February 9th, 2019

(no subject)

So, after Jen Simmons’ tweet about the oppressive nature of CSS-in-JS, Rachel Andrew, another prominent figure in web development (I think of her and Jen almost interchangeably, because of how strongly they both advocated CSS grid around 2016), wrote a blog post with a similar message. The all too familiar message of how difficult modern web development practices are for a newcomer.

I am not sure what exactly she finds so objectionable; her post is a mixed bag of various complaints that I struggle to concisely summarize. On the one hand, there is a hypothetical female figure that used to administer her organization’s web site, and while doing so became a web developer; this route, she thinks, is closing, and she thinks it's sad (why? dunno). On the other hand, there are complaints that she feels she is being belittled for not knowing particular frameworks (what? why?). I am struggling to picture the individual she is concerned about — again, if it just anyone with an idea they would like to put on the internet as their personal web page, then there is no need to bother about industry-grade best practices (just look at Richard Stallman’s web site for inspiration). Ditto for a CMS-based site administrator. If, on the other hand, it is a person who wants to do web development professionally, then why the assumption that it should be easy and open for everyone? Is it incumbent on any profession to be open and easy to enter without special training?

Curiously, if I read her correctly, she dismisses noSQL databases and static site generators without going into any technical details. It’s as if they do not have their merits at all and are newfangled annoyances invented out of boredom and sold on the wave of hype when proper solutions — relational databases and CMS-powered websites — already exist. I am really baffled by these passages.

And she also goes on to praise this Twitter thread, which makes my head spin. The thread is long, very female-centric and very feminist (because it talks of imbalances, inequalities, gender gaps, and so on), but here are some fragments:

Does she imply that a markup language and style sheets are a "real" programming language (by "real" I think they mean Turing-complete)? And does it even matter whether your tool is a programming language or not if it does the job you need it to do?

Javascript a girly language? What?

I really don't understand what she means by the part in all caps, but is she saying that the position that puts emphasis on pure HTML and CSS separated from JS (as I understand this argument — primarily for performance reasons, and sometimes for accessibility reasons as well) — is elitist?

Yes. Yes, she is saying that. It’s all about women somehow. Web development is about women. Fighting the limitations of CSS — and then fighting the bloat of JavaScript is about oppressing women. It is not about problems with technology, or with inexperience of recent graduates; nor is it about scaling web sites, or future-proofing, or shifting focus to the mobile and meeting the targets that Google is setting (time to interactive of 5 seconds on a 3G-network, anyone?), etc., etc. No, it's about making women miserable.


(no subject)

An interesting series of BBC documentaries: "Inside Europe: Ten Years of Turmoil" about the toughest moments in the EU history. Built on interviews with the topmost European officials, and really nicely done.

Episode 1, We Quit, is about the events that led to the British referendum

Episode 2, Going For Broke, is about the Greece financial crisis

Episode 3, Unstoppable, still not aired, is going to be about the influx of migrants.

(no subject)

Saw a Russian news article reviewing the article published in an Australian paper by an Australian writer/journalist who recently visited Moscow. Not sure why exactly the Russian media decided to retell the contents of that article, but a couple of phrases in it caught my eye:

> (on GUM in early 1980s): Weary women clutching "perhaps-bags" would wander desultorily along its dusty corridors.


> Russian patriotism and nationalism combine into a heady brew, but one built on narrow, brittle foundations.

A brew built on foundations! Here’s a nice mixed metaphor.