occasional snapshots of thought

Dove Cragg cairn

Landscape & Nostalgia

Posted on 3rd July 2015

Almost exactly 20 years ago, Simon Schama’s book Landscape & Memory was published. It’s not an easy read but it became a significant influence on the way I taught Landscape Architecture. Essentially, the book describes “landscape” as being a construct within the mind of the individual rather than an objective entity whose constituent parts are rock, water and vegetation. Schama believes that nature and human perception are indivisible and that “Before it can ever be a repose for the senses, landscape is the work of the mind. Its scenery is built up as much from strata of memory as from layers of rock”.

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Chive flower

Responsive Web, Adaptive Industry

Posted on 30th June 2015

My goodness, what a difference 2 years make in web design and development! A week last Friday I attended the 3rd and final Responsive Day Out conference, curated by Clearleft’s Jeremy Keith. It was a lovely, sunny June day in Brighton and an expectant crowd gathered outside the Dome for a day of instruction and inspiration.

Responsive Day Out 3: The final breakpoint

Having “done the hat-trick” (attended all 3 conferences, 2013, 14 & 15) I now have a pretty good overview of the evolution of the web industry’s approach and attitude to responsive web design but let’s first have a short history lesson.

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Introducing the Web as a content platform

Posted on 24th May 2015

Last Friday was Web Teaching Day, hosted at the University of Greenwich. The event is organised so that those who teach Web Design (or variations of that discipline) can get together and discuss their approach to teaching/learning.

During the morning session we heard from a number of great speakers who described how they introduce their undergraduate students to HTML and CSS and there were some interesting ideas.

Inspired by what I’d heard, I prefixed my talk at the start of the afternoon session (on staff/student communication) with a short explanation of an approach to teaching HTML that I have developed this year. The session was unscheduled and I didn’t have time to go into detail, so this article is an attempt to expand on what I said.

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A June sky with clouds and vapour trails

On being responsively creative

Posted on 28th June 2014

Yesterday I returned to Brighton for the sequel—Responsive Day Out 2: The Squishening. Bad weather was forecast—heavy showers and possible thunder storms—but in fact, the day turned out to be warm and sunny.

Responsive Day Out is a gathering of around 300 (I would guess) web designers and developers, who come together for a day of talks about Responsive Web Design. The event is organised by Clearleft‘s Jeremy Keith.

After last year’s event, I approached the Brighton Dome wondering whether we’d be treated to more tales of woe but as it turned out, the sequel was a rather more positive, productive and inspirational event than the original and just like the weather, my expectations were exceeded.

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Coloured buildings, London


Posted on 17th March 2014

Things are changing.

For the last 18 years, I’ve been driving. Up the M3, around the M25 to the University of Greenwich, a round-trip of 200 miles and I did this two or three times a week.

I like driving, so this never felt like a real chore and with Radio 4 to keep me company, I was never bored and I certainly felt better informed for listening to the Today programme as I drove.

People would ask me why I didn’t use the train for this journey and I would tell them that it takes longer (which it does) and it costs more (which it does) and it’s less reliable (which it is). Getting the train makes no sense.

Things will change. Next academic year, the car will no longer be an option. My department is moving into a wonderful new building in the centre of Greenwich. There will be no parking. The train will be the only travel option.

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Washington State Capital Building, Olympia

Happy 25th birthday to the Web

Posted on 12th March 2014

Like many people I know, I’ve been meaning to start a blog for a while. Well, let’s be honest, for years. But today I was prompted to do what I’ve been meaning to do because today the Web turns 25 and I figured it was as good a place to start as any.

25 years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee developed an idea that would become the most significant change to the lives of those of us lucky enough to be connected to the internet. Of course, it is important to point out that even now, 25 years later, less than 35% of the global population has access to the internet, the Web is still far from “world wide”.

But for the one third of us who are part of the Web, today is a good time to pause and consider the changes it has brought to our lives. Thank you Web, and many happy returns.