/Tag: tech

Digital seasteading.

One thing I wanted to bring up in the talk was that a lot of the people advocating for [decentralization in tech] are very tech literate and very tunnel-visioned on the tech problems, which are completely inaccessible to some people who are less technical. […] It actually bothers me more if the movement is successful than if it’s a failure, because if it’s successful, congratulations, you’ve built a little safe haven for nerds. You’ve built your little island or your little compound or your escape valve for people who are literate enough or wealthy enough or privileged enough to understand how to use this technology.

Nolan Lawson on two tiers.

2019-02-08T13:11:23+10:0030th July, 2019|Tags: tech|

Bad targets.

Why do companies bother with user tracking and profiling for “targeted” ads when they’re so goddamn bad at that very targeting?

Most interesting, I think, is the discussion of exactly why Netflix’s recommendations “algorithm” seems to’ve gotten so garbage over the years… suspiciously coinciding with the changing of the company’s business model. I think a lot of people assume Netflix recommendations still work on the old model—I know I did—but… actually yeah actually this makes wa-aa-ay more sense. Huh.

2019-02-08T09:06:50+10:0029th July, 2019|Tags: privacy, tech|


When we talk about HTML and CSS these discussions impact the entry point into this profession. Whether front or backend, many of us without a computer science background are here because of the ease of starting to write HTML and CSS. The magic of seeing our code do stuff on a real live webpage!


There is something remarkable about the fact that, with everything we have created in the past 20 years or so, I can still take a complete beginner and teach them to build a simple webpage with HTML and CSS, in a day. We don’t need to talk about tools or frameworks, learn how to make a pull request or drag vast amounts of code onto our computer via npm to make that start. We just need a text editor and a few hours. This is how we make things show up on a webpage.

Rachel Andrew on entrypoints.

Andrew’s point here is that the Oldskool Way was amazing for getting non-traditionally technical people (e.g. women) into computing; something modern frameworks and bootcamps and whatnot really, really are not…

2019-04-29T12:06:40+10:0028th July, 2019|Tags: tech|

10 years.

A way better “10 years” meme: how popular websites have changed over the last decade.

According to the whois I just checked, 2019 is‘s ten year anniversary,1 although it was mostly just an email alias/redirect for most of that time and thus doesn’t really have a layout to go back to. On the other hand, 2019 is the twentieth anniversary of My First Blog,2 which was at LiveJournal… and that I still have access to (albeit never use).

… It’s probably for the best that most of all of that is gone, really.

  1. For curiosity, the oldest domain I still own I registered in 2003. I haven’t actually used it… in nearly a decade, I think.
  2. Though I think not website; I think the first static page I made was in circa 1998. It was, ironically, about what would eventually turn into Liesmith.
2019-02-07T14:53:05+10:0027th July, 2019|Tags: internet, tech|


The take-home from this piece on “smart” TVs being cheap because they’re cross-subsidized by media people paying the TV manufacturers to stuff their devices with crapware is basically that being able to “trust” your devices not to be actively hostile to you is now a luxury consumer good.1 Which… is pretty much Peak Surveillance Capitalism, right there.

This also actually kind of answers question I had a while back, when I was thinking of buying a new computer monitor,2 of wondering why they were like ten times the price of a similarly sized television. Well… I guess this is (at least part of the reason) why.

  1. See also: Apple versus Android.
  2. I’m still using an ancient 30″ Dell. There’s nothing “wrong” with it per se… except for the fact it has one of those old format DVI-D connectors and none of the new graphics cards do. As it turns out, most standard DVI-to-HDMI/-DisplayPort adapters can’t handle the 2560×1600 resolution of the Dell 30″, so tl;dr my options were either “buy new $1,000 monitor” or “buy special $200 adapter from Dell”. In the end, I chose the latter.
2019-02-07T13:49:43+10:0025th July, 2019|Tags: privacy, tech|

Attack of the OEAs.

Maciej Cegłowski, the guy who created Pinboard, with a (positive) retrospect on his interactions with fandom.

Probably some chuckles in here for anyone who’s ever been involved with any kind of fandom project, and has experienced the overly earnest deluges of enthusiasm that can sometimes accompany them. Also interesting to see an outsider’s reaction to what, from inside fandom, seem like Entirely Normal Tagging Conventions…

One of the things I think it’s very easy to forget, is that fandom is just as full of, say. Data scientists and librarians and coders as it is with any other profession. People bring in norms and conventions from their day jobs—or make up new, better ones in reaction to things they’ve seen done poorly—and they get adopted by other fans and normalized. To an outsider, I suppose it can seem like some kind of spontaneous, magical, wisdom-of-crowds thing—given that fandom identifies as Fandom, not as Profession—but… it’s really not. It’s just a lot of people with a lot of different experiences and skills and knowledge, all coming together to find the most efficient way of producing and consuming poly tentacle sex pollen fics featuring their favorite characters from film/TV/et al.

2019-02-05T12:02:43+10:0017th July, 2019|Tags: fandom, tech|


Ads sold by Amazon, once a limited offering at the company, can now be considered a third major pillar of its business, along with e-commerce and cloud computing. Amazon’s advertising business is worth about $125 billion, more than Nike or IBM, Morgan Stanley estimates. At its core are ads placed on by makers of toilet paper or soap that want to appear near product search results on the site.


In addition to knowing what people buy, Amazon also knows where people live, because they provide delivery addresses, and which credit cards they use. It knows how old their children are from their baby registries, and who has a cold, right now, from cough syrup ordered for two-hour delivery. And the company has been expanding a self-service option for ad agencies and brands to take advantage of its data on shoppers.

Karen Weise on Amazon’s next product.

(Hint: the Product is You.)

2019-02-05T11:17:26+10:0014th July, 2019|Tags: advertising, privacy, tech|


But I’m struck by how one primary reason a fiasco like Fyre Festival could happen, or indeed how many of the worst aspects of influencer culture can happen, is because of the very real emotional effect of the Fear of Missing Out. It’s especially true because FOMO is a designed, intentional result of using most modern social media apps.


The stakes are so much higher now then back when we just worried that social media would make us feel bad about missing a party. Yes, that’s still a cause of stress, but far worse is social media enabling grifters to profiteer off of innocent people’s credulity. How can we fret about missing our friends when the emotional manipulation of social apps has warped every institution in our entire culture?

Anil Dash on missing out.

2019-07-31T09:39:47+10:0013th July, 2019|Tags: culture, social media, tech|

280 nonsense.

A conversation with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey can be incredibly disorienting. Not because he’s particularly clever or thought-provoking, but because he sounds like he should be. He takes long pauses before he speaks. He furrows his brow, setting you up for a considered response from the man many have called a genius. The words themselves sound like they should probably mean something, too. Dorsey is just hard enough to follow that it’s easy to assume that any confusion is your own fault, and that if you just listen a little more or think a little harder, whatever he’s saying will finally start to make sense.

Whether Dorsey does this all deliberately or not, the reason his impassioned defenses of Twitter sound like gibberish is because they are.

Ashley Feinberg @s Jack.

Wo-oo-oo-ow, lol.

2019-04-29T12:06:40+10:008th July, 2019|Tags: social media, tech, twitter|