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Unraveling the web's story

February 2020 Weblog: We blog, you blog

Happy February. Got kind of a long one next week, hope you like it.

– Jay

History can be personal

One article I’ve seen passed around this month is from Evelyn Woods, better known as eevee. It’s called Old CSS, new CSS, and it is the single greatest recap of the evolution of CSS I have seen. Woods blends her own experiences of early web technologies with the growth and progression not just of CSS, but of HTML, Javascript, browsers and the web, et al. It is deeply personal and insightful; a depiction of not just the technology itself but how it made the people who interacted with it feel, and how that feeling changed each time the technology did. Christian Schaefer recently did a similar thing (though a bit more technical), confined to Internet Explorer and its rendering engine, Trident. Microsoft recently switched their engine to Chromium, which is a whole other thing.

What are social networks doing to us?

I’ve been reading up on social media platforms, attempting to understand not just how they developed, but what influence they’ve had on our culture and collective consciousness. That’s led me to some interesting places, like an article from Mike Caulfield, The Stigmergic Myth of Social Media. Caufield’s point is that the web is grounded in a philosophy that has users lead the platform, which fundamentally discounts the more radical influence which gravitates towards prejudice. Over at Ribbonfarm, Sarah Perry explores how social media draws from fictional, narrative mediums like film which results in an uncanny, fictionalized representation of ourselves on social platforms, one that comes with significant risks to our body and mind. And while we’re at it, I looked at some social networks that totally failed.

Blogging like it’s cool again

So I love it when stuff like this happens. Frank Chimero has been redesigning out in the open and recently wrote about approaches to design on the web, which set off a chain reaction of blog post, after blog post, after blog post, each packed with helpful hyperlinks guaranteed to bounce you all around the blogosphere, only to come full circle. It’s worth reading through if design and design systems are your thing, but it’s also very early 2000’s chic, when the blog was first picking up steam.  If the 2020s is the decade the blog comes back, that would make me very happy.

I wonder what the web will be like in the 2000’s?

Speaking of the 2000’s, here are a few predictions for the web from Jakob Nielsen. From 1999. He’s right about a few things, but man did customer service not get any better.