That my existence as a queer, trans, non-binary woman, and my wife’s existence as a queer, disabled woman, and the lives of Black and Indigenous people, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, and anyone with a uterus are a constant referendum where the majority of voters are white, Christian, cisgender, and motivated by an ideology hostile to anything but whiteness
The new issue of Logic Magazine came out last week, and Mar Hicks has an article on COBOL: how it came about, how it enabled a generation of people to learn programming, how academic computer science (and later techbro culture) hated it, and how it was sabotaged not because of it being a bad language, but by austerity programs.
But despite [its accessibility], there’s a cottage industry devoted to making fun of COBOL precisely for its strengths. COBOL’s qualities of being relatively self-documenting, having a short onboarding period (though a long path to becoming an expert), and having been originally designed by committee for big, unglamorous, infrastructural business systems all count against it. So does the fact that it did not come out of a research-oriented context, like languages such as C, ALGOL, or FORTRAN.
This ties back to my previous post on React, and how we make too many technical decisions on the basis of full employment for primarily white men with university degrees.
Reader, I howled, despite that being a bad idea after a week of dangerous air quality and six hours a day on video calls. Then I summoned The Infinite Scream (Hellsite) to do the howling for me while I wrote a blog post.
Users have to buy and use high-end devices (phones, tablets, and laptops) to access content
Developers abandon the web for native applications
Which in turn demand rents (transaction fees)
And concessions (non-political content, what content can be sold)
Orgs sticking with the with web use tool chains with high overhead and requirements (every dev needs a high end laptop and training in the React tool chain)
Development jobs go to people who have the time and skills to use React and native frameworks instead of the open web
at the expense of:
Users stuck on a device upgrade treadmill
Especially anti-racist, anti-policing, and anti-colonialist projects
Creators who have to work under the precarity of large Social Media platforms
Developers without access to tools and training for elite jobs
This subsidy will continue to harm all of us who were told that the Web was a boon for everyone.
Those are APAs (amateur press associations) except instead of the web, members were cutting and pasting zine’s and making copies at Kinko’s (remember when Kinko’s wasn’t FedEx?) to mail to or drop off at the Organizing Editor’s (OE,) who would host a compilation party where they would assemble everyone’s APA zine’s into a issue. You made as many copies of your zine as members in good standing, and a couple more for people who were on-spec.
Then the OE would mail copies to the out of town members (you contributed to a mailing fund for this) and you’d pick up your issue to take home and make notes in the margin for comments on everyone else’s zine.
And yes, APAs influenced Live Journal (and later Dreamwidth) culture.
Four(!) links and a song: Metallica socially distances, the IETF centers users, community mutual-aid and self-reliance in uncertain times, a resource management game about preparing people for the afterlife, and Big Joanie covers Solange
A triple-digit heatwave in California makes it easy to shelter-in-place this weekend. I hope you are well.
Mark Nottingham, a frequent contributor to the specifications for HTTP (the web’s protocol) talks about a recent IETF draft, The Internet is End Users, and how the people who shepherd the protocols behind the Internet are learning to pay attention to the human, and not just the technical aspects of the decisions they make