The trap.

I think the fundamental mistake we made is that we set up the wrong financial incentives, and that’s caused us to turn into jerks and screw around with people too much. Way back in the ’80s, we wanted everything to be free because we were hippie socialists. But we also loved entrepreneurs because we loved Steve Jobs. So you wanna be both a socialist and a libertarian at the same time, and it’s absurd. But that’s the kind of absurdity that Silicon Valley culture has to grapple with.

And there’s only one way to merge the two things, which is what we call the advertising model, where everything’s free but you pay for it by selling ads. But then because the technology gets better and better, the computers get bigger and cheaper, there’s more and more data — what started out as advertising morphed into continuous behavior modification on a mass basis, with everyone under surveillance by their devices and receiving calculated stimulus to modify them. So you end up with this mass behavior-modification empire, which is straight out of Philip K. Dick, or from earlier generations, from 1984.

It’s this thing that we were warned about. It’s this thing that we knew could happen. Norbert Wiener, who coined the term cybernetics, warned about it as a possibility. And despite all the warnings, and despite all of the cautions, we just walked right into it, and we created mass behavior-modification regimes out of our digital networks. We did it out of this desire to be both cool socialists and cool libertarians at the same time.

Jaron Lanier on the damage of insecure men.

2021-10-19T12:34:09+11:0020th October, 2021|Tags: , |

In limited color.

Interesting look at browser color limitations, which is one of those “huh yeah I guess that makes sense” things that, if you’re anything like me, you probably haven’t thought much about.

(Which is unfortunate, because now it’s making me think I might need some new monitors . . .)

2021-09-23T10:29:33+10:0026th September, 2021|Tags: , |

‹html›

Back In My Day we used to bully girls off the entire internet for not using 100% pure semantic HTML markup on their blogs and Sailor Moon fanpages and whatever.

. . . honestly, I typed that out as a joke but, like. The fact that semantic HTML was so strongly associated with the “girl web” is probably a major contributor to why it got buried under a huge steaming pile of React-generated nested div shit.

2021-08-12T06:59:17+10:0016th August, 2021|Tags: , , |

The Medium is messy.

One of the things that’s become increasingly obvious over the years is just how much a lot of early days web “entrepreneurs” really did just luck the fuck into everything1 without any actual skill or talent . . .

  1. Mostly, it’s worth noting, by taking existing services or ideas centralizing them en masse, then adding ads. []
2021-08-11T10:40:13+10:0014th August, 2021|Tags: |

One to five.

Interesting look at using fake reviews to find, in this case, dangerous browser extensions.

One of the key “tells” Krebs identifies for fake browser extensions is that their reviews are either gushingly positive (the fake reviews) or angrily negative (from duped real people). Given that basically every online marketplace is entering a “scam tipping point,” I do wonder if this principle can be applied more broadly . . .

2021-08-03T07:52:39+10:005th August, 2021|Tags: |

Fed.

So when I changed servers the other month I finally switched from Fever to FreshRSS for my RSS feed reading needs.

It’s a bit less slick-looking (though, admittedly, Fever’s interface had gotten *very* dated), but I do most of my actual reading reading in Reeder, and FreshRSS’s API is lightning fast.

2021-07-20T09:20:31+10:0027th July, 2021|Tags: , |

Megamart dot com

The internet has been gentrified. All the small cute houses and mom & pop shops have been shut down and replaced by big corporations that control everything. I’ve been making webcomics for twenty years, and at the start, the internet was a beautiful wild place. Everyone had a home page. It was like having a house and people came to visit you and you would visit other people in their houses. Now, we don’t visit each other in personal spaces anymore. It’s like we have to visit each other in the aisles of a megamart. Everything is clean and sanitized and the weirdos who made the internet what it was are no longer welcome. No space for freaks anymore.

Megan Rose Gedris on online spaces.

Strong tip to anyone with basically any kind of internet presence, particularly any kind of creative internet presence: buy a domain name and a basic hosting plan and make yourself a website. It doesn’t have to look special or fancy1 but the thing is no one can really take it away from you. Even if your host un-hosts you for some reason2 you can just . . . upload your site to a new host. The URL won’t even change because it’s the domain name you own.

Social media sites (and popularity) come and go. But your website? That’s forever.

  1. Actually, web brutalism In; one of my current favorite personal homepages looks like a basic text file and is literally just straight-up unstyled HTML. []
  2. Only once have I ever been suspended from a webhost, and it was for posting pictures of Star Wars: The Old Republic that EA decided to DMCA-SLAPP me over. This is, incidentally, why I no longer use US-based webhosts. []
2021-07-15T07:38:12+10:0024th July, 2021|Tags: , |
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