The History of the Web’s Monthly Blogroll, October 2018
Back in the earliest days of the web, some blogs used to have a blogroll. Somewhere on their site, usually in the sidebar, they’d list out a few links from their favorite blogs in no particular order. Before search and social media, the blogroll was key to discovery on the web and connected readers with stories and experiences they would never otherwise get a chance to see.
This is my blogroll.
100 Websites That Shaped The Internet As We Know It, Gizmodo Australia
Truth be told, I’m still making my way through this one. The staff at Gizmodo took it upon themselves to map out the hundred most influential sites that have crossed the web, including some that I’ve touched on, and many others that I haven’t. Amazingly, they’ve also managed to pull an old screenshot for every single one. The list is pretty impressive, and most are well deserved.
I have a post in the works that highlights some of the work and insights that researcher and scholar danah boyd has put into the world. Research for that post eventually led me to this fascinating interview from earlier this year, where she helps journalist Miles O’Brien help understand the spread of misinformation, and its far-reaching impact on every level of our society. Body grounds her insights on the modern ideology of online life in observations from history, and uses her decade+ research experience to shed light on modern day “*gates”, the troubles at Facebook, and the backlash against mainstream media. It is as far-reaching as it is deeply compelling.
Programming Sucks, Still Drinking
I caught this one via a tweet from Sarah Drasner. It was written years ago, but every single observation is 100% true today. Peter Welch walks us through the experience of being a programmer through a witty and candid lens we don’t often get to see. It includes, among many insightful twists, this little tidbit:
You can’t restart the internet. Trillions of dollars depend on a rickety cobweb of unofficial agreements and “good enough for now” code with comments like “TODO: FIX THIS IT’S A REALLY DANGEROUS HACK BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S WRONG” that were written ten years ago.
One Small Step for the Web…, Medium
This month, Tim Berners-Lee officially unveiled Solid to the world, a project that has been in the works for some time. It is a bit difficult to explain, but Solid is essentially a layer on top of existing web protocols that allows for interoperable and portable data storage. Solid enables something it calls PODS, bits of personal storage that can be used by applications and give user ultimate control over where that data ends up, and how it is used. You can imagine, for instance, a social web where you own all of your own data, you can revoke access at any time with the click of a button, and maybe most importantly, you can share data between applications. We are only at the very beginning of the possibilities, but it certainly gives me hope for the future of the open web. You can read more about Solid here.
The Coders Programming Themselves Out of a Job, The Atlantic
Brian Merchant tackles development automation this month, with a perhaps slightly exaggerated but not completely outrageous look at the tools developers use to automate tasks that used to be done by hand. Merchants cites several extreme examples of developers who have built tools that can do their job for them completely, with one developer even looping a prerecorded video of their computer screen doing work so as not to raise suspicion from an employer. Certainly, automation provides a greater role in development than ever before, and our industry will likely have to rethink how we reward and make use of automation in the future.