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All these moments will be lost in time: the web, the future, and us


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As web professionals we’re used to hearing about the virtues of shipping fast and iterating regularly in order to meet changing needs, but how do we ensure that the projects that we’re planning now are still as relevant and robust when they launch in the future... and beyond? How do we prepare for the unknowns and constant shifts in technology; what can we do to progress the evolution of the web itself; how do we, as individuals, ensure that our skills are as relevant as ever in this rapidly changing world?

In this talk we’ll look at why the future is important, plus past visions of the future, including those from the world of science fiction. We'll explore what we can learn from these lessons, and how to apply this in a practical sense to the work that we do.

Published in: Internet
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All these moments will be lost in time: the web, the future, and us

  1. 1. The web, the future, and us Sally Jenkinson @sjenkinson . All these moments will be lost in time
  2. 2. @sjenkinson
  3. 3. @sjenkinson The internet of 2021
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  7. 7. @sjenkinson What challenges does the future bring?
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  9. 9. @sjenkinson What we plan now may not be relevant in the future
  10. 10. @sjenkinson Our project
  11. 11. @sjenkinson Our users Our business Technology Wildcards Our project
  12. 12. @sjenkinson@sjenkinson
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  15. 15. @sjenkinson Disruption will only accelerate Our existing standards, workflows and infrastructure won’t hold up Proprietary solutions will dominate at first The standards process will be painfully slow. Acknowledge and embrace unpredictability. Think and behave in a future-friendly way. Help others do the same.
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  17. 17. @sjenkinson Our choices can become white elephants
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  19. 19. @sjenkinson Keeping up vs getting ahead
  20. 20. “It’s all broken!” @sjenkinson
  21. 21. “We have to throw it out and start again!” @sjenkinson
  22. 22. “…be guaranteed to meet the business and customer needs for the next 5-10 years at least…” @sjenkinson
  23. 23. @sjenkinson
  24. 24. @sjenkinson Keeping up as individuals
  25. 25. @sjenkinson@sjenkinson
  26. 26. @sjenkinson The future is hard!
  27. 27. @sjenkinson The future, from the past
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  30. 30. “Short of figuring out real teleportation, which would of course be awesome (someone please do this), the only option for super fast travel is to build a tube over or under the ground that contains a special environment. ! This is where things get tricky.” @sjenkinson
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  32. 32. @sjenkinson Telling stories can give human context to technology
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  37. 37. “a work kit useful for parceling ideas into their atomic elements” @sjenkinson
  38. 38. @sjenkinson Interactions and interfaces
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  41. 41. “We’ve seen repeatedly that if an interface works for an audience, there’s something there that will work for users. ! Finding what that thing is and using it for inspiration in our own work is part of how we can use these speculative interfaces.” Make It So (
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  44. 44. @sjenkinson Using future thinking
  45. 45. 1. Better consider our users’ changing needs. 2. Identify opportunities. 3. Aid prioritisation. 4. Define what something is and what it will be. 5. More robust decisions - understand limitations and benefits of choices. 6. React quickly/better to change by embracing evolution. 7. Make more exciting things and shape the future of the web! Future benefits @sjenkinson
  46. 46. @sjenkinson The future & our work
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  48. 48. Half-life @sjenkinson
  49. 49. User interfaces & interactions Features Digital platform components (CMS, etc) ‘Non-digital’ systems (accountancy, etc) Browsers Hosting environment & languages Third party integrations Deployment tools Different elements have different half-lives @sjenkinson
  50. 50. Choose technologies and architect your developments with half-lives in mind @sjenkinson
  51. 51. @sjenkinson Separate concerns, loosely couple Think in patterns, not pages Modular CSS Enhance!
  52. 52. “Zero UI is … taking us away from screens to a more natural way of interacting with things” Andy Goodman @goodmania
  53. 53. Submit doStuff() @sjenkinson
  54. 54. @sjenkinson A practical approach to the future
  55. 55. Start thinking about the future(s) in discovery & planning Work content first Separate content from display to better cater for new outputs (visual or otherwise) Where screens are involved, remember to think from very small to very large Prioritise your requirements Create a backlog and strategic roadmap & make these visible Balance problems now & of the future Consider future usage patterns, interactions, and behaviour Embrace wider trends (remote teams etc) Learn from the past Don’t be bound by form Create a set of high level principles for the future Make no assumptions about usage Stories and design thinking (workshops)
  56. 56. Example principles @sjenkinson
  57. 57. @sjenkinson Frederik Pohl “A good science fiction story should be able to predict not the automobile but the traffic jam” @sjenkinson
  58. 58. Embrace web standards, semantics, open formats Progressive enhancement Create incrementally, release often Track & manage change Think atomically, and with patterns, not pages Allocate time to improve the past and the future Lifespan of project components Separation, modularity, loosely-coupled architectures and services Embrace automation Document decisions (not heavily, but ensure the past is captured for future learning) Prototype & test Design and build with change as a given Responsive design Leave space for the future Draw a line - what do you support? Why? @sjenkinson
  59. 59. Share your experiences Specs & upcoming technologies Measure, & use your data Better digital preservation Play more Take inspiration from the world (watch more sci- fi!) Continuing your evolution Accept change. It doesn’t mean you failed Work to educate others, to facilitate improvements Fix problems that you can see, and those that might be Provide support (bleeding edge technology users often have it rough) @sjenkinson
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  61. 61. “Don’t plan for the future because there is no future - just now and a series of next nows.” Jon Gold @jongold
  62. 62. @sjenkinson Thank you! My slides are mainly blue because according to Make It So, blue is ‘futuristic’ - it’s the most prevalent colour in sci-fi interfaces!