A List Apart

Menu
The A List Apart Blog Presents:

On Our Radar: Present Tense

Article Continues Below

It seems like we’re always anxiously awaiting the future, complications and all. Take the present moment: HTTP/2 is on its way, with intriguing changes for web development; web publishing has never been easier, but Medium’s latest direction is a mixed bag for authors; and our attention is increasingly in demand (and for sale). We’re living in the future, and we’ve got some mixed feelings about that.

Here’s what’s on our radar:

HTTP/2: On the horizon

HTTP/2 is on the horizon, a long-awaited upgrade to the web’s primary protocol. It promises better security and performance, but I’ve been curious about how it will impact development. Fortunately I came across two interesting posts that are a nice introduction to what HTTP/2 does and how it will affect the way we build websites:

Speaking of better performance, have you seen Tim Kadlec’s What Does My Site Cost? If you live in Angola, this page may have cost $0.32 (USD) to download—something you can bet we’ll be taking a hard look at.

Tim Murtaugh, technical director

Mediummm?

Last month, in a long Atlantic piece about the state of writing for the web, Robinson Meyer asked—for, like, the millionth time—“what is Medium, tho?” Is it publisher, or is it platform? Is it both?

Is it “just Tumblr for rich people”?

“All of the above” seems like the most accurate answer after yesterday’s announcement: custom domains for publications. Now, instead of going to medium-dot-com-slash-whatever to get the latest, you might head to cool-url-dot-biz, and find that it’s actually Medium now, too. You can already see this in action with Midcentury Modern. The magazine’s URL is midcenturymodernmag.com, but once you’re there, it’s Medium all the way down.

So what’s this mean for people like us—people who make websites and work with web content? Will publications flock to replace their custom sites with Medium? Probably not. But many organizations that otherwise might have cobbled together a Wordpress blog could easily end up launching a Medium publication instead, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, Medium’s invested heavily in design and extremely thoughtful typography. It’s great to see so much content written to be read (not to mention discussed and shared). On the other, as both publisher and platform—both the magazine and the paper it’s printed on at the same time—Medium controls everything about how the content published with it is presented, regardless of the URL it ends up on: layout, type, functionality. Does that leave enough space for authors and organizations?

Sara Wachter-Boettcher, editor-in-chief

We’re living in a future predicted 60 years ago

In my youth, old science fiction short story compilations were a mainstay of my summer reading. One story I vividly remember is Frederik Pohl’s “The Midas Plague,” set in a world so rich in stuff that the poor are obliged to consume constantly, while the wealthy can afford emptiness and silence.

I was reminded of that world as I read Matthew Crawford’s “The Cost of Paying Attention.” It becomes even more real in light of Daniel Levitin’s explanation that the brain runs on a daily ration of fuel that is depleted with every target of focus and every decision—and it makes no difference whether they’re important or insignificant.

Attention is a limited and very valuable resource that we have to protect when it’s our own, and respect when it’s our neighbor’s.

Rose Weisburd, columns editor

A gif about: uncertainty

I am having second thoughts.

What about you?

What stories are drawing your attention? Got any posts, pictures, tools, or code you want to share? (We love sharing!) Tweet us what’s on your radar—and what should be on ours.

3 Reader Comments

Load Comments