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)

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’s True, I Really Don’t Get It


Certain little software issues arise along the way, and it’s true, I just don’t understand why. Like one day, caption data starts disappearing from the image files I’m making with GIMP. I finally figured out the problem by reading a fifteen year-old bug report on exif data that was allegedly resolved way back when. And now it’s apparently not a bug; this is the way it goes now. But it was strange, because the problem showed up only occasionally, at first, and then one day just was. And there was no ongoing update. It was squar’ in’tween updates.

Did my update notifier just break my system? I don’t think so, but it is also true there was an update waiting when I checked. (It’s a joke about my particular Linux flavor and spice: If stuff starts acting weird and slowing down, check the update manager; once it has an update to give you, it really wants to take care of the thing, but for whatever reason the only way it lets you know is by slowing everything down.) It is true I like to blame APIs in the age of HTML 5; as a blogger, it seems everything started going to hell around the same time every website got their new bells and whistles and all the end users got out of it was a bunch of lousy pop-ups, drop-downs, and overlays.

But this is really quite simple: I have not been hallucinating my find & replace method for the last five years. Longer? Hell, I don’t remember. But you cannot convince me I have been dreaming this bit where I can highlight text, hit a key combination, and have my text replace interface waiting to replace the highlighted text.

I was actually ahead of schedule when Gedit broke. It’s just a lot of stuff to highlight and replace by hand. So much for the schedule; I should probably get back to replacing.

But, yeah. The moral of the story: Never set goals.

No, really, I was going to finish all of a few minutes early, and now I’m over a couple hours behind and pretty much finished for the night.

Because I somehow managed to break Gedit.

Honestly: How the fuck do you break Gedit?

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.