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Archive: 21 February 2003

Voices in the Wilderness

I’m back from Los Alamos and out from under the worst of the e-mail avalanche.  Northern New Mexico is beautiful in its own way, although a touch too barren for my tastes.  But only a touch.  For a landscape junkie like me, the cliffs, river gorges, and mountains were definitely a potent mix.  The far better mix was the conversations with Jeff and Carrie about the Web, the world, and our lives.  Sometimes the best way to discover yourself is by talking to someone else.

The presentations the three of us gave at the Los Alamos National Laboratories seemed to be very well received, and the people there couldn’t be a nicer bunch.  Which seems a little odd, when you think about what they do there.  I subconsciously expected a bunch of white-coated square-jawed men with clipboards and cold eyes talking about the amazing potential of the atom to bring about world peace and the inevitable triumph of American science.  Perhaps I watched a few too many 1950′s-era science fiction movies as a kid.

In a post on Webdesign-L, Karl Dubost has reminded me just how smart Chris Lilley really is.  From a post Chris made to www-html in late May 1994:

As soon as images were allowed inline in HTML documents, the web became a new graphical design medium. Some people will just want to put out text, but some will want to apply graphical design skills and make a document….  If style sheets or similar information are not added to html, the inevitable price will be documents that only look good on a particular browser, at a particular window size, with the default fonts, etc.
—Chris Lilley

Karl’s post arose in the context of a conversation about the concept of “graceful degradation,” which is the idea that a properly created document will be usable in older user agents, even if it doesn’t look quite the same.  (Well, okay, it’s a lot more than that, but in the context of Web design, that’s what most people mean.)  Karl rightly points out that the term needs to be replaced with something that doesn’t sound quite so bad.  Of his suggestions, I think the best is “graceful flexibility,” and it’s a term I intend to start using from now on.

I updated the Color Blender to accept three different CSS color value formats (four if you count shorthand hex as separate from regular hex).  Thanks to Steve Champeon and Holly Marie for spurring me to do so.  I can think of two more things to add to it—a swatch-picker as suggested by Roberto Díez, and a color-wheel type picker—but they probably won’t happen any time soon.

February 2003
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