Our friends at The Webby Awards have announced this year's recipients! The Webby Awards, now in its 21st year, celebrates well-known big sites and also fantastic indie operations I've never heard of before but can't wait to explore. Congratulations to our friends Adam Savage, Internet Archive, and all of the other winners and nominees! Webby Awards 2017 winners Read the rest
CelebrityNetWorth.com was a popular, data-driven website whose 12 staffers led serious efforts to research public figures and give a credible estimate of their fortunes. Google liked the look of this, so it made site founder Brian Warner a proposition: let Google include the Big Number as a featured "snippet" atop relevant search results, in return for the snippet linking to the website.
Warner, though, knew that the link offer was worthless and said no. Mysteriously, Google started "answering" questions about celebrities' net worth anyway, only occasionally disclosing the source; he seeded his database with a few fake celebrities to prove Google was using CelebrityNetWorth.com's data. The result was just as he predicted when he said no: his site's lost most of its traffic, even as Google depends on it to provide accurate answers.
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Google’s push into direct answers has wide-reaching consequences for more than just small business owners who depend on search traffic. The email Google sent Warner in 2014 gives some insight into how Google selects reputable sources. Google wouldn’t answer questions about this, but based on the emails, the vetting was pretty thin; Google seemed more interested in whether the data was machine-readable than whether it was accurate. And the bar for featured snippets — the answers culled algorithmically from the web — is even lower, since it appears that any site good enough to rank in search results is good enough to serve as the source for Google’s canonical answers. That’s how you get erroneous answers that claim Barack Obama is organizing a coup, or that the Earth is flat, or that women are evil...
In a brand new series for the Webby Awards where I'm editor-at-large, I commissioned the talented comic artist Andy Warner to illustrate the wild history of the Web, from inspiring eureka moments to crackpot ideas that changed the world to fantastic failures.
The first comic in the series is: "Twitter's First Chirps"!
And for more of Andy's work, I highly recommend his absolutely wonderful book just out this week, Brief Histories of Everyday Objects, the illustrated stories behind life’s most common and underappreciated items. Read the rest
This image depicts the most commonly-found stylesheet colors on the web's top sites—Paul Hebert did an amazing amount of analysis and this is just one of the intriguing visualizations he came up with.
Most of these are obvious staples, especially HTML red and blue, though it's interesting how far the blue "cluster" is from the default blue hue, whereas the red cluster merely modifies the saturation and lightness. This might be influenced by various "studies" of the most effective link color.
The odd thing is the popularity of #d2b48c (triggered by the "Tan" HTML color name), which appears to be the single most popular nonblack color after #0000FF (HTML Blue) and #FF0000 (HTML Red). Google uses it somewhere (though I don't see it) Is everyone just following the leader? (UPDATE: see below)
UPDATE: Hebert explains the Tan thing in the comments.
Castles is a fascinating web toy by Nico Disseldorp. Left-click to add a castle to the outside of your castle—and watch as every part of the castle, including the added part, changes to reflect the form of the new whole. Right click to spin it around so you don't go mad. He's made other mind-melting recursion toys too. Read the rest
Pascal Deville loves "beautiful atrocities"—websites that could be described as intentionally brutalist were they not mostly just ugh. Fast Company interviewed him on his love of rough design, strangely compelling as it is in the age of bloated, broken, but very pretty websites.
"I wouldn't call it a protest but a shout-out for more humanity in today's web design," Deville says. He views his site as a bastion for a segment of Internet culture of people who built scrappy websites themselves as opposed to using services with pre-canned templates like Squarespace. "Terms like UX and user friendly don't have a lot of soul or guts and treat everything like a product. They also killed a lot of the web culture, which seems to find a voice on Brutalistwebsites.com."
More from The Washington Post.
Intriguingly, Deville has found in his Q&As with coders and designers that few set out to mimic this newly popular aesthetic; instead, they all arrived at the same point out of a drive to create something original.
“[Brutalism] is interesting to me … because it doesn’t necessarily have a defined set of aesthetic signifiers,” said Jake Tobin, the designer behind trulybald.com. “What defines those signifiers is decided by the platform it’s built on.”
There is, finally, a Read the rest
In 1994, among the reasons Microsoft started a website was to put its growing Knowledge Base online. At the time, the company managed support forums for customers on CompuServe, one of the earliest major Internet dial-up service providers.Read the rest
“We had started to build up a community there; people would answer questions for each other,” recalls Mark Ingalls, a Microsoft engineer in 1994 who would become Microsoft.com’s first administrator. He was also the only website employee at that time, other than his boss. But the staff doubled early on, when Steve Heaney was hired to offer vacation relief, Ingalls says.
In terms of “Web design,” the notion, much less the phrase, didn’t really exist.
“There wasn’t much for authoring tools,” Ingalls says. “There was this thing called HTML that almost nobody knew.” Information that was submitted for the new Microsoft.com website often came to Ingalls via 3-1/2-inch floppy disks.
“Steve Heaney and I put together PERL scripts that handled a lot of these daily publishing duties for us,” he says. “For a while, we ran the site like a newspaper, where we published content twice a day. And if you missed the cutoff for the publishing deadline, you didn’t get it published until the next running of the presses, or however you want to term it.”