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April Desktop View

April Desktop View

As April is ending, I thought it would be a good time to review articles of interest which I have been reviewing this month (and articles members and colleagues have made me aware of). As readers know, web technologies are always evolving. This is that keeps me interested in all things web (and has for well over three decades).

Accessibility

New software has been developed to enable blind and low vision users to create interactive, accessible charts. The software is called Umwelt and was created by researchers at MIT and University College London. The software is designed for screen reader users.

AI

If you happen to own an iPhone (and it is newer than 5 years old with iOS 17), there are AI features available to you now. These include cinematic video editing (subject can be detected and focus can be changed depending on the action). You can also use the Live Text feature to copy text from images. Yes, this has been around for a while, but has been significantly improved. You can also create stickers from your own photos. Obviously a lot more is coming with IOS 18.

A recent study also revealed a surge in the use of AI to enhance video accessibility. Wistia’s State of Video report is summarized in the linked article. Interestingly, part of the study also found that shorter videos are not necessarily that much more engaging. We encourage you to read the summary and the full report.

CSS

This article on CSS trends for 2024 is most interesting. It is amazing how much continues to evolve with this technology. From new color systems to subgrids to cascade layers, there are many changes happening. Frameworks such as Tailwind CSS, Chakra UI also continue to evolve. Readers are encouraged to check out the above linked article.

Web Design trends

Here are some web design trends emerging in 2024. These include: denser, richer graphics, AI generated designs, micro interactions, kinetic typography and much more continue to evolve.

WordPress

Given that this technology supports roughly 38% of websites, we thought readers might want to know what is new for developers  with the release of version 6.5. For those who do not know, the next version (6.6) will drop support for older versions of PHP (7.0 and 7.1). The WordPress Playground continues to evolve and some enhancements are discussed in this article as well.

Those are some of the articles we found interesting in the past month. We are curious what you found interesting as well. Please let us know in the comments.

 

March, 2024 Desktop View

March, 2024 Desktop View

Spring is officially here (in the northern hemisphere). A lot has been happening both in the organization and the world of web technologies. Readers of this blog know we are in the midst of helping many states with their SkillsUSA web design and development competitions. Winners at the state level are then eligible to compete at the national level in June (in Atlanta). We are glad to be helping these states.

For those who suspect, the featured image was created with AI (Adobe Firefly in this case). Readers of this blog will also recall that all links will open in a new browser tab.

Web Technology Updates

  • Accessibility trends – we found this overview of 7 accessibility trends to watch in 2024 an interesting read. Web accessibility testing will become more automated with greater reliance on AI (Artificial Intelligence). Personalized accessibility solutions and more integration of voice technology also top the list. We encourage you to review the article to learn more about these trends.
  • CSSChris Coyier created a bookmarkable guide to a list of recent enhancements to CSS. We like the overview of these along with notes about when you should care and what browsers support these capabilities now. Working examples (which allow you to also view the code) are highly useful and helpful. Emphasis is on container queries, the :has( ) pseudo selector, View transitions, anchor positioning, and much more. We encourage readers to review and reference his article.
  • Frontend TrendsDiego Petrecolla provided a solid overview of frontend trends for early 2024. This includes a nice overview of BFF (Backend for the Frontend) patterns, PWA (Progressive Web Apps), JavaScript and more.
  • Web Development Trends – We found this informative article useful as it combines an overview of where these technologies came from (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) along with where they are going (use of AI in web development, voice search optimization, Web Assembly, and cyber security measures). Definitely a lot to think about as we move into the second quarter of 2024.
  • Web Design TrendsChristopher Lara reviews 24 web design trends (since it is 2024, after all). From scrolling animations to claymorphism to dark mode to frosted glass effects to voice activated interface, there is a lot to unpack in this article.
  • Cybersecurity trends of 2024Vera Cooper (Splashtop) provides an overview of many cybersecurity trends which are emerging in 2024. AI and machine learning top her list. IoT is a close second. Phishing attacks, mobile security, and much more are discussed in her article as well.

These are some of the articles/ trends we are watching evolve in 2024. What additional trends do you see? Let us know in the comments. We always look forward to insights from our members.

December, 2023 Desktop view

December, 2023 Desktop view

As 2023 draws to a close, we thought it would be helpful to share some of the articles we have been reading. We have tried to focus on a handful of articles (covering the categories below). As we have noted on previous articles, all links will open in a new browser tab/ window.

Artificial Intelligence

As readers are well aware, the pace of change in AI is hard to fathom. This article summarizes what we should be looking for in late 2023 and early 2024. Perhaps we will look back at this article in mid-2024 and see how the predictions fared.

As you may suspect, the “featured image” accompanying this post was generated by Adobe Firefly.

Accessibility

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 were released on October 5. There are many aspects to consider. We found Craig Abbott’s analysis most helpful (this is definitely worth a read).

CSS

If you are even a little curious where CSS might be heading, we encourage you to review Eric Meyer’s article concerning Nuclear Anchored Sidenotes. Of course, you will need a fairly recent version of the Chrome browser with the “experimental web features” option enabled if you want to try out his examples.

JavaScript

JavaScript continues to evolve as well. Here is a good article concerning new features for 2023 and expectations for 2024. Some of the main features discussed including the ability to change an array by copy without mutating the original array. One can also find within an array starting at the end and working backwards.

WordPress

WordCamp US concluded several months ago. However, these presentations provide an overview of many insights provided at this venue. Of course, the annual keynote address by Matt Mullenweg (State of the Word) is scheduled for December 11 (from Spain). We are definitely curious what will be covered in that keynote.

Feedback please!

It has been a few months since we have posted a “desktop view” article. Do you enjoy reading these articles? What other topics would you like to see us cover (to learn more about)? Please let us know in the comments.

Is AI as Environmentally Unfriendly as Cryptocurrency?

Is AI as Environmentally Unfriendly as Cryptocurrency?

This article was written by Daniel Foreman, a member of the Web Professionals Global Advisory Board. You can read more about Daniel here.

The image above was created by the ChatGPT Image Generator by searching the phrase “Environmental cost of AI.” The image depicts a robot holding cash standing next to a factory emitting smoke. 

In the past couple of years, we’ve all become painfully aware of the environmental cost of cryptocurrency. The energy consumption of these digital currencies, driven by the massive demand for GPUs to mine coins, is equivalent to that of an entire nation. This is a major issue that we’ve had to grapple with.

Now, as we begin to emerge from a hectic 2023, we find ourselves in the midst of what can only be described as an AI war. Companies are vying for dominance in this new digital frontier, diverting vast amounts of computational resources to power the training of these services. The environmental implications are startlingly similar to those of cryptocurrency.

Analysts predict that the carbon footprint of AI could match, or even surpass, that of bitcoin mining – a sector that already generates more greenhouse gas emissions than some entire countries. If the AI industry continues on its current trajectory, it’s projected to consume a staggering 3.5% of the world’s energy supplies by 2030

Consider this: one of the leading AI companies spends an estimated $700,000 per day – yes, per day – delivering its online service to 100 million users worldwide. And with the recent integration of Windows Copilot into Windows 11 as a default feature, this usage number is set to soar even higher.

According to the latest available data, ChatGPT currently has over 100 million users. And the website generated 1.6 billion visits in June 2023.

ChatGPT use increases during the school year. Website traffic jumped up nearly 5% from August 2023 to September 2023. 

survey by Savanta reveals that 47% of respondents have used ChatGPT for fun or learning purposes. Surprisingly, 42% of millennials use it for businesses, which is higher than 29% of Gen Z users, 26% of Gen X, and 20% of Boomers.   

Both cryptocurrency mining and AI share a voracious appetite for high-end, powerful GPUs. This surge in AI activity has sent nVidia’s profits skyrocketing 101% since last year, reaching a whopping $13.5 billion dollars.

When an AI is deployed, it undergoes a training procedure that requires hundreds of hours of runtime before it even reaches the end user. It’s estimated that GPT-3, a relatively simple AI model and the predecessor of the current model GPT-4, consumed 1,287 megawatt hours of energy during training using 10,000 GPUs. This process produced as much CO2 as  the equivalent of 123 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles driven for one year.

And let’s not forget about other language models like BLOOM and LLAMA, which have also consumed significant amounts of power during training. These three models alone have consumed enough energy to fly around the entire Earth 41.25 times.

Once these models have been trained and are up and running on a daily basis, every single query given to GPT-4 on Open.AI is estimated to consume the same amount of power as a 5 watt lightbulb running for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

If we take OpenAI’s 100 million users and assume each user makes one query every day, then that amount of energy used is 6.65W x 100,000,000 = 665 megawatts per day or 242 terawatts a year. To compare, most people spend about 10,000 kilojoules amount of energy per day or about constant of 110 watts for 24 hours.

Currently, it’s estimated that cryptocurrencies draw about 150 terawatts annually. If our estimate of one person making one query a day every day for a year holds true (which is just a guess), then OpenAI on its own is already consuming more power than cryptocurrency.

Additionally, major players in other countries, such as Baidu in China, have entered the AI realm. 

This is a wake-up call for all of us. We need to be mindful of our digital consumption and strive for sustainable solutions in our pursuit of technological advancement. 

 

Taking a Look at AI and Ethics in Education

Taking a Look at AI and Ethics in Education

One of the hottest topics in technology currently is artificial intelligence (AI), which is seemingly poised to affect many aspects of our lives. One of these areas is education, as schools, teachers, parents and students grapple with how to best deploy and manage AI tools in the classroom. At Web Professional Global we have many secondary and post-secondary students in our ranks, so we keep a close eye on developments that affect our members. In this article we will take a look at some of the challenges associated with education and AI and solutions for moving forward.

Overview

The rise of tools like ChatGPT has far-reaching implications, and in many cases it provides students with a quick and convenient way to complete classwork. These AI tools can write and edit essays, summarize articles, and complete other homework assignments. This allows students to “pass” subjects without actually understanding the underlying materials. This leads to students feeling like they can go through life without actually putting in hard work and learning valuable skills. 

However, teachers can also use AI tools to their advantage. AI can help provide answers to students who have questions about material and provide feedback on assignments. Schools that have leveraged AI have also found that students are often more inquisitive when it comes to asking AI questions as it eliminates the fear of “asking a dumb question” in front of peers. As we move forward, it will be important to utilize AI so that it helps teachers in the classroom. AI will never replace teachers, nor should it. Students will always need a caring adult to lead in the classroom. We never want to place an AI system between the student and teacher, as we have already seen how generations have been affected by technology.

Keep in mind that many AI application programming interfaces (APIs) take a fair amount of creative license when answering questions. While it may seem like an AI tool is speaking factually and with authority, it might be spinning the answer a bit to reflect, for example, the beliefs of the person who programmed it. Also, remember that many AI tools are limited in what information base they are working from. For example, at the time this article was written the ChatGPT’s data set covers only information prior to September 2021. This means if you asked it to tell you the features of the iPhone 14 it would tell you that it doesn’t exist: 

Our Response

We need to recognize AI as a tool first and make it a tool. AI should be a help and not a replacement. As humans, we are purpose driven. We are happiest when we have a purpose and are striving toward a goal. Some may fall into the trap of just letting AI do everything for them, and in doing so they will be relinquishing their own humanity. The rest of us will see AI as a tool, like the smartphone. You can use it to help you navigate your busy life, or, as many do, you can become overly dependent on it. Our fervent hope is that once again humankind rises above AI technology, recognizes it for what it is and does not allow it to seduce us to become its subject. 

We believe these challenges provide an opportunity for those in the education space, especially students, to commit (or re-commit) to ethical behavior in the classroom and when working on academic projects. Web Professionals Global is part of the content authenticity initiative with Adobe and we also have a Code of Ethics that non-members can sign. Secondary and post-secondary students who complete coursework and receive our certifications all must adhere to the Code of Ethics, which includes the following:

Being open and truthful: Although we cannot guarantee that all of the members of the Web Professionals Global community subscribe to this code of ethics, as a professional association we aspire to instill in our members and non-members alike the highest ethical standards.

Respecting and protecting intellectual property:  As web professionals, it’s our responsibility to protect the intellectual property rights of others including personal data and all electronic media and files. As web professionals, we have a duty and a fiduciary responsibility to protect this integrity by adopting and implementing best practices of our customer’s data and to keep it secure.

Being responsive: As web professionals we owe it to our clients and stakeholders to respond to inquiries in a timely manner.  Web Professionals Global members should be candid about their available response time and communicate that to customers in advance.

Utilizing written communications: As web professionals it is our responsibility to effectively communicate with our clients and stakeholders.  When making a request of the customer, or when making promises, put them in writing.  Despite our best efforts, disputes sometimes happen. Having a well-documented and agreed-upon relationship will serve both parties. This should include all conversations about who does what and when, work to be performed, timelines, cost and change orders.

Find Out More

Interested in hearing more about the ethics of AI and our work at Web Professionals Global? Contact us today.

May-June, 2023 Desktop View

May-June, 2023 Desktop View

Hard to believe we are almost at the middle of 2023. Time flies. As we prepare for our 20th national web design and development competition in Atlanta (beginning June 20), we thought it might be useful to share some of the articles we have been reading.

AI and images

Before we cover those articles, we feel it is important to mention our featured image. This was generated using Adobe FireFly. We used the following text to have the image generated. Note that we were rather specific in what we asked for (and the technology complied).

Looking at a desktop holding a phone, tablet and laptop along with a notebook with a pen. The desktop has one succulent plant. Sunlight is coming through a window to the left of the desktop.

If you expand the image, you will note that there is a tag assigned in the lower left corner indicating this image was generated using AI. We never cease to be amazed at how quickly one can create images (and how detailed they are).

We recently became members of the Content Authenticity Initiative. As we have mentioned in earlier weblog posts, the purpose is “to provide media transparency to allow for better evaluation of content.” We encourage readers to check out this initiative (and consider becoming members). In our view, as AI generated images become more prevalent, it is important to inform everyone that the image has been computer generated. We view this in a vein similar to copyrights. If one uses something that has not been created by the author, it is important to inform (and respect) where the images come from. That is why we commit to not only providing the source, but the text used to generate these images.

Accessibility

For those who missed it, May 19 marked Global Accessibility Awareness Day. The GAAD Foundation was launched in 2021 to mark the 10th anniversary. The focus is to make accessibility a core requirement. We encourage you to review the site (and focus on accessibility every day, not just May 19th).

CSS

We recently encountered a nice review of what’s new in CSS and UI. The article outlines 20 recent developments.These include responsive design improvements (such as container queries and style queries). The :has( ) selector lets one check if a parent element has specific children. There are many other enhancements which professionals can take advantage of (either now or very soon). We encourage readers to review the article to learn more about changes happening this year.

Also, we recently learned that scoped CSS is back. “Scoped styles allow you to contain a set of styles within a single component on the page.” We encourage readers to review the capabilities discussed in this article. Some nice examples are also provided.

We also came across this article (written in January) discussing new CSS relative units. Did you know there are roughly 50 CSS length units?

JavaScript

We recently encountered this nice overview of new JavaScript features coming in ECMAScript 2023. Many of these changes may have significant uses in your code. For example, change array by copy and array find from last. In addition to these smaller proposals, there are 4 larger ones. These include iterator helpers, temporal, decorators, and making resource management obvious.

National Web Competition

This year marks our 20th year of providing a national web design and development competition with SkillsUSA (yes, we started as a demonstration competition in 2004) and we have been running this ever since (even during the pandemic). We could not do this without the help of many people. We really appreciate their help and are posting additional articles. We managed to provide assistance to a number of states this year. We hope to see the winners of those state competitions at our national competition in June.

Feedback please!

That is what we found interesting this month. As always, we are keen to learn what you found interesting (and what you would like to learn more about). Please let us know in the comments.