Sunday, July 28, 2013

Why Blogging Sucks; or, You Kids Get Off My Web

BFF's recent experience and the accompanying performance art have inspired me to explain things to all of you in the most condescending manner possible. So here we go.

Actually, no we don't. I need to explain the condescension. I am, as the tag says, an actual communications professional. Now, what I really am is a corporate management tool. But my background is in databases and Web, and one of the jobs I do, amid other toolish professional behavior, is manage a group that operates a passel of Web sites for your local Federal government. The other toolish professional behavior consumes a nontrivial amount of my time, because small businesses that suck at the teat of your local Federal government take people like me and stretch us out over a ridiculous number of businesses and people and groups and teams, and make us manage them, and then stick ice picks in our kidneys until we accumulate more businesses and people and groups under our personal aegis, except that's a lie because they never stop fucking sticking ice picks in our kidneys.

But I digress. The point here is that Web is my home. It's my yard. And you fucking bloggers are taking a shit on it. I'm a modern and sensitive guy, and I'm going to try to be kind about this. And I'm going to try not to be too condescending and to keep this shit simple, because who has time for me taking a dump all over the Internets? To the extent that simplicity, in your personal case, is condescending, I apologize.

There are a number of ways to produce a Web page. One is to just take your text, fit the appropriate HTML (or XHTML or XML or some other Markup Language) around it so that it looks like a Web page and not a ransom note, and slap that puppy up on whatever part of the Web you happen to control (your domain). You absolutely must view everything that follows this paragraph through this filter: I am a fucking dinosaur, and producing Web pages any way other than this is newfangled horseshit that leads to deviant behavior, alternative religions, hippies fucking in the streets, the fiery, painful, screaming downfall of all that is decent and pure, the utter defilement of sainted mothers everywhere, and hemorrhoids. I would cheerfully scoop up all of you fucking bloggers into my giant, dripping, gaping, blood-stained maw, and devour you whole, ignoring your pathetic and inconsequential screams. But I can't, because my little Trex arms are too fucking short.

Your HTML may just create the way the page looks--this is like using the Bold or Italic or font commands in Word--or it may use a style sheet (CSS), which is like using Word styles to mark a block of text as Heading, or Body, or something else. HTML or CSS code, wrapped around your content (text) and presented to a Web browser through the holy mystery that is Internet telecommunications, governs how a page looks when you call up that page in your browser.

Another way to produce a Web page is to use software to do it. These methods usually rely on the Web content (your text) being stored in a database, and being served up to browsers through the holy mystery, & c. At the popular level--i.e., blogging--these methods are called Web Content Management Systems (WCMS). Blogger and WordPress, for instance, are populist WCMS writ large. A populist sort of WCMS is how you deliver blogging functionality outside of an organizational setting (a WCMS that is less populist is still necessary to deliver blogging functionality inside an organization, the implication here being that organizations have well-developed IT, software, and Web content development/delivery processes and systems that may not need to be as friendly as Blogger or WordPress or BlogFrog or OhFuckMeInTheAssItsMoreFuckingBlogware).

Did I spit enough when I said "populist?" Because I meant to.

In a WCMS, populist or otherwise the CSS that governs how your blog pages look is usually called a template. And that template is what you choose when you set up your blog, or in the case of my beloved BFF, every 20 minutes when you get bored and decide you need a change (which is the Web equivalent of dying your hair pink). The template is designed for the WCMS in which it operates; it is a package of code--mostly CSS, but some other stuff too, depending on functionality--that takes your content and pretties it up in the way that you specify. All the bells and whistles that you want on your fucking blog--blogrolls, sidebars, lists, calendars, labels, and whathefuckeverelse--have to fit into that template. A user interface between you and the template--in Blogger, it's your dashboard--lets you make those selections, and writes code to fit all that shit into your customized version of the basic template.

Over time, Blogger or WordPress or FuckYouBlogware needs to make changes to the underlying WCMS. Sometimes they're small, sometimes they're total overhauls. Google seems to overhaul Blogger about once a year. Every time there's a major overhaul, God kills a kitten. No, wait, that's not quite right. God kills some templates. The underlying WCMS can still render pages in the coded template, but it becomes much harder to customize the old template by automatically writing code from the user interface. And it's not worth it to Google to update the old template, because it's fucking free, so why the fuck should they, when you, and not just you beloved BFF, but all vanity Web presences, are so fucking fickle? Easier, and more cool-sounding, to give you new choices.

And that's how BFF's blog got fucked. He is not particularly comically inept, from my jaded and tiresome perspective. He does have somewhat unrealistic expectations, but excuse me? Are you new here? Have you met my friend? Fucking English majors.

Maybe more later on browsers and their peculiarities, or on domain management. Or maybe not. Right now, I have to go dump my older kid at a transportation terminal and tell him to follow the guys in the furry hats.


Jim H. said...

He says perched high on a addy.

Jim H. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mistah charley, ph.d. said...

this discussion expanded my perspective

Sasha said...

You weren't condescending enough. You failed to snicker when referring to free Blogger websites as "pretty." And you neglected to mention, even once, that no single human is important enough for Obama or Greenwald or Google or anydamnthing on the internetz to care enough about.

However I am enlightened by the understanding that folks with thinning (<-- my kindness) hair might not be able to dye it pink so may need alternative outlets.

I still have no idea how it got so fucked though.

PurpleState said...

For me, just about exactly condescending enough. Thank you for that.


Gothmog said...

I'm just here for the porn.

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