Chaos is a feature of the online world

This chaos — this cubism, this unleashing of our multiple selves — is a feature, not a bug, of the online world. It’s arguably its defining characteristic for those who grew up there. You could attribute all the jump cuts, all the endlessly iterating memes, to a destroyed attention span. But it’s also evidence of something deeper, a mind-set people are just trying to name.”

“Arguably it is the dominant postapocalyptic vision of our digital times, the internet’s McLuhan moment, brought to us by teenagers who, as such, spend their days feeling like 10 different people at once and believe they can, and should, express them all. We all contain multitudes. The kids seem to know that’s all right.”

What Do Teens Learn Online Today? (NY Times Magazine)

When I look at the fluidity of the next generation and how they behave online, I feel a pang of nostalgia for the years I spent lurking on message boards during the early 00’s.

It’s a different landscape now. The linear discussion threads I grew up with have given way to ephemeral video with superimposed text and memes and emojis (memojis? 🤔)

But having a multitude of aliases and different personas to morph in and out of? Heh. That’s old news. It’s been part of the online experience since Usenet. We’re just witnessing Gen Z manifest it in a new way.

Subscriptions might save local news

Most local newspapers are simply not worth saving, not because local news isn’t valuable, but rather because everything else in your typical local newspaper is worthless (from a business perspective). That is why I was careful in my wording: subscriptions will not save newspapers, but they just might save local news, and the sooner that distinction is made the better.

A sustainable local news publication will be fundamentally different: a minimal rundown of the news of the day, with a small number of in-depth articles a week featuring real in-depth reporting, with the occasional feature or investigative report. After all, it’s not like it is hard to find content to read on the Internet: what people will pay for is quality content about things they care about (and the fact that people care about their cities will be these publications’ greatest advantage).”

The Local News Business Model (Stratechery)

I’m bullish on local news. It’s just taking a while for the next generation of local news properties to pop up. Thanks to projects like Newspack, Substack, and others, I think we’re going to get there soon. Hopefully.

The blurring line between UGC and branded content

“Gen Z kids have never known a world where their private browsing data wasn’t commodified. They’ve grown up surrounded by brands tweeting memes, partnering with influencers, and angling to profit off their attention. That’s probably why they’re no less likely to share content if it was produced by a corporation, or if it has a promotional or advertisement bent. The line between UGC and branded content has gotten blurry.

The Latest Insights on Gen Z (Contently)

When marketers talk about UGC and working with micro-influencers, are we talking about the online equivalent of street teams? From the Wikipedia entry:

“The now ubiquitous “street team” model was originally developed by urban record labels […] labels found it affordable and highly effective bridge to their target audience that did not require the traditional outlets found in print, radio, television mediums and elusive large scale record distribution deals.”

Rally a bunch of fans together and give them an incentive to promote a product they already like or use. It’s like a refer-a-friend program with kickbacks.

Of course Gen Z is going to be all over that. Heck, I’d be all over that if I was a teen looking to make some money on the side.

The value of local biz websites for SEO

“Far from it being the case that websites have become obsolete, they are the firmest bedrock for maintaining free local SERP visibility amidst an increasing scarcity of opportunities.”

Why Local Businesses Will Need Websites More than Ever in 2019 (Moz)

Small businesses need websites. The website is a single “source of truth” that they control. Everything else they do online — Facebook, Instagram, Google My Business — should point back to it.

I’m biased of course — I work at GoDaddy, we sell a website builder, and we sell WordPress hosting — but I was an advocate of getting local businesses online long before I joined GoDaddy. It’s why got into web development as a career.

Let’s make simplicity the default

Eminently usable designs and architectures result when simplicity is the default. It’s why unadorned HTML works. It beautifully solves the problem of presenting documents to the screen that we don’t even consider all the careful thought that went into the user agent stylesheets that provide its utterly boring presentation. We can take a lesson from this, especially during a time when more websites are consumed as web apps, and make them more resilient by adhering to semantics and native web technologies. As it stands, we’re serving heaps of burgers on silver platters of JavaScript with a generous helping of layout framework sauce not everyone can choke down.”

Make it Boring (Jeremy Wagner)

My dev chops are getting rusty. It’s time for a refresher.

Rather than dropping headfirst into new frameworks or build tools — as I’ve tried before, many times, with limited success — I’m rethinking my approach:

Start with the basics. Clean markup. Plain ol’ HTML. Figure out the semantic structure, then add from there. Bolt on new pieces as needed, only if needed.