Red state red tape.

As someone who generally like regulation and generally dislikes mass social media, conservatives constantly tripping over their own dicks in their endless quest to make the worst social media laws possible will never not be amusing to me . . .

(I mean . . . it shouldn’t be, to be clear. These things are Bad, for a variety of reasons, not the least being that they actively harm efforts to introduce good legislation. But. Still.)

2022-08-06T07:29:45+10:006th August, 2022|Tags: , , |

The mildly dynamic web.

PHP enabled dynamic web applications for the masses. But an interesting and particular effect of the rise of PHP was that it enabled and led to the rise of what I’m going to call “mildly dynamic” websites.

Broadly, these are websites which are still web pages, not web applications; they’re pages of essentially static information, personal websites, blogs, and so on, but they are slightly dynamic. They might have a style selector at the top of each page, causing a cookie to be set, and the server to serve a different stylesheet on every subsequent page load. Perhaps there is a random quote of the day at the bottom of each payload. Perhaps each page has a comments section. Perhaps each page load shows a different, randomly chosen header image. Anyone remember shoutboxes?

Of course, this is all minor functionality, with the possible exception of comments sections. It’s not a big deal. Still, these random details gave a certain character and individuality to websites of this era that is hard to find today.

Hugo Landau on what we’ve lost.

To say that I owe my current, lucrative career to the mildly dynamic web is not an understatement. I don’t even work in webdev, but hacking those late-90s-early-2000s Sailor Moon blogs and fanpages and webrings was what got me into tech.1 I doubt Gen Z Alis would’ve been able to take the same path, in today’s world of bloated, over-complicated SPAs.

Incidentally, I also think this is why there hasn’t been an independent Next Big Thing in fandom since the AO3, which managed to hit critical user mass just prior to the big web-page-to-web-app shift. But now the world’s move on, the barrier for entry is too high, and things will never be the same size again . . .

  1. Prior to that, I wanted to be an animator. Given Sydney’s Disney studio closed down about the time I entered university, effectively killing the local animation industry, I got retrospectively very lucky . . .
2022-07-26T10:24:25+10:0026th July, 2022|Tags: , , |


It might be tempting for the rest of us to leave the hyperbolic partisans sparring on Twitter to their diversions and move on with our lives. The problem with this platform at the moment, though, is that too many people in positions of power remain hypnotized by its stylized violence. Academic and business leaders will enact wild shifts in policy or practices at the slightest hint that these digital combatants are aiming weapons of virality in their direction. Politicians, for their part, seem to increasingly craft their behavior, and sometimes even legislation, to please not their constituents but the platform’s radicalized tastemakers. During the recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, for example, a photographer for the Los Angeles Times claimed to have seen Ted Cruz check his Twitter mentions following his heated questioning of the nominee. Journalists also feel the impact of these pressures. For those who spend so much of their lives gathering and sharing news online, it’s simply human nature to begin considering stories through the lens of what celebrations or condemnations they might generate on the Internet. The journalist Bari Weiss thought Twitter had so much influence on the Times that, in her 2020 resignation letter, she quipped that it had become the paper’s “ultimate editor.”

This shift in our perception of Twitter as a digital town square to our understanding of it as an élite spectacle demands a different response. To argue about the details of how Musk might tweak the platform’s rules ignores the larger outrage. Our problem is not how these games are played but the fact that so many people in positions of power keep taking them seriously.

On elite spectacle.

2022-07-21T07:30:22+10:0021st July, 2022|Tags: , , , |

The revolution will be boring.

So today in “Ethical Issues Around Self-Driving Cars Are Incredibly Boring And Already Solved, Actually (The American Tech Industry Are Just Manbabies Who Won’t Admit It)”, an actual grown-up car company takes the obvious step of admitting that, yeah. It would be liable for accidents caused by its self-driving cars.

2022-06-24T07:19:08+10:0024th June, 2022|Tags: |
Go to Top