26 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2023
    1. When can we expect the Web to stop pretending to be the old things, and start being what it really ought to be?

      The Web already is what it is, at least—and what that is is not an imitation of the old. If anything, it ought to be more like the old, cf Tschichold.

      Things like citability are crucial, not just generally, but in that they are fundamental to what the Web was supposed to have been, and modern Web practices overwhelmingly sabotage it.

  2. Oct 2023
    1. HTML had blown open document publishing on the internet

      ... which may have really happened, per se, but it didn't wholly incorporate (subsume/cannibalize) conventional desktop publishing, which is still in 2023 dominated by office suites (a la MS Word) or (perversely) browser-based facsimiles like Google Docs. Because the Web as it came to be used turned out to be as a sui generis medium, not exactly what TBL was aiming for, which was giving everything (everything—including every existing thing) its own URL.

  3. Aug 2023
  4. Jul 2023
    1. However, in many ofthese courses, the Web itself is treat-ed as a specific instantiation of moregeneral principals. In other cases, theWeb is treated primarily as a dynamiccontent mechanism that supports thesocial interactions among multiplebrowser users. Whether in CS studiesor in information-school courses, theWeb is often studied exclusively as thedelivery vehicle for content, technicalor social, rather than as an object ofstudy in its own right.

      I'd argue that this is a good thing. I think the tech industry's navelgazing does perhaps some of the worst harm wrt the problems articulated earlier.

  5. Jun 2023
    1. Lost history ± the web is designed for society,but crucially it neglects one key area: its history.Information on the web is today's information.Yesterday's information is deleted or overwrit-ten

      It's my contention that this is a matter of people misusing the URL (and the Web, generally); Web pages should not be expected to "update" any more than you expect the pages of a book or magazine or a journal article to be self-updating.

      We have taken the original vision of the Web -- an elaborately cross-referenced information space whose references can be mechanically dereferenced -- and rather than treating the material as imbued with a more convenient digital access method and keeping in place the well-understood practices surrounding printed copies, we compromised the entire project by treating it as a sui generis medium. This was a huge mistake.

      This can be solved by re-centering our conception of what URLs really are: citations. The resources on the other sides of a list of citations should not change. To the extent that anything ever does appear to change, it happens in the form of new editions. When new editions come out, nobody goes around snapping up the old copies and replacing it for no charge with the most recent one while holding the older copies hostage for a price (or completely inaccessible no matter the price).

  6. May 2023
    1. If you doubt my claim that internet is broad but not deep, try this experiment. Pick any firm with a presence on the web. Measure the depth of the web at that point by simply counting the bytes in their web. Contrast this measurement with a back of the envelope estimate of the depth of information in the real firm. Include the information in their products, manuals, file cabinets, address books, notepads, databases, and in each employee's head.
  7. Apr 2023
    1. something so ephemeral as a URL

      Well, they're not supposed to be ephemeral. They're supposed to be as durable as the title of whatever book you're talking about.

  8. Oct 2022
    1. @1:10:20

      With HTML you have, broadly speaking, an experience and you have content and CSS and a browser and a server and it all comes together at a particular moment in time, and the end user sitting at a desktop or holding their phone they get to see something. That includes dynamic content, or an ad was served, or whatever it is—it's an experience. PDF on the otherhand is a record. It persists, and I can share it with you. I can deliver it to you [...]

      NB: I agree with the distinction being made here, but I disagree that the former description is inherent to HTML. It's not inherent to anything, really, so much as it is emergent—the result of people acting as if they're dealing in live systems when they shouldn't.

  9. Jul 2022
    1. I recently started building a website that lives at wesleyac.com, and one of the things that made me procrastinate for years on putting it up was not being sure if I was ready to commit to it. I solved that conundrum with a page outlining my thoughts on its stability and permanence:

      It's worth introspecting on why any given person might hesitate to feel that they can commit. This is almost always comes down to "maintainability"—websites are, like many computer-based endeavors, thought of as projects that have to be maintained. This is a failure of the native Web formats to appreciably make inroads as a viable alternative to traditional document formats like PDF and Word's .doc/.docx (or even the ODF black sheep). Many people involved with Web tech have difficulty themselves conceptualizing Web documents in these terms, which is unfortunate.

      If you can be confident that you can, today, bang out something in LibreOffice, optionally export to PDF, and then dump the result at a stable URL, then you should feel similarly confident about HTML. Too many people have mental guardrails preventing them from grappling with the relevant tech in this way.

  10. Jun 2022
    1. We still imagine the web as a series of paper documents with text and images presented on them.

      I don't know if this is true for anyone. It certainly seems like most people who are digital natives (or immigrants) rarely make the connection and end up missing out on some lessons from print that would actually be helpful.

  11. May 2022
    1. the skills to tweak an app or website into what they need

      Does "what they need" here implicitly mean "a design that no one really benefits from but you can bill a client for $40+/hr for"? Because that's how Glitch comes off to me—more vocational (and even less academic) than a bootcamp without the structure.

      What was that part about home-cooked meals?

    2. Building and sharing an app should be as easy as creating and sharing a video.

      This is where I think Glitch goes wrong. Why such a focus on apps (and esp. pushing the same practices and overcomplicated architecture as people on GitHub trying to emulate the trendiest devops shovelware)?

      "Web" is a red herring here. Make the Web more accessible for app creation, sure, but what about making it more accessible (and therefore simpler) for sharing simple stuff (like documents comprising the written word), too? Glitch doesn't do well at this at all. It feels less like a place for the uninitiated and more like a place for the cool kids who are already slinging/pushing Modern Best Practices hang out—not unlike societal elites who feign to tether themself to the mast of helping the downtrodden but really use the whole charade as machine for converting attention into prestige and personal wealth. Their prices, for example, reflect that. Where's the "give us, like 20 bucks a year and we'll give you better alternative to emailing Microsoft Office documents around (that isn't Google Sheets)" plan?

    1. it’s hard to look at recent subscription newsletter darling, Substack, without thinking about the increasingly unpredictable paywalls of yesteryear’s blogging darling, Medium. In theory you can simply replatform every five or six years, but cool URIs don’t change and replatforming significantly harms content discovery and distribution.
  12. Apr 2022
    1. This appeal would have a greater effect if it weren't itself published in a format that exhibits so much of what was less desirable of the pre-modern Web—fixed layouts that show no concern for how I'm viewing this page and causes horizontal scrollbars, overly stylized MySpace-ish presentation, and a general imposition of the author's preferences and affinity for kitsch above all else—all things that we don't want.

      I say this as someone who is not a fan of the trends in the modern Web. Responsive layouts and legible typography are not casualties of the modern Web, however. Rather, they exhibit the best parts of its maturation. If we can move the Web out of adolescence and get rid of the troublesome aspects, we'd be doing pretty good.

    1. There's way too much excuse-making in this post.

      They're books. If there's any defensible* reason for making the technical decision to go with "inert" media, then a bunch of books has to be it.

      * Even this framing is wrong. There's a clear and obvious impedance mismatch between the Web platform as designed and the junk that people squirt down the tubes at people. If there's anyone who should be coming up with excuses to justify what they're doing, that burden should rest upon the people perverting the vision of the Web and treating it unlike the way it's supposed to be used—not folks like acabal and amitp who are doing the right thing...

  13. Mar 2022
    1. the department knew it was happening and almost certainly has a master calendar somewhere that features months worth of programming for every facility under its control. So a couple questions:Why so stingy with that data?Why not publish it in a format that people will actually use?This information is not very useful on some random, deep-linked webpage
    1. writing instead of formatting

      A substantial subset of the personal homepage contingency associated with blogging advocacy "movement" doesn't understand this.

  14. Feb 2022
    1. and keep your site consistent

      But maybe you don't need to do that. Maybe it would be instructive to take lessons from the traditional (pre-digital) publishing industry and consider how things like "print runs" and "reissues" factored in.

      If you write a blog post in 2017 and the page is acceptable*, and then five years later you're publishing a new post today in 2022 under new design norms and trying to retrofit that design onto your content from 2017, then that sounds a lot like a reprint. If that makes sense and you want to go ahead and do that, then fair enough, but perhaps first consider whether it does make sense. Again, that's what you're doing—every time you go for a visual refresh, it's akin to doing a new run for your entire corpus. In the print industry (even the glossy ones where striking a chord visually was and is something considered to merit a lot of attention), publishers didn't run around snapping up old copies and replacing them with new ones. "The Web is different", you might say, but is it? Perhaps the friction experienced here—involved with the purported need to pick up a static site generator and set your content consistently with templates—is actually the result of fighting against the natural state of even the digital medium?

      * ... and if you wrote a blog post in 2017 and the page is not acceptable now in 2022, maybe it's worth considering whether it was ever really acceptable—and whether the design decisions you're making in 2022 will prove to be similarly unacceptable in time (and whether you should just figure out the thing where that wouldn't be the case, and instead start doing that immediately).

    1. I used Publii for my blog, but it was very constraining in terms of its styling

      This is a common enough feeling (not about Publii, specifically; just the general concern for flexibility and control in static site generators), but when you pull back and think in terms of normalcy and import, it's another example of how most of what you read on the internet is written by insane people.

      Almost no one submitting a paper for an assignment or to a conference cares about styling the way that the users of static site generators (or other web content publishing pipelines) do. Almost no one sending an email worries about that sort of thing, either. (The people sending emails who do care a lot about it are usually doing email campaigns, and not normal people carrying out normal correspondence.) No one publishing a comment in the thread here—or a comment or post to Reddit—cares about these things like this, nor does anyone care as much when they're posting on Facebook.

      Somehow, though, when it comes to personal Web sites, including blogs, it's MySpace all over again. Visual accoutrement gets pushed to the foreground, with emphasis on the form of expression itself, often with little relative care for the actual content (e.g. whether they're actually expressing anything interesting, or whether they're being held back from expressing something worthwhile by these meta-concerns that wouldn't even register if happening over a different medium).

      When it comes to the Web, most instances of concern for the visual aesthetic of one's own work are distractions. It might even be prudent to consider those concerns to be a trap.

    1. keeping your website's look 'up to date' requires changes

      Yeah, but...

      Keeping your website's look 'up to date' requires changes, but keeping your website up does not require "keeping its look 'up to date'".

  15. Aug 2021
    1. Funnily enough, I've been on an intellectual bent in the other direction: that we've poisoned our thinking in terms of systems, for the worse. This shows up when trying to communicate about the Web, for example.

      It's surprisingly difficult to get anyone to conceive of the Web as a medium suited for anything except the "live" behavior exhibited by the systems typically encountered today. (Essentially, thin clients in the form of single-page apps that are useless without a host on the other end for servicing data and computation requests.) The belief/expectation that content providers should be given a pass for producing brittle collections of content that should be considered merely transitory in nature just leads to even more abuse of the medium.

      Even actual programs get put into a ruddy state by this sort of thinking. Often, I don't even care about the program itself, so much as I care about the process it's applying, but maintainers make this effectively inextricable from the implementation details of the program itself (what OS version by which vendor does it target, etc.)

  16. Jul 2021
    1. “But how can I automate updates to my site’s look and feel?!”

      Perversely, the author starts off getting this part wrong!

      The correct answer here is to adopt the same mindset used for print, which is to say, "just don't worry about it; the value of doing so is oversold". If a print org changed their layout sometime between 1995 and 2005, did they issue a recall for all extant copies and then run around trying to replace them with ones consistent with the new "visual refresh"? If an error is noticed in print, it's handled by correcting it and issuing another edition.

      As Tschichold says of the form of the book (in The Form of the Book):

      The work of a book designer differs essentially from that of a graphic artist. While the latter is constantly searching for new means of expression, driven at the very least by his desire for a "personal style", a book designer has to be the loyal and tactful servant of the written word. It is his job to create a manner of presentation whose form neither overshadows nor patronizes the content [... whereas] work of the graphic artist must correspond to the needs of the day

      The fact that people publishing to the web regularly do otherwise—and are expected to do otherwise—is a social problem that has nothing to do with the Web standards themselves. In fact, it has been widely lamented for a long time that with the figurative death of HTML frames, you can no longer update something in one place and have it spread to the entire experience using plain ol' HTML without resorting to a templating engine. It's only recently (with Web Components, etc.) that this has begun to change. (You can update the style and achieve consistency on a static site without the use of a static site generator—where every asset can be handcrafted, without a templating engine.) But it shouldn't need to change; the fixity is a strength.

      As Tschichold goes on to say of the "perfect" design of the book, "methods and rules upon which it is impossible to improve have been developed over centuries". Creators publishing on the web would do well to observe, understand, and work similarly.

  17. Jun 2021
    1. Some of the best customers of such a service will be academics.

      Indeed. Web literacy among the masses is pitifully low. Browsermakers are certainly to blame for being poor stewards. Hot Valley startups are responsible as well. (See https://quoteinvestigator.com/2017/11/30/salary/.)

  18. May 2021