From last year, but still relevant.
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.
- 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. [↩]
- 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. [↩]
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
- 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. [↩]
That being said, suddenly the shitty fucking code in a whole bunch of websites is making a whole bunch of sense…1
I live in a city with quite a lot of Brutalist architecture and I passionately hate it.1 So is it, like, hypocritical or whatever that I actually really kinda like the Brutalist trend in webdesign? Or is that just a sign that I’m old and nostalgic for the heyday of Geocities aesthetic?
Probably the latter, let’s be real.
For the record, my Tumblr layout is Brutalist-inspired (monospaced fonts!). But, like. More pastel. Pastel Brutalist. Pastelist!
- It’s ugly! It’s alienating! Why does anyone think this sort of thing is acceptable? [↩]
(These are, incidentally, designed to be viewed in Chrome. Looking at them in something else, e.g. whatever Internet Explorer is called nowadays, is interesting in the sense that it shows some of the “seams”. It’s incredible work either way.)
Whatever happened to web design?
Reading this made me feel Old. Or at least… out-of-date? Something like that. Because I was totally around for and remember the
display:float thing… but
That’s what I get for both moving off my own homebrew CMS system (circa 2008), and away from doing my own template layouts (circa 2014), I guess.