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Link logging

CSS: From Zero to Hero

The crashiest crash course for all things CSS. Covers all the basics — you won’t be ready to tackle all the things, but you’ll be good to go for most things.

How Many .com Domain Names Are Unused?

Some key features:

There are currently 137 million .com domain names registered.1 Of these, roughly 1/3 are in use (businesses, personal websites, email, etc.), another 1/3 appear to be unused, and the last 1/3 are used for a variety of speculative purposes.

My take away, as always, is that the internet is REALLY big…but only a little itty bit of it sees a meaningful amount of traffic. Leading us to…

Why isn’t the internet more fun and weird?

Three things MySpace got right

  1. To make a page on MySpace, all it took was text in a textbox.
  2. The text could be words or code.
  3. Anyone could read the words and see the code.

Continuing, later:

The internet is the great equalizer (1996). People used to believe that. Today, it sounds sarcastic.

We — the programmers, designers, product people — collectively decided that users don’t deserve the right to code in everyday products. Users are too stupid. They’d break stuff. Coding is too complicated for ordinary people. Besides, we can just do the coding…so why does it matter?

I’m all for making the internet weird again. It is something I’m trying to get more cozy doing here, on my personal website.

And if you want to do that (make the internet weird again) we should preserve folks’ ability to get their feet wet, and their hands dirty on the web!

HTML, CSS and our vanishing industry entry points

However, when it comes to frameworks and approaches which build complexity around writing HTML and CSS, there is something deeper and more worrying than a company having to throw away a couple of years of work and rebuild because they can’t support a poorly chosen framework.

When we talk about HTML and CSS these discussions impact the entry point into this profession. Whether front or backend, many of us without a computer science background are here because of the ease of starting to write HTML and CSS. The magic of seeing our code do stuff on a real live webpage! We have already lost many of the entry points that we had. We don’t have the forums of parents teaching each other HTML and CSS, in order to make a family album. Those people now use Facebook, or perhaps run a blog on wordpress.com or SquareSpace with a standard template. We don’t have people customising their MySpace profile, or learning HTML via Neopets. We don’t have the people, usually women, entering the industry because they needed to learn HTML during that period when an organisation’s website was deemed part of the duties of the administrator.

Neopets forever.

Also, read this thread, then read it again…and then maybe a 3rd time.

Decentralization is Not Enough

This (medium) post does a great job spelling out the pitfalls of a lot of the new wave of web tech that is purported to be saving” the web, or whatever. It is groovy if you a nerd…but essentially this new tech is just helping to build a walled garden for nerds. Sure anyone” can join…but very often you must be this nerd to enter. I think this is a very real issue for the IndieWeb community, too.

Leaving the web-punditry-zone now.

A few early marketing thoughts

I’ve been re-assessing my freelance work, and found this post from Julia Evans to be wicked timely.

I’m not really certain if I should be doing any marketing, to be honest, and if I should be doing any, I’m not sure what kind I ought to be doing.

The 26,000-Year Astronomical Monument Hidden in Plain Sight

On the western flank of the Hoover Dam stands a little-understood monument, commissioned by the US Bureau of Reclamation when construction of the dam began in 01931. The most noticeable parts of this corner of the dam, now known as Monument Plaza, are the massive winged bronze sculptures and central flagpole which are often photographed by visitors. The most amazing feature of this plaza, however, is under their feet as they take those pictures.

The plaza’s terrazzo floor is actually a celestial map that marks the time of the dam’s creation based on the 25,772-year axial precession of the earth.

I’m hooked. Also, are they gonna make a 3rd National Treasure movie? I’m ready for it.

Link Logging

The Linux of social media”—How LiveJournal pioneered (then lost) blogging

Like many eventual household names in tech, LiveJournal started as a one-man project on a lark, driven by a techy teenager with too much time on his hands.

Many” seems like a stretch, here. I think the modern cultural myth of the boy genius starting a big Internet thing is exactly that…a myth. Like most myths there is a glimmer or incipit bit of truth at the heart of it, but a myth does not define a pattern.

Canon Is An Abyss

On poop, wizards, authorial intent, the canon, the bible, and the abyss.

Complications arise, however, when authors write what amounts to fan fiction about their own works: aftermarket pieces which extend or challenge their previous output and what was assumed, perhaps incorrectly, to be the foundation they set. For better and worse a premium is placed upon authorial intent, and a creator issuing aftermarket canon is not unlike a contractor arriving at your house with a single brick and a mandate from the city, explaining You don’t necessarily need this, but we think the place would be better if we added it.”

And later on,

All fictional canon is abyssal. The difference between canons is how deep we are encouraged to look, and by what method that encouragement is delivered. Pottermore tweets are one kind of encouragement to stare into the abyss of Harry Potter; but some works are designed as deeply abyssal. Doctor Who, soap operas, Star Wars, many long running comic series and the Dark Souls games allow their audience to become like Crowley’s magician: to sacrifice themselves to the depths of canon, become lost in the infinite void of often paradoxical possibility. These works do not unknowingly or only occasionally beckon their audience into the abyss of canon but take it as their ongoing structural mandate.

Mystery still surrounds hack of PHP PEAR website

A compromised package manager seems pretty much like a worse case scenario situation. Throwback to the recent npm bruhaha.

Privacy Is Not Dying, We’re Killing It

Why hello-there provocative title! 👋

So we say we value privacy, but we hardly understand what we mean by it. Privacy flourishes in the attention economy to the same degree that contentment flourishes in the consumer economy, which is to say not at all. Quietly and without acknowledging as much, we’ve turned the old virtue into a vice.

Privacy in the digital-age” is such an interesting concept, rife with issue for sure, but also…intriguing. It seems like, maybe, privacy is something that is a) more valuable than it used to be, b) a creative act. If we desire to interact online, we have to construct our privacy intentionally. Set it aside, tend to it.

Why Paper Maps Still Matter in the Digital Age

With the proliferation of smartphones, it’s easy to assume that the era of the paper map is over…research reveals that the paper map still thrives in the digital era, and there are distinct advantages to using print maps.

🗺

Digital interfaces are good for acquiring surface knowledge.

📱

Print maps help you acquire deep knowledge faster and more efficiently.

🏃‍♀️💨

Ultimately, I don’t think it should be a competition between physical and digital. In the future, people will continue to need both kinds of maps. Instead of arguing whether paper or digital is a better map interface, people should consider what map is the right tool for the task.

🤝

Link logging

Magnet Fingers

I have magnets implanted in my hands

A person with magnets in 2 of their fingers. Why, how, and some more.

In China, the smiley face emoji does not mean what you think it means

WeChat has its own emoji vernacular.

Children Are Using Emoji for Digital-Age Language Learning

I wanted to find out not only whether kids were texting emoji but which emoji, and why? How do they organize emoji into sequences and ideas, and how do these early ramblings shift as kids learn to read?

Skipping to the conclusion

Kids still get picture books read to them. But now that we all communicate in writing so much more often, kids also are read text messages. For a kid to get a text message written directly for them, and read directly to them, which they can reply to in some fashion, it teaches them something powerful about the written word—that it can be used to connect with people you care about.

Privacy Is Not Dying, We’re Killing It

… Privacy may not be dead but it’s morphing, and it is doing so in part because of how we habitually conduct ourselves and how our tools mediate our perception.

So we say we value privacy, but we hardly understand what we mean by it. Privacy flourishes in the attention economy to the same degree that contentment flourishes in the consumer economy, which is to say not at all. Quietly and without acknowledging as much, we’ve turned the old virtue into a vice.

Packaging as Content | Box Vox

This is a weirdly fascinating and specific blog about packaging design. Keep an eye out for the series of posts all about Polyhedral Milk Cartons.