Styling Evolution, or, the Elements of Futility


Does it count as Skitt’s Law if, despite being unplanned, it still manages to make the point, anyway?

I would, however, note that once upon a time I actually lost an internet argument about how language evolves. There is a word we use, from the Italian; most Americans get it from “mob” movies. In a world in which I am supposed to know, off the top of my head, that the word is now officially spelled “koppish”, because, y’know, language evolves, I have also learned to remember that some evolution leads the way of the dodo.

When you hear someone justify poor presentation with something about how language evolves, it does in fact behoove us to consider whether the “evolution” in question improves or denigrates communication.

There is an argument that says EoS only makes good people feel bad about their own writing, but there is also a way in which that argument relies on some contradictory notion about communication. There are a lot of good people who communicate poorly; somewhere between, say, failing to speak in a way that fails to frighten a stupid, frightened person with a gun and, oh, I don’t know, being able to write a sentence without netspeak shorthand, exists a viable question by which communicative skills really are a proper consideration for self-conscious good people.

It’s just hard to figure though, to what degree the Elements bring jittery self-awareness to people who don’t know what the book is, or have never tried to use it.

Did you see what I did, there?

The gaffe in the sentence about the stupid person with a gun really is a mistake of revising something or another in the moment as that jalope hit the page.

Screen.

Whatever.

#nevermind.

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See also:

“Why ‘The Elements of Style” is out of style”. Public Radio International. 8 February 2018.

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Notes on Interface


[#antisocialmedia]

View of NTT Docomo tower from Shinjuku Gyoen, 26 March 2017. (Detail of photo by bd)

Okay, so, here’s the thing:

▸ The software feature that you want me to use requires that I select a photo.

▸ There are hundreds of photos in the uploaded library.

▸ Therefore, I am only allowed to see twelve photos at a time, in reverse chronological order.

▸ If the photo I would use happens to be, oh, way the hell down the list, that I must simply keep clicking and clicking in order to ask you to please show me more of my photos, that I might eventually select one to use for the software feature you really, really seem to want me to use, since, you know, you won’t shut up about it, I’m probably not going to bother, and would you please, then, shut up about it?

↳ Because your interface really, really sucks. The most obvious question in the world is why you would refuse to simply open the entire album. These pathways are deliberate; you do not accidentally design such an inefficient method, as the extraneity is by definition extraneous unless, of course, it is not actually extraneity. That is to say, there must necessarily be something you get out of it, but it would seem really, really obscure. (Hint for the gallery: To wonder why a publicly traded company would show off its incompetence or inefficiency is to look at it wrongly; the idea of efficiency on which such an outlook depends is consumer oriented. The wasted clicks make some other point.)

Anyway, yeah. It’s pretty stupid. Just sayin’.

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Image note: NTT Docomo tower, from Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo, 26 March 2017. (Photo by bd)

Flaccidware (v.1)


Something happened to software while I’ve been away. See, for instance, I don’t use Microsoft. I loathe Windows because whatever it is you think you’re doing, that is second priority to Microsoft, at best; it’s probably more accurate to say whatever you intend to do, wherever you intend to go today, Microsoft wishes to disrupt you along the way.

I actually had to ask where Notepad was. Then again, I don’t feel too stupid, since apparently a lot of people asked. The Microsoft support response was written in Second-Language English; we can tell how much Redmond cares.

Then again, Windows might be the great failure, but it is hardly alone. Turns out the malfunctioning whatever the hell that was mounted on the seat in front of me on the flight to Japan was Linux, which is unfortunate since it takes effort to fuck up like that, but I should also remember to avoid the hell out of software when my friends tell me how much I need it. To wit, I still don’t get what is so cool about Gogo. It’s terrible software that served me exactly none on the flight. Indeed, it was worse than nothing because I foolishly forgot myself for a moment and apparently expected it to work.

Still, I haven’t used Microsoft much in recent years, and figured the fact that it is actually painful to look at was just a result of the users I happened to know. No, no … it’s Windows. This OS looks like shit. It’s slow. Its first purpose seems to be advertising and promotion. I actually wonder if anyone in software is capable of writing a program that does what it is supposed to do. And then some days I remember of course they can, since all any software is intended to accomplish these days is advertising and revenue collection.

And this godawful “Nextbook” thing I’m trying to use? It forgets itself, can’t wake up properly, and is pretty much a disaster. Its two upsides are that I didn’t buy it, and I won’t be obliged by circumstance to use it.

Priorities: A Snapshot


As much as people complain about the media, it is occasionally worth attending the self-inflicted wounds. To wit, Huffington Post readers:

"Trending" sidebar widget noting popular articles at the Huffington Post, 17 March 2017.• “Pro Wrestler Comes Out As Bisexual After Video With Boyfriend Hits The Web”

• “7 Signs Of A Nervous Breakdown”

• “7 Reasons Your Pee Smells Weird”

• “‘Girls’ Is Now Officially Unwatchable”

• “These Will Be The Best Places To Live In America In 2100 A.D.”

So, yeah. Trending. According to HuffPo’s metrics, this is what people are reading and promoting.

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Image note: “Trending” sidebar widget noting popular articles at the Huffington Post, 17 March 2017.

Dangerous Reflections in the Witching Hour


Should I note the internet makes far easier than it ought—nearly inevitable, when you take a moment to think about it, which either is or isn’t troublingα—to encounter a rather striking fusion of fast cars, allegedly glamorous women, and “Cigány Himnusz”, it might seem reasonable to wonder in turn how many people might ever find the idea of such a troika significant in any context.

Or perhaps that is naïve; I am an American, so the proper question is whether anyone has a clue what the question means.

Damn. Wrong punch line.

Er … ah … oh, right: Perhaps I am naïve; being American, I’m probably making far too big a deal out of it simply in noticing.

There would also seem to be a certain shade of irony present, but it’s almost scary. Or not. It’s probably an Americanism.

Never mind. Try it an action movie voice-over: Fast cars. Faster women. Cigány Himnusz. Oh. That’s right: Don’t.

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α No, really, there is fair debate about expectation and inevitability in the context of infinite or merely vastly overwhelming potential, i.e., compared to the Universe itself.

Death & Habit


Durarara!!

The death of the click, as such, sounds dramatic:

For the past 10 years, we’ve operated on the premise that the most important digital metric is the click that refers a person to a website. That click usually comes from a social distribution channel, like Facebook or Twitter, or a search engine, like Google or Bing. But according to industry experts, the click referral is becoming an idea of the past, soon to be replaced by content exposure.

It would behoove us to pay attention. To the one, it is already happening. To the other … er … ah … well, yeah, there is, in fact, a point to wondering what the big deal is. But that’s the thing. As the Axios report explains:

Clicks look like a high-performing tactic, but a lot of work is done to get you to type something into a search bar to begin with,” AdRoll President Adam Berke tells Axios. Marketers are starting to attribute marketing success towards content exposure that drives you to click something, instead of the click itself. Two key formats increase content exposure: video and passive scrolling. Google and Facebook are investing heavily in products that embody these formats: YouTube and Instagram.

The bottom line is that your daily habit isn’t going to change for evolving necessity; rather, how you interact with the world will become more and more bound to theses of behavioral economics applied within a marketing context intended to backfill its justification post hoc―that is to say, your behavior will change to suit someone else’s business model.

And, yeah, that might sound a bit dramatic, but most people probably won’t notice, except to grumble a bit, like they did with Apple and … I don’t know, that dating app.

Meanwhile, for the business community the definition of success becomes even hazier. Good enough for government work, is better redefined as, Good enough for the tech sector. Then again, the definition of government work might well be unsettled for the momemt, as well, so … you know.

Whatever.

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Fischer, Sara. “The death of the click”. Axios. 20 February 2017.

It Almost Seems Deliberate


MEMORANDUM

To: YouTube

re: Really? I thought this part was obvious

So … you know that little thing you have where we click for the option to say we don’t want you promoting this or that kind of video? Why does it not work? No, really, when I tell you to not show me this, don’t turn around and promote the same damn video again.