September 2020 Weblog: Own Your Stuff, Learn About Fanfic

If you’ve been following along with my series on CSS Tricks, well now you can listen to all of that great history, narrated by Jeremy Keith.

My ongoing series at CSS Tricks continues! Last week, we published Chapter 4: Search. It takes a look at search on the early web, the players that duked it out in those first days, and the surprising, single college degree that unites them all.

Don’t Just Read. Listen to Web History.

When I published the first three chapters to that series on CSS Tricks, some people reached out about wanting to listen to the chapters instead (they are, after all, a bit on the longer side 😄). Well, now you can. Jeremy Keith (the wonderful adactio) has lent his voice to the series, narrating the first three chapters, which you can find right at the top of each post on CSS Tricks (or see them in the archives). If you’re a follower of the Shop Talk Show, you can listen to Chapter 1 on their episode from last week, after an incredibly interesting discussion of the state of the web platforms. Many thanks to Jeremy for narrating those, and to CSS Tricks for continuing to push these chapters out into the world.

Own Who You Are

I’ve talked now and again in these monthly recaps about the IndieWeb, a movement of sorts on the web to push people towards ownership of their data by utilizing tools on their own websites to publish everything — blog posts, social media posts, status updates and more — on their own domain first, and then use tools to publish elsewhere. It remains a difficult concept to explain. But the best explanation I’ve seen so far is from Ana Rodrigues writing this month in Smashing Magazine on “Autonomy Online: A Case For The IndieWeb”.  Ana breaks down the different elements that comprise the IndieWeb and offers a few helpful places for those to get started. If you are at all concerend about the ways in which walled gardens have locked us into a web where we own nothing and they own everything, I would start by reading this article.

The Omegaverse Deep Dive You Didn’t Know You Needed

Back in May, the New York Times published a report on an in-progress lawsuit between two Internet famous fan fiction writers, Addison Cain and Zoey Ellis. They are writers in a genre of fanfiction that is particularly niche and deep-rooted known as Omegaverse, which views pop culture through a lens of relationships between strong “Alphas” and subservient “Omegas.”  Given that I just published a pretty lengthy post on the fan fiction community myself, it caught my eye when film critic and writer Lindsay Ellis put up her own video essay that goes further and deeper into the lawsuits then even the New York Times report was able to do. Ellis highlights the fact that much of the case was built on the dissection of fan fiction as a confusing genre of the Internet age, rather than the true story that lies at the middle that has to do with the DMCA, authorship and ownership, tropes, genre, and the future of copyright law for up and coming authors. It is a fascinating watch, and an incredible look at an Internet subculture.

Old Browsers Today

I saw an interesting tweet that charted browser share over time from 1995 to today. It’s fun to watch as one browser or the other begins to overtake their competitors, or the times when the web languished in stagnation. It reminds me of an old Rhizome project for those browser adventurers out there called oldweb.today that lets you emulate some of the web’s earliest browsers (Netscape and Mosaic among them). It’s kind of fun when it works, but it’s even more interesting to read their announcement post about it from a few years ago.