Christopher T. Ogden

Blog About Projects

26 Jun 2010
A great miscellany

This post was originally a Facebook note, long enough ago that I still wrote Facebook as facebook (inspired/confused by the logo). I’ve removed some things, such as broken links, and made some slight edits. But as I’m reposting this mainly for reminiscence and posterity, most of it remains unchanged.

1) On the value of the internet:

“The beauty of the Internet is that it connects people. The value is in the other people. If we start to believe that the Internet itself is an entity that has something to say, we’re devaluing those people and making ourselves into idiots.”

-Jaron Lanier

2) A collection of vignettes about the current state of the digital world (in the eyes of Jonathan Harris), and some thoughts about what that world’s future could be: World Building in a Crazy World

3) A letter from why, advocating risk-taking:

“I do not write tests for my code. I do not write very many comments. I change styles very frequently. And most of all, I shun the predominant styles of coding, because that would go against the very essence of experimentation. In short: all I do is muck around.

So, my way of measuring a great programmer is different from some prevailing thought on the subject. I would like to hear what Matz would say about this. You should ask him, seriously.

I admire programmers who take risks. They aren’t afraid to write dangerous or ‘crappy’ code. If you worry too much about being clean and tidy, you can’t push the boundaries (I don’t think!). I also admire programmers who refuse to stick with one idea about the “way the world is. I really like Autrijus Tang because he embraces all languages and all procedures. There is no wrong way in his world.

Anyway, you say you want to become better. I mean that’s really all you need. You feel driven, so stick with it. I would also start writing short scripts to share with people on the Web. Little Ruby scripts or Rails programs or MouseHole scripts to show off. Twenty lines here and there, and soon people will be beating you up and you’ll be scrambling to build on those scripts and figure out your style and newer innovations and so on.”

-Why the Lucky Stiff

4) More:

“When you don’t create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. Your tastes only narrow and exclude people. So create.”

-Why the Lucky Stiff

5) “Delinkification”

In many contexts, links are overused and misplaced. For social networking streams, search engine results pages, etc., they make perfect sense. But in articles, essays, and other writings they often serve to distract, rendering the work in which they are found less meaningful as its own entity. Relegate links to where they belong: footnotes. That’s all they are, glorified (hypertext) footnotes.

Sure, links are an extremely useful navigational tool. But there comes a point when I want to stop navigating and actually read, without distraction. Meaning often takes more than a word or two to impart.

Discuss at Nicholas Carr’s Rough Type.

6) Microcopy:

“Microcopy” is a small piece of text, ranging from a single word to a sentence or two, that adds meaning or explanation in context. It is great for clarification of potentially confusing elements or immediately addressing concerns. Used properly, microcopy is a great design element. Joshua Porter explains microcopy in more detail at Bokardo.

7) Some Typography Lessons:

8) Recommended Design Blogs:

  • Design View
  • Design Informer, especially Designing for the Mind (has since been acquired by Smashing Magazine and folded into their publication)
  • Retinart (went on a long hiatus, but is finally back, I think, with a new design)
  • Jason Santa Maria

9) Fostering Conversations:

One of the things I can’t stand about facebook is that it doesn’t foster real communication. I don’t to know that someone is about to go take a shower or clean their room. I want to discuss something meaningful. I’ve recently discovered a web app called Amplify that would be useful, if I could convince others to use it or to read my thoughts and reply on related services (have you read my blog, anyone?).

Speaking of blogs, Jason Santa Maria has an idea for cultivating conversation on blogs, for those who don’t want to stop with a post. He provides a suggestion for cutting down on redundant or uninformed comments, which he hopes will encourage more discussion of what is meaningful and new.

10) The web can get you thinking, yes it can…

  • Thinking for a Living
  • Some, but not all, articles from Wired News
  • Writings by Kevin Kelly
  • Steve Chrisomalis’s Phrontistery is (more than) a list of rare and peculiar words.
  • MagicDuel is an independently developed browser-based game that has had huge impact on my thinking, beliefs, and more.