On the 30th anniversary of its release, Marques Brownlee unboxes and explores how the Game Boy came to be, it’s impact on society, and why it’s leaving us feeling so nostalgic.
At 23 I was obsessed with minimizing recurring costs of living. They felt like poison to me.
Obsessing over minimized cost of living has a light-touch hint of Thoreau to it: the calculating, the measuring, the valuing of time.
“House: $28.12 ½; Farm one year: $14.72 ½ …” and on and on Thoreau wrote in Walden. “The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediate or in the long run.”
Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism devotes a chapter to Thoreau. My favorite quote though is from Frédéric Gros on Thoreau’s processes: “[Thoreau] says: keep calculating, keep weighing. What exactly do I gain or lose?”
The majority of the web community are probably building—y’know—modest websites. There’s a reason why WordPress powers 33.5% of the web: because most of the web isn’t big applications or design systems—it’s straight-up websites. We would all do well to remember that.
It’s easy to slap something up on a web server, but it’s quite another to be a steward of it in a way that makes the web a better place. That starts with redefining our productivity with the goal of serving the interests of others instead of our own.
Matt Zoller Seitz:
TV doesn’t feel the same when you watch it that way. It’s more of a solitary experience, no matter how many fellow fans discuss it with you on social media. And it necessarily reduces the level of excitement surrounding a season or series finale because the show has been deprived of that measured pace of one episode per week, with six days of contemplation and anticipation in between each chapter, all leading inexorably to that last run of episodes during which the fans, who’ve spent years living and breathing this thing, come to terms with the totality of the accomplishment, and ready themselves for the exquisite and horrible moment when the storytellers swing that sword at our necks and the birds take flight and the credits roll for the last time.
Avi Asher-Schapiro makes some good points about The Inventor that I failed to consider:
Missing from the film, however, is any sustained effort to understand how Theranos interacted with the larger economic and social forces that nurtured it. In the hands of Gibney, the rise and fall of Theranos is reduced to a sort of personality puzzle, driven by the banal questions like: What was Elizabeth Holmes thinking? Is she a liar? How could seemingly competent investors be so misled?
That’s a shame, because the story of Theranos is so much more than that. At its root, it’s a parable that cuts to the central dysfunctions in the American economic and political order, one that should dismantle our notions of meritocracy and put a strict limit on our forbearance for elites. It illuminates how the rich and well connected occupy different strata of life, enjoy a completely different set of opportunities from the rest of us, experience a different kind of justice, and are so often immune from consequences. Though the film gives some glimpses of these dynamics, they are always in the background, shadowed by other far less compelling narrative impulses.
It’s relatively easy to write and speak about new technologies. You’re excited about them, and there’s probably an eager audience who can learn from what you have to say.
It’s trickier to write something insightful about a tried and trusted (perhaps even boring) technology that’s been around for a while. You could maybe write little tips and tricks, but I bet your inner critic would tell you that nobody’s interested in hearing about that old tech. It’s boring.
The result is that what’s being written about is not a reflection of what’s being widely used.
More on scammers, by Maureen Dowd:
As Maria Konnikova wrote in her book, “The Confidence Game,” “The whirlwind advance of technology heralds a new golden age of the grift. Cons thrive in times of transition and fast change” when we are losing the old ways and open to the unexpected.
We are easy marks for faux Nigerian princes now, when chaos rules, the American identity wobbles, and technology is transforming our lives in awe-inspiring and awful ways.
See also, on Wired: Nigerian Email Scammers Are More Effective Than Ever.
Prompted by the college admissions bribery scandal in the US, the hosts of Do By Friday had an interesting discussion about grifting on a recent episode of the podcast. This article by Tom Gara was mentioned by Max Temkin and caught my attention:
We are living in a golden age of grifting. For an ambitious scammer in 2018, this is like being a sculptor in 1500s Florence — every major force at play in our world is like a wind at your back. In politics, a team of all-star grifters now runs the United States, and their fake-it-till-you-make-it ethos bleeds into everything it touches and elevates aspirational young con artists into national figures. Technology now allows you to create and maintain an entirely constructed identity, giving you not just the tools to manipulate your image and massage the truth of your everyday life, but also an audience hungry to consume that image and believe in it.
I was mad that, while I spent my nights learning F#, my daughter started calling everyone around “fathers”. And this guy, instead of getting better at his job, went home to his children. And I wanted to punish him.
Because I do code review for self-identification. I don’t give a toss about the project or the code. I’m simply a madman who’s allowed to hurt people. I’m a psychopath with a licence to kill. An alpha male with a huge stick.
When I realized that, I felt ashamed of myself.
Kristen Yoonsoo Kim investigates why Korean films keep getting snubbed at the Oscars:
At the time, the submission of Age of Shadows made no sense to me. But in early 2017, a government blacklist created by Korea’s former, impeached president Park Geun-hye was uncovered. Thousands of Korean artists and cultural figures were banned from receiving government support, and one of the most prominent figures on that blacklist was The Handmaiden director Park Chan-wook, thought to be too leftist and thus a threat to the government’s agenda.
The Handmaiden, Okja, and Burning are among my favorite films of the last few years. It’s a shame they’re not getting wider recognition.
A great little documentary about the birth of the web, featuring Tim Berners-Lee front and center.
FOREVERYONE.NET connects the future of the web with the little-known story of its birth. In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the Internet creating the world wide web.
Digital archeology — a working simulation of the first ever web browser:
In December 1990, an application called WorldWideWeb was developed on a NeXT machine at The European Organization for Nuclear Research (known as CERN) just outside of Geneva. This program – WorldWideWeb — is the antecedent of most of what we consider or know of as “the web” today.
In February 2019, in celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of the development of WorldWideWeb, a group of developers and designers convened at CERN to rebuild the original browser within a contemporary browser, allowing users around the world to experience the origins of this transformative technology.
It’s amazing just how resilient and backwards-compatible HTML is. My site is already quite usable in WorldWideWeb, but now I’ll have to resist the urge to add some optimizations for 1990 web users.
David Ehrlich writes about the upcoming Apollo 11 documentary, made using recently discovered 65mm footage:
It’s rare that picture quality can inspire a physical reaction, but the opening moments of “Apollo 11,” in which a NASA camera crew roams around the base of the rocket and spies on some of the people who’ve come to gawk at it from a beach across the water, are vivid enough to melt away the screen that stands between them. The clarity takes your breath away, and it does so in the blink of an eye; your body will react to it before your brain has time to process why, after a lifetime of casual interest, you’re suddenly overcome by the sheer enormity of what it meant to leave the Earth and land somewhere else.
This looks absolutely incredible.
Fighting words from Rachel Andrew, defending the ease of learning HTML and CSS from scratch:
Whether front or backend, many of us without a computer science background are here because of the ease of starting to write HTML and CSS. The magic of seeing our code do stuff on a real live webpage!
Yes! The instantaneous feedback when editing HTML or CSS on a live webpage is, to me, one of the most important characteristics of the web as a medium. Having no layers of abstraction between creative input and final output is one of the web’s miracles.
I might be the “old guard” but if you think I’m incapable of learning React, or another framework, and am defending my way of working because of this, please get over yourself. However, 22 year old me would have looked at those things and run away. If we make it so that you have to understand programming to even start, then we take something open and enabling, and place it back in the hands of those who are already privileged. I have plenty of fight left in me to stand up against that.
I couldn’t agree more. It really was the ease of getting started that got me into web development, and kept me away from native app development. Easy to learn, hard to master is a wonderful trait that the web should fight to keep.
David Heinemeier Hansson thinks that web design quality is at risk of regressing now that it’s increasingly difficult for designers to work directly with code: