My Blog

Trends and Transients 2013


Each year there are more new technologies to keep track of, more ways to organise
your life and your company’s information, more ways to communicate. This session
will introduce you to new and potentially over-hyped technologies, discuss
older, overlooked technologies, and entertain you at the same time. Our expert
speakers will debate the current issues, giving you the benefit of their wide
experience and differing points of view, so you can decide for yourself which
technologies will meet your needs and which are a waste of your time.

This course is chaired by Lauren Wood and taught by Blaine Cook, Libby Miller, Liam Quin, and Robin Wilton.

Classes for 2013

The Trends and Transients course runs on

New directions in collaborative editing

Taught by Blaine Cook.

The internet is a huge social experiment, one that’s already had a massive impact
on all aspects of our society. We’re still only part-way to the original vision
of the web, however. This original vision included not only easy access to web
pages, but also collaborative editing. What’s been standing in the way of that
vision? Why aren’t we regularly editing documents in a collaborative fashion?
This talk will discuss some of the reasons true collaborative editing has been
so difficult to implement and show some potential solutions to the issues.

Open radio, Raspberry PIs, and XML

Taught by Libby Miller.

Radios are not just the boring gadgets you turn on in your car to listen to music
or the traffic report. We can interact with them and make things with them such
as talking radios, social radios, and even visual radio programmes. The problem
is that radios, like televisions, are hard to prototype with. Their APIs are
either not available or they’re undocumented. Even when they are documented
they’re hard to use and inflexible and typically the physical aspects of the
radio can’t be controlled.

Experimentation with hardware – getting to a point at which experimentation is
even possible – is difficult for most people. The massive development community
around the Raspberry Pi has started to change that, and things are moving very

In this talk I’ll show how a Raspberry PI and two XML API calls can liberate
radio: not just what we can make with it but what radios should look like and
how we should interact with them.

Designing for identity, privacy and security

Taught by Robin Wilton.

Trying to design for privacy, security and appropriate use of identity data is a
constantly-changing problem. A technically sound design may get buffeted by
external factors that are commercial, economic, regulatory or political, and
even unintentionally poor handling of personal data can have high-profile
negative consequences.

Section 1 of this session will review the principles of digital identity and
privacy, and will draw on the instructor’s experience over the last decade to
examine how our assumptions about distributed identity systems have changed.

In Section 2, we will look at some of the principles that can be applied to
privacy and security designs, consider some cases where the principles have been
put into practice (for better or worse), and see what lies behind the claim that
“regulation stifles innovation”.

Section 1: Identity principles


  • Credentials, attributes and metadata
  • What is “personally identifiable data”?
  • Identity providers, trust and linkability (2003 vs 2013)

Section 2: Design principles


  • Innovation and regulation
  • Naughtiness, threats and vulnerabilities
  • Cookies and anti-patterns
  • Innovation and respect
XML is dead! Long live XML!
HTML 5, JSON, The open Web Platform and XML

Taught by Liam Quin.

XML, like SGML, came from publishing and technical documentation. Authors wrote
manuals, these were printed on paper and also used for online help. If you
bought a nuclear submarine you got a manual with it and then you got regular
updates to insert into the right place (“change pages”). SGML and XML were the
only real technologies for this space. Today there are new kids on the block,
kicking up dirt. HTML has grown up a little. What do you lose and what do you
gain when you use HTML instead of XML? What about JSON?

The W3C has been talking with experts from the publishing world: this session
will include fresh notes from a W3C Workshop on publishing held the same week,
as well as discussion of XML First, XML Early, XML Late and XML Never workflows
in publishing and elsewhere.

We’ll look at publishing as the poster child for XML, the Web browser as the
commodity app that devours primarily HTML and JSON, and the train-wreck in the