Google is Breaking the Internet" sounds like a pretty extreme claim for what is supposedly Google's ongoing effort to provide the best possible search results. But take a look at this graph:
That is a graph of the ad revenue coming in to much beloved 15 year old web community Metafilter since 2005. MeFi has always been one of the most carefully moderated and scrupulously legit social sites on the whole internet, and its Q&A subsite Ask.Metafilter in particular is like Yahoo Answers in an alternate universe where every human being isn't a complete idiot. But Google decided that MeFi is a spam farm somehow, and now they have to lay off three moderators, including long-time guiding spirit Jessamyn West, and judging from this graph the future of the whole site is in grave doubt.
Google's initial premise was that the structure of the web could be analyzed to provide the best search results. The current premise of Google is that the structure of the web should conform to the demands of Google's algorithm. The quantum-mechanics cliché is that measuring something changes the thing you measure, but in this case Google is declaring the internet to be a cube, and then bashing it with a great big hammer until it is square. And while John Herrman writes cogently about the traffic-gathering side of publishing's reliance on giants like Google and Facebook, let's not forget that for a site like MeFi, Google's ads are also the only viable source of revenue. Small and midsize web publishers exist purely at Google's pleasure, and Google can end them without even meaning to, just with an algorithm tweak.
Metafilter has been quietly for sale for the last year or so, and perhaps it will find a buyer out of this. But like MLKSHK, the product of another pioneer of an earlier web, there exists the devastating possibility that Metafilter might just end. Everything dies, but Metafilter's time has not come yet. If it dies now, it will be because Google murdered it.
the secret to effective writing? Keep removing a word until you can't. pic.twitter.com/Olav91f2Ad
— Karen Geier (@karengeier) May 20, 2014
Today in Times: The role of "piñata that hangs itself and then hands you a stick" will be played today by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who gave a hilariously awful interview to Vanity Fair's Sarah Ellison. "You don’t cut off one arm, and then wait and cut off the other," Sulzberger said with his own actual mouth to another human being. But sure enough, "Pinch" cuts off both his arms at once here. Ellison starts by fact-checking his office art, and while she mostly lets him sound dumb for himself, she can't help a few editorial asides. Ok, honestly, the world has not seen shade like this since the eruption of Mount Tambora. It's a delightful gift, but it's difficult to imagine why Sulzberger didn't go with a friendlier outlet for this podiatric-maxillofacial insertion.
1998: mystery meat navigation
2013: hamburger menu
2019: button foraging
2024: 9 course tasting UI
— Simon Coffey (@urbanautomaton) May 20, 2014
Meanwhile Dean Baquet, who believes everything has calmed down now, was blocking out a little sun of his own in a backhanded sendoff memo for Guardian poachee Aron Pilhofer. "He took some grief for jetting off to one conference or another (as well as for his posh -- guess that's the right word where he's going -- hobbies of tennis and sailing)." Hah ha get it? He was gone a lot too, just like Abramson! Wink, wink right? What a couple of jerks.
Bonus tab: Erik Wemple has an interesting overview of how Ken Auletta's New Yorker series came to be, with attention paid to the unusual fact of breaking news happening on the New Yorker at all.
Steve Kandell, whose sister was killed in the World Trade Center attacks, wrote a very raw account of his visit to the new 9/11 Memorial Museum for Buzzfeed. I stopped crying eventually.
How much prison time do you think someone would get for drugging and raping his unconscious wife repeatedly for three years? How about none? Rape culture is a myth, though, right?
— Jessica Roy (@JessicaKRoy) May 20, 2014
Booze sketchy but effective. Pretend sunscreen sketchy but not effective. Dating coaches found to deserve each other. Blog posts short. Whiskey short. San Francisco weird. Republican Party woos black voters by demanding they apologize. Joss Whedon uses the mail. Channing Tatum declares activity "non-homosexual". On Doxing and Schizophrenia. Sandwich quota unmet.
Today's Search Engine: Have you tried Duck Duck Go?
Today's Email Service: Fastmail.fm is pretty nice!
Today's Song: De La Soul, "Transmitting Live From Mars"
Oh, Ok, Fine. Here: cat.technology
~God grant me the serenity to accept the tabs I cannot close, the courage to close the tabs I can, and the wisdom to know the difference~
I'm sorry Today in Tabs was so grim today, but some days are like that. Especially Tuesdays, it feels like? Thanks as always to Newsweek.com and the existence of email for distribution. Someone figure out how to save Metafilter, ok? The title today is the New York Times's new motto, "Always Cut Off Both Arms." Latin translation courtesy of Taylor Wofford.