/Tag: tech

Pretty girls take selfies.

Apparently young people in China really, really likes taking selfies.

As with a lot of these sorts of articles (see also: every English-language article ever written ever about Japan), this should be read less in the context of “lawlz China so wild!” and more in the context of, “What is this outsider-perspective on China actually saying about something we don’t want to examine too closely in ourselves?”

(Also: the whole “it being rude to publicly post photos of your friends without first ensuring they look good” is a cultural trend I can 1000% get behind…)

2018-11-26T11:11:43+10:0031st March, 2019|Tags: culture, tech|

Microsoft’s April Fools’ Day ban comes just as the company resurrected its Clippy Office assistant before killing it off a day later. Microsoft workers transformed the paperclip into an animated pack of stickers for the company’s Teams chat software, but a source tells The Verge that the “brand police” inside the company shut it down a day later.

  Tom Warren on nofun.

Say what you will about corporate April Fools’ jokes,1 but the line, “We focus-tested this and our metrics say it doesn’t play well with the news cycle so don’t do it” is just the most… Like, whatever the opposite of mandofun is, this is that.

  1. The [Tinfoil Hat] is still great, though. []
2019-03-28T08:48:24+10:0028th March, 2019|Tags: microsoft, tech|

The web is also garbage.

If an advertiser’s primary goal is to get their ad in front of people and the cost of the ad rises the more that it can be proved someone saw the ad, website makers have a strong incentive to serve ads that cover content, block content, prevent access to content temporarily, etc. Many ad-funded websites feel like they have to make a some pretty hard calculations: how much can they piss users off in order to make enough money to survive, without scaring users off completely.

I, as a web user, do not at all think many websites have calculated well. But a weird thing about the web is that because a lot of information is discovered via search engines, as long as websites can play the SEO game they will continue getting a large volume of users, and as long as those users stay on the site long enough to get some ad impressions, the site stays afloat. That is to say, even though users are pissed off at the design of the sites, the site still generates traffic because search engines are looking at the content, not the experience.

Winston Hearn on trade-offs.

Advertising is, hands down, the worst thing to ever happen to the web and that is a hot take I will die on…

2018-09-27T11:52:12+10:0022nd March, 2019|Tags: advertising, tech|


On the birth and death of the semantic web.

I confess I… was kinda into the semantic web. Back In The Day, when I used a homebrew system rather than WordPress, my entire blog was even rendered in XML, styled for display to humans via XSLT transformation.1 This was back in the XHTML heyday. I always hated XHTML—it’s basically the worst of both HTML and XML and I’m glad it “lost” the standards wars—but I liked the clean separation of data and presentation as represented by the XML/XSLT combo.2

It had, of course, some obvious downsides, the main one being that it would crap itself and fail if it encountered even slightly malformed data (as opposed to HTML, which is endlessly fault tolerant). It was also very easy to machine-parse, which is both good in the sense of interoperability but, conversely, also bad in the sense of interoperability, depending on your stance on content silos, web scraping, and plagiarism.

Still. It was neat, and clean, and I do kinda miss it. Modern “alternatives” like microformats and JSON whatevers and and such and so on always seem like… pale and compromised imitations.

  1. A technique I stole off the then World of Warcraft website, which implemented this, as I discovered when I once tried to view-source in order to steal graphic elements for my guild site. []
  2. I even implemented it in a commercial project that required different format outputs for data. It was a pain to make the underlying framework actually do what I wanted, but once I’d done that, it was way easier to just write new transform stylesheets for, say, Word-versus-Excel-versus-browser output. []
2018-09-25T09:24:20+10:0017th March, 2019|Tags: tech, webdesign, webdev|

JavaScript is cancer.

Every time I read an article like this, I’m reminded that, had the internet been like it currently is when I was fifteen, I never would’ve made my Baby’s First Website, thus never would’ve gotten into computers or technology.

Why do Kids These Days seem so weirdly technologically illiterate? Blame the increased corporatization of the web and ridiculous over-inflation of barrier to entry on even basic development tasks, I guess.1

  1. Also, after typing this, it occurs to me this is probably what like 1980s era nerds think about nerds in my generation with regards to things like command line scripting and whatever. Go figure, I guess. []
2018-09-25T08:10:18+10:0013th March, 2019|Tags: javascript, tech, webdesign|


Here’s a question: Does the unrelentingly positive nature of GMail’s “smart replies” feature prime people to be more agreeable to things they otherwise wouldn’t be? And is that a problem? And, critically… should Google have, like, studied that before rolling the feature out en masse?

2018-09-20T15:10:59+10:009th March, 2019|Tags: google, tech|