Reading about 3D printing once again reminds me that the people who built a thing are the least qualified to document it.
The airport workers who are so diligent about stealing shit from checked luggage must be spasming from uncontrollable glee over the U.S.'s new ban on carry-on laptops from Europe.
(Like I said, I don't know where I'm going with this line of thought.)
Current notions of democratization of the Web are focused around how to equalize and liberalize access to privatized resources (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or how to make alternatives to those resources (Gnu Social/Mastodon). But that's all about the complications imposed on users due to subscribing to specific tools.
Democratizing the building of the web now is probably impossible. The sites have become The Hard Problem.
The early web had what was in retrospect an astonishing degree of transparency, it took very little effort for anybody to become a web developer -- this isn't an argument for its etymology but I wouldn't be half surprised if "web developer" came to be coined as a kind of intermediate tier between "computer user" and "programmer", what with HTML being a markup language, making room in the engineers' office for people without STEM backgrounds but stopping short of granting them peer status.
But at the same time, that enforced simplicity accommodated a degree of accessibility to the web -- at a genuinely fundamental level -- that the web's punctuated evolution has continued to obfuscate since.
You can still build a site with raw HTML and nothing else now. But where will you host it? Find a tilde club instance I guess? But you have to be part of the right technological in-groups even to know what that is.
Which begs the question of how necessary this tech knowledge has to be.
I don't see the point to harboring nostalgia about old web design. It was overly simplistic, and the browser wars, instead of accelerating standards acceptance and development, led to a dozen years of aggravated misdirection that ended up harming everybody involved.
For fuck's sake, CSS1 achieved recommendation status in 1996, but it wasn't fully supported in browsers until 2010. Imagine what we could have accomplished in UX development if Netscape and Microsoft had gotten on board.
(I don't know where I"m going with this line of thought.)
Preservation impulses will, ultimately, sabotage themselves; instead of allowing the historical state of websites to be knowably unknowable, future generations will *think* they know how the web worked, and will come up with something tantalizingly close but different in critical aspects.
The most reliable tangible record of web design ca. 1994-2001 will be, ironically, the innumerable printed how-to books about it. Remember how laughable most of those were? Well, they have screenshots. We won't be able to recreate how the sites *behaved*, and thus when the retro design backlash arrives (sooner or later you know this will happen, as surely as 8-bit graphics did), the kids of tomorrow will be freely taking liberties with assumptions about how the web used to work.
But as the history of web design enlarges with time, the benchmarks seem to get muzzy. Amazon.com's design evolution is an interesting story of opportunism and pragmatic responses to technology and human behaviors. There is a linear progression from "throw things up and see what sticks" to a highly coordinated suite of marketing schemes. But, at the same time, can *you* recall exactly what it looked like when you first saw it? Unless you kept a screenshot of the occasion, probably not.
I was wondering if it would be plausible to date somebody's first introduction to the web based on a select few design cues that they remember.
It's self-defeating in a few ways, though. There's the number of sites that, once built, never change until torn down. And as the public web continued to expand greater numbers of site owners preferred older design strategies. And most corrosive of course people's imperfect memories.
Remember blue borders around picture thumbnails? Black borders around picture thumbnails? "Click here" captions under picture thumbnails? Hover popups on picture thumbnails? Picture thumbnails?
Remember black text on grey? White text on dark blue? green text on black? Amber text on black? Black text on white? Dark grey text on light grey? White text on black? Dark grey text on white?
Today is a Yo La Tengo kind of day.
But above all, what comes across is the universality, across the globe and across the centuries, of made men in high places willing to ratfuck each other and millions of bystanders for petty gains.
Been listening to the Romance of the Three Kingdoms in podcast form.
Random thoughts follow:
• Cao Cao is a dudebro.
• I keep flashing back to Larry Gonicks' portrayals of key figures and events in his brilliant Cartoon History of the Universe II
• Specifically, Liu Bei is somebody I recall being a profane and rough but highly charismatic dude in Gonick's retelling, but the podcast makes him into somebody who's clever and ubiquitous, but pretty colorless.
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I'm ardgedee on most social media where you'd find a name like that. My current day job is as a househusband/house upgrader. In the recent past I've been a ('web') front-end developer and might be again in the near future if I don't follow through on thoughts about a career change.
Outside of Mastodon you're most likely to find me on metafilter.com and soon on mltshp.com