It's been a long time since I published on the internet. I started building websites in 1997 and publishing articles on my own domain in 1999. That went on for 9-10 years and at some point I slowly disappeared from the blogosphere.
The beginnings of the blogosphere were cool. I don't have to tell anyone who was around here at that time. Pioneering spirit was in the air. We discovered the possibilities on the internet long before the gold diggers came. We were like the first scouts on a newly discovered continent.
But then the gold diggers came along one day. They first bought some bloggers up who explained the new territory to them and in the end Google became evil. Google has sent the bloggers and content creators it grew up with to the hell and is right now in a deep dream of a closed and only Google controlled internet, similar to the model of AOL or Compuserve back then. But on a larger scale.
So the last 10 years have been gold-rush days for Internet start-ups, comparable to the hot phase of the Wild West, where gold mine owners ruled the cities and no law and order prevailed. There are still a few sheriffs and deputies (hello, privacy protection officers), but they are toothless tigers. Our data and privacy are entrusted to companies who you wouldn't even trust with the weeds on your front lawn. Meanwhile, the masses ran into the cities of gold mine owners, hoping for a little social interaction with others.
And now there is a new generation of mobile phone users that have never experienced the real web. They have never set up a blog, read the netiquette or received a trackback. They only know emails as a way to confirm registrations and to receive offers from their favourite shops. They mistake it for the web when they gather up behind registration walls, yearning for likes and shares, but end up selling their profiles and privacy to narcissistic CEOs.
I too, have spent some time behind these closed walls. What can I say? I went in and out of there. I tried multiple times. And just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.
Today I only have a Twitter and a Mastodon account, just to keep in touch with some people.
Poor usability as the main reason for the failure of the free web
Let's face it, we nerds screwed it up back in the day. Probably because there are so many autistics and aspergers among us who couldn't take the non-technical perspective. We didn't pick up the non-technical people. We had a nice, thriving FOSS ecosystem even back then, but too little empathy with others. We weren't able to come up with "sharing" buttons but called our functions "trackback" or "pingback". We were not able to put a little spice into RSS readers, so people preferred the now heavily manipulated and advertising-infected timelines. And even today our naming skills are so poor, that we just managed to go from "Trackbacks" to Webmentions. A typical example for naming things from a technician's perspective, not the user's.
All in all, we have not been able to connect people in the right way. Not fast enough, not easy enough.
And don't come to me saying "but central applications are always easier to implement and maintain". Of course, they are. But we were more developers from the beginning than any company has today and we had all the standards, we needed (Semantic Web). But we preferred that the industry meddled with our standards. We preferred HTML5 over XHTML2 because we were too convenient to have to follow strict validation rules for something as seemingly unimportant as HTML. And HTML5 had a video and audio player in its baggage from the very beginning, didn't it? For such flashing features, we simply overlooked something as subtle as the ability to turn any element into a link by just adding the href attribute to it. We just threw RDF and HTML namespaces in the trash. These two would have given our HTML a rudimentary knowledge of grammar.
Our sysops didn't participate in the open source scene (e.g. to simplify hosting and blog installations), nor did so-called usability specialists. Both preferred the commercial environment. Especially usability people, like the Norman Nielsen group, preferred to get fat money from the industry instead of getting involved in open source projects. They criticized free software at most to promote their commercial services. But they never got their hands dirty on them.
And that's why usability no longer exists today. The field was hostilely taken over by IT companies and is now called User Experience. In the sense of "the experience we need our users to have on our websites and apps in order to make money".
Most people are not even aware of the difference between usability and UX. It lies in the intention behind it. Usability is the suitability of a tool for use. Its goal is to make the tool simple and intuitive so that you can quickly do your work and then move on. Nobody wants to waste more time than necessary for a task, just because of bad handling of a tool.
But companies don't like that. Their goal is to maximize profits. So the longer the potential customer stays on their website, the more advertising can be shot at him.
Usability is the advocate of the user, UX the advocate of the company or app operator. This is the main difference between usability and user experience.
Anyway, I'm too old to bother with that now. I can now play the sarcastic, grumbling uncle, and make fun of the stupidities of IT companies and their supporters. The thinking that prevails in IT companies and among their disciples must be openly addressed. The BS that is going on every day in German IT companies, for example, is huge. I call it: NIBS (Neo-IT bullshit). BS that wasn't there, when I started in this business. Remember this keyword, it will often appear as a tag under my posts.
Driven by the fear of losing their job or even slowing down their career by just 1 mph, we have to deal with many system agents in professional IT environments, who do not question company cultures, but also defend it with all vehemence. Most people are not aware why Agile and Scrum and all the other NIBS is not only a farce but also harmful to the health, career and development of an IT worker. Read Michael o. Church's excellent article Why “Agile” and especially Scrum are terrible, if you want to get into details.
And since I'm a web frontend developer, there will certainly be some posts about frontend development, too.
Another focus of this site will be FOSS topics and the liberation from the claws of the corporate web, mainly the usual Big 5 (Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple). Because quite honestly, these Big 5 and their imitators have perverted the original ideas of the web and taken most netizens hostage. To banish this Big 5 from ones life is not that easy, as Kashmir Hill has found out in her series on Gizmodo. But that doesn't mean that you have to capitulate right away. First build awareness, after take first baby steps, and then the rest will follow, inshallah.