🔖 The Shape Of The Machine (archive) by Mike Hoye

Google’s monitor and monetize system can be broken down into three parts. In isolation these parts seem to be well-intentioned.

  • Performance: AMP will speed up your web pages
  • Search: Faster loading pages are better search results
  • Advertising: Ad revenue keeps websites alive.

Put them all together and it becomes a thinly veiled extortion scheme. And unlike Microsoft and Facebook, Google still pretends that it is doing good work with good intentions.

🔖 Pieces of Thinking (archive)

Reasons why some people in the Hacker News community have stopped blogging and why Desmond (author of this post) continues:

  • Lack of readers. The author finds writing to be pieces of thought that help him think.
  • Fear of being wrong and having a public record of it. The author believes that everyone has the permission to grow and that people’s opinions can and should change over time.

🔖 Musings About Building Websites out of WordPress Blocks (archive)

Gutenberg blocks solved the problem of content editing, but can they scale to solve full-site editing too? There is a significant jump in complexity between these two problems.

Site building requires smarter blocks. Ones that are dynamic and that can change according to the context of the site and the blocks that are around them. Block APIs will need to be able to do this and a lot more to really enable full-site editing.

🔖 Radical Care as the Foundation for a Better World (archive)

Care is the foundation of society. It goes unrecognized and is undervalued. It is crucial for the maintenance of the personal, as well as the maintenance of infrastructures and institutions. Without it there would be no economy, culture, or politics.

Care goes beyond the logic of capitalism:

  • Value as defined by capitalism is quantifiable through economic measures
  • Values like caring on the other hand are cultural, ethical, and qualitative, and are thus hard to measure

There are places where radical care is being demonstrated. Sociologists can enable Popular Education, a process that connects people’s experiences with critical theories. This helps people place their problems in a historical and political context and use the knowledge to develop strategies for change.

🔖 Design systems (archive)

Design systems aren’t just the what of patterns and components, but also the how of putting these elements togethers. Along with patterns, the design systems should also explain:

  • the problem being solved
  • when the pattern should be used
  • when the pattern should not be used

🔖 Thoughts on Themes (archive)

Gutenberg is meant to be the common interaction point for making and customizing your website’s elements — navigation, content, site elements. It is not meant to take agency away from themes. Themes will continue to provide templates, designs and layouts. Blocks only make these things more portable and easier for the user.

Themes make overarching decisions of typography, color and design, this should make it easier for the user to make specific decisions for their website. The customizability that Gutenberg provides must be guided by themes.

🔖 The Good WordPress Theme (archive) themes and premium WordPress themes differ in scope. The former is narrow and only handles styling and layout, the latter is supposed to be a one-stop-shop for a website. Good premium themes:

  • Solve a specific problem. They don’t try to do everything and instead, decide their limitations based on the use-case they’re solving for
  • Are integrated with plugins that help solve the said problem
  • Keep the users safe from themselves — by helping them take good design and plugin decisions, and itself — by not locking the users in.

By adding extensive customizability Gutenberg seems to be shifting these responsibilities from the theme to the user. Premium themes have long been responsible for moving the WordPress platform forward, the changes brought by Gutenberg might negatively affect this landscape.

🔖 Can We Teach Graphic Design History Without the Cult of Hero Worship? (archive)

Graphic design history is often taught through styles, or iconic designers and not through the lens of society, culture or the audience of the work. The connect to technological, economic and political contexts is equally, if not more important.

  • Tschichold responded to economic considerations by standardizing Penguin book covers
  • Dadaist photomontage was used to protest World War I
  • Modernists dreamt of universal communication after emerging from war-torn societies

We should stop perpetuating the idea that designers somehow act on culture from outside of it, and instead focus on the complex worlds in which they did their practice.

🔖 How the Blog Broke the Web (archive)

Web homepages used to be weird hand-made things until blogging and content-management systems like Movable Type came into the picture in 2001. People switched to these systems because they were easier to use, but it meant that everyone got reverse-chronological diaries whether they liked it or not. This trend has continued with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc.

A reverse chronological feed is not the only way that hypertext can be molded, but the early systems have put the web on this trajectory. Other shapes of hypertext like wikis or forums have not remained as popular and don’t have many tools around them either. Even newer shapes of hypertext could still be discovered.

🔖 The ‘3.5% rule’: How a small minority can change the world (archive)

Research by Erica Chenoweth, political scientist at Harvard shows that non-violent protests that are able to actively engage 3.5% of the population always succeed. These protests can take the form of general strikes, consumer boycotts etc. Since they’re non-violent they are able to engage a broader demographic.

The researchers reviewed social movements from 1900 to 2006. The movements were considered a success if they were able to achieve their goals within a year of their peak engagement. They also applied a strict non-violence test (India’s independence movement, for example couldn’t be considered). Some examples were: