No. Paul Ford, talking with his 2000-self:

’00: You keep saying that. How does HTML work now?

’20: It’s pretty simple, you define app logic as unidirectional dataflow, then fake up pseudo-HTML components that mirror state, and a controller mounts fake-page deltas onto the browser surface.

’00: How do you change the title tag?

’20: You can’t.

As Tom MacWright suggests, there are two web: a document web (the original vision of the web), and the web of apps. Front-end developers complain about CSS’ logic, and people like me twitch when they see CSS-in-JS.

I posit that this dual-nature is part of what gives the web its magic. But it’s also a destructive force.

The magic is that a simple blog can be creative expression, can be beautifully interactive. This one isn’t, but I’m just saying – it’s possible.

The problem is that the “document web” is often plagued by application characteristics – it’s the JavaScript and animations and complexity that makes your average newspaper website an unmitigated disaster. Where document websites adopt application patterns they often accidentally sacrifice accessibility, performance, and machine readability.

Interesting take from Palladium Mag:

Considered frankly, this trend reveals the internet to be a technology of centralization. One of the core functions of the internet is to record material of human interest in digital format. These records span everything from our trivial preferences and financial habits to the most intimate messages we send each other. With adequate analysis, this data can be used to predict user behavior. This information is not made available to us as individuals. Even if it were, it would not be the kind of information we could use. It’s only useful en masse—in other words, only insofar as it makes us legible and visible to centralized institutions. The rise of Amazon, Tencent, Facebook, or Twitter aren’t bugs in the system, but the natural result of its real logic.

But maybe we shouldn’t always look at centralisation as necessarily bad?

In trying to understand and chart a course for the future, we might take inspiration from the centralizing effects of past technology. The printing press reduced the Catholic Church’s control over intellectual institutions. But it also paved the way for the standardization of language and for more direct control by state bureaucracies. Society was vastly more centralized in 1750 than it was in 1400. Through the modern lens, the benefits of the printing press vastly outweigh its costs, suggesting that we may be wrong to fear centralizing technologies in our own time.

A calming little website collecting 10 minute videos of someone’s else window. Displayed randomly, from anywhere in the world.

A moment of silence for Yahoo! Pipes 🙏

Ethan Marcotte:

I want to suggest that web design has, as a practice, become industrialized, and I want to look at how that will change the nature of our work in the months and years to come. I want to talk about how the web has always excelled at creating new kinds of work, before rendering that work—and its workers—invisible. […]

As more people use a technology, standards are established, and infrastructures are put in place to support that new technology. There’s also a shift in the relationship between a technology, and the people who use it. In the first phase, the user is intimately involved with the technology, and may have a great deal of control over it; in this phase, however, that control is lessened, and the role of people—whether users or workers—is drastically reduced.

Google is forgetting the old web

Some people think Google has stopped indexing old parts of the web. Even supposing that’s not the case, that there isn’t any memory loss going on, it seems to me that in recent years Google has tweaked its ranking to give more prominence to what’s hot and trending, the new over the old. The first page of a Google search is more often than not just a collection of news articles. Smaller design choices — such as the news carousel featuring at the top of most searches — have put more weight on recency over accuracy, on articles about the latest developments of a situation over less noisy sources.

One other major shift in how Google views itself happened around the time voice assistants entered our lives — being that they need to return straight answers to be useful, not a set of options. That’s when Google started using machine learning and algorithms to return direct answers to queries. It works when the answer is factual, such as the height of a mountain or the distance from a place. It’s less trustworthy when asked about an event or a situation, seeing that it seems to return whatever is popular at the moment.

That’s saddening, even if no forgetting was happening. This focus on novelty over knowledge diverges from my mental model of the Web. As Tim Bray writes, a permanent, long-lived store of humanity’s intellectual heritage.

La propone Dieter Bohn:

  • Deve essere linkabile
  • Deve permettere l’accesso a qualsiasi client

Con enfasi sulla seconda:

Links aren’t the complicated part; it’s the part where your thing should allow any client to access it. For the web, that rule is pretty clear: whether you use Chrome or Safari or Edge or Opera or whatever, when you click a link or type in a URL, you get the page you wanted (more or less). Those pages are agnostic to the client. […]

When people talk about the “open web,” agnosticism to the client is really at the heart of it.

Microblogging con WordPress

Mi piace molto l’idea, di cui sono venuto a conoscenza grazie al blog di Manton Reece, di rubare a Twitter il monopolio della timeline portando il microblogging sui blog — diffondendo timeline ovunque. È semplice: il prodotto principale di Twitter è la timeline, un flusso di post brevi ordinati cronologicamente. Scrive Manton:

For the last few years, Twitter has had a monopoly on the timeline. We need to break that up. The first step is encouraging microblogs everywhere, and the next step is to build tools that embrace the timeline experience.

WordPress da tempo permette di associare un formato ai post, un micropost potrebbe essere un normale post, marcato come status dentro WordPress, visualizzato in maniera differente dagli altri. Ad esempio, non dovrebbe avere un titolo, dovrebbe ovviamente essere breve, venire distribuito in un rss separato ed essere facile da creare da smartphone (ad esempio, sfruttando IFTT).

Non è un’idea nuova, Winer ne scriveva nel 2008, ma è ora molto facile da implementare. Il mio uso di Twitter è diminuito drasticamente negli ultimi anni, ma questo non perché il formato — o lo strumento — non siano utili. Personalmente, credo mi sarebbero utilissimi: mi permetterebbero di commentare brevemente, senza dover ricorrere alla pesantezza di un post.

In altre parole, penso ve li ritroverete presto su Bicycle Mind.