These fragments I have shored against my ruins’: Modernism, Post-Modernism, and Responsive Web Design

Back in 2000, A List Apart published John Allsop’s “A Dao of Web Design,” which argued that “It is the nature of the web to be flexible, and it should be our role as designers and developers to embrace this flexibility.” In 2010, Ethan Marcotte’s “Responsive Web Design” picked up Allsop’s call and modernized it, connecting the call to “embrace this flexibility” to a specific historical change (the tidal wave of mobile web usage) and a set of techniques for contemporary markup.

What is it about the process of design that struggles so mightily to embrace the chaos? Why do otherwise digitally savvy publishers, editors, designers, and developers have such difficulty letting go? Is there an inherent conflict between “digital” and “design”?

This talk takes the philosophical and literary-historical shift/tension between modernism and post-modernism and looks for signs that might help us understand the shifting sands under our own digital feet.