grievance here being with the sheer lack of hyphenation support. We now have the ability to move elements in the DOM and manipulate a web page to dance and flicker like a native application, but the very basics of typesetting, which designers have taken for granted for the past five hundred years, are still unavailable to us on the web.

I read through the documentation for Primer, GitHub’s best practices and guidelines for front-end development and high-fived my way through pretty much every suggestion. One problem I’ve run into lately is adding an unnecessary parent class to a component, a practice that GitHub questions in those docs.

On a similar note Philip Walton posted a a bit about Side Effects in CSS which is definitely worth a read if you’ve yet to put BEM to the test.

For some reason today I’ve had more than the recommended daily dosage of interstellar space, thanks in some part to this broadcast that documents the sounds of the great void, along with its magnetic fields and bubbling moons and hyperactive pulsar beacons. Later in the day I watched Phil Plait describe how the tides work and shortly after that I read a fascinating post by Ingrid Burrington where she takes a look at GPS and its implications on our modern world.

THEN! I read about the Groundhog day phenomena whereby scientists have watched a star explode over and over again thanks to the gravitational lens of a galaxy in an effect known to us as The Einstein Ring.

On a completely unrelated note, Moxie’s career advice is pretty goddamn fantastic. Especially the point where he talks about an institution (such as a school or university) forcing its constituents to follow a certain path:

When we arrive at the ends of these funnels, it’s possible that the direction we’re facing is more a reflection of those structures than it is a reflection of ourselves. Self-determination in a moment like that can’t simply be about making a choice, it has to start with transforming the conditions that constitute our choices. It requires challenging the “self” in “self-determination” by stepping as far outside of those supporting structures as possible, for as long as possible.

That’s a wrap.

One more thing I wanted to briefly go over is the talk I mentioned a while back, the one that’s called A brief and scattered history of letters. It’s starting to gather itself in my mind as I hope to unbundle all the ideas that have been racing around up there. Here’s a sneak peak at the intro:

In the beginning there was the word, or so we’re told.

But what did that word look like? I’m talking here about the prehistoric culture of symbols which began when the first word was cast into brick, or traced in the sand, or painted on the walls of a cave. I want to know what that first word looks like because, as Zoketsu Norman Fischer writes: “[We] can only see as far as we can say” and so language is, both in its linguistic and its visual representation, the history of our recovering blindness.

The design of language makes up the history of what we know as well as the history of how we know what we know; without words we repeat the mistakes of our ancestors because without words there are no records of those failures. We are dumb and scattered tribes without them.

Consequently without the very first word we are left without a beginning to our story so of course we must start with its end.

I only quote from this very early draft of whatever this talk will become since I’m always surprised when I write something and it doesn’t carry my voice. I mean, I’m not sure I have a voice when I write but there’s been a few moments when I sit back and I don’t recognise myself in the words.

It’s just peculiar is all.