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Unraveling the web's story


August 2020 Weblog: A Change in the Web

The Complete History, by me

If you haven’t seen it yet, the first three chapters of my ongoing series at CSS Tricks is up. I’m going through the entire history of the web from the beginning, in order, chapter by chapter. It’s the most in-depth writing I’ve done and I’m incredibly proud to have the first few installments out. Each chapter focuses on a different theme. Chapter 1 is about the birth of the web. Chapter 2 is about browsers. And Chapter 3 is about the website. You can catch up with all of them on my series page on CSS Tricks.

A Change in Direction

Unfortunately, this month was a sad one for one of the web’s oldest companies: Mozilla. The company laid off over 250 people as part of a restructuring. In their press release, Mozilla positioned the layoffs and other changes as part of an overall repositioning on their consumer products and business plan. Still, it’s clear that some fundamental teams that work on Firefox, a browser that has endured since the web’s early days, have been stripped away. It is hard not to see this as a blow to the web’s ecosystem, and a browser that has been so important to its development. The focus on eliminating integral pieces of the browser team, from the MDN docs to the Rust maintainers, is particularly alarming.

If you happen to be a Mozilla alumni looking for work, Mozilla Lifeboat aims to connect former employees with new jobs.

Out of reach

According to a report published this month by The Web Foundation, 2.5 billion people would need to spend at least a quarter of their monthly income to afford a smartphone. For many users, it’s quite a bit more than that. Writing in CNET, Katie Collins breaks down the research and its implications. It’s an important reminder that people connect to the web however they can and we need to optimize our experience for each and every user. Unfortunately, the inequities of the world are reflected in the digital divide, and fractures in our society are reflected online as well.

Habbo Lodgings

I was going to write a post about Habbo Hotel, a site I find truly incredible. But I’ll never be able to do as a good a job as Nick Summers in EngadgetWandering the quiet digital halls of Habbo Hotel.

Critical Newsletter Thinking 101

I often find myself thinking critically about how newsletters have come to proliferate and multiple in recent months, specifically with the launch of Substack and other turn-key email services. While I’m grateful to all of you who have stuck with this newsletter, I also understand that we’re beginning to reach a critical mass of options. For the context, history, and potential outcomes, I haven’t found any deeper or more insightful thinking about this than from Marc Shkurovich over on his newsletter (I know another one) Sintext.