I tweet, therefore I am

“I tweet, therefore I am? Internet participation can feel like being on tour in perpetuity, and the feedback loops can feel like a noose, one that you tighten yourself.”

How Everyone IPO’d in the 21st Century (Eugene Wei)

I read somewhere recently — can’t remember the source — that when you hit “peak social” on Twitter, everything you write sounds like something you’d pull out of a fortune cookie. Truisms to amplify and outrage to stoke. Hell, I’m guilty of it. So how do we keep it in check and not lose ourselves to the game of scoring internet points?

The next era of Instagram

“Forbes and a handful of social-media-marketing websites echo that appetites are changing. People are sick of unrealistic lifestyles and picture-perfect aesthetics, they say. The next era of Instagram is all about the “relatable influencer,” with trends like #nomakeup, #nofilter, #mentalhealth, #bodyimage, and “Instagram vs. Reality” memes. I now realize that in this essay, I’ve hit five out of five.”

— Who Would I Be Without Instagram? An investigation (The Cut)

Instagram started with snapshots of personal moments in filtered splendor. Then it swung towards influencers peddling products via over-produced photo shoots. Now it’s swinging back to something more real. (Hopefully.)

Technology is not the world

“It’s been hard to accept, at least for me, that each of our techy ideologies, while containing various merits, don’t really add up to a worldview, because technology is not the world. It’s just another layer in the Big Crappy Human System along with religion, energy, government, sex, and, more than anything else, money.

Why I (Still) Love Tech (Wired)

This essay from Paul Ford echoes much of how I feel about this industry I fell into. I love tech because of the opportunity it affords us. Tech isn’t inherently good or evil. It reflects the intent and decisions of those who harness it.

Also FTA: “Technology is just another human creation—like religion or government or sports or money. It’s not perfect, and it never will be. But it’s still a miracle.” — Amen.

Pinterest’s potential

“One of the biggest value propositions in retailers for Pinterest lies in creating as seamless of an experience possible for users to find something they like on Pinterest and go buy it. And while Pinterest hasn’t yet perfected the format for doing so — neither have any of its competitors.”

Pinterest’s long road to becoming a commerce platform (Digiday)

I like Pinterest. Sometimes I even love Pinterest.

It’s a source of inspiration; DIY solutions for household problems; and discovery for things I’d maybe like to buy. And because it doesn’t have any of the volatility of other social networks, it’s also like a mental break, a breather, from the rest of the web.

To all the white boys in the room

All the white boys in the room, even with the best of intentions, will only ever know what it’s like to make make decisions as a white boy. They will only ever have the experiences of white boys. This is true of anyone. You will design things that fit within your own experiences. Even those that attempt to look outside their own experiences will only ever know what questions to ask based on that experience. Even those doing good research can only ask questions they think to ask. In short, even the most well-meaning white boys don’t know what they don’t know. That’s before we even deal with the ones that aren’t well-meaning.”

Opinion: We Built A Broken Internet. (BuzzFeed News)

A thought-provoking opinion piece from BuzzFeed News. The premise of this snippet is uncomfortable — white boy checking in! — but that’s the point of it.

We made the web in our image and we’re unaware of the blind spots. And when others call us out on the blind spots it makes us uncomfortable.

People can’t scale up

Deepfakes. Targeting children on Instagram. Cancel culture. Bad YouTube recommendations for kids. Constant surveillance culture. Those same video cameras getting hacked. The fall of journalism and the rise of Buzzfeed. Mass Whatsapp hysteria. The fall of creativity online. The spread of anti-vaccination information on social media platforms. An increase in anxiety and depresion due to the use of social media. Facebook moderators dying on the job. Apps circumventing your privacy settings. No file ownership. Scammy Amazon reviews. Yelp extortion. Gaming Google results. Data rot. Bad self esteem on Instagram. Weird Brand Twitter. Social Credit Monitoring. And, of course, TayBot.

Why is it like this? We took this beautiful thing with so much promise and trashed it. Why are WE like this?

Because we as people are terrible at grasping web scale in our minds. People cannot scale up like machines. We can’t possibly think through all of the consequences of creating behemoth sites and systems that impact billions of people. No one has so far, and no one will in the future.

Humans are not web scale (Normcore Tech)

United States Web Design System

USWDS is a library of code, tools, and guidance to help government teams design and build fast, accessible, mobile-friendly government websites backed by user research and modern best practices. USWDS 2.0 is an important update to the design system — it introduces a powerful toolkit of new features to help make creating useful, consistent digital services faster, simpler, and more fun.”

U.S. government… issues… aside, I appreciate that the Digital Service puts out their work like this for other organizations — including other governments — to learn from.

Related: Canada’s Web Experience Toolkit (WET)

24 ways: The advent calendar for web geeks

24 ways is the advent calendar for web geeks. For twenty-four days each December we publish a daily dose of web design and development goodness to bring you all a little Christmas cheer.”

24 Ways

The annual tradition of 24 Ways has chugged along since the nascent days of Web 2.0. Every December, a group of web designers & developers come together to share useful tips and tidbits for their peers. It’s a fun trip down memory lane and you may learn a thing or two along the way.

P.S. Merry Christmas…!

Micro optimizations for WordPress

“Most of us have heard of the generic advice – use smaller images and don’t forget to compress them, avoid too many plugins, pick a faster host, leverage browser caching. But if we’ve done all that and want to improve further, what next? How do we further optimise our WordPress websites to boost our speed, improve our responsivity and encourage Google to rank us higher?”

10 Micro Optimisations for a Faster WordPress Website (Jem Jabella)

Found this useful compilation of WordPress speed optimization tips while cleaning up my Todoist backlog.