It’s 20 years to the day since I started my web career (and indeed my first full-time job). 16th November 1999. 

Last millennia. 


I started as a ‘Web Development Assistant’ (and something about Sales) at Macmillan Publishers in London. 

Here’s the first website I’ve worked on.

I had no idea what I was doing, but rather fortunately it was still relatively early days for the web, so easier to get a job in it through enthusiasm and willingness to learn. 

We had Internet Explorer 4. Netscape Navigator 4.7. No mobile. Google wasn’t something people had really heard of yet. Wayyy pre-social networks. Many people still thought it (the web) was a fad. 

See what it was like, it was wild. http://oldweb.today/

This was a typical day for me back in 1999 (on a giant beige Dell desktop with CRT monitor)

  • Processing online orders  – our e-commerce platform went like this – a form sent an email to me, I would phone the person up, take the credit card number enter the details into a Word form, print it out then through internal post send it to Basingstoke to be processed by another person using a system built in the 1970s.
  • Tech support for some of our online products (online encyclopaedias, lol). Including a memorable time when I spent the best part of an hour a day training an 80 year old on the fundamentals of computing and the internet (he expected the online encyclopaedia to appear when he turned on the computer)
  • Updating the website, via FrontPage 98. Editing files LIVE on the server. 
  • Creating GIFs for new products / menu items in full 216 dithered GIF Technicolor. And 640 pixel wide monitors
  • Learning HTML/CSS from my boss, who was awesome and very patient. 
  • The day I started work as a Web Development Assistant is also the day I sent my first ever email.

Things have changed somewhat, although some of it hasn’t, I still try and keep learning, I still update the live server 😉

I didn’t even know what my profession really was until I started looking for a new job after 8.5 years in Publishing. Turned out front-end developer was closest to what I enjoyed.

Since then I’ve worked on many many many websites, I left publishing and worked in an exciting and forward thinking agency for 4.5 years, with some of the smartest, most creative people in the industry, and learned a ton. 

I’ve travelled round the world helping people understand their needs and translating them into working sites. 

I then created my own company, Dogwonder Ltd. in 2012 and have spent the time since then working directly with awesome companies, people and collaborators. 

I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to connect with people though building websites. Clients big and small, colleagues of all kinds, family, friends, communities and my wife. The internet connects us all. 

I am still building websites. I really didn’t think from that point 20 years ago that I would or even could still be building websites. And I still love it. It’s a constant journey of learning and understanding and  I feel very privileged to be able to be able to do it. 

Job title now – no idea. I build websites. 

We went from static websites (remember Movable Type) to database driven (WordPress) / restful API (Ruby on Rails) back through to static sites again. We went from static designs to responsive websites, with the advent of mobile. 

Lots has changed but also lots hasn’t. Building websites that work for the user, allowing them to get done what they need to get done, whilst making sure that the widest number of people, devices and browsers can access them have been core all the way through 20 years. As I was starting web standards was becoming a thing, it still seems very very relevant today, sure things can be improved, but we should never forget the fundamentals, build good stuff that works well for as many people as possible.

I think now one of my biggest concerns is someone starting their journey today. I see an industry where some of the players have put up barriers, making the learning curve and steps massive before you can even render ‘hello world’ in a browser. It isn’t as accessible as it should be and that makes me sad. It’s an amazing job, and we shouldn’t be making it harder to start.

But I digress. It’s been a great 20 years, and feel very privileged to have been able to work in this industry.

I’m back!

And on a shiney new server! Thanks @shanemarsden for getting all the apache and php stuff sorted on our box so I can install lovely wordpress.

It’s been over six years since I started here and at another junction where I try and work out what the purpose of this website is, but seeing as I change my mind all the time and the interwebs changes likewise, I guess it;s going to be that way for ever.

But as it’s election time I guess there may be the old politics post 😉


Re-posting a comment I made earlier on a guardian piece by Simon Jenkins titled Palms, Kindles, Nooks, iPads – none are as cool as Gutenberg’s gadget because I don’t think it’s a war between formats.


My job is building websites, I build hundreds a year, I get most of my news and information from the web. I collaborate, communicate, create and share on the web. In short I love the web.

I also buy print books (from Amazon – who by the way had sales of $9.5bn last year), read print newspapers (as well as here on your website and via the iPhone app). In short I love print.

I also worked at a major publishing house for over 8 years working on websites (as well as print books) to enhance and support print textbooks (teaching materials, powerpoint slides, author blogs, learning objectives etc, sample material).

Now maybe I am an exception, but I feel this is such a tired argument, at each stage of technical development the newcomer did not destroy the incumbent. When photography came about it was said that painting would die, then we got the impressionists. When Cinema came out it would destroy theatre, when recorded music arrived, sheet music was for the chop (well this was quite dramatic), TV would destroy radio, VHS destroy Cinema. These developments exist in an ecosystem, each feeding and supporting one another – look at the increase in radio listening, most likely from internet listeners (I do not have figures to hand).

Now undoubtedly some of these industries have suffered at the arrival of the newcomer, however we have also seen innovation due to the new landscape. The impressionist example a good one, as much art had been quite representative up to that point – the advent of the photograph and it’s obvious ability to capture the real resulted in artists representing more emotive and perceptually different models of reality.

I could go on for far too long with examples of innovation in the face of change, much like the natural world – systems must evolve, there is no birth right to existence. The print media got comfortable and the fact that the majority of books/magazines sold now are celebrity tomes or celebrity news shows the lack of innovation in the market. The Guardian is an excellent example of innovation in the industry, allowing me for example to reply to your opinion, something I could not have done in the print equivalent.

These things are not mutually exclusive, print will live, just as radio, tv, cinema, theatre and painting does. However the people and the business models behind the print industries must innovate or then there really will be a problem. The opportunities the web offers are too much to pass by, print can be part of that. Infact print will be/is part of that (see POD / Lulu.com / The Newspaper Club).

Seven stages of grief

About once a year I decide to have my little rant about big publishers/ old media and their attitude towards the internetwebs. Although looking back through the arguments, the tone has changed somewhat over the years. And it’s this change of tone that is interesting, and I reckon it’s following the classic 5 stages of grief theory. Although if that’s the case then we have a loooooong time before we can all just get along. So starting with the concept that the old way was doomed the moment Tim Berners-Lee thought ‘hey what about linking all this shit together’ and then metaphorical nails in the coffin from Google, YouTube, Craigslist, blogging, flickr, downloading, itunes…etc…etc…etc…etc.

The stages of grief are defined as:

1. Denial – I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening, not to me.”
2. Anger – Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; “Who is to blame?”
3. Bargaining - “I’ll do anything for a few more years.”;
4. Depression – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die . . . What’s the point?”;
5. Acceptance – “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

So then stage 1, Denial. Most defiantly  true, many publishers at first just thought it was something for the geeks by the geeks and would ‘just blow over’ (I heard this statement personally several times). Google was interesting, Blogs were interesting, Google Ads were interesting, but never a match for traditional advertising (I was also sat in a meeting in 2004 where shock, disbelief and more than a little pity and amusement was displayed when suggesting Google Ad income would eventually overtake TV – it did, last year). But beyond that it was just a plaything, a geek/nerd thing, a game, nothing consequential compared to the high falutin’ newspapers, books, film and cds. For years traditional publishers played out the Knut role, to them they were simply attempting to dismiss this troublesome wave, enforcing why their business models deserved to survive, we are the ‘gate-keepers of quality’ they said, the internet is full of commentary and lies and noise. Yet at the same time pumping out the same old formats irrespective of price, need, and the change of attitudes towards content. Simply put they didn’t listen to the people that were buying the material, they were so sure of the business and content models no debate was necessary. On the web however people started creating the systems, filters and content that they wanted as well as circumventing the controls that the big publishers forced on a market in flux.

Stage 2, Anger, this is certainly here in reams, it’s not fair, why should we give away content, the aggregators steal our information, people steal our content and IP, you can’t make money online, give us time, we need to protect our current business model, we deserve to survive, democracy will die if newspapers go – just some of the screaming at the moon statements trotted out when organisations are in-able to innovate and take advantage of this brilliant new system.

Stage 3, Bargaining, I don’t think we are quite there yet, although much of stage two traits could be seen as bargaining, but some of the bargaining is so one-sided it doesn’t seem much of a deal. Sure we could look at newspaper websites, iplayer, itunes store as examples where certain segments of the old big publishers are starting to bargain with us – offering the formats and delivery mechanisms we want. And others wish/plead for more time to sort out the transition, and this is all great, but not all people deal with grief in the same way and I think anger is going to rage for a while in lots of sectors.

So after that, Stage 4 Depression, it’s sure to hit hard as some industries find themselves left behind and use what little influence they still have to bemoan the new system, how unfair it all is and how things were in the good ‘ol days.

So I that means the next stages to expect are bargaining, depression and eventually Stage 5 Acceptance  – these are all likely to happen in parallel – the companies that fail to innovate quick enough will die or be sidelined or just wither, this will lead to more anger and depression as people try to figure out what went wrong and find themselves in the cold. Others will innovate and work with the new paradigms, change their processes and LISTEN to their customers, and god forbid, even talk back to them openly and honestly, leading to better products and more efficient processes. These new models based on interaction, iteration and evolving business models that fit needs rather than reject change and sustain the current/past. Now when I say acceptance I don’t mean that everything is free and the web turns into one big 4chan (however lol that would be), but that older orgs work with, not against the system, creating new business models and process that fit. Now that’s something to hope for.

One final note, that I accept totally, none of this is easy or painless and certainly it leads to changes – some of which are unpleasant i.e. job losses . However doing nothing is not an option, the web is here to stay.

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Fake Shack in the UK


Ever since I saw this blog post from A Hamburger Today about how to make your own fake Shake Shack burger a little while ago I wanted to make one. Even though I had never been to Shake Shack (although in 2003 on a business trip I worked in the Flat Iron for two days without knowing of it’s existence – the horror), seeing the various amazing reviews and images online I needed no convincing of it’s awesomeness (although one day I will taste it’s deliciousness, mark my word). So on one recent Saturday night, I decided to have a go at my own version of the next best thing, the ‘Fake Shack’ burger via AHT (A Hamburger Today, yes I look at lots of pictures of burgers on the internets). Obviously being a Brit I couldn’t get my hands on some of the ingredients, most particularly potato rolls, no idea why we can’t seem to get or make them here in the UK but there you go. Also, nice soft rolls, none of that crusty / sourdough stuff you tend to get this side of the pond in burger joints (the posher ones), which IMHO just fights against the balance of the rest of the burger.

Shake Shackby jeremiah_owyang

However we are blessed with some awesome beef over here, and my local farmers’ market in Stoke Newington has a great range of organic rare breed beef (esp. Red poll beef, which seemingly has great meat to fat ratio), hopefully meaning the subsequent patty will be juicy without drying out to much during the frying process.

Anyway, I gathered all the ingredients together from various outlets and set to work, below is the list of what I required.

The Ingredients
(for one burger)

For the burger patty:

For the buns:

  • 1 Kingsmill soft white bun
  • Some Butter / Margarine

For the rest:


  • American Cheese: 1 Sliced processed neon yellow stuff

Fake shack sauce:

  • Mayonnaise ~ loads
  • Ketchup ~ dash
  • American (Yellow) Mustard ~ dash
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Crushed garlic glove
  • 2 small Gherkins

Rabbit food:

  • 2 leaves of lettuce (iceberg)
  • 2 slices of good ripe tomato


The Process

The sauce:

So first off the magic sauce. I started mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl, in the order above (for the main part AHT suggests the sauce is mostly Mayo). Then came the moment of truth with the sauce, I chopped up two gherkins and added them to the mix, then used a hand blender to blend it into the sauce until it’s a fairly smooth consistency (although some very small chunks remained). I then spooned the delicious mixture into a empty squeezy bottle for smoother application later.


The burger:

I shaped the patties from the excellent red poll beef into squashed balls and sprinkled over a salt and pepper mix during the process, and immediately placed onto a hot griddle. Then I used the suggested ‘smash and scrape technique’ to squash the patty down with the back of a spatula onto the hot griddle, it’s suggested not to use too much oil so that the patty actually sticks a little to the pan, thus ensuring a crispiness to the beef


The assembly:

After giving the burgers about 2/3 minutes each side I placed the sliced cheese on the burger whilst still in the pan whilst the lightly buttered buns are grilling. Then when the buns look nicely toasted I added some sauce to the top half then some lettuce and a slice of tomato. To the other half of the bun I placed the burger. Then it’s simply a matter of adding the two together to make the burger complete. Then nom time!


La nomage:

The sauce was just amazing, with the taste of the pickles and garlic really coming through. To be perfectly honest it’s a little like Big Mac sauce but made with fresh, sharper ingredients. The burger was more that the sum of it’s parts, the lettuce and tomato gave a lovely balance to the richness of the beef and cheese (I know it’s processed but it really is at it’s best on good beef and obviously authentic for the Fake Shack). It was at once soft and crispy, rich and smooth. All in all wonderful, certainly the best burger I have made for myself EVAR, and I’ve made some burgers in my time.


Just look at that fucking burger, look at it.

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