Pretty cool, with a lot of potential for educational content, explainers and tutorials. Imagine a media player that is not constrained to a small rectangle on the screen, but could instead adapt to its content:

The problem with using video to inform is that, well, videos, by nature of the medium, are stuck in time. This additional layer that I’m proposing could pull in real-time information to complement the message you are trying to convey.

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.

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.

Jeremy Keith:

Nine people came together at CERN for five days and made something amazing. I still can’t quite believe it.

Coming into this, I thought it was hugely ambitious to try to not only recreate the experience of using the first ever web browser (called WorldWideWeb, later Nexus), but to also try to document the historical context of the time.

The documentation itself is well worth a read:

Today it’s hard to imagine that web browsers might also be used to create web pages. It turned out that people were quite happy to write HTML by hand—something that Tim Berners-Lee and colleagues never expected. They thought that some kind of user interface would be needed for making web pages and links. That’s what the WorldWideWeb browser provided. You could open a document in one window and “mark” it. Then, in a document in another window, you could create a link to the marked page.

You’ll notice as you use the WorldWideWeb browser that you need to double-click links to open them. That’s because a single click was used for editing.

The Next Web:

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are probably soon going to dictate what traffic can or cannot arrive at people’s end devices. GOOG-FB-AMZN traffic would be the most common, due to their popularity among internet users. Because of this market demand, ISPs will likely provide cheap plans with access to GOOG-FB-AMZN, while offering more expensive plans with full internet access — and it’s already a reality in countries like Portugal.

This would expand even more the dominance the three tech giants already enjoy. There would be no more economical incentive for smaller businesses to have independent websites, and a gradual migration towards Facebook Pages would make more sense. Smaller e-commerce sites would be bought by AMZN or go bankrupt. Because most internet users couldn’t open all the sites, GOOG would have little incentive to be a mere bridge between people and sites. […]

The common pattern among these three internet giants is to grow beyond browsers, creating new virtual contexts where data is created and shared. The Web may die like most other technologies do, simply by becoming less attractive than newer technologies. And like most obsolete technologies, they don’t suddenly disappear, neither do they disappear completely.

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.

Chris Coyer ha raccolto alcune opinioni sulla direzione che sta prendendo il web, per chi il web lo fa. Ideare, strutturare e sviluppare un sito web per ‘pagine’ è per esempio un modus operandi che abbiamo ereditato dal lavorare su carta — riviste, giornali, etc.

La fluidità del web, la necessità di funzionare su device e schermi completamente diversi, ci sta obbligando a lavorare con pattern. Il layout finale di una pagina web serve a farsi un’idea e a mostrare al cliente come verrà il sito, ma non dovrebbe essere il prodotto finale del lavoro:

Style guides. Design systems. Pattern libraries. These things are becoming a standard part of the process for web projects. They will probably become the main deliverable. A system can build whatever is needed. The concept of “pages” is going away. Components are pieced together to build what users see. That piecing together can be done by UX folks, interaction designers, even marketing.

Provate a visitare il sito di Ryanair con javascript disabilitato e, sorpresa — non solo non funzionerà nulla, ma nemmeno apparirà nulla. La ragione è che il sito di Ryanair è stato rifatto, due anni fa circa, completamente in Angular ignorando buone pratiche come il progressive enhancement: javascript, invece di migliorare le funzionalità del sito, è essenziale affinché funzioni. La stessa cosa succede a molte web app, e per certe né è facilmente evitabile e nemmeno è un problema — il discorso è a mio parere diverso per dei siti web come quello i Ryanair che probabilmente, facilmente, vengono utilizzati in viaggio, con connessioni limitate e poco affidabili, di fretta, e che contengono informazioni alle quali l’utente deve accedere.

Nell’ambiente in cui lavoro, sembra quasi che di recente la convenienza, rapidità e facilità di sviluppo per lo sviluppatore siano diventate più importanti dell’usabilità finale del prodotto per l’utente. Si scelgono così tecnologie, librerie, framework e scorciatoie che facilitano la vita allo sviluppatore, ma finiscono anche con l’appesantire il prodotto finale per tutti gli utenti.

L’articolo di Smashing Magazine, World Wide Web, Not Wealthy Western Web, ci ricorda — assieme a varie buone pratiche da adottare — che il web è globale: ad utilizzarlo non siamo solamente noi con iPhone di ultima generazione, Mac recenti e connessioni illimitate e veloci, con Chrome e supporto alle ultime tecnologie. Quando prendiamo decisioni come quella presa da Ryanair tagliamo fuori un enorme pezzo del mercato — che, probabilmente, se ne avesse l’opportunità, utilizzerebbe a sua volta il nostro prodotto:

Across the world, regardless of disposable income, regardless of hardware or network speed, people want to consume the same kinds of goods and services. And if your websites are made for the whole world, not just the wealthy Western world, then the next 4 billion people might consume the stuff that your organization makes.

Big Medium:

Only 2 out of every 1000 mobile web users ever tap a custom share button—like even once—according to a Moovweb study. We found similarly tiny numbers during our research designing and verticals for That means people are over 11 times more likely to tap a mobile advertisement than a mobile share button for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

A meno che non abbiano raggiunto la pagina tramite un social network: in quel caso sono venti volte più propensi a farne uso.


Many websites already allow comments, but current […] systems rely on unique, usually proprietary technologies chosen and provided by publishers. Notes cannot be shared easily across the Web and comments about a Web page can only be saved and viewed via a single website. Readers cannot select their own tools, choose their own service providers or bring their own communities.

Il W3C ha iniziato a scrivere una specifica, uno standard, per annotare le pagine web.

La notizia è eccitante sia perché significa che sarà finalmente possibile annotare, commentare, sottolineare una pagina web nativamente, senza bisogno di uno script o plugin aggiuntivo — la funzionalità sarà supportata dal browser! —, sia perché nel farlo i dati verranno salvati secondo uno standard, e quindi saranno condivisibili e riutilizzabili senza limitazioni: apparterranno al lettore, a chi li lascia, invece che alla piattaforma utilizzata per commentare (es. Disqus), al sito (es. Medium), o alla piattaforma di distribuzione (es. Kindle).

Immaginate se gli highlights del Kindle (ebook = pagina web, di fatto) invece di stare chiusi dentro l’ecosistema di Amazon appartenessero a voi, e stessero in un altro posto assieme a tutte le altre cose che vi siete salvati, condivisibili con altri lettori e riutilizzabili con altri contenuti.

Come spiega Hypotesis, l’aspetto eccitante della specifica del W3C è proprio questo: che le annotazioni stanno altrove rispetto al documento a cui fanno riferimento:

While many applications, from PDF readers and Google Docs to the Kindle, support some kind of annotation functionality, what the W3C formalized yesterday is fundamentally different. The W3C architecture provides for a model where annotations live separately from documents and are reunited and reanchored in real-time whenever the relevant document is present. The benefit of this is that annotations now come under the control and election of the user, rather than at the sole discretion of the publisher. Whereas previously annotation was likely a solitary act when implemented in a native app, or the most public act when it took place in a Disqus or Livefyre comment widget, web annotations will allow users to form communities freely, and those communities can extend across any internet-connected document, whether in HTML, PDF, EPUB, or other formats.

Maciej Cegłowski:

Everything we do to make it harder to create a website or edit a web page, and harder to learn to code by viewing source, promotes that consumerist vision of the web. Pretending that one needs a team of professionals to put simple articles online will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Overcomplicating the web means lifting up the ladder that used to make it possible for people to teach themselves and surprise everyone with unexpected new ideas.

Let’s preserve the web as the hypertext medium it is, the only thing of its kind in the world, and not turn it into another medium for consumption, like we have so many examples of already.

L’ultimo talk di Maciej Cegłowski[1. Fondatore di Pinboard] è, come lo sono stati i precedenti talk di Maciej Cegłowski, meritevole di attenta lettura. Riguarda la corrente obesità di molti siti web principalmente testuali, siti di giornali ad esempio, dovuta a script, pubblicità invasiva, framework sopra framework, una decina di tracker, … Cose non necessarie che, oltre ad appesantirli, li complicano facendo credere che il web sia lento per natura e che serva qualcuno che l’aggiusti — Facebook e i suoi Instant Articles.

Mi piace la regola che nessuna pagina web testuale (un articolo, il post di un blog, un tweet, etc.) debba eccedere in MB le dimensioni di un’opera letteraria Russa. Regola che lo porta a criticare siti come Medium (400 parole = 1.2 megabyte) e a coniare per loro il termine “chickenshit minimalism“:

The illusion of simplicity backed by megabytes of cruft.

Il web delle relazioni

Zeynep Tufekci riflette su cosa hanno fatto i social network ai blog (blogger) politici, soprattutto nelle zone in cui non c’è molta libertà (Zeynep parla soprattutto della Turchia). Ci sono aspetti positivi e negativi. Di positivo c’è che è molto più difficile censurare e bannare un intero social network rispetto a un blogger isolato, che può essere minacciato con attacchi DDOS e bloccato restando senza molti modi di difendersi:

Unlike a blogger, it’s very hard to isolate and ban Facebook or Twitter. A blogger can be placed in jail, a network of people on a platform with millions of users is much harder. In the past, the people who read the political blogs were mostly political people.

Di negativo c’è che ai social network non interessano davvero i contenuti di quel tipo. I social network sono ottimizzati per consegnare pubblicità, per distribuire contenuti che attirano mi piace:

Despite being populated mostly of dissidents around the world, some in exile, many friends in jail, hiding, or in open rebellion, my Facebook feed sometimes feels like Disneyland.

Un link non è solo un link, ma è una relazione, una connessione fra due persone, scrive Tufekci. E questo web di relazioni è proprio ciò che rischiamo di perderci passando ai social network, passando a un web le cui logiche sono dettate anche dal modello di business del prodotto che utilizziamo per comunicare.

So maybe there is a “link fetishism” that obscures the true heart of a link: it’s a connection between people. The current attention economy and its obsession with numbers — and virality — obscures this core fact about what is beautiful about the web we loved, and one we are trying not to lose. We are here for each other, not just through the fluffy, and the outrageously shareable, and the pleasant and the likable — but through it all. When we write, and link to each other, we are connecting to each other, not merely to content.

Hossein Derakhshan, blogger iraniano, venne condannato nel 2008 a vent’anni di carcere per colpa della sua attività di blogger. Quando sette mesi fa è stato rilasciato in anticipo, si è all’improvviso ritrovato di fronte ad un web totalmente diverso da quello che ricordava e per il quale fu disposto ad andare in carcere — basato su social network, e sempre più centralizzato:

The hyperlink was my currency six years ago. Stemming from the idea of the hypertext, the hyperlink provided a diversity and decentralisation that the real world lacked. The hyperlink represented the open, interconnected spirit of the world wide web — a vision that started with its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee. The hyperlink was a way to abandon centralization — all the links, lines and hierarchies — and replace them with something more distributed, a system of nodes and networks.

Blogs gave form to that spirit of decentralization: They were windows into lives you’d rarely know much about; bridges that connected different lives to each other and thereby changed them. Blogs were cafes where people exchanged diverse ideas on any and every topic you could possibly be interested in. They were Tehran’s taxicabs writ large.

Since I got out of jail, though, I’ve realized how much the hyperlink has been devalued, almost made obsolete.