About those archives…

As an early web design and usability practitioner, I have a long held a strong principle against linkrot, and maintaining the past for future appreciation. This is not a universal tenet. Some of the world’s best websites have been lost to history, which is a shame. Great examples of website preservation do exist—look up a late-1990s topic on cnn.com, for example, and you’ll get the original layout, which is amazing. (And, of course, Space Jam.)

The difference between those sites and mine, of course, is that mine contains, well, a lot of mildly embarrassing stuff. I’m not the same person I was when I started blogging as a 25-year-old web designer. Still, I’ve never taken anything down; most of what’s gone missing is due to poor database management.

Occasionally, this makes for fun reading. Tonight, discussing a written school assignment with my 11-year-old son, I started digging around my archives to show him examples of how writing could be fun. And it was: in my archives are all kinds of expositions, from travelblogs of places he’s been with me to ridiculous stories of my experiences and my childhood. We both laughed a bunch while reading.

So, dear reader, while this site is not as busy as it used to be, rest assured that it’s not going anywhere, either. My archives will stay where they are, and the old page layouts will stick around, too (not least because they’re hard-coded). New posts will appear as they may, as they always have. And someday, probably fairly soon, my kids will discover the really cringe-worthy stuff in my archives, and I’ll have some explaining to do… but it will be worth it.

The year in cities, 2018

Now in its fourteenth year, because a 20-year-old blog deserves some traditions, however unexciting.

As ever, all the places I went in 2018 and spent the night. Repeat visits denoted with an asterisk. Interestingly, for the first time in many years, I don’t think we spent the night in either Livingston (with my parents) or New City (my wife’s).

New York *
Arlington, VA *
Palm Beach Gardens, FL *
Grapevine, TX
San Diego, CA *
Williamstown, MA
Gloucester, MA *
Edgartown, MA *
Portland, OR *
Lake Buena Vista, FL *
Wheeling, IL
Orlando, FL *
Washington, DC *

Looking back

Last month, the Ideapad turned 20. Twenty years is a long time to do anything, as many of my fellow early bloggers can attest. Those who have kept at it since the turn of the century have my appreciation, not only as like-minded fellows, but also for maintaining the independent spirit of the early web, where our dreams were self-made and limitless.

I have on my server a bookmarks list, saved out of some version Netscape or Internet Explorer, that is now fifteen years old (May 6, 2003, to be exact). It’s a nice flat HTML file so all the links in it are clickable. To celebrate two decades of blogging, I thought I’d republish the list as-is, click through to all the blogs I once had bookmarked, and report on them here. Let’s see how the independent web of 2003 has persisted to 2018! (Hint: it’s doing pretty darned well, all things considered.)

Key:
Still publishing!—has posted in the past 12 months
Maybe still publishing—live with posts, but none in 2018
In amber—not active, but defending the web from linkrot
N.B. Many of the links here are still active but don’t point to the pages they did back then. Caveat clicker.

Blogroll

37signals’ Signal vs. Noise Still publishing!
Anil Dash Still publishing!
Nick Denton
Boing Boing … Wonderful Things Still publishing!
kottke.org Still publishing!
WebWord.com
megnut In amber
Noise Between Stations Maybe still publishing!
The Morning News Still publishing!
sippey.com Maybe still publishing
Mighty Girl Still publishing!
whatever, whenever
nothing, and lots of it Still publishing!
Textism
Andre Torrez Still publishing!
b-may
Ftrain_ Main Ftrain Maybe still publishing
defective yeti
Witold Riedel NYC Still publishing! (over here)
bazima chronicles
hello, kitten.
DS.ORG
Izzle! Izzle pfaff! In amber
MrBarrett.com
Mastication is normal
petit hiboux .. the owl in winter. In amber
peterme.com Still publishing!
Choire Sicha
East West Magazine

Not Updated Daily

Cardhouse Still publishing!
50 cups of coffee _ strange brew _ never the same girl twice
metascene– There ain’t no Sanity Clause
stating the obvious In amber
maybe i still am!
Acts of Volition Still publishing!
jeans and a t-shirt In amber
What Do I Know
SHARPEWORLD
Waxy.org Still publishing!

Meta

Take a penny, leave a penny. Still–er, never mind
memepool.com
FARK.com Still active!
Blogroots
blogdex – the weblog diffusion index
Daypop Top 40 Links
What’s Happening In amber
Metafilter _ Community Weblog Still active!

More blogs

ToT Days of Self-Contemplation and Soul Searching
ODonnellWeb Still publishing (an email)
evanrose
_usr_bin_girl _ ( just a digital girl ) _ blurbs from the web
somebodydial911
Backup Brain
Scripting News Still publishing!
dangerousmeta! Made it to April 2018
365 Days Project
shellen.com Still publishing!
caterina.net Still publishing!
Q Daily News
Living Can Kill You – saila.com In amber
Jerry Kindall
David Galbraith’s weblog
Nedward von Suckahs In amber
sylloge
muxway
eatonweb blog_ vomiting up the web
The War Against Silence In amber
what is a tigerbunny
Wrap Me Up in It
misc., etc.

Internet, Design, UI blogs

SAP Design Guild In amber
bBlog_ Business intelligence _ XPLANE
Boxes and Arrows
In My Experience… Home In amber
evolt.org
XPLANE _ xblog (The visual thinking weblog.)
Joel on Software Still publishing!
ia- news for information architects
holovaty.com Still publishing!
dive into mark
Daring Fireball Still publishing!

 

XOXO 2018

The biggest thing I can say about XOXO, having attended this weekend for the first time since 2013, is that I feel pretty much exactly how I felt the last time around, and I wish I had made it to all the ones in between.

Very few events of any scale manage to be open, accepting, encouraging, inspiring, surprising, energizing and downright fun. Despite lots of comments about how big the conference has gotten—two thousand attendees this year—I felt the same warmth and community (albeit with a bigger challenge to find old friends in the throng) as I had previously.

While I had to miss the last day, I soaked up a wide array of XOXO’s programming, including all of the conference’s first day, most of Art + Code and Story, and a good amount of the tabletop and arcade rooms. I was nearly overwhelmed with the amount of creativity and inspiration that surrounded me. The talks I saw brought tears to my eyes, both happy and sad, on more than one occasion. Like last time, the net result is like experiencing a sea swell on a boat: I’ve been pulled up to unexpected heights, and I’m wide-eyed as I see where it will take me.

And while I was thrilled to spend my time with familiar faces, the natural new connections make this event special. An XOXO attendee can successfully strike up a conversation with pretty much anyone wearing a badge. So when I’m there, that’s exactly what I try to do. Grab a meal with six people I’d just met? Turn people you admire into the people you know? Say hello to every person who sits down next to me, transforming unfamiliar faces into friendly ones? Yes, yes and yes.

Life in a broader sense doesn’t always work like XOXO works. Heck, we as people don’t work every day the way we function in this setting; I know I’m not always one to smile at strangers. Yet Andy and Andy continue to bring their universe to life, and I am again grateful for having been there.

Plus ça change

Glaser’s Bake Shop closed on Sunday after 116 years in business.

My first apartment in New York was across the street from Glaser’s. I discovered them solely by proximity, as one does in Manhattan, particularly in the pre-smartphone days, where a person had to size up an establishment with his five senses.

The unassuming bakery with the aging storefront took a little effort to try, but once I did, I was hooked. Not only on their famous black and white cookies (I’m not even a big fan of the black and white cookie—only theirs) but of the bakery in general, from birthday cakes to the challah they’d bake only on Fridays, when there was sufficient demand.

Glaser’s closing was a retirement, well communicated in advance. I made the foolhardy decision to visit one last time on Saturday, spending [redacted] hours on line with my son to get one last order. It’s something I didn’t do when the Carnegie closed, and it was nice to say farewell. Not so my family’s two favorite restaurants in Greenwich Village, Cho Cho San and Charlie Mom, which both disappeared rather unceremoniously in the past few years, each after more than 20 years in business. We wish we’d been able to say farewell to them, too.

Glaser’s and the restaurants serve as a reminder, however melancholy, of the ever-changing landscape of the city. Yet they’re also an opportunity to celebrate their longevity and wonderfulness. And they provide us with momentum to revisit the things we love about New York.

My employer has an office in midtown Manhattan, three blocks from where I worked at the turn of the century. A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that the Ernest Klein supermarket on Sixth Avenue might still be serving lunch, like it did when I worked up the block, fifteen years ago. So I stopped in. They’ve renovated a bit, but they made me the same exact sandwich, with the same exact honey mustard that I used to adore, but last tasted in 2003. A good number of the lunch spots on West 56th are unchanged, too, and I hope to visit them all in turn.

Things change. But not all things change, and not all at once. Savoring those that don’t is worth the effort.

On rock radio

I’m a radio guy. Always have been. I founded my high school’s radio station; I was an FCC-licensed DJ my first week of freshman year of college; I flip stations incessantly in the car before switching to streaming or recorded music.

I’m also primarily a rock guy, which has made for a somewhat depressing situation for awhile, as New York hasn’t had a proper rock radio station in six years, since 101.9 WRXP turned into WFAN’s FM simulcast. So I was elated to find out that 92.3—which was a rock station for many years during its Howard Stern era—flipped formats in November after being sold, and became an alternative-rock station.

But what’s been great about Alt 92.3 is *how* they’re doing alternative. Alt 92.3 is alternative but not just rock. They’re mixing it up, which is a delight: no one needs a succession of post-Nirvana grunge acts. Music has evolved past that. Instead, they touch on hip-hop, EDM and college-radio favorites.

Alt 92.3 is also not afraid to go pop. Would I consider Imagine Dragons to be alternative? Not specifically, but their music adds variety, and keeps the other listeners in my car happy. The station is playing Childish Gambino as I type this.

They mix in new and old, and it works. It’s not too old; NYC already has WCBS-FM for “oldies” (which tragically now includes music from my high school years) and Q104.3 for “classic rock” (which has ossified rather spectacularly). But their ’90s rock selections fit in great.

What do the Red Hot Chili Peppers and St. Vincent have in common? Not much, except they both make great music, and now they can both be found on the same radio station in New York. It reminds me of Los Angeles’ KROQ in its heyday—interesting, exciting, serendipitous, fun.

This is the kind of radio station I want. After years of relying almost exclusively on Sirius XM and iTunes for music, I’m tuning into 92.3 FM daily. I hope and pray that as Alt 92.3 matures they maintain this approach. Keep it up.

(Some of these thoughts are also on Twitter.)

The year in cities, 2017

Now in its thirteenth year, with nods to persistence and/or not knowing when to quit, depending.

Herewith, all the places I went in 2017 and spent the night. Repeat visits denoted with an asterisk. Lots of new and different visits to old places this year.

New York *
Palm Beach Gardens, FL *
London *
Palenville, NY
Saratoga Springs, NY *
Hanover, NH
Newton, MA
Edgartown, MA *
East Hampton, NY
Gloucester, MA *
Livingston, NJ *
Santa Monica, CA *
San Diego, CA *
Lake Buena Vista, FL *
Longboat Key, FL *
Las Vegas, NV *

Persistence

@20, by Paul Ford.

In two weeks, the Ideapad turns 19. The website itself is somewhat older—I don’t know the date, but I believe it was sometime in 1997, after I got tired of having a tilde-level user directory and long before I realized “netwert” was cumbersome and not something I’d necessarily want in perpetuity. My first ~werty dates to late 1995 or early 1996, I think; my critical writing dates to college, offline, and Nov. 1, 1998 in this space, where it has pressed forward in various fits, starts, ebbs and flows ever since.

Lots of folks chimed in to agree with Paul on his post via social media. But because much of what he wrote about his website is applicable here (indeed, for many of us borne of this era), I thought I’d address it in the most appropriate manner possible: with a blog post of its own.

Paul: 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? 

I actually have the converse opinion of my own site. Much of my writing from back then is immature, probably much more than Paul’s sophisticated, philosophical approach. Every blue moon or so I meander back into my archives, read a little bit, and find it alternately joyous an excruciating. But it never occurs to me to erase it. My old notes occasionally have relevance and create delight, and for as long as that is the case, I’m happy to have them persist.

Like Paul, and so many other writer-blogger-creators of the early Internet era, I don’t get nearly as much mileage out of my personal website as I once did. But for me, at least, it’s nice to come back to the old homestead once in awhile. See you soon.

Farewell, iPod

I first got an iPod the year it came out. I asked for it as a holiday present from my parents. They didn’t know what to make of it. “It’s like a Walkman, but it’s four hundred dollars?”

“Yep,” I said. “Totally worth it.” It was the size of a deck of cards and twice as heavy. It was also an engineering miracle, the first example of Apple’s now legendary blurring of digital software, hardware and the everyday world.

I still have that iPod, as well as several others, up to and including my iPod Classic, which I still like more than the Music app on iOS. I’ve largely given up on the iPod, though, its lack of connectivity and relative clunkiness ceding to my iPhone 7 Plus, which contains my work apps and a whole lot of music. I cling to my MP3 library, but in time, I’ll get back into streaming media (I haven’t had a subscription since Rdio shuttered) and my local files will fade, too.

Most people have done what I’ve done—and sooner than me; I only gave up on my iPod in the past few months. We are at the conclusion of the iPod era, which Apple formally ended this week, discontinuing the Nano and Shuffle.

My kids still have an iPod, and my wife uses one when she goes for a run. We’ll have a long, slow goodbye in our household. But the future keeps arriving, and Apple, never one to linger, is ready to move us forward. Thank you, iPods, you served us well.