Infrequently Noted

Alex Russell on browsers, standards, and the process of progress.

JSConf: Metric Tons of Awesome

I had the pleasure and honor of speaking on Google Chrome Frame (slides) at JSConf this past weekend. The conference was small enough that meeting some large percent of the awesome people there was feasible yet large enough that it drew many of the folks doing some of the most interesting work in the JavaScript community today. Frameworks were well represented, as was server-side JS. If you can only go to one conference a year, I can recommend JSConf without reservation. As a speaker, Chris and the organizers treated us better than anyone could hope for, and as an attendee the quality of the content and the hallway conversations left me constantly with the feeling that I was lucky to be where I was but sad that I was probably also missing something else that was awesome.

For some reason Chris — fearless pirate leader that he is — thought it hilarious to have me follow not only Billy Hoffman's outstanding security talk, but also Brendan Eich's never-fail wit and delivery. Funny in that "watching people walk the plank...good times" sort of way. I was also between a bunch of people who (apparently) know how to drink and a truly awesome Google-sponsored party. No pressure. None at all.

Somewhat counter-intuitively my talk focused not on what JavaScript can do, but why we'll be using less of it in the near future; at least for the things we're currently burning bandwidth and CPU. HTML5, CSS 3, and developers who are liberated to take advantage of them are going to kill off a lot of code. Take, for example, the slides for my talk. The only JS library that's included is for prompting users to install Google Chrome Frame. GCF will accelerate the transition to new standards and new ways of building apps. We'll build faster apps not by employing ever-more exotic ways of mangling JavaScript or by giving up the simplicity and directness of HTML and CSS, but rather by simplifying what we write and what we send over the wire.

I'll be talking more about this at Google I/O next month, so if you missed JSConf, hopefully I'll see you there.

Some Questions Worth Asking

When I hear the following words or phrases I now have to stop and think about what is really being said since these words and phrases have been so heavily diluted and co-opted that their positive connotations can no longer be assumed:

Is a given innovation socially beneficial? I.e., does it improve the lots of any, many, or just a few? Innovation, it turns out, is a vector. It has both magnitude and direction, and that direction can be negative.
"Social Change"
What sort of change? Change is often good. Also, bad. Look closely.
"Open API"
The word "open" is so loaded that when combined with "API", it's nearly a sociopolitical phenomena of its own right. If you think of nothing else when you hear this phrase, think privacy in public. Who owns what happens on the other side of the API?

What am I missing?

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