The lost art of web searching

  1. Go to the tags page
  2. Open a tag you’re interested in
  3. Follow the links in the tag introduction
  4. Follow links you find
  5. Repeat

This is the lost art of searching the web. Back before Google’s PageRank, we had to find stuff based on things we had already found. Directories helped, but only if you knew what you were looking for. All search engine spiders did was automate this process. And with marketers increasingly taking over SERPs, we’ll have to rely on this ancient technique until engineers find a way to defeat human ingenuity.

Not that I mind this way of finding stuff. 🙂

Remembering TechTV

There was a TV channel, in the before-time of the primordial Web, that took aim at geeks. It had call-in shows, interviews with great minds of industry, and showcases of talent. That channel was TechTV.

And it died. TechTV died before G4 bought it up and tore it apart, but the purchase and gutting helped the globally connected community of geeks move on. And move on we did–it was a renaissance of design, interactivity, and technology.

The channel was good fun to watch, but it didn’t leave much of a void with things like YouTube, Revision3, and Penny Arcade TV following in the wake of its death. Sometimes death is essential for progress. Old ideas die with their supporters and their mediums to make space for fresh takes and new channels for getting ideas out.

And we’re about due for another renaissance.

I’m still going to say Linux

One thing is certain when you discuss Linux in public: someone will chide you for not using the “proper” term, whether that’s GNU/Linux  or something else. I don’t know the exact motivations of each person, but they’re very irritating.

Most people mean the Linux ecosystem when they say Linux. That’s a normal evolution of language: a word for something specific becomes a more general term. “Linux” is easy to say and easy to remember, so it became the standard term.

Fighting against a logical and useful evolution of language is always a losing battle. One can drill down with qualifiers (Linux kernel, Linux boot loader, Linux DE, etc) if they’re one of the tiny minority who mean the kernel when they say Linux.

The rest of us will proceed happily along meaning the ecosystem of applications, tools, and people when we say Linux.

Build your network through volunteering

Some people are in hopeless situations, but that’s probably not you. The trick to making it out is to build a network. Odds are someone around you needs help with something, and that person will tend to have their own network.

Everyone around me had prodded me to go and volunteer somewhere over several months, but I believed I could build an Internet-based income quickly enough to not need a normal job or any points on a résumé. Flash forward a couple of years. I still believe I can build an online business, but I recognize that it’s not going to happen on the time scale I imagined.

I got up the courage to drive through thick lunchtime traffic in 90 degree weather to ask about volunteering at the library. It turned out that kids from the high school next door to the library filled out all the volunteer slots. I didn’t even know a library had slots, much less a limit. I suppose 1000 high school kids wouldn’t fit in the library, so it makes sense.

“Well if you need any computer stuff done, give me a call.”

Apparently that was the magic phrase, because the library manager offered me a spot doing what I’m good at: helping people with technology-related things like using the web and e-mail. Even if it doesn’t lead to a job when the library is hiring, a volunteer spot is a line on a résumé and a good reference.

Don’t let your fears–traffic on the way, hot weather, or that what you’re setting out to do isn’t what you decided you were going to do five years ago–make you back down from it. Nothing is as hard as you think it is unless you think it is. Sitting on your butt wishing you could change your situation isn’t going to change it.

If you can’t find a job, find someone who needs work done and can’t pay for it. When you’re at the bottom and have no experience to lean on, connections are golden. Volunteering is a good way to build a network while improving your community.

MailChimp and Affiliate Marketing

MailChimp and Affiliate Marketing has moved.

Web Design: 10 Great Resources for Bloggers

  • Start out with the list of Art and Design accounts twitter suggests for you. Most of these are worth looking at and link to useful sites.
  • Design is History is an archive of copy-focused designs through history, from Gutenberg to the latest and greatest.
  • Then there’s Six Revisions, a solid source for web design tutorials and industry commentary.
  • A List Apart tackles more technical stuff than the others.
  • Dark Patterns is a wiki that covers all the deceptive design patterns people use so you can avoid them.

Know any other great resources? Share them in the comments.