– Where’s your easy-to-use, plug-and-play, ethical alternative to these toxic trillion-dollar products?

– Thanks for asking. We’ve been paying out of pocket for years to work on it. Fancy giving us a few million to speed it up?

– No.

– How about a few thousand so we don’t starve?

– No.

– So, is it ready yet?

My experience has been that the UI is about as much effort as the code itself, and UX is a black hole for soaking up time and effort since it encompases both clarity of purpose and correctness of code.

@cjd @aral i find the implication that software in general does not require clarity of purpose both amusing and terrifying

@ganska @aral
Clarity of purpose is no more required than good code design. Just as the Big Ball of Mud* remains a popular design pattern and Try Things To Hopefully Make Money is a popular business model, Satisfy Random Identified Needs is a popular purpose.

* Foote and Yoder, 1999

@cjd @aral and i guess there is the forging of previously non-existant needs -- through devious but at the same time utterly slick UX, made possible when the budget can cover that black hole

@ganska @cjd @aral "no clarity of purpose" would already a step forward, compared to a well-executed version of "sell as much of your data as possible while making it hard for you to leave".

@cjd @aral I'd say UIs are easily more effort than code! Since in any software I've seen that's what the majority of code is dedicated to.

Not to mention all the human-centred concerns you've got to get right!

We can perhaps generalize the concept of “UI” here to any “I” in general; with “interface” also being a synonym for “standard”. Then this paper’s words metaphorically apply:

To be a viable computer system, one must honor a huge list of large, and often changing, standards: TCP/IP, HTTP, HTML, XML, CORBA, Unicode, POSIX, NFS, SMB, MIME, POP, IMAP, X, …
A huge amount of work, but if you don’t honor the standards, you’re marginalized.
I estimate that 90-95% of the work in Plan 9 was directly or indirectly to honor externally imposed standards.
At another level, instruction architectures, buses, etc. have the same influence.
With so much externally imposed structure, there’s little slop left for novelty.
Even worse, commercial companies that “own” standards, such as Microsoft and Cisco, deliberately make standards hard to comply with, to frustrate competition. Academia is a casualty.

Sometimes, when climbing rocks (or just the monkeybars), you have to just let go of the last thing that’s stabilizing you in order to lunge to the next thing that will stabilize you. And hopefully not plunge to your death.

Perhaps certain “standards”, including but not limited to certain “UI” expectations, have to be similarly let go. One considers the choice of higher-level languages to discontinue goto: support, or the choice of gemini to abandon full support for rendering arbitrary html (said support in the form of web browser requires 40 core-hours merely to compile, making it the domain of the rich and corporate).

I close with a quote: “Ask people what their problem is, but don’t ask them for their proposed solution.” UX constitutes expectations not just on the program but also expectations on the literacy of the user, and in some cases it is easier to plan and execute changes on the user side than the program side.

@alcinnz @cjd @aral

@category_mirrory I think it's relevant to state that I'm building smalltech noJS web browsers for unusual Human Interface Devices!

HTML is trivial to parse if you don't bother with standards-compliant error correction or the DOM!

That Gemini example is quite relevant to me...

@cjd @aral

@alcinnz @cjd @aral Server-side code for these services is often millions of lines spanning multiple microservices. It's an overengineered behemoth.

UI code is the tip of an iceberg of unspoken horrors.

@Seirdy @aral @cjd Maybe the code I read, the code I can read, is biased.

Usually when I do study webapps, even if they do rely on JavaScript the UI is mostly serverside.


- So, we never paid a cent for the incumbent platform, and that's been here for ages. *they* never ask me for money, they just keep providing the slick convenient platform.

- Right, that's 'cause they keep getting billions of dollars to maintain it. Every year. Want to kick some in so we can move fast like that?

- No. Why don't you just get money the same way they do?

- Remember how you asked for us to do this ethically?

@aral should launch services soon with their cooperative business model

@aral I seem to remember you mentioned something about giving a last chance to applying to a grant not so long ago... did you get any (good) news about that?

@silmathoron Wasn’t expecting anything else. If we’d pitched them a cryptocurrency get rich quick scheme we’d be rolling in the dough right now. *smh*

@aral @silmathoron yep over the last 20 years we have got grants for radical tech/media projects but each time we had to redefine the project for the #NGO agender with the understanding that we can then resap it back to the orgional agender... but suprise suprise agen annd agen the reshaping never happens and the money is poord down the darin.

@hamishcampbell @silmathoron Yeah, I mean good on you but personally? Life’s too short :)

@aral @silmathoron such a pain... If you have a startup idea with basically zero realistic chanche of working, combined with some unethic business model, you are still much more likely to get public funding than if you propose something that is "only" made for the public good.

Even worse, in some EU-funded projects one must include some disfunctional idea that maybe maybe maybe will bring in some money that can be used to demonstrate one thinks of "sustainability". These mostly do not work, so it's mostly just a tax to the gods of business, in which you must demonstrate to have faith... In practice, one has to throw away, say, 10% of project budget to do something completely useless but that "looks like businness".

It's the cost of ideology.

Either way, I still believe that public funding should eventually become the main source of support for "small web" core technologies and a different approach to platforms more in general.

@g @silmathoron @aral

so true. it's easy to start a business an get funding if you fund a GmbH or AG or ldt.

But if you want create and a busines in a real ethical way (not greenwashing), it's hard close to unpossible.

Eigentum ›hacken‹ und Commons schaffen - Hacking Property to Help Build Commons


@g @silmathoron @aral I started waiting for governments to fund software projects for the public good in 1985. I'm still waiting. Meanwhile I have also seen numerous examples where government software projects (outsourced to private companies) went several times over budget and/or failed completely. So in general I would say that governments do understand science, but they absolutely do not (want to) understand engineering.

@g @silmathoron @aral

100% agree with that, and I'm not sure why the people that are able to change that still think this way.

Love it. However, that's a lot of trust in elected officials... And lately, there where a lot of those I wouldn't trust with a toothpick.
@silmathoron @aral

@aral At least in germany funding of not for profit social projects is possible. But you have to stretch and bend the project goals to match the funding criteria and deal with a lot of negotiation and back and forth. I could vision the small web as a science project, as these get funding without beeing profitable.

@der_On Let’s see. Once we have a bit more to show perhaps things will change.


What products are we talking about? Twitter and Facebook sort of stuff? They just siloed #RSS + #Usenet. Didn't invent anything.

This is one of those rare things were I'm fairly convinced the answer is regulation.

@aral There is a special place in hell for eco-fascist nazi fucks like you are.

@btcdragonlord You know just putting words next to one another doesn’t imply they’ll have meaning, right?

@aral It's not words put together, it is the truth you asshole.

@aral You are a fucking fraud, get lost bitch. You not gonna destroy bitcoin.

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