Treehugger, mobile first.

I’m a TreeHugger fan, and have been for some time. They were the place to go for all things green for quite sometime, and they’re still relevant today.

At some point, I engaged @TreeHugger in a few brief exchanges about accessing their site on mobile (as well concerns). I’m sure one could find this information via a cache of twistory. My primary issue was that there was no mobile site. No mobile consideration. It was a typical allow-safari-to-scale-everything-down mobile experience. Which, while technically accessible, isn’t a very enjoyable or functional experience. The MAIN annoyance – inadvertently scrolling to the side while trying to scroll up or down – as I’m zoomed in.

The initial response was – we have an iPhone app. And while I think that’s awesome (srsly!), I didn’t want an iOS native app TreeHugger. I just wanted my web TreeHugger to work on my phone in a pleasurable fashion. I was reassured that the redesign was coming and to stay tuned. Which I did! I even checked back in with them from time to time to see how it was coming along. And at long last – the redesign debuted!

You should check it out – it is a nice improvement over the original one. There is less going on (though still white-space challenged), and the content is decidedly more front and center. Huzzah!

My first experience with the new design was a let down, for I found out about it at about six in the morning while sipping coffee on the couch and browsing the infonet on my iPhone. I was so excited to see the email with the news of the redesign launch! Yet when I clicked, I got the same scaled down version. The same non-responsive/desktop-first experience. I had a non-warm-fuzzy reaction.

Still scaled-down.

I engaged in a bit more twiscussion. Then it occurred to me: I should stop whining and start doing. So I picked an article/page from the new design, and made a mobile first version. Aren’t you so proud of me? Or you hate me. The internet is like that. I’ve accepted this.

A few things:

  1. This doesn’t address everything.
  2. Responsive images should likely be addressed via the server.
  3. A separate mobile site may be in order.
  4. This didn’t receive a ton of design love, it’s to demonstrate the concept.

The page in question: The original original version (see – it is better). And the new proof:

Also, everything is up on the github. A few more things:

  • This doesn’t address everything.
  • It does provide an experience for mobile and the desktop with very little effort.
  • I’d likely recommend also putting the first paragraph before the first photo in the article in the DOM.
  • As well as making the Featured, Related, and Popular click to expand accordions for mobile.
  • Also, the “skyscraper” ad format isn’t a good fit for mobile in general. Ditch them altogether.
  • We didn’t include the conditional style sheet reference for ie, but yeah, that’s how to deal with IE.

So what DID this example do?

  • Moved the nav and search to after the article. Content first!
  • Used the magic of CSS to position said moveds back to the top. Srsly, check to see.
  • Added a small bit of js to demonstrated mobile & desktop app. Basically – load in only yepnope in the head, and inline – load in a file called load.js which uses yepnope to load in a sniffer (or you could use modernizer), run some JS common to mobile and desktop, and then based on a mobile boolean, load in either desktop or mobile specific js bits.
  • Currently in JS the only code is in the mobile branch: the scrollTo and the orientation fix.
  • We also opted for the conditionally comments html tags for the ie specific css rules.
  • No I didn’t style the footer.
  • This is just to show that it’s possible.

My company Tag Creative and I would be absolutely thrilled to help consult with TreeHugger and bring their vibrant community up to date with a truly accessible, future friendly, mobile first, and responsive web presence.

Oh, and if you want to send hate mail, it should go to

The Fallacy of Ownership

I don’t own very many things and the things that I do own, I cherish and take care of; Try and use daily; Enjoy. Things like my iPhone and iPad. My guitar. My coffee mug given to be by a friend many many moons ago. I don’t use my guitar nearly enough.

Sure, I own some clothes. A few pair of shoes. Some dishes for the family. A couch even. A few beds. An iron. Some tools. But they’re all incidental to the few cherished possessions listed first. I even own a condominium, but that’s another story.

I don’t own books anymore. I really cherished books for a long while. Most of my life I guess. I owned a bookcase just for putting the books in. I still like stories and information. Love even. I no longer need to lug ideas around with me physically. Information is super in love with digital. My iPad can hold more books than all the ones I’ve ever own in my entire life combined. Times two even (probably more).

Some things aren’t yet digitize-able. But movies, books, financials, and most communication surely are. To which I take great advantage. Or try to.

I get really into trying to. Trying to be efficient. Save time on some things, to spend it in others. Imagine all the time we’ve wasted! I still waste a lot of time. It’s a process. But it isn’t on paying bills.

My personality tends toward extremism. I like to marinate. Sometimes literally, to my own detriment. But learning, absorbing, or whatever you call it, is addicting. One short hand for this I’ve come to is this modified axiom:

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. Teach him what it means to fish, feed everyone.

This is where is starts to get complicated before it gets simple again.

What does it mean to fish? It’s a harder question than it might at first appear. In the simplest form, it is applying technology to a food problem. But as we keep zooming out to get a broader picture. More context. Input Stephanie. We need to learn about more things.

There aren’t just fish. There are kinds of fish. And other animals. And plants in that ocean. There is a teeming biosphere just in that one fishing hole. And there isn’t just the one fisherman. There is his family. The region. The human race. And there are seasons, tides, chemistry, and our star.

Each context contains an inexhaustible amount of data.

But us sapiens are good at pattern recognition. So an additional strategy to trying to learn every single data there are to learn is to find some simple truths, theories, laws, whatever – that describe what’s going on. That seem to hold true every time we examine ourselves and our ideas or beliefs about whatever is it we’re examining at the moment.

Does this still make sense? Does this still hold true? Are there any new data which may change the validity of this?

A short-hand for this infinite learning phenomenon is the scientific method.

It is not a belief system. It is a doubt system. It is also the best tool we have yet for learning about the world in which we find ourselves. The Internet is a huge help in this endeavor. It helps us collect and analyze all our data.

New truths are bound to emerge. And emerge to a point which not believing in them is not a sane response. On par with not believing in gravity, for example. We can debate and research and theorize and refine, but the apple will fall.

Some things are true. Objectively true insomuch as we are able to discern. Our camera only has the megapixel resolution that it has though. Some ideas require a firmare update in order to install.

I think that’s where we are now. The reason that it feels like now is a special moment in history is because a) every moment in history is special. Now is always now. and b) because this particular now is significant.

The human race is on the precipice of undeniable realization of truth. New value systems will emerge. A new societal model will be required. One we will create together as we need it.

Take the idea of economy. An economic system. It requires a currency of exchange. And the only rational currency is energy. Or one based on energy. Not the scarcity or perceived scarcity of some particular mineral. That’s it. There’s no arguing it. It’s just the way it is. It’s just the universe we find ourselves in. The matter and energy exchange is the only game in town.

Or take the idea of ownership. It’s just an idea. It’s just a thing we made up. It seemed reasonable at the time, but as we learn more and more, it’s obvious that ownership isn’t real. Take my iPhone, one of my prized possessions. What happens to it in 2 years? Hopefully there is an attempt made to reuse it’s materials (it’s the energy conscious thing to do). What about 10 years? 100? A million? A billion? At some point its entire form will be literally recycled into other materials and forms, which do other things. Are part of other processes.

What does it mean that I owned it for 2 of those billion years? Those particular particles. That particular bit of energy incarnate in that particular matter. It doesn’t mean anything. We are slowly realizing this. Currently the only thing we collectively agree is that owning another person is “wrong.”

This is normal for us. We can only learn a new idea when it relates to us. Oh, right, you can’t own a person. This agreement is recent in most contexts. A mere moment ago geologically. And right this instant cosmologically.

Owning animals of a certain sentience is considered questionable. And every day we begin to understand the nuanced intelligence of more and more of the forms of life which inhabit this planet with us. That boundary will extend further.

It reminds me of the fervor surrounding the mosque being build “near” ground zero. How close is too close? Where is the edge of too close? The answer, the truth, was and is that it was a fallacious objection. Born out of emotional response. And totally understandable. But ridicant nonetheless.

It’s almost irony, perhaps, that as we come to understand the holistic-ness of everything and our place within it, we are mortal. We struggle to learn and pass on our learnings, make emotional connections, love, be loved, laugh, express, etc…

We are the universe coming to know itself. Along with all life. And the planets. And the stars. All through a variety of journeys, each infinitely unique. There is no experience of the universe that is exactly the same as mine. It is my blessing and my curse. Perhaps more irony.

There is no way that I can prove to myself with any rational satisfaction that this entire phenomenon I am experiencing is NOT a mental blip in the mind of a comatose drooling patient. But what else am I going to do?

I choose to believe that this is a real world. A real keyboard. A real wife. Real sunlight. A real urge to go to the bathroom. And use my mind to understand it. The universe and the need to go to the bathroom. I’ve heard of that as body wisdom.

I am not a Communist. And there isn’t private property. There isn’t even property. Not really.