Relive the final trip to the moon with Geno and the crew of Apollo 17 …(real)timeshifted by 45 years.
Thursday, December 7th, 2017
Sunday, November 19th, 2017
Congratulations on a decade of publishing on your own site—you’re a blogging wizard, Harry!
Having this website changed and shaped my career. If you don’t have a blog, I urge you, start working on one this weekend. Your own blog, with your own content, at your own domain. It might just change your life.
Tuesday, October 17th, 2017
Paul Ford marks two decades of publishing on his own site.
Some days I want to erase this whole thing—much of the writing is sloppy and immature, and I was, too. But why bother to hit the red button? The path of the Internet has seen fit to do that for me.
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016
A decade on Twitter
I wrote my first tweet ten years ago.
I’m off to grab some lunch.— Jeremy Keith (@adactio) November 1, 2006
That’s the tweetiest of tweets, isn’t it? (and just look at the status ID—only five digits!)
Of course, back then we didn’t call them tweets. We didn’t know what to call them. We didn’t know what to make of this thing at all.
I say “we”, but when I signed up, there weren’t that many people on Twitter that I knew. Because of that, I didn’t treat it as a chat or communication tool. It was more like speaking into the void, like blogging is now. The word “microblogging” was one of the terms floating around, grasped by those of trying to get to grips with what this odd little service was all about.
Twenty days after I started posting to Twitter, I wrote about how more and more people that I knew were joining :
The usage of Twitter is, um, let’s call it… emergent. Whenever I tell anyone about it, their first question is “what’s it for?”
Fair question. But their isn’t really an answer. You send messages either from the website, your mobile phone, or chat. What you post and why you’d want to do it is entirely up to you.
I was quite the cheerleader for Twitter:
Overall, Twitter is full of trivial little messages that sometimes merge into a coherent conversation before disintegrating again. I like it. Instant messaging is too intrusive. Email takes too much effort. Twittering feels just right for the little things: where I am, what I’m doing, what I’m thinking.
“Twittering.” Don’t laugh. “Tweeting” sounded really silly at first too.
Now at this point, I could start reminiscing about how much better things were back then. I won’t, but it’s interesting to note just how different it was.
- The user base was small enough that there was a public timeline of all activity.
- The characters in your username counted towards your 140 characters. That’s why Tantek changed his handle to be simply “t”. I tried it for a day. I think I changed my handle to “jk”. But it was too confusing so I changed it back.
- We weren’t always sure how to write our updates either—your username would appear at the start of the message, so lots of us wrote our updates in the third person present (Brian still does). I’m partial to using the present continuous. That was how I wrote my reaction to Chris’s weird idea for tagging updates.
Thinking that hashtags disrupt the reading flow of natural language. Sorry @factoryjoe.— Jeremy Keith (@adactio) November 6, 2007
I think about that whenever I see a hashtag on a billboard or a poster or a TV screen …which is pretty much every day.
At some point, Twitter updated their onboarding process to include suggestions of people to follow, subdivided into different categories. I ended up in the list of designers to follow. Anil Dash wrote about the results of being listed and it reflects my experience too. I got a lot of followers—it’s up to around 160,000 now—but I’m pretty sure most of them are bots.
There have been a lot of changes to Twitter over the years. In the early days, those changes were driven by how people used the service. That’s where the @-reply convention (and hashtags) came from.
Then something changed. The most obvious sign of change was the way that Twitter started treating third-party developers. Where they previously used to encourage and even promote third-party apps, the company began to crack down on anything that didn’t originate from Twitter itself. That change reflected the results of an internal struggle between the people at Twitter who wanted it to become an open protocol (like email), and those who wanted it to become a media company (like Yahoo). The media camp won.
Of course Twitter couldn’t possibly stay the same given its incredible growth (and I really mean incredible—when it started to appear in the mainstream, in films and on TV, it felt so weird: this funny little service that nerds were using was getting popular with everyone). Change isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just different. Your favourite band changed when they got bigger. South by Southwest changed when it got bigger—it’s not worse now, it’s just very different.
Frank described the changing the nature of Twitter perfectly in his post From the Porch to the Street:
Christopher Alexander made a great diagram, a spectrum of privacy: street to sidewalk to porch to living room to bedroom. I think for many of us Twitter started as the porch—our space, our friends, with the occasional neighborhood passer-by. As the service grew and we gained followers, we slid across the spectrum of privacy into the street.
I stopped posting directly to Twitter in May, 2014. Instead I now write posts on my site and then send a copy to Twitter. And thanks to the brilliant Brid.gy, I get replies, favourites and retweets sent back to my own site—all thanks to Webmention, which just become a W3C proposed recommendation.
It’s hard to put into words how good this feels. There’s a psychological comfort blanket that comes with owning your own data. I see my friends getting frustrated and angry as they put up with an increasingly alienating experience on Twitter, and I wish I could explain how much better it feels to treat Twitter as nothing more than a syndication service.
When Twitter rolls out changes these days, they certainly don’t feel like they’re driven by user behaviour. Quite the opposite. I’m currently in the bucket of users being treated to new @-reply behaviour. Tressie McMillan Cottom has written about just how terrible the new changes are. You don’t get to see any usernames when you’re writing a reply, so you don’t know exactly how many people are going to be included. And if you mention a URL, the username associated with that website may get added to the tweet. The end result is that you write something, you publish it, and then you think “that’s not what I wrote.” It feels wrong. It robs you of agency. Twitter have made lots of changes over the years, but this feels like the first time that they’re going to actively edit what you write, without your permission.
Maybe this is the final straw. Maybe this is the change that will result in long-time Twitter users abandoning the service. Maybe.
Me? Well, Twitter could disappear tomorrow and I wouldn’t mind that much. I’d miss seeing updates from friends who don’t have their own websites, but I’d carry on posting my short notes here on adactio.com. When I started posting to Twitter ten years ago, I was speaking (or microblogging) into the void. I’m still doing that ten years on, but under my terms. It feels good.
I’m not sure if my Twitter account will still exist ten years from now. But I’m pretty certain that my website will still be around.
And now, if you don’t mind…
I’m off to grab some lunch.
Monday, October 3rd, 2016
My site has been behaving strangely recently. It was nothing that I could put my finger on—it just seemed to be acting oddly. When I checked to see if everything was okay, I was told that everything was fine, but still, I sensed something that was amiss.
I’ve just realised what it was. Last week on the 30th of September, I didn’t do or say anything special. That was the problem. I had forgotten my blog’s anniversary.
I’m so sorry, adactio.com! Honestly, I had been thinking about it for all of September but then on the day, one thing led to another, I was busy, and it just completely slipped my mind.
So this is a bit late, but anyway …happy fifteenth anniversary to this journal!
We’ve been through a lot together in those fifteen years, haven’t we,
/journal? Oh, the places we’ve been and the things we’ve seen!
I remember where we were on our tenth anniversary: Bologna. Remember we were there for the first edition of the From The Front conference? Now, five years on, we’ve just been to the final edition of that same event—a bittersweet occasion.
It has been a very rewarding, often cathartic experience so far. I know that blogging has become somewhat passé in this age of Twitter and Facebook but I plan to keep on keeping on right here in my own little corner of the web.
I should plan something special for September 30th, 2021 …just to make sure I don’t forget.
Saturday, August 6th, 2016
On August 6th, 1991, Tim Berners-Lee sent a message to alt.hypertext newsgroup announcing his WorldWideWeb project.
Saturday, April 30th, 2016
A lovely profile of Claude Shannon (concluding with an unexpected Brighton connection).
Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015
Monday, September 14th, 2015
We celebrated ten years of Clearleft’s existence this weekend. A splendid time was had by all!
Wednesday, June 10th, 2015
100 words 080
Sunday, May 31st, 2015
100 words 070
My friend Jeffrey has been writing on his website for twenty years. There are very few things on the web that last that long. I’m very, very glad that his website is one of them.
I remember finding Zeldman.com—and Ask Dr. Web, and the Ad Graveyard—back when I was first “going online.” I remember being so grateful for his generosity, but I also remember that what really struck me was the warmth and humility in the writing.
My own website will turn twenty in another few years. I never would have started it if it weren’t for Jeffrey.
Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
On the fifteenth anniversary of A Dao Of Web Design people who make websites share their thoughts.
Paul Ford’s is a zinger:
I don’t know if the issues raised in “A Dao of Web Design” can ever be resolved, which is why the article seems so prescient. After all, the Tao Te Ching is 2500 years old and we’re still working out what it all means. What I do believe is that the web will remain the fastest path to experimenting with culture for people of any stripe. It will still be here, alive and kicking and deployed across billions of computing machines, in 2030, and people will still be using it to do weird, wholly unexpected things.
Sunday, May 4th, 2014
Bruce’s love letter to BASIC.
The closest I’ve ever come to that “a-ha!” moment I had when I first wrote something in BASIC was when I first wrote something in HTML.
Sunday, March 9th, 2014
BBC Radio 4 Extra - The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Game - 30th Anniversary Edition
One of the most fiendish user-unfriendly (but oh-so-witty) adventure games of all time is now online for you to enjoy with some added graphical flourishes.
Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
Aw, my l’il ol’ book is three years old!
To celebrate, you can get 15% off any title from A Book Apart with this discount code for the next few days: HAPPY3RD.
Monday, September 3rd, 2012
This is a rather lovely history of the first two years of Lanyrd, starting with that honeymoon-turned-startup.
I really like the way that Lanyrd’s communications reflect the personalities of Simon and Nat: utterly brilliant, but also a little bonkers, with far more animals than would be reasonably expected.
Friday, September 30th, 2011
I’m not quite sure what I will be saying here over the coming days, weeks, months and years.
Ten years later this journal contains a decade’s worth of notes-to-self. When somebody else finds what I’ve written to be interesting, that’s a bonus …but I’m writing for myself (or, if I do ever imagine somebody else reading this, I imagine someone just like me—a frightening thought).
It has been a very rewarding, often cathartic experience so far. I know that blogging has become somewhat passé in this age of Twitter and Facebook but I plan to keep on keeping on right here in my own little corner of the web. I’ve been blogging now for 25% of my life.
This journal is one quarter as old as I am.
This journal is half as old the web itself.
Here’s to the next ten years.
Saturday, March 15th, 2008
kottke.org is 10. Many happy returns, Jason.
Thursday, June 21st, 2007
Happy birthday, microformats!
Wednesday, December 20th, 2006
Happy tenth birthday, CSS.