Henri Helvetica

Shape Of The Web

Until 1992, the web was largely textual, reserved almost exclusively to academia, with the charm of searching for library books via card catalogs.

The sea change came when a browser allowed for both text and images to now be displayed in the viewport. Despite some vehement opposition, this was described as the “gateway to the riches of the internet”.

This was a technological advancement that some had wagered would further fuel more advacement. We now have seen technologies like APIs, PWAs, DevTools and many more.

“The Shape Of The Web” is about both accomplishments and challenges that lay in past, present and future of the web - from its technologies employed and its employed technologists.

Portrait photo of Henri Helvetica


>> Man, oh, man. I know everybody's been looking forward to this, not supposedly seeing me, but it's the end. So I'm going to try to make this as quick as possible. I don't know, I guess, will my slides show eventually? I sure hope so. Shout out to the AV people, because they're the best! [Applause].

All right. The slides are supposed to show any don't know. I hope so, because I'm not going to be able to act this out the whole time.

There we go! So, quickly, I mean, I realise that I saw a speaker yesterday, and she kind of like matched her slides with her outfit, so I thought I might do the same. And so, if everything goes right, I'm going to disappear! And I'm going to re-appear again. It's like camouflage! Okay, it worked. Anyway, I thought that was kind of funny.

And you're going to find out I'm a bit of a comedian. We will start this with a joke. Is that cool? Can we have a joke? All right.

How many JavaScripters here? I mean, it's kind of funny that I don't see all the hands up, but that's cool. So, imagine if naughty by nature went to the TC39 meeting. Hip-hop hurray! Hey - oh, you didn't like that. It's all good! Anyhow, we're going to get things cracking.

My name's Henri. My last name isn't Helvetica. I thought it sounded cool.

I did anyways. People might recognise me from my nays which is the avatar that I kind of like to. I'm from the greatest city on the planet called Toronto. It's super multi-cultural, and I didn't realise it until I left, and I was like, man, Toronto is actually amazing.

If you're in the area, check us out. Here is something you may not have known about Toronto.

Anyone own a Commodore 64 back in the day? Commodore was founded in Toronto. No doubt. So we're going to get things going. Welcome to the Shape of the Web. It's a talk I thought about a while back, and sort of just to talk about where the web has gone.

A lot of good things have happened. A lot of technology was used to make things really sort of like friendly and - like the great user experiences that we try to create, but I also felt that the technologists that were involved were amazing but some who may have been left behind so we will have a conversation about that. It's really just a conversation.

So let's get cracking. Now, first off, I want to thank JSConf EU for having me. I've been watching this conference from a distance on Twitter and look at the photos like this is amazing! Look at the screen! No, seriously, look at the screen! I mean, I only an-wide at home, and I think that this ratio is like 15:2 which is bananas. Talk about neck pains.

DevTools would be amazing on this screen, by the way! First of all, X, ten years, and I come from music, so I could appreciate what they've done here, the set-up. I mean, it's absolutely elaborate, but I love that they've done this for a tech conference, so can we please give JSConf a round of applause as well! [Applause].

All right, that's enough! I'm going to get jealous! So, they've been around ten years, and I was thinking to myself, like, you know, I was kind of writing this talk up, adding some notes, ten years. Where was I ten years ago? Like I said, I came from music. I was able to pull this photo out. I used to do lectures with the Red Bull Music Academy which is actually based out of Germany, and I was doing a lecture here with Flying Lotus, a big deal for me at the time, ten years a week from today.

It's pretty on point and on brand. But the web. The web's actually 30 years old.

And I was thinking to myself, like, man, 30 years old, that's kind of like a long time. And I don't know where you were 30 years ago, but I remember when I first accessed the web, the first thing I thought of was this. And I don't know how many of you were able to sort of like be around this time where you had to get a modem, and you made those telephone sounds, and that stuff, just to get on the internet? But it was great because I discovered a lot of things, and there was one place I used to hang out - who remembers newsgroups here? There we go. This is where I hung out a lot, rec.hipohop and yes, I'm going to talk about hip-hop with people I don't know. This is the first time you start to connect with people from all parts of the world who had access to the net.

Another thing that I did, as I had more and more access, I used to use search engines, like everyone else, and who remembers Alta Vista. There we go. I was a big fan. When that vanished, I was so sad. But, what I also did was I started to surf the web, and I was a big Netscape Navigator and Communicator fan.

Actually, there were a few browsers around thereafter, but this is the one that I was using, and the big part about this one is when it was released, this is what one of the early quotes from Andriesson himself, "This software is going to to change everything." And it did. Another quote came, things started exploding with the invention of the browser because suddenly the internet was accessible to the average person. And I mean, average, we will say sort of like model-class person who had a computer and a modem, but it definitely opened things up.

You started to have that delight and discovery that I like to talk about. When Netscape came out, it was extremely popular, 65 million users in 18 months, and part of the reason was the fact that as much as the early web was, like, text, it was very academic, they were actually able to bring images into the fold here, and what then happened is that when we were surfing the net, we were accustomed to the lay-out text, images. It was reading the paper. And believe it or not, there was debate as to whether or not they were going to bring images on to the web.

Some mild arguments, and the belief was that if they brought images on, there would be like this onslaught of pornography. And I'm here to say that they were absolutely wrong.

Right? But, the fact is, for real, though, they believe that by opening it up, adding some images, and letting people sort of expert, it was going to drive the web forward, and it actually did. Now, today, we are 4.3 billion users online. I think that's phenomenal, but believe it or not, there's still room to grow. And, you know, you might wonder that's an explosive growth.

What sort of drove that? Well, this is kind of it right here. This young lady's on a mobile phone. I believe this is nothing that the they expected to see at the time.

This is like mid-1990s. Who thought you were going to have a mobile device and be able to surf the web just as powerfully as they did back then? So this has allowed us to do a lot of different things. We've been able to be very productive in life. So what have we been able to do with sort of like little friction? Pretty much everything.

I mean, we can make money, we manage money online, we can go on a date, we can go buy clothes. We can actually go rent a car to take your date out.

We can order fish, we can listen to one of my favourite songs called Fish, and we could actually get phishing emails from African Princes, right? But all jokes aside, man, we can actually read comics and make them accessible, comic books, shot-out to Jessica. [Applause]. No doubt. For all the people that were trying to bring online, we could actually go offline.

This is what technology has allowed us to do. Which is absolutely needed. By the way, I downloaded the offline map for Berlin because I was not going to pay those fees.

But we could actually create music in the browser as well. Shout-out to Live :JS in the building! This is what the technology has allowed us to do, very important. This is the shape of the web as we see it growing right before our eyes. So, the technology has been extremely important in getting these sort of things done.

And this is where we are going to sort of like see even more technology allow us to do greater things thereafter. Now, what about the technologist? We may have been playing some amazing chords on some of the devices that we've seen out there, you know, from keyboards to the MIDI controllers, but, unfortunately, there's been a little bit of discord as well, and we're going to get into a few items that have been bothering me a little.

Let's talk about technology. There's an ongoing refrain, we know exactly what is going on, and it saddens me. I mean, you just need to open up Twitter and wait five seconds before it hits you, and I think that's sad. It's been long discussed, you know, what needs to be done to retain talent, to attract talent, and we still go out and sort of like trip over some of the main issues.

I mean, what do they talk about? What do women talk about when they leave the industry? The lack of career growth, salary, poor management, and, you know, when I read poor management, I know exactly what they mean. That's just being polite. And the other part is actually what scares me, because the other, I feel, I know exactly what is going on, but, again, it's being polite and not calling people out, because other to me means this.

It's not fit for print, but we know exactly what is happening. To me, that's absolutely not the way or the shape of the web needs to take. Further on I'm going to share a little story, something I did did a few years ago. International men's day happens once a year, March 8th. And I got together with some buddies, I'm like let's rap about this.

I want to put an event for women to come out and enjoy themselves and listen to other women in the industry. This goes back to something I tried about ten years ago in music. I really wanted to do a show with female producers. I work in a certain pack of sound, and I knew there were producers out there, but when I went knocking on some doors, I couldn't find any sponsors, so it got a little tough, but I never forgot that. When I had an opportunity to do something again, I did.

So, every year we put together in event called IWDTO, International Men's Day, and this is a picture of 2015, and we've been doing it for five years now. On the right to left, we have Lisa, who worked at the White House, an Obama hire, by the way. The lady in the middle, someone who I look up to very much, she works in performance.

She goes by the name of Tammy Everts who works at SpeedCurve. An amazing person. You need to follow her if you can. On the left, I'm not sure if she is here, Mina Markham.

I would be happy for her to come down and share her story. The most important part is the fact that, like I say, we do this every year, and it warms my heart to be able to help out in a way - I might not be the best ally - but I feel I'm doing something to make things work.

Why do I want to to this? I want to make sure that we have moments like these, you know? [Applause]. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Katie, we know exactly what happened there. A great moment, even though shortly after we saw the trolls come out and sort of question her.

Margaret Hamilton, as we know, coined the term "software engineering" but right there she is sitting next to the stack of paper that was essentially her sort of like tracing, or helping get the rockets up to the moon. But one of my favourite photos is this one right here. This is the Indian space research organisation.

And they're having a ball right there. Why? Well, they were the fourth team to ever get a satellite around Mars. But they were the first to do it on the first try, not NASA, not the European Space Agency, and not the Russian Space Agency, but the agency out of India. As you can tell, the team is made up of several women.

It's actually a short documentary on that. I will be more than happy to put the link out.

So I want to see of month of these happening, these moments taking place. The big thing is that the comment thread between the three photos that I showed, I mean, they all had CS backgrounds, degrees, and what not, which brings me to my next malaise, the CS versus non-CS beef. Any CS people in the building? I mean, raise your hand. I've got love for you. You know what I mean? How did this happen? I really don't know.

But, I kind of got triggered by this one tweet, and this person's going to go unidentified, reasons why computer science degree is a bad eat. Idea. What? Money, time, CS can be so boring.

I thought to myself that was irresponsible because it came from someone who has a large platform, and I actually questioned him on it, but I'm not going to get into that. But, I will get into this, and make some noise when you see a photo that sort of like you recognise the image. [Applause]. Okay.

All right. Does anyone know what this is? Okay.

I'm go the to get into that, but does anyone know what this is? Okay. So, let me go back. Dartmouth Oversimplified Programming Experiment - DOPE. It was the language that preceded BASIC.

Why is it important? The author of BASIC, a math wizard worked at Dartmouth, believed that he could get non-STEM students at the university to get into programming. And he basically soldiered on trying to make things work. Eventually, BASIC did become a language, and how did it happen? Because he got a lot of non-STEM students to work along and contribute to the venture.

And BASIC was born. That's very important, because even as a non-STEM student you're in BASIC, this is a tweet from Brian Love's words boom! I thought this was so true. You needed to see this because you don't need a CS degree to be successful, but it doesn't mean by having a CS degree you're not going to be. In fact, John's daughter mentioned this: BASIC was basically an incredible project of what is now called an aligned team. I thought that was wild.

But speaking of CS, I want to talk about something else real quick. Does anyone know who this is? Probably not. Her name's Lena Soderburg, and most of the CS people, and if you're in performance, you might know this performance, Lena? We know someone here knows? But you might recognise her when I do this. Now, this is the photo that's been internationally accepted as the test image when you do any kind of image processing, compressing, et cetera, et cetera, which is totally cool. But here's what is not so cool.

This is where it came from. I remember doing some research one day, and I could not believe it. We've been using an image from Playboy for 40-some years.

Do you know that two million images are uploaded to the web daily? Did I say two million? I meant two million images. They're uploaded to the web daily, but somehow we have the photo of a centre fold as the test image for image compression. You know, for a second, I was thinking, it's the 1940s, we're going to get over it, whatever. It's going to fade.

This happened in 2018. Someone presented a talk and just like talked about centre folds - 2018.

How are you supposed to retain talent? How are you supposed to attract talent when you have this kind of comportment out in the wild? This is not the shape of the web to come. And with that being said, I mean, I tweeted this out just moments before I got on stage. I will ask anyone who wishes to do so to vote whether or not the Lena image should remain the standard in image processing. Now, we kind of know what this means, the World Wide Web.

A developer I know likes to wall it the "wealthy Western web". Okay, I'm good, because I think this started early. I'm watching the clock and this flashing president the wealthy Western web, because we like to design and create apps for the West, but what if I told you this is the list of the top-ten internet users by country? Okay? What if I told you the greatest growth by country looks like this: now, these two lists are the reason why documentation is important, and it's important to trans late.

Think about this. Remember that German spoke yesterday who said, he spoken a few times on stage but it was his first time speaking in English. First time. And you have developers out there that are trying to get in the fold, but documentation's not in their native language.

That's something we definitely have to look into. Why? Because you have situations like this.

And this sort of caused a little bit of kerfuffle on Twitter. And I was watching it. And this tweet came out. I'm not going to name the person, because I didn't ask whether or not I could use it, but this happened thereafter.

Same tweet. Now, we are talking about, you know, creating an inclusive community, an inclusive web. I mean, I don't know how you're going to get more inclusive than having documentation translated properly so that other developers can have some input.

Think about your framework that may sort of like mature so much faster because you have contributions from all over the globe because they have documentation in their native tongue. I think it's very important to remember. That being said, what is next in 2020? I don't know. I think we will still be developers, and we're all still going to love the web and go to conferences, and network, we're all still going to have great discoveries.

I mean, there's so much web we've yet to discover. There are so many more people that we can help the light in discovery.

I mean, there are so many more applications we have yet to engineer. People, neighbours, so many people we can learn from, experiences, you know? Just is that we can make tweaks to our applications. At the end of the day, I know we are good people by default. I mean, I truly believe that.

I don't think that we are born with, like, sort of like evil within us - at least I sure hope not. My hope is that we keep it as you have. I mean, we get maybe one day to enjoy another JSConf EU, because I would love to come back.

And, with that being said, thank you very much for your time. Come visit me in Toronto. And let's party tonight! [Cheering and applause]. Exit stage left. I don't know! Is anyone coming! Is there a gong I'm supposed to hit? [Applause].

>> I've got it, thanks. I'm just joking. Thanks, everyone, sorry. We would like to thank everyone for coming. And we would like to start with - we're going to thank a lot of people now.

We want to thank all our speakers. Please raise the roof for the speakers while all the speakers come on stage to receive your roof-raising, everyone, please! All the speakers, please come on stage! [Cheering and applause]. All right, so, ...

[Applause]. So we have had a meeting about this, and I'm glad you can see all the speakers and you can do another applause, but then I need you to go down for theatrical reasons which I totally screwed up, very sorry. One more big applause for all the speakers. Thank you very much! [Cheering and applause].

Now, we all need to go again so people can see the slides we've prepared. Sorry!

>> That's the main problem. We have to ask speakers to leave the stage again. We need the screen! Sorry. Move to the side again? Thank you. Sorry for the confusion.

>> There was a meeting, and we talked about it in Slack, and we got confused, mostly me. It end like it started, with at least some misunderstanding!

>> Very well prepared, yes, thank you. Please, all the emcees and stage managers, please stand up and receive your well-deserved applause! [Cheering and applause]. And the next group of persons and companies we want to thank you are our sponsors. Many of them joined us for more than one year, some of them for almost ten years, and we think that is worth a round of applause for our sponsors! [Applause].

>> People working at a company who is sponsoring us currently, please stand up for a second! Woo! [Applause]. And also, sponsorship is our scholarship supporter list. That's the main reason why we need the screen, because this list is really huge. Please, everybody, stand up who is on that list, and everybody else should give a warm applause to all these people who made it possible to include 150 people to our conference at no cost. [Cheering and applause].

And also, we want to say thank you to the company called Attribute, who is bringing all these parts together. Attribute with Bjorn, Juliana, Andre, Philip and the whole team is planning this event to us and sets everything up with us, and they're at least co responsible for everything that you see here, and they're full of ideas, and helped us growing over the years. They joined us seven years ago, I think, and it's a really great collaboration with them so far, so thank you, Attribute, Bjorn, Juliana, and everybody else! [Applause]. The other companies that are here are Wecap.

Julia is doing our mood videos, Julia is doing 50 per cent of the photos alongside Shahin who is doing the rest of our photos. We want to thank the right? Arena for hosting us for the last three years, the Textile Press with us for three or four years. We had frozen yoghurt, and first time #nailconf. We would like to thank Harald and his team for the great food from the last three days. We would like to thank you White Coat Captioning who is captioning every stage at every time of day and night via Skype calls set up from all these stages.

We want to thank you the Bahn for the coffee, and thank you to serve you for the Wi-Fi which made roughly 200 megabits per second on average. We want to thank you for childcare, the team from Kids' Event, the medical response team which helped us one or two times for difficult situations this time, and we would like to say thank you for those building the stuff where you're sitting here. Thank you! [Applause].

>> Oh, wait? I can already see what is happening ... . Oh, my God! That wasn't planned! [Cheering and applause].

>> I've joined the luxurious land of post-conference organisers, it's fantastic. Can you all hear me? Yes! There we go! Reaching out from the beyond to welcome all of the JSConf EU organisers into the happy, happy zone thereafter from - can everyone give them a tremendous round of applause, because tomorrow morning, they wake up without worrying about yet another conference! Congratulations, everybody! [Cheering and applause]. Make them embarrassingly happy! Congratulations. If I make take a moment, we should reminisce and appreciate the first time the JSConf EU went off, I was in the same sort of role, doing a video conference. Clearly, I've not fixed this problem.

But things are as they are, so, I wanted to take a second and congratulate everyone who has organised JSConf EU throughout the years, being a host, and many wonderful things, sliced fingers opening for controllers, node.js, housing one of the most inclusive and incredibly diverse conferences, to proving that you can do conferences outdoors in bubbles - yay! - and you know what crazy people - and all have a wonderful inviting, and wonderful experience. You've done a tremendous amount of benefit for the JavaScript and technology community, and our thanks cannot - even if we thanked you ever single day, it would not be enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you! [Cheering and applause]. [Applause].

>> That's all I've got! Auf wiedersehen.

>> All right, give it up for Live: JS! [Applause]. Some of you have probably seen the talk yesterday where they talked about how they created this amazing experience. You've seen them play over there. They have not slept much over the last week, and the weeks before this, it's been an incredible amount of work, so, again, thank you very much to Live:JS.

[Applause]. On top of that, we had a great set of artists, who helped with the visuals, and especially the mural over in the side track.

John was the person creating the audience's programming, trailer, that ran at the start of our opening show, and then we have the group that created the absolutely incredible computer of one's own exhibition that you saw at the back of the of the hall. We saw this earlier, you can now purchase those. Follow the link on our Twitter. [Applause].

And then, Thursday, the week of last week, so nine days ago, I messaged our internal Slack for speakers, scholarship recipients and volunteers saying we would like to do a choir. Can any one of you sing? The response I got which what I was hoping for we are a choir, we know what this is. We're the awareness team, we're there anyway. Can we help? That saved our idea, and we had speaker and scholarship recipients joining in our opening. It was incredible.

They practised this the night before. They had never met before, so give it up for them. Thank you very much. [Cheering and applause].

>> We had the honour to get to have Wiebke this year, she managed the sponsorship from both conferences, and into and we could not be more thankful to have her. Big applause for Wiebke! Such a big event couldn't be done without the help of a team. A big shout out to them. They helped us for many things.

Thank you, Niko, Martin, Zeno, and Olivia! [Applause]. This year, we had more volunteers than ever before.

And they are the reason why we, the organisers, could be a bit more relaxed this year. They helped at the registration community launch, BIPoCiT space, live captions, and much more. Thanks to all our volunteers. [Applause].

So, who of you has been to the community lounge? They shared great stories, right? The community lounge is a small conference running in the breaks since 2017. Thank you, Michelle, and Vanessa, for being part of our team and putting in so much effort in organising the community lounge. [Applause]. This year, for the first time, JSConf EU had an inclusionary space for black, indigenous, and/or people of colour. Thank you Lauren, Darren, and Vanessa for putting so much effort into the BIPoCiT space.

[Cheering and applause]. Also, for the first tile, we had a team which was here for you in case you needed support or had any issues. Thank you to the team for their great work and to Tui for organising it. [Applause].

>> Our scholarship programme was organised this year by Princya, Olivia, and Thuy. Give it up for them. [Applause]. JSConf EU would not be what it is without the continuous help of the CSSconf EU team. Thank you, Lukasz, Kristina for all your help over these years.

>> Can you tell we didn't rehearse that bit! Okay, thank you so much to the organisers. I think that it's pretty obvious that this is the most welcoming generate conference in the world. [Cheering and applause]. I think it's also really obvious that it's changed the lives of probably 100s or thousands of people, not just the in the room tonight, but the people you spoke to, spread the word to, and said, hey, the JavaScript community is welcoming, friendly, and you can been a part of it. Thank you to all of you as well.

[Applause]. Okay, final announcement: we're selling the portraits back there. They are tweeted on the JSConf EU Twitter. The money is going to go to the artist that created them.

Next steps is in a second, we are going to take a family photo. It's going to happen straight behind us. I need you to form a triangle, so narrower in the front. Ah, okay, more announcements, then we're going to do the photo.

The photo's going to be shaped in a triangle. Right now, let's remind you to get your things from the coat check after we all come on stage. So, first, everybody ...

>> I would say no, because I think I know what I want. Everybody who has helped this year organising this great event, and who could not be on stage because the slides are too big, please come up. We want you all here, and we want a warm applause for all of you. [Applause].

And now we would like to have the speakers come to the stage again, please. [Applause].

We would also like to have the speakers from the BIPoCiT space and the community lounge come to the stage. [Applause]. Are our emcees already on stage in where is our emceeing team? Yeah! Thank you, everyone for being here for helping us, and please apologies for the unorganised closing here. We love you all, and I think we can go to the family photo soon, but it's great to have us all here, so thanks, everyone, again! [Cheering and applause].