A World Ordered Only By Search
tl;dr: An essay of how the ordering of the world interacts with our experience of the self: "a discussion of models and metaphors for ordering knowledge, memory, the ubiquity of search, the habits and assumptions of medieval reading, and how information loses its body."
featured in #258
What Is This “Product” You Speak Of?
tl;dr: Software doesn't fall into either traditional economic bucket of product or service. In economics 101, a product is tangible, and has a one-off capital expenditure e.g. a rug. A service is non-tangible has a recurring cost e.g. cleaning. Software is neither. "Software is not done when it first works," it requires substantial costs to maintain and improve.
featured in #252
My Love-hate Affair With Technology
tl;dr: Nolan swung from having the latest tech 10 years ago, to practicing a form of "tech veganism."He doesn't have a smart speaker or watch. His smart TV is hooked to an old PC for Netflix, Hulu, etc... This is driven by a believe that software should be "privacy-respecting, open-source, controlled by the user." He feels the benefits of this "asceticism," but maintains concern by the fact tjat others cannot live like this because they don't have the technical know how.
featured in #251
The Rise Of User-Hostile Software
tl;dr: “Modern software doesn’t really care about the needs of the user but, rather, about the needs of the developer,” and are driven by the need for more user data, accounts, access, etc... all infringing the users' experience. He outlines a "Hippocratic Oath for engineers:" (1) Always start with customer needs. (2) Don’t impose artificial limitations on the customer. (3) Respect user choices. (4) Think beyond the “right now,” and more.
featured in #248
Letters To A Young Technologist
tl;dr: "Technologists hold an increasingly important position in society, with the capability to change billions of peoples’ life experiences." Yet, the ideologies or life-philosophies on offer to most people pursuing a career in tech are "surprisingly shallow." These essays are a step in a different direction - "an ethic that prioritizes technologists’ agency, the need for self-reflection, and the importance of historical inquiry."
featured in #246
The Web Browser As A Tool Of Thought
tl;dr: "The vision of the web browser that excites me the most is one where the browser is a medium for creativity, learning, and thinking deeply that spans personal and public spheres of knowledge." Linus illustrates his vision in this post.
featured in #246
Notes On The Perfidy Of Dashboards
tl;dr: "Dashboards aren’t universally awful," but they do encourage sloppy thinking, and "static ones make it impossible to follow the plot of an outage, or validate a hypotheses." Charity believes more vendors need to build for "query ability, explorability, and the ability to follow a trail of breadcrumbs." New dashboards should expire within a month if unused.
featured in #245
Zip - How Not To Design A File Format
tl;dr: "I have a feeling this is like many file formats. They aren't designed, rather the developer just makes it up as they go. If it gets popular other people want to read and/or write them. They either try to reverse engineer the format or they ask for specs...Zip is such a format." Gregg dives deep into the construct of a Zip file, how and how to go about fixing its design.
featured in #241
Give Me /Events, Not Webhooks
tl;dr: You can't rely on webhooks alone to keep two systems consistent. Every integration Anthony worked with has augmented webhooks with polling due to the fact that "senders typically retry undelivered webhooks with some exponential back-off" & webhooks are "too easy to mishandle or lose." Anthony discusses the advantages of /events.
featured in #237