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Theme-Monkeying and Amateurism

Posted on November 29, 2010 in Computrons Culture

Okay, so things look normal again. There were a bunch of non-cosmetic changes which were good in that they made things cleaner (I think I managed to cut six or seven divs without changing how anything looks, which ought to tell you a lot), but also kind of stupid inasmuch as many changes were to expose functionality that I have no intention of using, and which very few people would miss if it weren’t there.

The reason for this latter aspect of the change was that I thought it might be fun to bundle this theme and make it available at the WordPress theme repository. I don’t want to be a dick about this, but the experience was sort of disheartening. So I’m not a PHP dev, but the whole point of frameworks like WordPress is that you shouldn’t fucking have to be in order to participate. Really, a unique stylesheet should be all a submitter has to present in order to get a theme accepted, but this is not the case. In fact, there are default behaviors in WordPress that mean a theme must be submitted with a custom functions.php file. Shit like this is basically what’s killing the internet. People are moving to siloed, closed, tightly-controlled places like Facebook because the effort required to maintain your own stuff is too great for most people.

When Geocities limped off into the sunset last year, responses tended to be pretty glib. By this point, we’re all expected to love the shiny, AJAXy feel of web 2.0, and people are already scrambling to find excuses to call their bullshit shovelware web 3.0 (it uses Ruby to generate the annoying Javascript! It’s brand new!) We love it so much that we kvetch about how ugly Craig’s List is, and how it needs a makeover. So when you go to make your own damn site, you know nobody will be interested unless you’re willing to spend hours making it go, or you just throw up your hands and put it on Facebook (or similar) and have done.

El Reg recently had an article highlighting Tim Berners-Lee (OBE)’s complaints about Facbook/iTunes and similar’s threats to the “universality” of the web. Berners-Lee, who is about as technical as a person can be, doesn’t seem to understand that people flee to places like Facebook in large part because putting your stuff up has become so intimidating. You can’t just upload your marginally-formatted text documents like you did in the olden days. You’ve got to get all that shit right.

So yeah, it’s kind of too bad that the internet has lost the taste for amateurism that allowed a thousand Timecubes to bloom, and it’s even worse that we didn’t get anything worthwhile for it. Instead, we get a bunch of “services” that duplicate existing functionality under kind of retarded terms. Like real world democracy, I guess it was good while it lasted.

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