The Fighting Whities
It seems that an intramural
basketball team has named itself “The Fighting Whities” in an attempt
to raise awareness of stereotyping and, one assumes, to protest the various
sports teams using Native American names and imagery. Their jerseys feature
a 1950’s-style drawing of a white man and the phrase “Every thang’s gonna
be all white!”
I predict that this won’t be especially successful. Looking through
the reader comments, you see of white men making comments like “So what?”,
“This is funny”, “Where can I get a jersey?”, and “Since I am not
offended, Indians should not be upset about the Redskins” (not
The argument made here is: white people don’t get offended when people
make fun of them, so why should anyone else be offended? The problem here
is that the circumstances are not symmetric. Isaac Asimov, in the chapter
on ethic humor in his Treasury of Humor, writes:
The line between funny satire and outright offense is almost
vanishingly small, and it exists in different places for the person who is
of the ethnic group being satirized and the person who is not; for the person
of an ethnic group who feels secure because he is surrounded by others of his
group, and for the same person who feels alone because he is not; for the
person of an ethnic group who is feeling good that day, and for the same
person who has been unsettled by the morning headlines.
The issue of power and security is undoubtedly a big part of it. White
men, as a group, are well represented (some might say over-represented)
in positions of authority and prestige. The same cannot be said for other
genders and ethnic groups. Hence, white men are secure enough that they can
laugh off jokes and not worry about slurs.
Some argue that using Native American names and imagery for sports teams
honors their legacy, but this is a weak argument at best. If the people
supposedly being honored are in fact offended, you don’t get to tell them
they’re wrong. Doing so only reveals that their opinion does not, in fact,
matter—which would not be the case if honor was the true intention.
(found at Blogdex)
All your reference are belong to us
In my recent post about Google bombing,
I was one of many, many people who referenced an article discussing
how weblogs disproportionately
affect Google. The speed and scale of the response has prompted
another article, which examines
how ideas spread through
Quick-spreading ideas are hardly unusual on the Internet (although
the ideas themselves can be quite unusual). The difference with
weblog-borne ideas is that they can often be traced. The time-based
nature of weblog posts make it possible to refer to things in the
past and be reasonably certain that the reference will still be
valid in the future.
Indirectly, this argues that it’s more useful to refer to specific
weblog posts than to the weblog itself when passing on links.
Bad URL, no cookie
John Rhodes, of WebWord,
has posted an article
about the causes of linkrot.
While there’s been a few articles on the subject before, Mr Rhodes
is the first I’ve seen to blame Content Management Systems for a lot
of the problems.
Large, professional web sites store documents in databases and use
scripts to combine the document’s content with the site’s navigational
interface and advertisements. That’s fine and dandy, except that the
systems used often create long, impenetrable addresses. That’s also
okay, since most people won’t be typing the addresses in directly.
The problem is that every CMS
has a different way of generating addresses. That means that switching
the CMS breaks
all the links into the site.
While it’s probably impossible to do away with linkrot entirely,
I don’t think Mr Rhodes’s suggestion of having sites notify each
other when addresses change will scale that well. Better to try
The most obvious strategy to employ is that of information hiding.
Ideally, your URL
reveal nothing about your particular server configuration. It’s fairly
simple to hide simple queries. Some
simple server tweaking allows you to transform, say
“http://www.greeleytrib.com/article/7262”. Note that the second
(purely hypothetical) address could continue working even if the site
stopped using PHP.
It may also be useful to hide the structure of sites by
using directories instead of files.
That is, instead of putting site information at “http://www.example.org/about.asp”,
use “http://www.example.org/about/”. Again, this hides the implementation
of the about page, allowing behind-the-scenes changes, but it also allows the
about page to expand into multiple pages without much confusion.
I say “may”, because there really is no distinction between directories
and files on the web. If I had a server configuration to play around with,
I’d look into eliminating trailing slashes altogether. Officially,
“http://www.example.org/examples” and “http://www.example.org/examples/” are
different addresses, but actually making a distinction between the two
would only serve to confuse people. I say, use the one without a final slash.
It’s shorter and easier to read aloud. Pages within the “examples” hierarchy
would still involve the slash, as in “http://www.example.org/examples/specificexample”.
The problem is that most web servers would prefer to use the address with
the slash, since “examples” would probably be implemented as a directory in the
server’s file system.
Note also that those example addresses don’t include “.html” or “.php” or
similar extensions at the end. Again, those are irrelevant. Unless you’re
specifically referring to an HTML
version of a document (as opposed, say, to a
PDF version), there is no
need to note the file type in the address.
Hiding implementation details is only one technique for creating
durable addresses, but if things are otherwise well planned, it can be
the most effective. #