Robin Berjon

For Whom The Belle Trolls

The Day We Fight Back

Lions and Tigers

Robin Berjon - # -

In 1937, Walter Lippmann wrote The Good Society which captured with stunning lucidity the politics of his time. And as many potent political texts, it echoes well beyond its era. One of my favourite quotes from it is:

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Austening ourselves to the full Brontë

Please Bring Me More Of That Yummy DRM Discussion

Robin Berjon - # -

Allow me, Dear Reader, to kick off with a remarkable statement that will no doubt keep you astonished for days to come: I really, really don't like DRM. I want a third party to be allowed to control my ownership of my books, movies, and music just as much as I wish Ikea were allowed to come reclaim tables and cupboards from my home, Uniqlo to snatch clothes off my hunky pecs, or Tanziti Abdelfattah (the baker around the corner) to grab his baguette right out of my toaster.

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The Missing Links

Don't Make Me Think (About Linked Data)

Robin Berjon - # -

I've long been very much in love with the semantic web vision. Or at least, that's what I've been telling myself. I really like the idea of having lots of data out there, with links between items, in a way that I can process. Easily. And I can't say I care whether it's branded with capital "S" & "W" or not, or whether it becomes Linked Data or Data on the Web. I'm definitely not amongst the most knowledgeable on the topic, and it so happens (totally by chance) that I've only been involved with the existing fruits of this technology in relatively minor ways. But the point is: I've always been deeply fond of the idea, and I've been waiting. A lot.

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Centre de Formatage des Entreprises

L'URSSAF, c'est magique!

Robin Berjon - # -

J'ai déménagé. Pas vraiment récemment, non, mais comme chacun le sait, le déménagement est un de ces évènements de vie propices à faire fleurir le chaos, et en l'instance qui nous concerne ici quelques séquelles demeurent. Heureusement que nous bénéficions d'un service public fort pour nous épauler dans ces moments difficiles en nous permettant de rester focalisés sur l'innovation, la croissance, et l'inversion de la courbe du chômage. En l'occurrence, pour un indépendant comme moi, cette démarche passe par le guichet unique de l'URSSAF qui se charge de répandre l'information nouvelle là où il faut.

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W3C Specifications Should Use an Open License

Go Fork and Multiply

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The web standards community has been discussing using an open license for W3C standards for quite some time now. We've had a long time to look at this from quite a few angles. Having contemplated the arguments, I still feel that the fears that power the anti-forking sentiment, even though they stem from a desire to help the web, are both unfounded and powerfully counter-productive. Further, I believe that the world has changed a lot since the W3C Document License came into effect — and with the Proposed Permissive Copyright Experiment in HTML Working Group now is a good time to take this evolution into account.

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Single-Player Auction

Amazon's Experimental Pricing

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As I've argued before (in French), there are good reasons for ebooks to actually be sold at higher prices than pbooks. If you reason purely in terms of manufacturing costs, it makes very little sense — but if manufacturing cost influenced much beyond the minimal price that an item may be sold at we would have a very different pricing landscape than the one we know. For starters, the price of Microsoft Office would be hard to evaluate given that, as we all know, each new version is just an increasingly fancy wrapper around the same page-numbering and bullet-indenting bugs that we already paid for fifteen years ago.

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The Next Next Thing

There Is Still A Frontier

Robin Berjon - # -

I stumbled across Garann Means's excellent blog post “no country for old hackers” and sure enough it resonates deeply. Web hacking used to be a pretty damn daft calling when you consider what you could actually do, but it sure was fun. It's certainly true that with great power comes, well, stuff that's a bit too easy. Code that works the first time over. Tricks that, erm, what tricks? You just google what you want to do, download the right library, and your problem's solved before you even knew you had one. But all is not lost!

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It's What's For Dinner

Application-Level Menus for HTML

Robin Berjon - # -

A little while back you might recall that Paul Rouget posted a little demo about Experimenting with HTML5 and native controls. The title is broad but much of the content is about a cool demo of what can be done if browsers implement the HTML menu element. Allowing a site to integrate with the native UI is a powerful approach to making the web easier to use and increase its world domination but it naturally comes with its share of potential security issues.

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Rant Of The Week

Numerical Constants Must Die

Robin Berjon - # -

Interfaces regularly require constant identifiers. You have a node and you want to know if it's an element or a comment. You have a message and you want to know if it's email or SMS. That makes sense. What baffles me is why in designing these APIs we insist on naming things with numbers when we could name them with, you know, names.

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Fiction

Le livre homothétique n'existe pas

Robin Berjon - # -

On peut faire confiance à la filière de l'édition pour bien choisir ses mots. Homothétique. Le vocable est peu courant. Mon respectable Dictionnaire historique de la langue française n'en fait pas état. Au Dictionnaire des mathématiques figure bien un article, mais je ne pourrais le citer ici sans devoir vous parler aussi d'espace affine, de corps commutatif, d'endomorphisme et d'automorphisme, et de von Koch — l'ensemble étant moins sexy qu'il ne sonne. Cet usage est donc novateur; il s'agit ici de décrire les livres électroniques reproduisant à l'identique des œuvres imprimées, tout en admettant quelques enrichissements, le filigrane de l'idée voulant que la transposition numérique n'apporte à elle seule aucun changement. C'est là une belle histoire qu'il s'agit de classer au rayon fiction.

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Open Politics

The Touchstone of Consensus

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Watching a consensus-based process at work can be quite inspiring. From the outside I mean. Far from the madding crowd of bicker and squabble. And in fast-forward montage. But inspiring it is. More importantly, as is often claimed of Wikipedia, while it may very well work in practice, it can never work in theory. This doesn't keep some of us from theorising about it anyway.

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Web Applications Security

Trusted Web Applications Considered Harmful

Robin Berjon - # -

There is a lot of thinking going on around the possibility of using well-known Web technologies in order to create not-served-from-HTTP, not-running-in-the-browser, having-access-to-powerful-additional-APIs applications. I very much applaud the first two aspects, the third is more problematic. Not served from HTTP is great because there's a bunch of stuff that I just want to do locally. Some things are great for the cloud, but I like my local drive and there's a lot of information on it that I want to stay there. Not running in the browser is good too (even if it's using the same engine) — frankly there are only so many tabs you can handle. Heightened access is, however, something that we should be a lot more careful about.

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Smothered in Hats

The Death of Draco

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Sometimes words have interesting origins. According to his Wikipedia entry, Draco was a 7th century BCE Athenian legislator who replaced the system of oral law and blood feud with a written code, posted clearly in public so that none could ignore it. By our lily-livered modern criteria, his laws are deemed harsh because the few offences that didn't call for meting out the death penalty enslaved their authors. But putting his deeds in context, one has to admit that a written, shared law that is not subject to arbitrary interpretation and the whims of elders is very much a progressive step.

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Reboot

A New DAP

Robin Berjon - # -

The process of getting a technology standardised and adopted (not necessarily in that order) across a broad spectrum of industry and community can be a complex one, with many failure points. Amongst the problems that a group may face is when the opinions of some (louder) members can give the impression that they represent the group's consensus, causing those who disagree to leave post-haste (it's not as if there wasn't a lot of work to be done elsewhere already). And as we all know, once someone has formed a negative opinion and discussed it around them, it can be very difficult to change it back no matter what the facts say — all you get from there on is confirmation bias.

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Cease & Desist

A Boilerplate for Everything

Robin Berjon - # -

It's always good to stat the year with a little humour. It's cold and damp outside, the new year party was a disappointment despite you not expecting anything from it, and, if you're me, you went to Spain on vacation and never one to go without having tried local world-renowned specialties you came back with a nasty strain of influenza. All in all, it's a good moment for some cheering up.

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XML versus JSON

It's Meh Again

Robin Berjon - # -

A common preoccupation of philosophy is the study of fallacies. I'm unsure how it became this common, I can only presume that scaring up a shared definition of what the truth is has over time proven to be such a dastardly headache-inducing activity that coming up with a list of every way in which one can be wrong might have seemed easier — if only because not only can you drink at the same time, but being drunk is actually a superior methodological approach to producing what is indeed a very, very long list. Or maybe it is because after a few years' worth of honest debate, the young, starry-eyed philosopher grows tired of having his buttocks handed over to him in separate bags by less honourable wranglers. Schopenhauer's Art of Being Right certainly lends credence to the latter.

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Putting the wow back into the web

SVG Boilerplate alpha

Robin Berjon - # -

Many of you are likely to be familiar with HTML5 Boilerplate. If not, I encourage you to check it out, it's a very useful template to bootstrap any HTML5 page you may wish to produce. It includes a number of tricks and best practices that you probably want to use, or at the very least be aware of. One of its most useful parts is that it includes a number of shims that help produce HTML that works pretty much everywhere. I was using it the other day, and though Hey, wouldn't it be nice if we had the same for SVG?

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DAPdate Zero

Introducing DAP

Robin Berjon - # -

There are many ways of getting someone to do something that you would like them to. You can ask nicely, you can put a gun to their head, you can wallow in the dust and kiss their boots. You can turn on your irresistible Bambi eyes and stare until you prey can only give up. The latter is my personal superpower, but that's not what brings us together today. What brings us together, on this page, at this instant, is Bruce Lawson.

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Version papier

Internet, politique et coproduction citoyenne

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Juste un petit mot pour annoncer la publication d'une note sur laquelle j'ai travaillé ces derniers mois: "Internet, politique et coproduction citoyenne", au think tank La Fondation pour l'Innovation Politique (ou “Fondapol” pour les intimes).

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Bouncy bouncy

Google's Bouncy Balls, in SVG

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As many noticed on Twitter this morning, Google pulled off one of its neat little logo tricks with a bunch of bouncy balls that fly all over the place. Useless. Very DHTML. But hey, it works on we the geek crowd.

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Dependencies

Just a Small Tweak

Robin Berjon - # -

There are days on which you whip out your text editor, take a deep and fulfilling breath, set your jaw to its squarest, type line after line of code as clouds drift by in fast motion, run your code, and it just works. Right there. Right now. Smooth. And then there are days like today when it seems the Universe is bending itself not just backwards but into exotic topologies to tell you you shouldn't be writing code. Days, for instance, very much like today.

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Intention d'inventer

Une nouvelle constituante

Robin Berjon - # -

Le toujours très à propos Stéphane Sire me faisait part il y a peu de la citation qui suit. Essayez de deviner de qui elle est, où elle est publiée, et la date de sa rédaction avant d'avoir fini de la lire.

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Agence du Patrimoine Immatériel en Exil

Un RSS pour les études d'impact de l'Assemblée Nationale

Robin Berjon - # -

Il y a quelques mois, le site de l'Assemblée Nationale s'est vu ajouter une page listant les projets de loi dont les études d'impact sont actuellement ouvertes aux contributions. Les internautes peuvent y consulter un dossier et y déposer une contribution. C'est très limité, on ne sait pas très bien à qui l'on s'adresse, il n'y a pas vraiment de voie de retour ni de place pour le débat mais ne boudons pas: c'est déjà un (tout petit) pas en avant.

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De retour de l'APIE

L'effet pervers de l'Open Data payant

Robin Berjon - # -

La semaine dernière je suis allé à la conférence débat Les actifs immatériels publics, leviers de création de richesse et de modernisation de l'Etat de l'APIE (Agence du Patrimoine Immatériel de l'État). J'avoue que j'étais assez excité à l'idée d'aller voir de plus près ce qui se trame en matière d'Open Data en France. Je n'en ai été que plus déçu à la fois par la totale absence du débat annoncé, et par le peu de vision claire ou prometteuse fournie.

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L'oiseau fait son nid

Rapport “Éthique du Numérique”

Robin Berjon - # -

Après avoir pratiqué une politique pour le moins agressive, et justement décriée, à l'encontre d'Internet, une partie, au moins, des députés de la majorité semble avoir réalisé que ses actions étaient à rebours de l'évolution de la société et qu'elle paraissait ne manifester pour ces changements que mépris et incompréhension. En réaction à ce dommageable état de fait, un groupe de travail “Éthique du Numérique” réunissant deux douzaines de députés UMP s'est penché sur une politique alternative, se voulant plus en phase avec son temps. Ce dernier a récemment publié un rapport intitulé “Vive internet! Liberté et règles dans le monde numérique”. Si son contenu est de qualité inégale, il fait néanmoins preuve d'un mouvement salutaire dans le sens d'une meilleure compréhension d'Internet par les politiques, et quelles que soient mes appréciations variées de ses diverses parties je lui reconnaît sincèrement de contenir suffisamment de matériau pour justifier le bazar de retour que je présente ici.

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Turtles all the way up

A WebIDL Parser for Javascript

Robin Berjon - # -

WebIDL is a schema language for APIs that is being used (primarily) as part of W3C specifications in order to define various interfaces. If you've read any recent API specification, you've read WebIDL. It is abstract enough that using it one could generate interfaces for a great number of programming languages, but given its origin it is only normal that the vast majority of the time it is used to produce Javascript bindings.

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Vis ma vie: normalisateur

Décryptage de la normalisation ouverte

Robin Berjon - # -

Un adage commun parmi les normalisateurs est qu'il y a deux entités dont nul ne peut vouloir connaître le réel fonctionnement interne: une usine de saucisses, et un groupe de normalisation. Mais avant que tu ne fuies, cher lecteur, saches que dans cet article je ne m'attacherai qu'aux cotés positifs de ce monde méconnu avec pour principaux objectifs d'expliquer d'une part l'utilité de la normalisation, et de faire ressortir d'autre part ceux de ses aspects qui pourraient être utilement appliqués dans d'autres domaines.

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The Joys of an Idle Weekend

JayTracer: A Trivial Raytracer In Javascript

Robin Berjon - # -

Back in the late XXth century I used to be a big fan of the Persistence of Vision Raytracer (aka POV-Ray). My general lack of design taste, at best very fuzzy understanding of what I was doing, and a sluggish P166 combined to keep me from ever doing anything really good with it, but still I toiled the nights away making shiny metal balls that would reflect checkerboards in misty mornings.

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L'internaute est un animal politique

Que faire du Web politique français?

Robin Berjon - # -

Le Web politique français bout aujourd'hui de toutes ses bullesD'aucuns se réjouiront du fait qu'au moins il ne bulle pas de tous ses bouts.. De nombreux politiques se jettent gaiment dans les eaux mouvementées des réseaux sociaux et de Twitter comme autant de brigades de sauvetage aux bronzages galbés un jour de grande alerte près de Malibu. Ces dernières semaines ont vu l'arrivée de nouveaux sites pour le PS comme pour l'UMP, ainsi que de leurs plateformes collaboratives la “CooPol” et les “Créateurs de Possibles”. Cet engouement soudain porte en lui nombre d'innovations dans la façon de faire de la politique en France. La question que je me pose ici est de définir ce qu'elles devraient être.

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Time to do the laundry

SVG 2.0 — My Wishlist

Robin Berjon - # -

SVG has grown a lot over the past decade. It is now available in the vast majority of phones, and in all browsers save Internet Explorer. Even there, the SVG Web project has made it possible to use it universally, and as Microsoft has recently joined the SVG Working Group, hope is blooming that the next version of their browser will support it natively. As with any technology that has grown over time, hindsight allows one to evaluate past decisions more clearly. As SVG becomes as ubiquitous a part of the Web stack as HTML or CSS, I believe that it is time to revisit these decisions in order to make it easier to use and evolve going forward. My wishlist for the next version is therefore far more concerned with changing or removing existing parts than with adding new features. This is just an early shopping list, more thinking and discussion is required before actually jumping in with most of these items.

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