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How to test custom React hooks | Kent C. Dodds

I've been doing a fair amount of testing React hooks recently. Part of that has been learning the `react-hooks` extension for the Testing Library suite, which took a while to wrap my head around. Kent's post helped straighten out a few misconceptions.

Jamstack Comments Engine

A combination of build commands and Netlify tools equals a very creative native commenting system for Jamstack sites (hosted on Netlify, of course). Definitely need to drill a bit deeper into how this works, but looks excellent.

From context collapse to content collapse | Rough Type

So that previously mentioned discussion around the problems of having a "single identity online" led me to this brilliant dissection of the impact social media had on social identity. From the initial barrier-breaking (aka "context collapse") that occurred when you suddenly had your colleagues, friends, family, school mates etc. all on one platform, all able to see you interacting with each other in real-time (and could go back and browse those interactions in the future 😬), to the subsequent rebellion back to ephemeral platforms like Snapchat and private conversations over WhatsApp etc.

On a social network, the theory went, all those different contexts collapsed into a single context. Whenever you posted a message or a photograph or a video, it could be seen by your friends, your parents, your coworkers, your bosses, and your teachers, not to mention the amorphous mass known as the general public.
The problem is not a lack of context. It is context collapse: an infinite number of contexts collapsing upon one another into that single moment of recording.
Young people led the way, moving much of their online conversation from the public platform of Facebook, where parents and teachers lurked, to the more intimate platform of Snapchat, where they could restrict their audience and where messages disappeared quickly.

Nicholas than moves on to pondering about whether the next stage will be content collapse, a state where the internet (and particularly social media) begins obfuscating the contexts and structures of content (even further), with negative impacts. Most obviously, that content delivered as a stream loses weighting and suddenly breaking international news is just as important as some stranger's opinion on onion slicing.

Content collapse, as I define it, is the tendency of social media to blur traditional distinctions among once distinct types of information — distinctions of form, register, sense, and importance.
It wasn’t just that the headlines, free-floating, decontextualized motes of journalism ginned up to trigger reflexive mouse clicks, had displaced the stories. It was that the whole organizing structure of the newspaper, its epistemological architecture, had been junked. The news section (with its local, national, and international
subsections), the sports section, the arts section, the living section, the opinion pages: they’d all been fed through a shredder, then thrown into a wind tunnel. What appeared on the screen was a jumble, high mixed with low, silly with smart, tragic with trivial. The cacophony of the RSS feed, it’s now clear, heralded a sea change in the distribution and consumption of information. The new order would be disorder.
Many of the qualities of social media that make people uneasy stem from content collapse. First, by leveling everything, social media also trivializes everything — freed of barriers, information, like water, pools at the lowest possible level
Finally, content collapse consolidates power over information, and conversation, into the hands of the small number of companies that own the platforms and write the algorithms. The much maligned gatekeepers of the past could exert editorial control only over a particular type of content that flowed through a particular medium — a magazine, a radio station, a TV network. Our new gatekeepers control information of all kinds. When content collapses, there’s only one gate.

Well damn... 😶

Autonomy online: a case for the IndieWeb | Ana Rodrigues

Ana has put together a brilliant overview of the whywhat, and how of the IndieWeb. I imagine I'll return many times to look up simplified explanations, but a couple of quotes particularly jumped out:

I’ve lost count of how many “Hello worlds” I’ve created and binned in my lifetime when I had a real “product” to build: me.
[My personal website] is where I can experiment, write, build, try, and learn without censorship or limitations.

Although another line sparked a little discussion on the IndieWeb chat about the viability of a singular identity:

I didn’t realize until this point how much it made sense to have a “one true version” of yourself online

I love the concept, but I (like many others) struggle with this in practice. For example, I want a professional portfolio/CV... I probably don't want that to be under the umbrella of "theAdhocracy", but I also don't want to change my online self. It's an interesting tightrope to walk.

Bandcamp, Spotify and the wide-open future | npr

A fascinating dive into the mentality differences between Bandcamp and Spotify. Spoiler: Bandcamp comes out looking a lot more positive, particularly for artists. Interesting to see the CEO of Bandcamp point to Etsy (and blogging) as an ideal model for promoting musicians. Also that they used to be able to see people coming to Bandcamp from Google searches for torrents and p2p sites, then buying the album. More fuel to the fire that is "piracy is often about access, not theft".

(PS: I love npr's text mode if you decline cookies! 😍)

Live UK bird sightings map | Bird Forum

Amongst some general research into the British lammergeier, I stumbled onto this excellent resource. The entire forum and community are packed with great birding insights, but this rare-bird live map is easily the star of the show. Very cool 🦅

Map of the UK with markers for bird sightings; one near Manchester is selected and shows photos of a lammergeier vulture.
I still think it's amazing that 2020 is the year that England became home to both eagles and (a) vulture.

My GPT-3 blog went viral | Liam Porr

The tale of an AI-driven blog using GPT-3 that managed to garner 26,000 views in just two weeks and trend on Hacker News (where, ironically, the few people that called it out as potentially fake were downvoted to oblivion). It's certainly an interesting argument for "Buzzfeed-esque" writing studios being the first creative enterprise to be potentially automated out of work.

However, I think the real value here is not in blog posts, that was just to prove the concept. Its true value lies as a writing tool. The invention of GPT-3 for writers is like the invention of the McCormick reaper for farmers. It increases efficiency, and thus reduces labor costs, like any other technological innovation. The difference is, this is one of the first times technology has the potential to affect jobs in the creative sector.

Wireless charging is a disaster waiting to happen | OneZero

In my tests, I found that wireless charging used, on average, around 47% more power than a cable.

Not only that, but slight changes to the alignment between phone and charger decreased efficiency massively, so that millimetre tweaks could result in 80% more energy for a single charge. Plus, wireless chargers use electricity 24/7, amounting to as much as 6 watt-hours a day of energy just turned into heat. For all current smartphones to move to wireless charging, we'd need the equivalent of 73 more coal power stations to meet the additional global requirements; if all of those chargers used the worst-case alignments, it could be closer to 150 more power stations!

Interesting to consider the environmental impact of a purely convenience-based gimmick. Do we really need it?

Fund efforts to solve the climate crisis | Ecologi

I've seen some good reviews of Ecologi. For a relatively low monthly cost (<£5) you can fund tree planting, rewilding initiatives, and environmental community schemes all over the world. They've also produced an app that challenges you to change your personal behaviour and live more sustainably. There are definitely parallels with Pawprint.

Verify your green power | Carbon.txt

A very early-draft stage proposal for a new web file verification system. Basically, you add a carbon.txt file to your site specifying where the site is hosted. Hosts would then provide a file stating where their data centres are. Those, in turn, state where the energy is coming from. Energy providers can do the same, though that data is publicly available anyway in most European countries. So by following the carbon.txt chain, you can verify whether a site genuinely runs on green energy or not.

A universal follow button for RSS | SubToMe

SubToMe is a fun little open-source project: a reusable button that lets people immediately subscribe to your RSS feed from a huge list of feed readers. Simple, intuitive, solves a genuine issue. Nice 👍

📆 15 Aug 2020  | 🔗

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