This year I've logged most of the news, opinion pieces and feature articles I've read on the amazing Pocket service. It has a number of neat features, but gets out of the way *just* enough to let me save articles and read them whenever I need. Plus, I like the Pocket team's weekly article suggestions that usually entice me to step outside of my tech coverage comfort zone into something new, something a bit different.
The advantage of using this service is that I can see pretty much everything I've read over a period of time in my Archived section. The disadvantage is how I feel now as I'm reading over it. It's kind of scary, scrolling through a reverse chronological stream of readings past, and makes me feel more than a little odd. What's more scary is how some of the articles (a surprisingly high number) I completely forget I even read. This self-observation links up eerily well with the myriad of articles that theorize the internet is ruining our brains, and makes me wonder whether the tech-luddites may actually well be right in their fear of screen based learning. I’ve read a few of these over the past few years, and they do tend to match up with my real life experience as a twenty year old user of the internet and prolific news reader.
It leads me to wonder what the cure for such amnesia is. I’m not willing to give up my blog wandering ways just yet. However, there hasn’t been much real research into how you can counteract the effects of free flowing information on one’s memory, apart from just reading printed newspapers.
Anyway, here they are, in no particular order, my top online reads of 2015.
A well researched and genuinely eye opening piece that takes a look at some threats to the internet that we may face in the next few years. Traditionally a rather unpoliced free for all, the internet has the potential to tear at the seams from these threats if we don't find pragmatic solutions to very real concerns such as identity theft, cyberwarfare, corporate espionage and more.
Whilst not strictly speaking a thinkpiece, this article was interesting and really pushes the point home: if you're developing IT solutions for anything larger than a small enterprise, you should be developing with a service-oriented methodology. SOA with internal APIs that allows open communication within the realms of a company, free for other parts of the business to be using (within reason) allows for a battle-tested software architecture that you could potentially open up to the outside world and make a profit. It will give you a significant competitive advantage and when blended with design thinking skills, can seriously transform your business.
And here's a conservative one. The huge leaps and bounds in progress we've made in the last few years of web standards have led to an explosion of features for the browser. So much so that we may have gone a little crazy with the standards. It suggests we shouldn't be chasing after native performance and features. Instead double down on what makes the web amazing: linking, universal appeal and accessible interfaces.
An interesting area to watch over the next few years is how we're all using hookup apps to meet people. Whilst the jury's still out on whether one can actually find deep and intimate connections on these things (I reckon you can), it's already the new normal for dating amongst people my age, and it's here to stay.
This is truly a tour de force in journalism (or at least the best we've got in Australia at the moment). A fantastic investigation into the convoluted history of Barangaroo, the new multibillion dollar jewel in Sydney Harbour that was meant to be a primarily community-focused development, but has now dwarfed its original intentions of offering modest office space. Looking at the forces at play in its development, this article highlights how even in relatively corruption-free country, money still makes the world go round.
I always love writeups of struggling with low-fi tech that forces constraints on our luxury-filled minds, and this one is no exception. It explores the experience of a tech writer (used to all the bells and whistles of flagships) using an el cheapo phone for a week, and it's hilarious.
An inspiring story of web services at scale, and humble bits of legacy software that still have their place in the heart of every organisation.
Realtalk about the distilled image of people that comes from photography blogs like HONY. They appeal to our need to "flatten" people into nice baked cookies that can be consumed pleasantly with a cup of coffee in the morning. This blog discusses the detriment that such depictions have on photography as an art form.
A good "best practices" document about the lifecycle of a single component in a web app. A must read read if you're into web development at all, and it goes hand in hand with the ReactJS component library. Use it as a checklist for developing your React components (or web components, if you're into Polymer).
Pure genius and top software engineering work in a post. Flipboard threw out the DOM and just drew directly onto the Canvas API for it's user interface, with a neat abstraction on top. Beautifully insane. I have no words. This one wins.