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The Way of the Web | Jeremy Keith

Apr 3, 2018 | An Event Apart 2018

April 2 @ 9am
An Event Apart Seattle 2018
Jeremy is going to talk about the present and the future… and he’s going to start with the future.
Plan 9 From Outer Space, one of the worst movies ever made… a science fiction film sort of about the future.
2001: a space odyssey is one of the BEST movies ever made. 50 years old written by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke the science fiction writer. Arthur C. Clarke was no stranger to the trouble of predicting the future… because you’re either going to be conservative and wrong, or
“It’s not prediction – it has rather ad double action like the lenses of 3D glasses. Through one lens we make a serious attempt to predict a realistic future. In the other, __________ (ask Jeremy for the rest of the quote).
Relax your eyes and the results can be startling in their clarity.”
Novels are empathy machines. You get into the mind of someone else!
In history you can enter the mind of someone in the past.
In science fiction you can enter the mind of someone potentially in the future.
Make It So by Nathan Shedroff & Christopher Moessel
  • Interaction Design Lessons from science Fiction
Jeremy loves looking at Science Fiction films for their world design.
What does the design about this work tell us about this particular future?
The interfaces are all so ridiculously hard to use… everything is so over engineered. It’s not attempting prediction, but in its world building it makes interesting use of design.
“2001: a space odyssey” in a sense WAS trying to do prediction. There was a real attempt to predict what it would be like in 2001. They got so much RIGHT in 1968. But it’s really interesting to see what they MISSED completely. What is present in our today that they missed?
Example: When you need to make a phone call, you still have to go to a machine to make a call. Yes, it’s a video call, but it’s like no one thought it would be possible to walk around with mobile phones. It’s a blind spot.
Blade Running 1982
There are off-world colonies, artificially engineered beings, we literally have flying cars in this future of 2019, and yet when you need to make a phone call you go to a machine in the wall. The idea of a mobile phone not only WASN’T but COULDN’T be predicted. And when you want to pass time you’re not playing on your phone you’re reading a newspaper!!
There’s a subheading on that paper in the movie was “World Wide Computer Linkup Planned”… there are flying cars but the idea of a WWW is still not there!
It does feel sometimes like the present we are living in is a science fiction movie, and Jeremy’s not sure he likes this film. We’re being bombarded everyday with self driving cars, drones, AI, VR, the block change…
Is our present a utopian future? A dystopian? Is there a difference?
Effectively in terms of literature are we in a dream or a nightmare, or is it a matter of perspective?
Is it a matter of how you treat this onslaught of technology?
Jeremy has been analyzing his excitement and fear about various technology. In advertising you either get somebody really excited about how great their life will be if they buy your product, or you show them what it would be like without that product and create a void they have to fill. Likewise when selling the news you go for getting people excited or fearful about something.
Jeremy doesn’t like the idea of making decisions on fear. “Never make any decision out of fear” – Bruce Sterling.
He tries to live by that and analyze his own decision making process. But at one point his colleague pointed out that fear is a very useful evolutionary adaptation. Without fear we would have walked up to a bear and gotten eaten.
Without a level of fear we wouldn’t be alive!
If you only have pure excitement about everything that’s equally dangerous… so never make any decision purely out of excitement.
So let’s talk about EXCITEMENT and APPREHENSION in terms of technology.
Anything in the world when you’re born is natural an ordinary. Anything invented after you’re 15 is exciting and revolutionary and you could probably get a career in it. But anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things.
So is it because he’s OLD? No, because he still gets excited about things.
“I wonder if I have 20 years of experience making websites, or if it is really 5 years of experience repeated 4 times…” – (get author from Jeremy)
He doesn’t fear change… he fears a rapid rate of change. There’s a difference.
There is a book (probably no longer in print) called How Buildlings Learn by Stuart Brand about architecture. In it, Frank Duffy talked about this idea of sheering layers with building. A building, properly conceived, is several layers of longevity. The site it’s built on is centuries, maybe even millennia without change. But once you get higher into the plumbing you want to change every decades, and the room layouts you may want to change every few years, and the furniture you may want to change more frequently. Each layer depends on the one below. You can’t have the structure without the site for example.
Then Frank applied the topic to more general ideas and called them ‘pace layers’ – things moving at a different rate of change. We get a nasty feeling when one of these layers moves too fast. When Governance moves too fast we’re in a revolution, with Fashion (popular culture) if it moves too slowly we’re bored.
Fast learns, Slow remembers. Fast is discontinuous, Slow is continuous. Fast and Small instructs Slow and big by incurred innovation and occasional revolution. Slow and big controls fast and small by constraint and constancy. Fast gets all our attention, but Slow has all the power. And in a durable society, each level is allowed to operate at it’s own page, safely sustained by the slow levels below and invigorated by the fast levels above.
Jeremy still gets excited bout the MATERIALS of the web (HTML, CSS, JavaScript), and is apprehensive of the TOOLS of the web (git, nom, yarn, sass, gulp, grunt, table, web pack… things designed to make you work better and faster). The tools are useful, but there’s something about them… they remind him of the Juicero which was this fancy expensive machine that made juice by putting their expensive juice packages into the machine and then magically out comes juice. BUT THEN SOMEONE REALIZED YOU COULD JUST SQUEEZE THE JUICE INTO A CUP. The tools feel like that to him. He could just use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript!