This was a sample data set from 1996 through mid-2019, but maybe the most shocking number is the 2018 one: after just a year, one in every sixteen links from the Times’ website to an external source had stopped working. The Times already has an attribution problem; this just makes it worse. The researchers point out that URLs within U.S. Supreme Court opinions fare even worse, with about half of links not working as originally intended.

~ Nick Heer from, https://pxlnv.com/linklog/rotting-hallucination/

I’m not picking on the Times nor the Supreme Court, link rot is everywhere. Heer does a nice job of laying out what’s really going on; it’s not just that the links are ceasing to work, but also that the actual contents of digital stuff is changing. (And that’s all in addition to problems with data corruption and degradation.) However, his article is really about highlighting some of the neat things people are doing to preserve things. It’s worth clicking through just for the anecdote about how “Nookd” curiously appears in one edition of War and Peace.

And on the other hand, we’re all painfully aware that our lives are becoming more public and we’re losing our privacy. If you put it anywhere on the Internet, we can generalize and assume it’s eventually going to become public. In some cases, it’d be exactly what we want for things to rot— or maybe it’d be better to say:

In some cases, it’d be exactly what we want for things on the Internet to evaporate.



I often wish that I could just post a link with my scratch notes; if I did, this post would have been up two hours ago. But you come here to read full sentences, so it is the least I can provide. However, it is not that simple: while I am certainly not famous, I am lucky to have an audience. It is important for me to remember that I cannot write solely for myself, since other people might read it. No matter whether it is a longer article or just a quick link, I don’t want to further the spread of something that I believe to be false or unhelpful.

~ Nick Heer from, https://pxlnv.com/linklog/digital-garden/

For me, the purpose of writing for my blog is to help me clarify my thinking; It’s a big part of my ongoing process of reflection. That said, I’m well aware that others are reading, and whenever possible I would like what I write to also be helpful to my readers. At the very least, I’d like it to not be unhelpful.

I’m pragmatic. I’ve had that hurled at me as a criticism on more than one occasion. But—hey, pragmatism—it’s important to understand why someone is being pragmatic. I’m pragmatic because I want to be understood, and I want to understand others. That’s as opposed to being pragmatic as a defensive maneuver. To be fair—look, more pragmatism—I enjoy deploying pragmatism for humor, but I’d like to think it’s self-evident when I do so.

Take for example the common adage, “You get what you pay for.” It’s understood that it’s not literally true in all cases; one can get swindled by an unscrupulous seller, but that’s not the point of the adage. The point, obviously, is that if you’re a cheap-skate and try to save too much, you end up getting crap. The pragmatist in me loves to point out that we can fix that adage so that it is literally true always, and makes clear the point. A more convoluted grammar serves better, “You don’t get what you don’t pay for.”

That’s my go-to explanation for pragmatism. Which of those versions is better? The first has simplicity and clarity, but it buries the lead and requires actual thought to get at the kernel of wisdom. The second puts the wisdom on the surface; but it’s a convoluted double-negative that makes one sound like a grammarian.

…at which point whomever I’m discussing pragmatism with is starting into the deep end of the thinking pool, and I point out: Bingo. The specific answer in this discussion doesn’t matter. You’ve now been, at least briefly in this dicussion, a pragmatist. Don’t we now understand each other better?


Good enough

I maintain that, while the number of bugs and problems users experience is linear, their understandable frustration is exponential. It’s no wonder they have learned to tolerate poor-quality work.

Nick Heer from, https://pxlnv.com/linklog/tech-is-confusing/

I maintain that this is a symptom of the rise of “good enough.” The rise of, “just ship it and fail faster,” has created a culture where “shipping it” is valued over doing something well. The only thing harder than the first 90% of a project is the second 90% of the project. To create something that is a delight to use requires an enormous effort.

Our culture is currently being reshaped by companies who are training us via the fast dopamine hit. In that arena, creating things is a vicious competition. It feels as if there is no time to do something well and bring it to market. In the time it takes to do it well (for example, create 85 episodes of a podcast, write 2,500 blog posts, fill a bookshelf with journals) you will expend an enormous amount of time, energy and money. Sometimes, what you create will be so perfectly in time with the culture that the capriciousness of the market will reward you. Sometimes it will not.

But you must do the hard work. Not because you will necessarily be rewarded, but because other people need to see you doing the hard work. That will encourage and inspire them to try something harder than their current efforts. And that ratchets the culture up, rather than down.


The bullshit web

The vast majority of these resources are not directly related to the information on the page, and I’m including advertising. Many of the scripts that were loaded are purely for surveillance purposes: self-hosted analytics, of which there are several examples; various third-party analytics firms like Salesforce, Chartbeat, and Optimizely; and social network sharing widgets. They churn through CPU cycles and cause my six-year-old computer to cry out in pain and fury. I’m not asking much of it; I have opened a text-based document on the web.

~ Nick Heer from, https://pxlnv.com/blog/bullshit-web/

This is a long, in-depth read. You will be an immensely more well-informed user of the Interwebs after you read it— about six times.

Meanwhile, have you heard of the magical analysis tool that is http://gtmetrix.com ? You have now! Start dropping your favorite web sites into its analysis magic, sit back and weep at what we’re using the Internet for.

These screenshots are just the tip of the iceberg. GTMetrix shows an insane amount of detail.

This. Shit. Has. To. Stop.