“On the origin of cascades“, a talk by @hdv on how CSS came to be

Hidde recently gave a talk at CSS Café on the origins of CSS:

It’s been 25 years since the first people proposed a language to style the web. Since the late nineties, CSS lived through years of platform evolution. The cascade, specificity and the enormous choice in values and units set the language up for success. But not everyone liked to use these features everywhere. Some began to adapt the language to meet their needs.

In this Darwin-themed talk, you’ll learn how CSS came to be, and how the language’s simplicity and flexibility still make it stand out today.

In addition to the video embedded at the top of this post you can also check out the slides or read a full transcript.

👨‍🎓 Looking for more lessons in CSS History? The Languages Which Almost Became CSS by Zach Bloom also touches the same subject.

Google Street View is a Time Capsule

Recently the Google Street View footage for the area I live in got updated. This got me thinking: Google Street View is a time capsule. I’m quite sure that one day we’ll be able to time travel through the captured footage.

GooBing Detroit is a project compares old and new GSV footage from the Detroit Area:

GooBing Detroit – An archaeology of Detroit through Google Street View →

The ghosts of technology in today’s language

I like this post by Marcin Wichary in which he looks for remnant expressions in our language which are based on technologies that no longer exist, but that we still use. A typical example is “dialing a number”.

We dial a number — or dial someone — even though dials disappeared from phones decades ago. And we hang up even though there’s rarely a handset that actually needs to be hung up.

The ghosts of technology in today’s language →

Spy Viewer – View Historic Mapping within a Spyglass Circle

Ooh I like this: The National Library of Scotland has released Spy Viewer, a tool showcasing a set of historic which maps have been georeferenced so that they line up perfectly on top of the current maps. Using a circular spyglass interface you can watch the old maps peek through.

Pictured below is a historic glance at London’s Tower Bridge:

Don’t let the fact that it’s a tool by the National Library of Scotland fool you: other maps of other parts of the world are also available (select yours using the category dropdown)

Spy Viewer →

Resilient Web Design

Jeremy Keith wrote a book, “Resilient Web Design”, on how to build a web that lasts:

With a title like Resilient Web Design, you might think that this is a handbook for designing robust websites. This is not a handbook. It’s more like a history book.

[…]

You won’t find any code in here to help you build better websites. But you will find ideas and approaches. Ideas are more resilient than code.

Jeremy’s writing style – just like his style of speaking – is very inspiring and packed with lots of relevant backstory.

Resilient Web Design, by Jeremy Keith →

The Surprising History of the Infographic

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The idea of visualizing data is old: After all, that’s what a map is—a representation of geographic information—and we’ve had maps for about 8,000 years. But it was rare to graph anything other than geography. Only a few examples exist: Around the 11th century, a now-anonymous scribe created a chart of how the planets moved through the sky. By the 18th century, scientists were warming to the idea of arranging knowledge visually.

Still, data visualization was rare because data was rare. That began to change rapidly in the early 19th century, because countries began to collect—and publish—reams of information about their weather, economic activity and population. “For the first time, you could deal with important social issues with hard facts, if you could find a way to analyze it,” says Michael Friendly, a professor of psychology at York University who studies the history of data visualization. “The age of data really began.”

The Surprising History of the Infographic →

(via Kottke)