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(Spoiler alert: I could not. The CAPTCHAs defeated me.)
Sois specifically about the increasing standardization of UX design jobs, though it’s by no means limited to that particularly sector.
Incidentally, while the term “McDonaldization” was coined in the 90s, the concept is much older; Marx, for example, talks extensively about it in Capital while describing the ways previously artisanal traditional crafts—everything from making furniture to bread to lace—were changed to accommodate factory production. What we’re seeing now, and what the linked article is a symptom of, is that those same processes are now starting to creep into the formerly white collar professions, particularly in IT.
IT has historically been a bit insulated from McDonaldization because it’s a young industry, meaning a lot of its forms and processes and, importantly, integrations with existing capitalist structures (i.e. businesses) so on weren’t standardized. Inventing the hamburger menu in 1982 made you a world leader in UX. Implementing one today means mindlessly copying forty years of prior art…
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