Impact of One-size-fits-all Web Design

I don’t particularly miss the splash landing pages, rotating animated logos, and “click here” web design of the 1990s. But one of the great things about it was that people experimented, sometimes doing crazy things. Rob LoCascio, who in 1995 “came up with the technology for those chat windows that pop up on websites,” notes that the language we used back then and the interfaces we worked with all assumed…

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Interface changes make it a little harder to work with Google’s image search

When I’m looking for a picture I’m going to use in an academic project, I typically search Creative Commons; however, Google’s image search is quite useful. The interface is changing to make it easier to view a picture in context (and a little harder to download an image without visiting the source page). The the underlying tools (opening an image in a new window, downloading the image, and searching by…

Don’t use that “18 school shootings since Jan 1” claim. It’s Inaccurate.

Don’t use that “18 school shootings since Jan 1” meme. It’s misleading. I’ve lost track of how many times this image has popped up on my social media feeds. The 18 “school shootings” marked on that map include an instance in which a third-grader accidentally pulled the trigger of a police officer’s holstered gun (nobody was hurt), and an instance in which a man committed suicide in the parking lot…

An Hour of Monastic Silence in Media Studies Class (plus an awesome drum solo)

I announced that my 300-level Media and Culture class would spend an hour in monastic silence, collaborating on a Google Doc. I expected the students would understand I was helping them get into the mood to appreciate the 14th century setting of The Name of the Rose. What I didn’t expect was an awesome drum solo. I had already encouraged my students to approach The Name of the Rose the…

Google Autocomplete Still Makes Hateful Autocorrect Suggestions

The top suggestion for a Holocaust search no longer points to a denier’s website, but Google’s search algorithm still makes some truly awful suggestions. (I’ve turned off the suggested search feature on my browser.) The top result for “Black lives matter is a hate group,” for instance, leads to a link by the Southern Poverty Law Center that explains why it does not consider Black Lives Matter a hate group.…

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How Facebook is killing comedy (and other indie content creators)

Facebook has monetized access to online content. The mobile apps make it difficult for you to actually leave Facebook to follow a link, which means Facebook is increasingly showing other people’s content, bypassing the creator’s own ads (and their “subscribe” and “comment” and “contact us” and “archive” buttons). As Internet comedy writer Matt Klinman puts it: The problem is that Facebook is our editor and our boss. They decide what…