Throwback Thursday: Speak Up Archive

With the main theme of this 100-day project being to rediscover blogging and the spirit of the “old internet,” I thought it would be interesting to start doing a weekly throwback Thursday.

Ten years ago, Speak Up, a prominent graphic design blog, decided to stop publishing. Bryony Gomez Palacio and Armin Vit chose to leave its archives up, leaving the design and web communities with a treasure trove of history and context.

“I started the blog on a whim as a place to vent some frustrations and as a place for the endangered breed of traditional graphic designers in a jungle of web designers and developers.”

You might wonder why I’m posting this, as I’m exactly the type of person the folks on there complain about. It’s just important to study this type of history.

We’re obviously still around and not going anywhere anytime soon. Read the archives for fun and as a lesson in the importance of continuous learning and evolution if you want to enjoy a long career as a designer.


Using Ulysses as a Blogging Client

Testing, testing, 1-2-3. Posting this from Ulysses 18.5 into my WordPress.com [atomic site] blog.

Who remembers Semagic?

Yes, it works!


In yesterday’s post, I declared my love for the Ulysses app. I really have been testing several writing and word processing apps for a few years now and this is The One for me.

Since the beginning, I liked Ulysses so much that I didn’t even try to see if I could torrent it. I bought a license up front for each device they offered the software on. Then, when they switched to a subscription-based license model–a cavalier move for a small software company at the time–I stayed on as a user. Even though the app didn’t do everything I wish it could for my writing, I wanted to support the team to see where they would take their work.

It’s just important for me, personally, to keep all of my writing in the same sandbox. The process of switching back and forth between this editor and that application, or copying text from one place to another, or trying to figure out which file of everything was the right one, or the nagging fear of losing the work (it’s 2019!) or accidentally publishing it…

…the administrative tasks around writing were making it easy for me to let my writers’ block win. Ulysses has since been with me for: academic writing, editing articles, work posts, an early start on my memoirs, and (yay!) blogging.

But I still had to do all my work on my laptop or paper.

Then about a month ago, Ulysses sent out a newsletter titled, “Hacks for Mobile Writing.” Since introducing support for iOS 13’s text editing gestures, it’s been easier to get my thoughts out on my phone.

While these gestures are Apple’s features, Ulysses’ design doesn’t get in the way. Meaning, you can actually use them, and build muscle memory across your tools and apps so you can use them even better. It’s not a parity experience, but this is a great example of how sometimes that’s not the best. The outcome I want is to write; not to feel like I’m on my laptop [so that I can write], or to feel like I’m on Platform [so that I can write].

There’s an analogy here somewhere about modeling this type of interplay between software application and OS and the web. If one day everything is in the browser (an OS for the web, if you will), how might we support users instead of each one of us re-building the wheel just because we can? Should we even? And if so, should it be up to a company, or a neutral-ish party, like the web standards crew? Does an early version exist somewhere already (that isn’t a walled garden)?

Version 33

Back in the early aughts when I unknowingly started my web design career as part of a blog ring, every layout you designed for your blog represented a new version of your site.

Several of us Automatticians are dogfooding Twenty Twenty, the default theme for WordPress 5.3, as we approach the Gutenberg Block Editor’s first birthday (smash cake, anyone?). Twenty Twenty includes full support for the Block Editor, as well as functionality that narrows the gap between form and function. That’s all to say that it represents an exciting evolution for WordPress themes and the WordPress project altogether.

Since my design focus is on the underlying architecture of the end-to-end WordPress.com experience, it made sense to use it for my own blog and see how I can manipulate it. So far, it feels like being in a country where people speak a different language, but it’s close enough to one I speak. To me, this is one of the more exciting forms of awkward.