Dispatches From The Internets

Link Rot and Digital Decay on Government, News and Other Webpages

A quarter of all webpages that existed at one point between 2013 and 2023 are no longer accessible, as of October 2023. In most cases, this is because an individual page was deleted or removed on an otherwise functional website.

Linkrot, especially in government and legal scenarios, is a tremendous problem, which is why we need services like the Internet Archive and Perma.cc. If you have the means, please consider supporting these, and similar, projects!

Why I Care Deeply About Web Accessibility And You Should Too

I agree with so much of this piece… especially the expansive view of accessibility that is inclusive of both the disability divide and the digital divide.

Great summary here:

[M]y passion for accessibility stems from experiencing accessibility barriers personally, observing their impact on others, and holding the conviction that technology should tear down divides - not erect new ones. I want to fulfill, and help you fulfill, the web’s promise of equal access and opportunity for everyone, regardless of circumstances. Digital accessibility should not be an accommodation but a fundamental right and prerequisite for technology to truly better humanity.

Accessibility Training at Microsoft

At Microsoft, we’ve invested a lot into accessibility upskilling across the company. And now we’ve made our Accessibility Fundamentals learning path freely available to the world to take, either on MS Learn or within another learning environment via its SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) course package.

Better form UX with the CSS property field-sizing

Form fan that I am, I’m excited to have CSS that enables fields (especially textarea) to grow to accommodate the content someone’s in the process of entering into it.

I distinctly remember spending a good deal of time putting together a proof-of-concept for Twitter DMs to show how it could be done via JavaScript without killing performance, but this is far more elegant.

No Robots(.txt): How to Ask ChatGPT and Google Bard to Not Use Your Website for Training

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has you covered if you’d like to opt out of being indexed into tools like Open AI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini. Just add these to your robots.txt file:

User-agent: GPTBot
Disallow: /

User-agent: Google-Extended
Disallow: /

Building on this, you could exclude specific directories (e.g., where you keep your images):

User-agent: GPTBot
Disallow: /i/

User-agent: Google-Extended
Disallow: /i/

I’ve decided to (for now at least) allow my text content to be indexed, but I may change my mind in the future.

The quiet, pervasive devaluation of frontend

While not exactly novel, this post from Josh Collinsworth is a fantastic meditation on devaluation of front-end engineering work.

Writing CSS seems to be regarded much like taking notes in a meeting, complete with the implicit sexism and devaluation of the note taker’s importance in the room.

Though critical to the project, frontend work will quite often be disregarded by those who consider it beneath them (usually men, and usually only tacitly, never explicitly). It’s not serious enough; not important enough; not real enough. Too squishy. Like soft skills.

Yes, of course, it’s important. It’s work that somebody needs to do, certainly. But probably not the important people, whose valuable attention is focused on other, bigger, more important problems.

It’s been this way for a long time. This attitude doesn’t exist on every team, but it’s pervasive throughout our industry.

Safari 17.4 Beta Release Notes

Amidst all the kerfuffle over Apple’s push to drop PWAs (a.k.a., Home Screen Apps), two PWA features I worked on quietly landed in Safari for desktop: shortcuts & categories.

  • Added support for the shortcuts manifest member on macOS. Shortcuts are available in the File menu and the Dock context menu. Users can set up custom keyboard shortcuts for them in System Settings > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts > App Shortcuts. (106137954)

  • Added support for the categories manifest member on macOS. When creating a Launchpad folder containing web apps, the folder is automatically named accordingly. (116480550)


Don’t Outsource Your Perspective to a LLM

A person playing trumpet and a robot playing drums are on a stage in a jazz band. They are looking at each other. In the style of a 60s jazz album cover.

At A List Apart, I’m seeing a lot of article pitches that were clearly written by a Large Language Model (LLM) rather than a human being. In many cases, the people making the submission clearly put a lot of thought into the prompts they used to get the output they desired, but had zero follow though when it came to taking ownership of the output they were handed. To be clear, the issue I have here is not that they used an LLM as part of their process, but rather how they failed to wield such powerful tool effectively.