If you’ve read your Peter Elbow, you’ll know what I mean when I say this post is deep in the “growing” phase. I’ll cook later.
Thoughts on creating web designs that “work.”
Thought Number One: Don’t start with the design. Start with the content.
A few key concepts that lie at the back of Andy Clarke’s Transcending CSS: flexibility, accessibility, usability, and meaning; standards & conventions; the content-out approach. All of this is why starting with content is important. (He doesn’t use our favorite mantra: “content is king,” but he might as well have!)
Thought Number Two: Don’t start with the design. You’ll paint yourself into a corner.
As with pretty much all CSS-ers, we’re talking about separating style & content, data & layout, form & function (see such as Briggs). When you try to come up with both content and design, both data and layout, weird things happen. (See this bad boy for evidence.)
Thought Number Three: Don’t start with the design. You’ll have a hard time rewriting it.
Rockley–Single-sourcing is basically separating the design process from the writing process (which is a good thing), allowing the writing to become information-creating; this allows information to become more easily usable/accessible in multiple media, platforms, audiences, contexts, etcetera (i.e. flexible).
(Tangential side note on interactivity: interactive narrative could be seen in some ways in Rockley’s Level 3 (Dynamic Customized Content) & even Level 4 (EPSS) single-sourcing.)
If single-sourcing, at its heart, is about flexibility, then it’s about accessiblity (so an ethical choice) and usablity (a pragmatic/economic choice). If meaningful markup and true CSS (style-less content) are about flex/acces/usab, then what?
Thought Number Four: Information needs perspective to become meaningful. Single-sourcing allows flexibility for multiple perspectives.
Taking this all the way back to Meadows. What’s important? What makes information meaningful? Perspective. Single-sourcing makes information more meaningful? (makes it possible for more information to be more meaningful for more different groups of people).
Allows for action? Ease of action? Thus allowing users to more quickly and easily attain Meadows’ “highest form of thought.”
Thought Number Fiver: It’s a page. But it’s not a page. Or it won’t always be one.
This’d be a great spot to work in something about narrative metaphors and paradigm shifts in web design. Implications of single-sourcing, CSS, and the possiblity of infinite Remediation.
Of course, is infinite remediation a good thing? (Is it really even possible? What’s the half-life of content?)