Back In My Day we used to bully girls off the entire internet for not using 100% pure semantic HTML markup on their blogs and Sailor Moon fanpages and whatever.

. . . honestly, I typed that out as a joke but, like. The fact that semantic HTML was so strongly associated with the “girl web” is probably a major contributor to why it got buried under a huge steaming pile of React-generated nested div shit.

2021-08-12T06:59:17+10:0016th August, 2021|Tags: , , |

Space Jammed.

Examing the bloat of modern websites by comparing the new Space Jam site with the original one that’s been online consistently since 1996.

[Minor content warning in that this article, like many like it, consistency uses weight as a metaphor in a way that’s a bit, yanno. Fatphobic.]

2021-05-11T08:18:25+10:0027th May, 2021|Tags: , |

Revenge of the Son of Semantic HTML.

What if… HTML was good actually?

Also, not to get all back-in-my-day on y’all but I did not go through the earl-2000s girlweb wars over XHTML1 for Devs These Days to make buttons out of fucking <div> tags. I still have scars, man! Psychological scars! Like, did you know you can make custom style sheets for print so that when you print your websites out–physically, on a piece of paper–they actually look good? Because we did. And we had them. For our blogs. And if you didn’t they’d mock you on the review sites. Some girls once wrote a six thousand word call-out post for me because I used justified text. This shit was serious, man! All you Kids These Days just… chucking all that history down the memory hole I swear…

  1. For the record, I always thought XHTML was Bad and, hah! I was right. HTML5 you precious beautiful validating bb you. []
2021-02-03T07:44:36+11:0015th February, 2021|Tags: , |


modern web dev is an extreme overreaction to not liking some php

Scott Jehl says R.I.P. to his mentions.

One of the things that bugs me so much about modern webdev is that, if things had been (gestures around) Like This when I was a Callow Young Lass, I never would’ve started programming. Never. I’m here because Back In My Day pretty much anyone could, at any time, vomit up a shared host webserver with PHP (and, before that, CGI with languages like Perl and even C) and start hacking away making crappy little webapps that did exactly what people wanted them to in all kinds of weird and wonderful ways. Things like fanlistings and guestblocks1 and even blogs and Facebook wouldn’t exist if this quick and dirty little homebrew ecosystem hadn’t existed.

Nowadays even looking under the hood of WordPress—something that’s even written in a language I know pretty well—makes me exhausted.2 Why is everything so abstracted? Why so many libraries? Why are the libraries so big? Why is every webpage downloading like fifty megabootoos of JavaScript? Why are the entire contents of everyone’s databases dumped to the browser as JSON regardless of what the page is actually loading? Why do I need to roll up esoteric command-line container infrastructure every time I want to fart “Hello world?” Why does React look like hot fucking garbage and why does everyone insist on using it to make their website look like hot fucking garbage, too?

“All that shitty PHP you used to write was pretty shitty, though.”

Uh. Yeah. It was. But, like. So what?

It got people coding. It got girls—and other people not traditionally positioned in the STEM-to-FAANG pipeline—coding. It was basically the indie craft scene for the internet and it was wild, man, and it just… doesn’t exist anymore? Everyone is too busy trying to scale Kubernetes architecture and write The Next Facebook after their one week at Reactcamp and yes, I am Too Old and yes, I freakin’ hate it.

“Yeah but you can use GitHub and a static site—”

First of all, GitHub is Microsoft. Just say it: Microsoft GitHub. I can use Microsoft GitHub to what, exactly? Increase its parent company’s stock price? Go fuck yourself.

More importantly: the fact that the random little shit we used to write was interactive was the point. We made little community tools for our little community. Static site generators are for jaded fucking hipster nerds who spend all their socializing time whining on Twitter about how Twitter sucks and T.I.N.A. as if all of this isn’t related somehow.

Where is my small shit code for small shit projects? Where are my tools or languages or frameworks that aren’t designed to serve the financial and architectural needs of a pile of rusted Silicon Valley titans? Yeah, PHP had problems and it produced a lot of shit (ref: Facebook) but at least it didn’t require a hundred thousand dollars of vendor bootcamps and a subscription to MSDN to get anything done with it.


  1. Remember those? They were like… kind of like a guestbook but made up of little pixel tile images that looked like stacked-up blocks. They were extremely cute. Assuming you had enough Internet Friends to, like. Use them. Which I did not. []
  2. And don’t even get me started on fucking Composer… []
2020-12-18T14:34:21+11:005th January, 2021|Tags: , |


A web-based chat client written entirely in CSS. On the other hand, as someone who loathes the JavaScriptification of the web, I lol’d. On the other, while this is a cute proof-of-concept, what the tech behind it actually more likely to be used for (and, in fact, what the inspiration Tweet was talking about) is circumventing client-side JavaScript blocking for the purpose of online surveillance.

So, yanno. Welcome to our dystopian internet hellhole, and all that…

2019-07-08T11:47:57+10:003rd November, 2019|Tags: , , , |


I was in middle school when I started to make websites, which meant my coming of age was defined by the idea that I could make websites and put them on the web for anyone to see. It was intoxicating in part because it was an open platform without gatekeepers deciding what methods of building websites were worthy. If you knew some HTML and could upload it to a web server, you were in.

Now that the web is increasingly the domain of privileged developers who can largely afford high-end devices and high-speed connections, it’s vastly different. There’s open disdain for CSS and HTML which make websites possible in the first place. This attitude has lead to a sole preference for JavaScript, which has created a brittle, slow, and inaccessible web that is failing to serve the public the way it should. We need to accept that the way we develop for the web is, at least in part, responsible for this failure.

Jeremy Wagner on the web.

I’m reminded of every time I’m salty about, e.g., React on Mastodon and someone has to slide into my mentions to defend the framework. The defenses are always developer-centric, and even more than that, always established-career-developer-working-in-an-opsdev-startup-envrionment-centric. They’re never things like “easy for anyone to pick up and implement!” or “fast-loading, semantic, and accessible across devices” which, y’know. Given I learnt to code in the girlweb heydey of “it’s XHTML compliant or you’re CANCELLED” sure is… different.

Also see: every shitty single-use webapp project on Github that requires its own fucking VM and/or Docker image preloaded with esoteric libraries to run. Seriously, go fuck yourselves. I know y’all don’t think PHP is ~cool or whatever, but at least if I download something written in it I can be 99% sure it’s going to run reasonably politely on my existing webserver and not force me into shelling out for an extra VPS…

2019-04-28T18:04:43+10:0029th September, 2019|Tags: |


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: , , |
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