Bending it in the browser

I was listening to the Shop Talk Show episode on patching the web. They mentioned removing the trending tweets sidebar and it reminded me to do that.

I had to look up aria label selectors in CSS, but applying this bit of CSS using Stylebot removes it nicely.

[aria-label="Trending"] {
    display: none;

Digital fluency/Anti-app rambling

I couldn’t do that in an app and it’s something I do fairly often to tweak environments. My helpdesk software puts buttons too close together? I can fix that. Need to bulk download audio files from the Alan Lomax archive? I can do that. Turn a form into a bookmarklet? Also possible. What I wouldn’t give to be able to do this to programs on my computer.

I couldn’t/wouldn’t do it if I didn’t expect to be able to influence my environment. I couldn’t do it without a little understanding of how CSS works. I couldn’t have done it (easily) without knowing a browser extension like this exists. I couldn’t have done it without some basic search skills.

It feels like some combination of those things are a big chunk of digital literacy.

You have to understand your environment and what it allows. You need to know what your environment is made of. You have to understand what aspects you can manipulate. You have to be able to pursue more information about the parts you don’t understand or remember.

It is, in the end, probably the disposition that leads to all this. You have to feel like things could be better and have the energy and time to pursue that. This is tricky because, especially at the beginning, it can take a lot of time and energy. Vocabulary acquisition alone, takes a good deal of time and is key to so much.

I worry that more and more things shifting to apps for no reason makes all fairly unlikely stuff even less likely. Is my fear like the fear accompanying the button? I read that article and I’m not sure those fear were unfounded. It’s also hard not to see it as inevitable. People certainly see apps as something magical. It is an amazing work of branding I guess. Call them programs and everything is dull and just like it’s been since the dawn of computing. Call them apps and people become willing to pay for things that are free online just to have a colorful bookmark. It’s hard for me to understand.

There are places for apps, but I’m not sure most people understand when and why it makes sense to move from the web to an app or even what’s possible on the web given the progressive web app (PWA)1 capabilities.

I feel less “get off my lawn” and more like “youth is wasted on the young.” We’ve got a beautiful thing here. It’d be a shame to let corporations trick us into giving it all away in exchange for a few bright icons.

1 Another acronym! More vocabulary.

One thought on “Bending it in the browser

  1. I feel the same way about how the web as a platform lets users tweak it to their needs or as they see fit. I personally use Dark Reader ( quite a bit, as well as a couple CSS tweaks here and there. I haven’t actually done this very much, but theoretically you could do tweaks like this in Desktop apps that are built in Electron as they are pretty much chrome and web apps wearing an apps clothing, the problem is without access to extensions I’m not sure how you’d make those changes stick. That of course still doesn’t help anybody on mobile platforms or using other types of apps though…

    That being said I’m hoping as web frameworks power more and more desktop apps, tweaks like you have here become more possible.

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