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This metal is powering today’s technology—at what price?

The renewable” future — replacing one sort of extraction with another.

Life Without the Everything Store

Kottke’s digestion (always primo) or go straight to the source: I Tried to Block Amazon From My Life. It Was Impossible.

tl;dr? Amazon. It is everywhere. It is hard to avoid. Really, really hard to avoid, most especially if you do pretty much nearly anything online. Amazon is legion.

WebSockets the UNIX way; Full duplex messaging between web browsers and servers

PIPES!

Five-minute Explainer: What Is Gravity?

What even is gravity? Learn in (about) five minutes! I very much enjoy Emily Sts science writing.

Designing for the web ought to mean making HTML and CSS

The medium is the message…and sometimes we use the wrong medium to communicate a message.

…regression is lurking, because the industry is making it too hard to work directly with the web. The towering demands inherent in certain ways of working with JavaScript are rightfully scaring some designers off from implementing their ideas at all. That’s a travesty.

Follow up! Paying tribute to the web with View Source

Make Your ARIA Labels Sing on Key

This article does a great job contextualizing aria-labels, and how best to implement them. The audio examples provided are perfect — I think it is interesting that I’ve never actually seen anyone else bother to create examples like this before. The audio examples bring aria-labels from an abstract concept, to a concrete interface element.

When To Buy Your Own ISBNs

Sharing this because I had no clue one could purchase ISBN numbers, let alone their power!

Twitter aliens

A story told on Twitter, in the first person, featuring aliens, a smart phone, and bananas.

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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.

🤝

Kids shows are weird. Many of the contemporary kids programs I’ve come across (especially stuff geared towards toddlers on streaming services) seem to follow a similar pattern:

  • A group of main characters connected by either proximity or vocation.” No parents, nor guardians really. Just elders who are expert in their field
  • Characters have clearly defined social roles (e.g. a train responsible for moving freight)
  • Narratives revolve around characters either learning to fulfill their roles or failing to do so, and then realizing that others suffer when they don’t meet their responsibilities

Are these Neo-Capitalist fairy tales?

In reply to: Black Panther's Maglev System Is the Transit We Deserve - CityLab

Among the many dazzling technologies in the new Marvel superhero film Black Panther—self-healing catsuits, holographic self-driving cars, indestructible woven capes—one technology is bittersweet to behold, at least for one subset of sci-fi nerd. That would be the trains.

Maglev, baby! But also no maglev 😭

But despite decades of development, maglev hasn’t spread widely across Asia, and it hasn’t taken off at all in the U.S. or Europe (excluding a now-shuttered airport line in the U.K., and a defunct test track in Germany.) That’s because traditional high-speed rail can run nearly as fast as maglev, is cheaper to build, and can connect to existing rail systems, whereas maglev guideways cannot. For many countries with rail networks already in place, it’s hard to justify spending billions of dollars on such a project.

This is a key thing to remember when considering the anxious response some have had about The Force Awakens’ diversity and the heroic competence of Rey, the protagonist who some call a Mary Sue” (and sometimes do such with the same temper-tantrum tones of an unmasked Kylo Ren). The film recognizes that the heroes of Hollywood–and thus the heroes of modern western mythology–have had wide appeal, but offer shallow representation. To twist Orwell: The stories of Luke, Leia, and Han are universal, but they’re more universal for some than others. As much as Star Wars has spoken to a wide audience, it hasn’t always spoken for that audience. To address this, the heroes of The Force Awakens are just as adept as the protagonists of the past, but now they’re played by a much more diverse crew…

…Hux and Ren–and, I think, those angry fans–look backwards towards an elusive (and fictional) past where things were simpler, but The Force Awakens wants us to look forward instead, even though that might be challenging. The world is unfair, it says, and unstable. The things we thought were structural and eternal are in fact man-made and mutable. They’re just very, very convincing. Addressing the challenges of the future will require not only people who are preternaturally skilled, like Rey, but also people like Finn, who will do what is needed when others refuse. I am thrilled that The Force Awakens is embracing this unsure future.

Off the Clock: Space Opera Millennials and Their Grand Narratives