all posts tagged 'indieweb'


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This site contains 29257 unique* 88x31 buttons that I scraped from the GeoCities archives compiled by the incredible ARCHIVE TEAM before GeoCities' demise in late 2009.

I shouldn’t go through all ~30,000 images to find the ones I made for Tim’s World or That’s Unpossible, right?


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The Internet Needs to Change

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I hate the internet.

...that's a lie. I love it, but I hate the algorithms.

That's also a lie... I love the algorithms.

I watched this video on the plane ride back from Nickelodeon Resort yesterday, and I have to say, it got me.

Hank's assessment of how the algorithms deployed by social networks come up short in actually giving us what we want is spot on.

It's why I love how many friends are spinning up their own newsletters. And this new newsletter was a no brainer instasubscribe.

Ever since my buddy Paul gifted me a premium subscription to Garbage Day, I've been a voracious newsletter subscriber. They do a great job of filling the void that Google Reader left in my life.1

This website has been my way of curating the internet, sharing things I've found that interest me, but maybe I should start a newsletter myself and do things in both places.

Should I tell my impostor syndrome to shove it and start my own newsletter, y'all?

  1. I do need to find a way to get them out of my inbox, though. I really should move all my subscriptions into Feedbin so they show up in my RSS reader app. 

How Google made the world go viral

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The question, of course, is when did it all go wrong? How did a site that captured the imagination of the internet and fundamentally changed the way we communicate turn into a burned-out Walmart at the edge of town? 

Well, if you ask Anil Dash, it was all the way back in 2003 — when the company turned on its AdSense program.

“Prior to 2003–2004, you could have an open comment box on the internet. And nobody would pretty much type in it unless they wanted to leave a comment. No authentication. Nothing. And the reason why was because who the fuck cares what you comment on there. And then instantly, overnight, what happened?” Dash said. “Every single comment thread on the internet was instantly spammed. And it happened overnight.”

Dash has written extensively over the years on the impact platform optimization has had on the way the internet works. As he sees it, Google’s advertising tools gave links a monetary value, killing anything organic on the platform. From that moment forward, Google cared more about the health of its own network than the health of the wider internet. 

I’ve been on the internet since before Google came to dominate it, and this feels like an extremely accurate assessment.

It doesn’t seem fair to say “this is all Google’s fault.” After all, most of us who work on the internet wouldn’t be able to do so without people commercializing it.

But it comes back to your goals, I guess. I never built a blog to make any sort of money. I lose hundreds of dollars a year by cultivating this little space on the web.

But I don’t regret a single penny. It’s an investment in something that brings me true joy.

I have zero analytics running on this site right now. It’s a bit of a weird flex, sure, but honestly, I don’t care if there is one person reading these words or a million.

The main reason I don’t track people is because I don’t want to start making this something which requires me to keep dancing to get people’s attention.

I dunno… I just miss open comment boxes. And while I don’t like what I see on sites like Facebook and Google these days, I can at least hang my hat on the fact that there’s a thriving indie web community that keeps writing on their sites and connecting with each other through RSS feeds.

And also, shout out to Ryan Broderick, the author of this article. I’m a huge fan of Garbage Day and his work dissecting the weirdness of the internet. If you like this piece, you’ll love his newsletter.

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My website as a home

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I’d like to use “home” as the operative analogy for my own website.

With any analogy, you choose which properties of the subject to apply to the object of comparison, and which to ignore. What I find significant about homes in this context is that they don’t exist primarily for display: rather, they’re designed around the habits and values of their occupants.

Analogously, I want to use my website to order and document my own activity, and to interact with things and people that I care about.

Still, a website and a home are importantly different in that the former is intended for public exposure, whereas the latter is grounded in private life. But maybe we can relate the public nature of websites to a public dimension of homes: hosting visitors.

Typically we don’t show our house guests everything — we keep many things private and clean up before they arrive. Moreover, we’ve made prior decisions about our furniture and decor with future guests in mind. So homes can certainly be curated for the public eye; but crucially, they maintain their function as living spaces.

I find it generative to consider websites as a similar conjunction of public and private activity: by thinking about how visitors will receive the things that I publish, I’m compelled to produce more and refine the things that I make. At the same time, the website remains my space and is subservient to no other end.

The joy I get from tweaking my personal site and sharing links like this to it seems to be the exact same joy that my kids get out of meticulously organizing their playhouses.

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The Internet Isn't Meant To Be So Small

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It is worth remembering that the internet wasn't supposed to be like this. It wasn't supposed to be six boring men with too much money creating spaces that no one likes but everyone is forced to use because those men have driven every other form of online existence into the ground. The internet was supposed to have pockets, to have enchanting forests you could stumble into and dark ravines you knew better than to enter. The internet was supposed to be a place of opportunity, not just for profit but for surprise and connection and delight.

One of my first attempts at building a website occurred in the Enchanted Forest section of GeoCities.

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Goodbye to Netflix DVDs, The Last Good Tech Company

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Netflix didn’t care what was inside the envelopes, so the only thing that mattered was that we, the customers, were getting what we wanted. Now, Netflix’s entire business is to know what’s inside, to make you think everything you want is inside, and to keep you distracted long enough so you never see the big world outside. Netflix went from being content-agnostic, a truly unbiased platform, if you will, to being content-obsessed, preferring to show you only its own content, and always its own content first.

A similar transition has happened at every major tech company, even the social media companies in which Netflix is often grouped as a major tech company emblematic of Silicon Valley. They all do extensive content moderation even as they claim to just be platforms, because they can no longer declare ignorance or ambivalence about what’s inside. And they, too, want you to look away as rarely as possible. They have all rallied around the cause of engagement. Finding ways to maximize it, to retain it, to increase it. 

This feels similar to the post I made last week about how you should have a website.

What drew me to the internet in my youth was how raw, honest, and authentic it was. It wasn’t about monetization strategies. It wasn’t about engagement metrics. It was about making cool stuff with other dorks that cared about the same things as me for fun.

I watched so many movies with my Netflix DVD subscription back in the day. Now, with vastly more selection available at the touch of my fingers, I find myself getting to the end of my day, turning on my TV, and rewatching something that I’ve already watched before because I'm just so burned out on these terrible walled garden content platforms that only want to serve me the digital equivalent of junk food.

I know that hosting websites isn’t free. But maybe all this scale and reach is just not really needed. Maybe we just need to keep building the internet we want to see instead of relying on big tech to prescribe it for us.

Oh, and the reason I used this particular pull quote is because it’s true... Name any website, app, or SaaS tool out there, and there is undoubtedly an entire team dedicated to figuring out how to exploit it to make as much money as possible.

I really despise this game. It has always made me feel uncomfortable that we’re just cool with it. There has to be a better way to connect each other and derive meaning and value from those connections.

Because the solution of stealing everyone’s attention and addicting us to these worthless platforms can’t possibly be the yard in which we park this train.

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You Should Have a Website

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Think of the people you actually give a shit about in real life. They would like your website, and you would like their websites. Fuck the person you spoke to one time at a party 4 years ago, they don’t need to get play by play updates about the concert you’re at. Your life is not better because 15 people saw your Snapchat story instead of 14.

I think people online should slow down and scale back. Personal websites are so much more, uh, personal. I think of it like sending a text message to someone versus sending them a letter. Seeing an update of any kind to a friend’s website would be so much more interesting than a Facebook status or a profile picture change. Again, maybe I’m the weird one.

Nearly posted this whole article verbatim because it’s exactly how I feel about this site. I know I’m supposed to make this site be a direct reflection of my braaaand (apologies to my friend who is helping me with my braaaand at the moment), but I just want this to be a cool place that people who are interested in me can see things that I’m interested in.

Coming soon: probably more shares from this collection of posts about how the internet used to be fun and how we can make it fun again.

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Why Japan’s internet is weirdly designed

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As I’ve mentioned in the past, this website’s redesign was specifically the result of me looking back at, and pining for, my old web days.

It’s a shame (but not entirely a surprise) that search engines and slow internet caused us to lose an entire generation of fun websites.

It would be stupid for me to suggest the youths will start getting into web design like I did when I was a youths. But maybe the idea here is to keep looking for how the young people are finding ways to express themselves despite whatever perceived limitations by which they are encumbered.

Also, does this mean I need to try my hand at a redesign again? Or should I find a new hobby?

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