While it used to be the leading alternative to Internet Explorer (and others), Firefox has seen its market share erode steadily since the 2008 debut of Google Chrome. The Mozilla Foundation has made several oft-controversial bids at relevancy, including native video chat, Pocket integration, a mobile browser (and OS), a UI overhaul, and a rapid release schedule that's reached version 40 (and counting). But the latest proposal -- part of a reboot of the stalled Electrolysis multiprocessing project -- will prove the most daunting. Although it will modernize the browser's architecture, it also deprecates the longtime XUL framework in favor of more limited and Chrome-like "web extensions" -- requiring Firefox's vast catalog of powerful add-ons to be rewritten from scratch or cease functioning. While developers will have until 2017 to fully adapt, opinion is divided -- NoScript's Giorgio Maone reassures doubters, while the DownThemAll! team says "it feels like I just learned my dear old friend Firefox is going to die." [more inside]
Cameron's World is a web-collage of text and images excavated from the buried neighbourhoods of archived GeoCities pages (1994–2009). (music autoplays)
Kernelmag's Jeff Keacher documents connecting his old Macintosh Plus to the World Wibe Web, courtesy of a Raspberry Pi and a bunch of software to remove all those pesky <div>s and such. [more inside]
Anyone who writes articles on the web knows the maxim: "Don’t read the comments." Fortunately for Yoni Appelbaum, a recent Ph.D. in history from Brandeis University, the well-known writer Ta-Nehisi Coates routinely ignores that rule.How a history Ph.D. who was on the tenure-track market ended up in with a pretty good gig in journalism, primarily because of the quality of his comments.
In 2003, Andy "waxpancake" Baio created Upcoming, "a collaborative event calendar focused on interesting arts and tech events around the world, curated by its community. It surfaced weird and wonderful events that usually fell under the radar of traditional event listings from newspapers and local weeklies." In 2005, it was acquired by Yahoo!, who killed the site last April with little warning, and no way to back up events. Fortunately, the complete site was saved by the Internet Archive. But Upcoming isn't dead yet! Two months ago, Yahoo! offered to sell the domain back to Baio. And now, with a fully-funded kickstarter, he's planning on "rebuilding it for the modern era using tools and platforms that weren't available when it was first designed." Welcome to the brilliant life, stupid death, and improbable return of Upcoming.org. [more inside]
As Microsoft prepares to retire its unfashionable Hotmail in favor of Outlook.com this summer, let's remember the viral marketing revolution that Hotmail invented. Journey back seventeen years to Hotmail's origins, the birth of the dot.com millionaire, and the boozy optimism of a pre-crash web industry in full-growth mode (Wired, December 1998) .
The First Photo on the Web: A story of crossdressing, particle physics, humorous science-based novelty songs, and terrible photoshop.
The Eephus League presents: a web magazine about baseball.
Museums build some pretty cool websites. To help people find them, use them, and give them props, the Museums and the Web conference has held an annual Best of the Web contest since 1997. This year's nominees are here. Just a sample: the MOMA on Bauhaus, the Center for New Media's Bracero History Archive, the Textile Museum of Canada's In Touch:Connecting Cloth, Culture, and Art, Perception Deception from The National Science and Technology Center of Australia, The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh from the Van Gogh Museum, the Smithsonian's Prehistoric Climate Change and Why it Matters Today, and more . If that doesn't wash out the remainder of your Friday, you can always dig into the past nominees.
In the beginning of 1995 before the release of the first graphic browser, Clifford Stoll Of Newsweek said "After two decades online, I'm perplexed. It's not that I haven't had a gas of a good time on the Internet. I've met great people and even caught a hacker or two. But today, I'm uneasy about this most trendy and oversold community." Via Metachat.
Making the Modern World presents a set of twisty little passages through the history of science and invention, from the eighteenth century to the contemporary era, brought to you by the UK's Science Museum.
Circuits are flipping on in the nation's attic. A couple of weeks ago, 31 "digerati" -- like Clay Shirky, Chris Anderson, and George Oates -- dropped in to the Smithsonian Institution for the invitation-only conference "Smithsonian 2.0: A Gathering to Re-imagine the Smithsonian in the Digital Age". Dan Cohen of the Center for History and New Media provides a great summary (and continues to pose provocative questions) on his own blog. Those whose invitations were somehow lost in the mail can play fly-on-the-wall by watching the keynotes, paging through the Flickr pool of envymaking glimpses of their behind-the-scenes lab and collections tours, reading the blog (where Bruce Wyman of the Denver Art Museum lays out a succinct road map for museums using social media), and poking around in the SI's website gallery. Want to cheer on the USA's favorite 163-year-old "Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge" without taking the trip to DC? Thanks to their recent efforts, you can now follow the SI on Twitter, listen to its podcasts, watch its YouTube channel, visit the Latino Virtual Museum in Second Life, or use the FaceBook gifts page to send your best friends their very own pair of Dorothy's ruby slippers, Hope diamond, Negro Leagues baseball, or coelocanth.
The recent passing of Studs Terkel sparked a renewed interest in his interview projects, like Working, Race, and Hard Times. But Studs was not just a broadcaster who liked people; he was a practitioner of oral history, a method of gathering information about the past through preserving individual recollections. It's a subfield of history, with its own ethics, techniques, professional literature, uses, and limitations. Learn how to collect and share oral histories yourself, from interviewing to recording and getting clearances to preserving and disseminating. Oral histories have been preserved as text transcripts for decades; now digital media isreinvigorating the form, bringing new ease to recording and wider opportunities for the public to see and hear the content. Explore oral history projects on the web with stories of veterans, suffragists, Tibetans, jazz cats, Nevada nuclear test site witnesses, Basque Americans, rodeo cowboys and cowgirls, musicians, Katrina survivors, ACT UP activists, Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge, Native Americans, women whose lives were affected by the Pill, survivors of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire,women in World War II, Hawai'ians, workers in Paterson, NJ....
Omeka is a newly available, open-source web platform, bringing good-looking, functional online exhibitry within reach of smaller museums, libraries, and arts groups. From the Center for History and New Media.
Voice Thread Now the online world can lend support in your family argument about what really happened on your fifth birthday.
Where is Kai Krause? If you were a web designer back in the day, you probably used Kai’s Power Tools (my how web design has grown). A user interface visionary, Kai bailed at the dot.com peak (just in time) and retired to Byteburg, a 1000 year old castle in Bonn, where he peacefully lives and works today.
"A fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun" -- ground zero of Web irony, Blog 1.0, the Picassos of the deflating hyperlink, Suck.com rocked. This is their history, as told by the promisingly named Matt Sharkey at keepgoing.org. (Suck's ex-editrix Cox is Wonkette and Terry Colon's art is everywhere. And God knows we could use a good Suck right about now.)
The First Community Blog? Five years ago today, Caleb Donaldson pulled the plug on Geek Cereal, a social experiment that began on March 21, 1996. Some of the links don't work like they should anymore, but the calendar will get you to all the juicy bits. An interesting little time capsule. The site's demise is mentioned in this Ghost Sites 1997 obit, and in this virtual eulogy from Caleb's dad on MIT's website.
Mark your calendars: PBS is running a special called "Code Rush" in late March, about the hectic coding schedules that Netscape employees like Jaime Zawinski coped with in early 1998. It sounds like it's going to be good and will probably be similar to other stories about the formation of Netscape.
Microsoft recently put up their own page on the history of Microsoft.com. They were even cool enough to include screenshots and approximate traffic loads for each iteration of the site.