Tue, 09 Sep 2003

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retrograde consolidation

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A followup to the disjointed thoughts I set out in my elliptical comments on mass amateurisation, which was written after pondering Tom Coates' entry "(Weblogs and) The Mass Amatuerisation of (Nearly) Everything" on plasticbag.org:

I started noticing how a lot of technology (specifically, software), instead of getting more and more complicated and esoteric and requiring an IQ greater than 120 to understand, is actually regressing to older, simpler, tried and true technologies.

I find it interesting that, for the most part, blogs are pretty much just plain text. Sure, it's technically HTML (or XHTML), but thanks to CSS, it is less necessary to screw around with graphics files in order to implement neat little tricks like rollovers (and as Mozilla and its many offspring begin to catch on, mostly due to the fact that IE is becoming more and more obsolete, and there will be no upgrades to it without having to buy a new version of Windows that will probably cost as much as the computer that you will be running it on, deploying SVG to implement more complex graphical behavior will become more feasible....) Sure, there are pics blogs, and legendary cam sites, but these are more the exception than the rule. Mostly, this is probably because Blogger is the blog tool with the lowest barrier to entry—you don't need your own webhost, and you don't need to know how to code, but if you therefore host on Blogspot exclusively, then you pretty much can't use graphics files.

While software technologies such as Flash have their definite place, they aren't going to take over the Net anytime soon (as I used to see some developers claim.) Who knew? ASCII (in its new incarnation as UTF-8) still reigns.

The advantages of plain text (or at least of being able to degrade gracefully into plain text) are that your content is extraordinarily portable. Content can be browsed by a cel phone, or it can be stuffed onto your iPod. Hell, maybe even your watch can be used to browse content. More over, dealing with plain text is (usually) cheap, in terms of CPU cycles, and especially in terms of memory requirements. You can fit a hell of a lot more text files onto your PDA than PDF files or Word Documents.

Then take the advent of cel phones that support polyphonic ringtones. The most common format for polyphonic ringtones is the MIDI sequence. How ironic, that in 2003, I am all of the sudden once again searching the Net for MIDI files. Back in the day, before mp3s ever existed, when 56K modems were a fantasy, hell, when sound cards didn't come standard with computers, this is how I got my music fix. Purely instrumental files that sounded really crappy unless you had a kick-ass sound card (which I didn't.) But now MIDIs are back in style. Hilarious.

(And finally, the article that made my apophenia-seeking brain put it all together.) And now, get this, NASA is thinking about resurrecting the Apollo space capsule (link from Slashdot). (OK, not really, but sort of.)

17:09:42 9 Sep 2003 > /computers/www > permalink > 10 comments

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