Thoughtful Web #8: The Only Way is Ethics

A special, short, pre-Christmas newsletter / link dump, with a handful of articles on morality and ethics. Concepts for us to mull over with mulled wine; problems to be resolved in our New Year’s resolutions.

Technology and the Moral Dimension
Om Malik on the emerging technology sector’s lack of understanding of moral imperative, and the need to add an emotional and/or moral dimension to the products we make. We disagree on the need for regulation.

Do Artifacts Have Ethics?
Following on from Om’s post above, Michael Sacasas poses some questions we might ask in order to define the moral dimension of products, if one exists.

Collaborative Economy Companies Need To Start Sharing More Value With The People Who Make Them Valuable
That title pretty much says it all. Lisa Gansky on why the ‘sharing economy’ favours the platform owners over the participants.

Socialize Uber
Further to the link above, more discussion of how the ‘sharing economy’ creates a low-wage workforce under the control of tech companies. By Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert.

When data gets creepy: the secrets we don’t realise we’re giving away
Dr Ben Goldacre on the leakiness of our personal data, and the ethics of revealing how much organisations know about you.


Thoughtful Web #7: Identity, Privacy, and Society

For a few months now I’ve been sending a semi-regular email newsletter containing links to some of the most interesting medium-long articles I’ve read, on the subject of society, technology, philosophy, culture, and the web. A few people requested that I also publish it in blog form, so as of now you can choose to read The Thoughtful Web here, or get it in your inbox. Personally, I prefer email, it more closely captures the ‘slow web’ ethic I’m going for; if you agree, why not subscribe?

The Links

I promise I’ve read every single one of these, and can recommend them all.

Hypertext as an agent of change
On the nature of the web, and what its shareable nature means for the future of communication. Transcript of a talk by Mandy Brown.

The Group That Rules the Web
Paul Ford explains how web standards are forged, between the W3C and the WHATWG. Intended for a non-technical audience, it’s also a decent refresher for those of us working in the field.

The Secret Life of Passwords
Fascinating look at why and how we use passwords, and what they say about us. By Ian Urbina. Personally I find passwords a pain in the backside and would like to see them disappear.

Thoughts on Google+
That title really doesn’t do the article justice; it’s more broadly thoughts on privacy, digital identity and reputation, and the undelivered promise of Google+. By Chris Messina.

Who pays for us to browse the web? Be wary of Google’s latest answer
Evgeny Morozov on Google’s experiment to allow users to pay to remove ads, tracking user behaviour to make digital assistants, and the web’s tendency towards neoliberal systems.

The Programmer’s Price
Lizzie Widdicombe on the Hollywood agency that’s representing coders. Part of me thinks this smells funny, as it propogates the ‘rockstar’ paradigm. On the other hand, why shouldn’t key workers be better rewarded?

Beacon, oh Beacon, wherefore art thou Beacon?
One of the architects of Google’s new ‘physical web’ idea, Scott Jenson, talks about maintaining control over privacy in a world of low-cost ubiquitous Bluetooth beacons.

The Best

My favourite article since the last newsletter.

God’s Lonely Programmer
For 10 years, a programmer with schizophrenia has been building an operating system to communicate with his god. Jesse Hicks writes a thoughtful piece on obsession and mental illness.


Please Welcome The Book of CSS3, Second Edition

Today I was very excited to open a package and find fresh-off-the-presses copies of The Book of CSS3, Second Edition. Which inevitably leads me onto this: I’m very pleased to announce the release of The Book of CSS3, Second Edition. Fully revised and updated from the first edition, with two new chapters, many more completely rewritten, new illustrations throughout, and every chapter edited to include the most up to date information on browser support and changes to the spec. It took me as long to write the second edition as it did the first!

The book covers: media queries; selectors; fonts, text and typography; backgrounds and borders; color, opacity and gradients; transformations; transitions and animations; multiple columns; flexbox; grid layout; and new chapters on values and sizing, and blending, filters, masking and clipping.

When I started work on The Book of CSS3 some four and a half years ago(!), support for the various CSS3 properties across browsers was spotty and inconsistent. This meant that it was necessary for the book to detail the many implementation differences and quirks, which had the unfortunate knock-on effect of making the book date faster than it might have otherwise. In the years since, however, support has become much more standardised and consistent, so I could concentrate on making the second edition much more stable and future-proofed.

You can buy The Book of CSS3, Second Edition direct from No Starch Press — every print copy comes with free eBook. Alternatively, you can buy the print copy from Amazon (US or UK), or the print or eBook from O’Reilly.

Update: This weekend (from 7th November) get a 30% discount when you buy direct from No Starch. The eBook and paperback bundle for under $25! Use the code STYLIN at checkout.


Happy Ada Lovelace Day

Rachel Andrew. Relly Annet-Baker. Naomi Atkinson. Alice Bartlett. Frances Berriman. Jina Bolton. Alice Boxhall. Tiffany B. Brown. Sara Chipps. Geri Coady. Anna Debenham. Hannah Donovan. Natalie Downe. Sylvia Eggers. Fantasai. Morena Fiore-Kirby. Zoe Mickley Gillenwater. Kristina Halvorson. Jessica Hische. Lara Callender Hogan. Molly Holzschlag. Denise Jacobs. Sally Jenkinson. Laura Kalbag. Erin Kissane. Johanna Kollmann. Gemma Leigh. Inayaili de León. Jenn Lukas. Divya Manian. Katie Marcus. Louise McComiskey. Karen McGrane. Rachel Nabors. Sarah Parmenter. Soledad Penadés. Yesenia Perez-Cruz. Leisa Reichelt. Stephanie Rieger. Natasha Rooney. Stephanie Sullivan Rewis. Linda Sandvik. Kristina Schneider. Marinda Sephton. Rachel Shillcock. Jenn Simmons. Sara Soueidan. Nicole Sullivan. Henny Swan. Kat Thompson. Lea Verou. Sara Wachter-Boettcher. Estelle Weyl. Denise Wilton.

Just some of the many women makers of the web who I’ve met, worked with, seen speaking, read, or followed their work. We’d all be poorer without their contributions.


CSS Variables: Access Custom Properties with JavaScript

The recent release of Firefox 31 brought an implementation of CSS Variables. Based on that, Daniel Imms wrote an interesting post, What CSS Variables Can Do That Preprocessors Can’t, where he investigates a few use cases for native variables over those provided by pre-processors like Sass and LESS (there’s a common argument that CSS variables are unnecesary as we already have them, and more flexibly, in pre-processors).

In this article I’m going to expand on Daniel’s article a little, showing an advantage of CSS Variables that he doesn’t talk about in detail: interacting with them using JavaScript.

Read the full article


A More-Than-Bearable Wearable: The LG G Watch

Yesterday I read Christian Heilmann’s article Bearable Wearables, a review of the Samsung Gear Live and Android Wear. Christian’s overall opinion was that it’s too flawed for him to currently find useful. I’ve been using an LG G Watch for the last few weeks, and have come to a different conclusion; that being the case, I thought I’d give my own opinion. Consider this my review of the G Watch, in the form of a response to some of the issues Christian raised — meaning you should first read his article in order to get the most from this one.

Read the full article


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