Newsletter May 28th 2018

Newsletters

Ed’s newsletter is four hours late this week, but still good!. I liked his comments about respecting public comment time at the City Council meetings. It’s the least our council can do.

Hate Linking

I’ve been thinking about this in terms of what social networks reward lately. On twitter it’s very easy to see something come into view that you’ve never even considered before. That can be a good thing, or be horrifying. Regardless, our (my) tendnacy to slam on the RT button has a social and mental cost: when someone else sees that how is that going to change their day? Oftentimes I’ve moved on a few minutes later, but if the network works how it’s supposed to those characters keep moving through it and have an effect on other people’s days.

I’ve stopped myself short from sharing a lot of the things I see that “surprise and disgust” me lately. Mostly because I recognize what the emotional whiplash feels like to me and I don’t like it. Especially when it’s about something I have no power to do anything about then it becomes outrage for the sake of outrage. Yes, there is much to be outraged about! That’s okay! But stewing in it hurts.

Anyway, please think twice before giving megaphones to things that “surprise and disgust” you:

Chris on Twitter: “Oh look! Can we please stop “hate linking” now?… “

Volante

New track by Menevado!:

GDPR and Trust and Ads

Marcel Freinbichler on Twitter: “Because of #GDPR, USA Today decided to run a separate version of their website for EU users, which has all the tracking scripts and ads removed. The site seemed very fast, so I did a performance audit. How fast the internet could be without all the junk! 🙄 5.2MB → 500KB… https://t.co/PsB77zjB4B”

There’s a number of sites that have stripped down version that—turns out!—are both easier to read and load considerably faster. NPR has a text only version of their site that admirably basic. There’s no header tags even, they replaced them with <p> tags, which is…bold (and inaccessible): Text-Only NPR.org.

Publishers could sell simple display ads (think a static image that is linked to a unique URL) on these refreshingly calm versions of their sites, but the trust between publisher, reader, and advertiser is so misaligned that I’m going to guess they won’t try.

Imagine if, generally speaking, the reader knew that: the ads on the site were relevant to the site, definitely didn’t include tracking scripts, and didn’t measurably slow down the site they were trying to visit. If that was the case, I bet fewer people would be running ad blockers.

You could still track an ad’s effectiveness with unique URL’s supplied to the publisher, but there’s no way the ad network would trust that those wouldn’t get abused.

And the publisher has so much else to think about, so why not just outsource the pixels to an ad network and get a check every now and then?

All that combines to bring us to where we are today. Since no one trusts each other we rely on analytics to “prove” that everything is working, which then ushers in a race to the bottom for who can manipulate the data quickest to get their stats up higher, which then creates a market for more and more tracking, which is how we got to here.

The Bygone Era of Twitter

Twitter once was very inane and innocuous and that was wonderful”

Go see what twitter used to be 10 years ago. No, it wasn’t perfect, but in general it sure was a lot more boring and less harrowing.

She Dwarf

My friend, Kyle, creates a webcomic called She Dwarf. It’s extremely good and you should be reading it. He’ll be at Heroes Con Jun 15-17 in Charolette, NC. If you’re there go see him!

Always Making Mistakes

Always Small, Always Better, Always Wrong | GeePawHill.Org

GeePaw wrote a great piece on change that came to me right when I needed it. Especially this line:

“always wrong is the discipline of making mistakes, keeping your energy and your spirits up as you discover every day that you’re not done making changes. i often tell geeks, don’t worry so much about whether you’re about to make a mistake, because i can pretty much guarantee you that you’re about to make a mistake.”

I tend to stall on projects when I can’t see how the end result will be “perfect” (for whatever value of “perfect” I have in my head). And then when trying to execute and something goes wrong it can be difficult to not catastrophize. Maybe the whole idea was bad because in step 3 I hit a snag? Maybe steps 4-10 aren’t worth it and we should just go back to the original way we were doing things. He goes on to say:

“making decisions knowing with confidence that you will make them differently again later.”

I’ve been trying this on for size in the past week or so and it’s been helpful for managing my expectations.