Tags: 40

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sparkline

Saturday, May 15th, 2021

Replying to

Good serious sci-fi:

  • Stowaway,
  • Archive.

Good fun sci-fi:

  • Love and Monsters,
  • Palm Springs.

Friday, May 7th, 2021

On the beach.

On the beach.

Saturday, April 24th, 2021

Replying to

Thanks for the heads-up: should be fixed now.

map

Checked in at Casa Azul Taqueria. Taco time! — with Jessica

Tuesday, April 20th, 2021

In a beer garden. With beer (and a book). 🍺 📖

In a beer garden. With beer (and a book). 🍺 📖

Monday, April 19th, 2021

“Get to the choppa!” + “Get your ass to Mars!” = a helicopter on Mars.

Sunday, April 11th, 2021

Sunday brunch shakshuka.

Sunday brunch shakshuka.

Sunday, March 28th, 2021

Replying to

The occassional non-Irish tune is okay but you should balance it out with four of five trad Irish submissions.

A good rule of thumb is: would I play this in an Irish session?

Monday, March 15th, 2021

At 4pm UTC today, Monday March 15th, I’ll be chatting live with @MeyerWeb and @RachelAndrew.

You are cordially invited to join us:

https://aneventapart.com/news/post/a-live-interview-with-rachel-and-jeremy

Sunday, March 7th, 2021

Replying to

Done!

I found (and updated) just one other instance: https://adactio.com/journal/10000

Friday, February 26th, 2021

Spring is in the air.

Spring is in the air.

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Replying to

Jon, you tell yourself whatever you need to hear to sleep at night.

Any sufficiently advanced 419 scam is indistinguishable from crypto.

Friday, February 5th, 2021

Replying to

Yes! Robert Cailliau is very interested in the history of the Mundaneum—a precursor to the memex, in a way.

Monday, February 1st, 2021

This annoying bug in the latest version of @Firefox is making me realise how much I use bookmarklets every day—linking, huffduffing…

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1689853

Sunday, January 31st, 2021

Stylish fish. 🐟

Stylish fish. 🐟

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

Replying to

The regular bookmarklet does it.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

Replying to

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Letters of exclusion

I think my co-workers are getting annoyed with me. Any time they use an acronym or initialism—either in a video call or Slack—I ask them what it stands for. I’m sure they think I’m being contrarian.

The truth is that most of the time I genuinely don’t know what the letters stand for. And I’ve got to that age where I don’t feel any inhibition about asking “stupid” questions.

But it’s also true that I really, really dislike acronyms, initialisms, and other kinds of jargon. They’re manifestations of gatekeeping. They demarcate in-groups from outsiders.

Of course if you’re in a conversation with an in-group that has the same background and context as you, then sure, you can use acronyms and initialisms with the confidence that there’s a shared understanding. But how often can you be that sure? The more likely situation—and this scales exponentially with group size—is that people have differing levels of inside knowledge and experience.

I feel sorry for anyone trying to get into the field of web performance. Not only are there complex browser behaviours to understand, there’s also a veritable alphabet soup of initialisms to memorise. Here’s a really good post on web performance by Harry, but notice how the initialisms multiply like tribbles as the post progresses until we’re talking about using CWV metrics like LCP, FID, and CLS—alongside TTFB and SI—to look at PLPs, PDPs, and SRPs. And fair play to Harry; he expands each initialism the first time he introduces it.

But are we really saving any time by saying FID instead of first input delay? I suspect that the only reason why the word “cumulative” precedes “layout shift” is just to make it into the three-letter initialism CLS.

Still, I get why initialisms run rampant in technical discussions. You can be sure that most discussions of particle physics would be incomprehensible to outsiders, not necessarily because of the concepts, but because of the terminology.

Again, if you’re certain that you’re speaking to peers, that’s fine. But if you’re trying to communicate even a little more widely, then initialisms and abbreviations are obstacles to overcome. And once you’re in the habit of using the short forms, it gets harder and harder to apply context-shifting in your language. So the safest habit to form is to generally avoid using acronyms and initialisms.

Unnecessary initialisms are exclusionary.

Think about on-boarding someone new to your organisation. They’ve already got a lot to wrap their heads around without making them figure out what a TAM is. That’s a real example from Clearleft. We have a regular Thursday afternoon meeting. I call it the Thursday afternoon meeting. Other people …don’t.

I’m trying—as gently as possible—to ensure we’re not being exclusionary in our language. My co-workers indulge me, even it’s just to shut me up.

But here’s the thing. I remember many years back when a job ad went out on the Clearleft website that included the phrase “culture fit”. I winced and explained why I thought that was a really bad phrase to use—one that is used as code for “more people like us”. At the time my concerns were met with eye-rolls and chuckles. Now, as knowledge about diversity and inclusion has become more widespread, everyone understands that using a phrase like “culture fit” can be exclusionary.

But when I ask people to expand their acronyms and initialisms today, I get the same kind of chuckles. My aversion to abbreviations is an eccentric foible to be tolerated.

But this isn’t about me.

Friday, January 8th, 2021

Reading Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman, translated by Elizabeth Manton and Erica Moore.

Buy this book