In the 1980s, the 24 hour cable news cycle revolutionized the way we consume media. Suddenly, news was available to us around the clock, and networks were under pressure to constantly provide fresh content to keep viewers tuned in. This led to a focus on sensationalism and controversy in order to grab and hold onto people's attention.
Fast forward to today, and a similar trend can be seen in website design. With the proliferation of the internet, the competition for people's attention online is fierce. As a result, website design has become increasingly centered on engagement.
But what exactly is engagement, and how does it drive website design? Simply put, engagement refers to the amount of time that someone spends on a website or the number of actions they take while on the site. This can include things like clicking on links, scrolling through pages, or leaving comments.
In order to increase engagement, website designers use a variety of tactics. These can include using attention-grabbing headlines and images, creating content that is designed to be shared on social media, and using techniques like infinite scrolling to keep people on the site for longer periods of time.
However, the pursuit of engagement can have negative consequences. In the same way that the 24 hour news cycle led to a focus on sensationalism and controversy, the pursuit of engagement can drive website design in a direction that is more concerned with sensationalism and controversy rather than providing accurate and balanced information.
One example of this is the use of so-called "clickbait" headlines, which use provocative or misleading language to entice people to click on a link. While these tactics may be effective in increasing engagement, they can also contribute to the spread of misinformation and the further polarizing of public discourse.
In addition, the use of algorithms to personalize and tailor content to individual users can further reinforce existing beliefs and biases, leading to what is known as the "echo chamber" effect. This can create a feedback loop where people are only exposed to information that confirms their preexisting beliefs, leading to a further radicalization of their views.
Overall, while engagement-driven website design may be effective at keeping people on a site for longer periods of time, it can also have negative consequences in terms of the spread of misinformation and the further polarizing of public discourse. As a result, it is important for website designers to consider the potential downsides of their tactics and strive to create sites that provide accurate and balanced information.
Here are some selected photos from my recent trip to Korea. They are all Buddhas, or areas around a Buddhist temple.
You can view the photos at the gallery link below.
After experimenting successfully with rewriting some simple front-end components for https://www.ehlabs.net, I decided to go ahead and port the same changes over to my main website.
Thus, you will notice that https://elihickox.com now has the same unified theme. Creating a custom, dependency-less front-end for my websites has been a goal of mine for a long time, and I'm glad to see this goal begin to come into fruition.
When I first created ehLabs in 2015, my aim was straightforward: to build a real-time chat application. Initially, I wanted to build this application for my employer, but my proposal was rejected due to prioritization concerns. As a result, I decided to pursue this project on my own. Since then, ehLabs has developed into a comprehensive content management system and social media application, powered by IPFS. However, I have always had one reservation about it-- the front-end technology.
When I started ehLabs, I had no knowledge of front-end engineering, and I still possess only a limited understanding of it. In order to quickly get the application up and running, I opted to use Bootstrap. While Bootstrap is a useful tool, it has its own set of issues and represents another large external dependency that requires regular updates. My dream has always been to do everything myself.
The path I wish to pursue is to create my own set of CSS components for this site. You are probably reading this post on the initial iteration of this endeavor. My goal is to keep the V2 design of ehLabs simple and avoid imposing a specific color scheme. The legacy site's gray-blue color scheme was not universally appreciated.
This will be a long journey, but I believe it is the best course of action. I am starting with the design of the blog views. I will not set a deadline for myself, as this site is a personal project that I am undertaking for fun.
I recently had the opportunity to dine out at a few different restaurants in San Francisco over the holidays with my grandma and wife. Overall, the experiences varied quite a bit and I found myself using different tipping percentages at each place based on the level of service I received. In the past, I would have been guilted into a standardized tip suggestion of 18-20% or more, but I am no longer conforming to this standard.
At the first restaurant, a very famous and notable seafood place, the wait staff was very slow and the food we had was mediocre. The clam chowder, in particular, was watery and lacking in flavor. To make matters worse, the staff didn't tell us that they were cash only and didn't have an ATM, causing further delays and inconvenience. To wait for a table, we had to stand in line for over one hour, and the line was so long that they refused to serve many people behind us. Given the slow and mismanaged service and subpar food, I felt justified in leaving a one dollar tip. It was clear that this restaurant was more focused on its reputation and attracting a high volume of customers, rather than providing a high-quality dining experience. It was a disappointing visit and one that I would not recommend to others.
At the second restaurant, another famous and highly rated place, we had to wait in a long line and when we tried to sit at the bar, the bartender wouldn't let us order food and the hostess was crabby when we asked to put our name on a list. Despite the fact that my grandma is unable to stand in line for hours, the hostess refused to accommodate us and instead snapped at me when I asked if we could put our name on a list while we waited at the bar. Given the poor service and the hostess' unprofessional behavior, I left a one dollar tip for the two drinks we had. It was clear that the staff at this restaurant were more concerned with turning over tables and getting people in and out as quickly as possible, rather than providing good customer service. It was a regretful experience and one that I would not want to repeat.
The third restaurant was a local chain place that I had often overlooked due to my assumption that it would be touristy and overpriced. However, we were pleasantly surprised. While the restaurant wasn't cheap, it was priced well for the neighborhood we were in and the staff handled the crowds with ease. We were able to sit at the bar while we waited for a table, and the bartender was extremely kind. Given the exceptional service, we decided to leave a 20% tip – higher than the standard tip but justified given the great experience.
At the last restaurant, we had to wait in line for a table and the waitstaff seemed busy, avoiding eye contact with the customers as they rushed around trying to appear busy. Despite the wait, we eventually got a table and the waitress took our order without any mistakes. However, the service was only standard and the food was not great. Given the overall experience, I left a 15% tip before tax – the standard tip for standard service, despite their suggestion starting at 18% after tax. While the service wasn't necessarily poor, it also wasn't exceptional and therefore warranted a standard tip.
In conclusion, it's important to base your tip on the level of service you received. While the standard tip in the USA is 15% before tax, it's important to deviate from this if the service was exceptionally good or poor. In the cases of the first and second restaurants, the service was not up to par and I left virtually no tips accordingly. In the case of the third restaurant, the service was exceptional and I left a higher tip to reflect this. And in the case of the final restaurant, the service was standard and I left the standard tip. Do not be swayed by tip suggestions on your check and tip according to the service and overall experience you receive. Even during the holiday season, no one is entitled to a tip for a bad experience.