Kicks Condor

LEECHING AND LINKING IN THE HYPERTEXT KINGDOM

I FIRST DISCOVERED
THE 【TECHS-MECHS】WHO
ARE A CLAN OF SOUTH
OF THE BORDER GUNDAM
BREAKING DOWN
IMMIGRATION FENCES
WITH THEIR
IMPRESSIVE MANOS
MECANICAS

PLUNDER THE ARCHIVES

This page is also on dat.

MOVING ALONG LET'S SEE MY FAVORITE PLACES I NO LONGER LINK TO ANYTHING THATS VERY FAMOUS

philosopher.life, the 'wiki'/'avatar'/'life' of h0p3. serious rabbithole.

ramblinggit, bumped into him, lots of crossover with this blog.

whimsy.space v good zine by danielx.

caesar naples wiki social media website.

indieweb: .xyz, eli, c.rwr, boffosocko.

true hackers: ccc.de, fffff.at, voja antonić, cnlohr, esoteric.codes.

chips: zeptobars, scargill, 41j.

dwm, julia, tridactyl these are things you'll want on linux.

neil c very famous but should be a world icon.

the world or cate le bon you pick.

sammyclassicsonicfan the original teen rage adventure.

innovation.isotropic.org probly the best carl chudyk game.

and opinionated gamers for non-chudyk game analysis.

my twitter. my github. minor things.

HOW TO READ THIS SITE

🌵 Start (perhaps at the three links below, perhaps anywhere) and then stop once you are annoyed or listless. Or if you have a pressing World of Warcraft raid or if a major controversy erupts on /r/fitness—leave straightway. You have no duties here—to this non-vital word spillage. Are you annoyed or listless? This is a blog after all. Here are the three links:

I cover unique personal blogs and websites. I am online Tuesdays and Fridays.

21 Sep 2018

Sort Trek

Sweet ‘foone’ hack to re-sort Trek episodes based on the subs.

Foone’s got a great thing going on Twitter. I can’t quite complain as much about the place when it’s used to this effect.

The script is called ‘SplitBySubs’ and it gives you clips at all the timestamps where subtitles start and stop. And then you do things like… this!

Best of all, the script is now out there. Algorithms are well-suited to mischief. Gah, I was going to read this weekend…

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Reply to Steelwomaning

The text of my second private reply to h0p3’s ‘hyperconversations’—I am saving my own copy of this here after many days have passed.

(This letter was previously sent privately to h0p3, since I felt that I had bungled up a productive discussion. Now that I can see the overall waveform of our discussion, I think there are many things I’m learning about conversing through writing and reading—in fact, I really think my failures so far are more the failures of input rather than out!—and this immense dialogue is becoming a satisfying start to all the dialogues I would love to have with more of you out there!)

(Apologies in advance that I do so much talking here—I swear I’ll never write anything this long again. No one should feel compelled to read this. I will shut up and go back to silent, stoic reading for the rest of the weekend.)

Hi h0p3-

So I am going to try to rewind and do as you say: to take a better shot at addressing your part of our ‘hyperconversation’. I am sending you this as a private letter so that you can censor it if you like. I feel like I am starting to border on a troll of some type ;) and feel like the nature of my blog would turn this into a type of ‘broadcast’ that can still receive ‘thumbs up’ and such sordid things. (Ed.: You can comment on this post, but ‘likes’ and ‘mentions’ are disabled to respect this sentiment!)

I hope I can preface these remarks—even if it seems like a bad idea, because it can perceived as changing the topic, taking time away from the ‘meat’. I will get to the topic(s)—but I wonder if some other items might be more pressing (might even be the ‘meat’) because it seems they might be preventing the main discussion from occurring fruitfully.

On Being ‘Intellectual’

Ok, so stepping back—I’ve jumped headlong into a discussion with you. (And might I just add: this is a rare opportunity for me and I feel fortunate to have the chance to converse—for you to respect my communications enough that you will give them the thought you have. I have NEVER had the opportunity to correspond in a strictly written way with anyone ever before—to attempt to come to an understanding with them—hmm, well, maybe once, but not to this extent—and this whole time I am wondering if the medium has its limits. I guess this is where Socrates chimes in. Well, of course it does—but I am probably the largest of those limitations—and that feels good. Perhaps my ability to write will strain under the pressure, perhaps yours—and it requires even more of our abilities to read and internalize each other’s writings! For this reason, I would like the conversation to remain written and for us to find some kind of resolution this way.)

This correspondence has had about three major episodes from each of us. I saw this encounter as a foray into a ‘pen pal’ type thing—which is to say: ‘informal’, ‘inconsequential’ and ‘probably frivolous’. (I hope you will let me say all three of those things in good ways, very good ways. I also admire that you are reaching out through/with your autism to speak with me—I do worry about aggravating your own pain, of putting you under unreasonable expectations of my own and of not seeing the full picture of ‘you’—who you are past ‘h0p3’. But only if you need it—I would rather just see ‘h0p3’ for now—this creation is by design and I intend to take it in.) I don’t feel that I want to ‘wrestle’ —I want to ‘pen pal’. After all, this is a work of fiction. The contents of this letter are products of the reader’s imagination. This letter is for entertainment purposes only. Although the form of this letter is autobiographical, it is not. Although this letter may appear authentic, it is not. What appears to be ‘wrestling’ may actually be a new type of sophisticated ‘pal’ engagement maneuver.

Now, I am not an intellectual by any stretch—I have idea no who Kierkegaard is and I can’t keep Kant and Hume straight. I do read a lot—fiction by a wide margin. I do read Vygotsky and Piaget and, sometimes, Jung. Of all the philosophers, I am most fond of Socrates—and feel a brotherhood with you through him. But the writers that I spend my time on are fiction writers - Albert ‘Vigoleis’ Thelen is someone I speak to in my mind very often. To call out to him: ‘Vigoleis’ when I see his place in the world. Denton Welch and Robert Walser are like this for me. But even these closest—I cannot speak intellectually about them, only romantically.

So yes—I think you want to have a philosophical debate with me, but I am not equipped to do it. And I wonder if it is possible at all. I can’t read all those guys and read your wiki and read the things I want to read and pursue my current ambitions. I don’t think you want to have this discussion unless I am an equipped intellectual. We are both trying to sing and shatter a glass—but your voice is trained. So while I might still be the one to shatter the glass here and there, it’s a hell of a lot more painful having to hear my notes along the way. So this is my opening question: am I misrepresenting what this discussion is—and what do you want out of it? (In a way, I feel I can almost ‘steel’ this because of the statement: “There is a lack of fairness in the dialectic here; I’ve had way more practice thinking about the nitty-gritty, and I must be extremely cautious not to assume others can or will see what I do.”—I agree with this and I feel like I am only fleshing it out further above. And this: “I can’t see far enough to know if he can see what I’m saying (which is a fairly technical claim in moral philosophy).”—I don’t see it, I had no idea there was some central claim to ‘hyperconversations’—I thought it was a series of different claims with some riddles mixed in—which is, I think, where the central claim is nestled? “I am failing this man.”—Dude, I don’t rely on you—I have my own system of living—I’m not just an imbalanced pinball lost in your machine! :D)

And this: “Hedonic Kierkegaardian Aestheticism is here; it’s inaccurately factored into the eudaimonic calculation.” I’m not going to even try to parse this—if I tried, my reaction would be: I don’t feel like my aestheticism is hedonic at all, but quite virtuous! So I think your phrase is going to be misunderstood by me and I am just going to sound ridiculous. :D Perhaps this comment is not meant for me but for the audience, k0sh3k included. (Hey kid! If you exist! Hey! I /will/ you to exist for a single ‘Hey there!’)

Some classic Romanticism in here. Reminds me of that fighting phrase: “Brawl a boxer, box a brawler.” I’ve seen this shift many times against my arguments.

I do think we are paired as boxer vs brawler. That was what I trying to say when listing out some of our opposing polarities—you are codifying me in your statement above as well—no harm, just part of trying to understand someone. I don’t feel that you are degenerate and I don’t think you (yet) believe that I am either. I don’t sense that you are trying to assimilate everyone as boxers. But I do think that not being a boxer would forfeit my scrappy end of the ‘wrestle’ or ‘debate’ side and leave us to the ‘pen pal’ aspect strictly.

This is not a small aspect: while I have not been charitable with argumentation, I believe that I have been charitable with the effect you’ve had on my own work and charitable with the credit I give you for stirring up my inventive mind and stimulating me to materialize it. This will last beyond an argument.

For my part: I am not as interested in some of the topics we’re touching on: stuff like emotion/reason (I have spent almost no time thinking about my arguments there, I am going off half-cocked and I do appreciate/embrace your sayings), what ‘the good’ is (I am trying to figure out what the thrust of our discussion even is, man I can’t even begin to sort that out) and even T42T—I still think they are all very worthy topics, but I don’t think I’m your foil on those. I agree with you that I should be required to defend my ethics—but I also don’t have a list on hand like you do—and it’s changing too much for me to even know how to nail it down. I like the part which explores the texture of our online avatars, but even there—I think I need to sit in the presence of them longer before trying to mouth off about them.

On ‘Sadness’

I am going to try to make this quick and to the point—which isn’t “you can’t make me sad” but that “momentary sadness doesn’t register as much when there are more permanent sorrow in place” something like that.

But what’s so bad about this sorrow anyway? A woman crossed the street yesterday, waving to me, so I stood and waited for her. She said she knew someone—a name I recognized. She was pleasant and warm to talk to, so we talked. She said that her son had been murdered many years ago. If you just listened to her for five minutes, you would have thought she was insane. Very pleasant and insane. In a good way, a very good way. A whirlwind of details about trajectories and cover-ups. But if you listened for an hour, you could finally she her—and her sorrow. It wasn’t disgusting or repulsive—but familiar and natural. Just a sorrow—as plain as a pleasantness.

I wanted to show her something in the yard, so I motioned for her to cross the gutter—which is quite wide and was rushing with water—it’s more of a canal than a gutter. But her legs were short and she said, “Oh I don’t know.” I held out my hand and she made a move to try to cross. I realized that she was wearing flip-flops and trying to avoid some spiky weeds. I held out both hands—I probably shouldn’t have tried to persuade her—I don’t know, I began to pull her across and she kind of panicked and made a squeal! She stumbled over—she made it—and we laughed out of relief and I felt stubborn, but it was good to move abruptly from sorrow to laughter like that. Like we had come up for air. We are still in the ocean but we are in the air too.

And I wouldn’t like it if you held back some criticism. I should love to be rebuked! When you are in the freezing ocean, it is probably the best time to hear that you have made a grammatical mistake. What a helpful distraction that could be! And you may never forget to make it again.

And children, when they are rebuked—so often they simply drop their head down and say slowly, ‘Ohhh kay…’ For me, this embodies such an ideal—first, to acknowledge that criticism DOES sting, direct criticism truly can, possibly always does, it makes us drop our heads to hear—and, secondly, to simply ‘ack’ the criticism with no further commentary or defense. Perhaps to go without defense would be too submissive—on the other hand, can we endure any criticism as adults? Any?

I probably am doing my own sidestepping and defensiveness of criticism in this letter. I do know I am better to just drop my head and say slowly, ‘Ohhh kay…’

All of this context to say: I realize you aren’t making fun of me at all here, and I appreciate that very much.

Yes, but if we can find a way to truly make fun of each other—wouldn’t that be such a grand achievement?

On ‘Hyperconversations’

The shadow over our eyes is a serious problem: I believe it costs us the ability to be cognitively and emotionally vulnerable (even to ourselves). We don’t really get to know each other when we are engaged in good opsec (that’s kind of the point). The public/private adversarial tension does seem contradictory, but I hope to find a middle way; surely there is a linear logical framework from which geometric social cooperation can arise (I must hope).

Continued here:

You can always doubt, and you can only ever improve your Bayesian odds. The inductive step in trust is a leap of faith in Humanity, in The Other, sir. Building trust and real relationships is exactly why I reveal myself to you and everyone else. I want people to see how I conduct myself and my relationships across the board.

And then:

With diamond balls, I really aim to be practically transparent in my practice of saying what I mean and meaning what I say directly because my integrity is at stake.

And also:

We are each cameras, in a sense. I think of this wiki as an external, reifying camera of my internal camera states. I do hope to wield both wisely. I do not think I morally own either of them all the way down except insofar as I am constituted by (exist as an extension or instantiation of) The Moral Law.

If I were to try to identify this central ‘claim’ you are making and to ‘steel’ it: You feel that true and real relationships demand radical transparency. More than that, you see it as a virtue—embodying bravery, integrity and honesty. You see it as a direct solution to prevailing mistrust and misunderstanding in the world. You model this behavior for others.

To you, h0p3, this has a blissful and fortuitous collaboration with modern surveillance. You aren’t saying, “What do I have to hide?” It seems that you are saying, “You can’t make me hide.” And I do not think you do not see it as the ‘correct’ choice—you seem to acknowledge that it is a trade-off—but that you are willing to pay the price. But you believe you have sorted it out: you do believe that the reward will always be greater than the price.

Am I in the ballpark? I don’t really know how to do this!

To this, I have no response. I can only hang my head and say slowly, “Ok Mister H…”

I felt no need to respond to that claim after the letter—I found it well-reasoned! I did wonder how much of it is grounded in the tech ideals of ‘open source’ and ‘gratis’/‘libre’—I’ve had other tech friends dabble in transparency (sharing bank account info publicly, cataloging life activity publicly.) I stand by what I said:

The remarkable thing about your wiki is that you have turned your camera on. In fact, your wiki is defiantly personal—I think it goes beyond a mere camera. Your history. Your conversations. Your letter to your parents. Your thoughts about people—about me. A person can turn on a camera and never say these things. You are on to something. I have no desire to talk you out of it.

I realize now that saying nothing is a failure. You need an ‘ack’. Even if it is a repetition.

I think there is something unanswered here, though: Do you have any adaptations to ‘Gentle ClearNet Doxxing’ after the events of the last month? I have wondered if you were going to write more about this—maybe I missed it. To stand by a rule too doggedly is to be—well—dogmatic. Or has the rule functioned properly? (On the other hand, I might also aspire to be dogmatic about FOSS - just for myself and not for anyone else.) Feel free to just link me to the correct answers that I cannot seem to locate.

Ok, that is the end of this letter. I ran across the “business card” page on your wiki while researching “transparency” and loved it.

-kicks

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‘Logic, [Nicholas] suggests, knowing, is like an n-sided polygon nested inside a circle. The more sides you add, the more complexities you introduce, the more the polygon approaches the circle which surrounds it. And yet, the farther away it gets as well. For the circle is but a single, seamless line, whereas your polygon seems to be breeding more and more lines, more and more angles, becoming less and less seamless.’ — Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees by Lawrence Weschler

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Static: the Gathering

Thinking harder about the surprising return of static HTML.

Static website and blog generators continue to be a very solid and surprising undercurrent out there. What could be more kitschy on the Web than hand-rolled HTML? It must be the hipsters; must be the fusty graybeards. Oh, it is—but we’re also talking about the most ubiquitous file format in the world here.

Popular staticgens sit atop the millions of repositories on Github: Jekyll (#71 with 35.5k stars—above Bitcoin), Next.js (#98 with 29.3k stars, just above Rust), Hugo (#118 with 28.9k stars). This part of the software world has its own focused directories[1] and there is constant innovation—such as this week’s Vapid[2] beta and the recent Cabal[3].

And I keep seeing comments like this:

I recently completed a pretty fun little website for the U.S. freight rail industry using Hugo […] It will soon replace an aging version of the site that was built with Sitecore CMS, .NET, and SQL Server.[4]

Yes, it’s gotten to the point that some out there are creating read-only web APIs (kind of like websites used by machines to communicate between each other)—yes, you heard that right![5]

Clearly there are some obvious practical benefits to static websites, which are listed time and again:

Webmonkey logo

Fast.
Web servers can put up static HTML with lightning speed. Thus you can endure a sudden viral rash of readers, no problem.

Cheap.
While static HTML might require more disk space than an equivalent dynamic site—although this is arguable, since there is less software to install along with it—it requires fewer CPU and memory resources. You can put your site up on Amazon S3 for pennies. Or even Neocities or Github Pages for free.

Security.
With no server-side code running, this closes the attack vector for things like SQL injection attacks.

Of course, everything is a tradeoff—and I’m sure you are conjuring up an argument that one simply couldn’t write an Uber competitor in static HTML. But even THAT has become possible! The recent release of the Beaker Browser has seen the appearance of a Twitter clone (called Fritter[6]), which is written ENTIRELY IN DUN-DUN STATIC JS AND H.T.M.L!!

Many think the Beaker Browser is all about the ‘decentralized Web’. Yeah, uh, in part. Sure, there are many that want this ‘d-web’—I imagine there is some crossover with the groups that want grassroots, localized mesh networks—for political reasons, speech reasons, maybe Mozilla wants a new buzzword, maybe out of idealism or (justified!) paranoia. And maybe it’s for real.

Screenshot of Beaker's editor.

No, my friends, Beaker marks a return of the possibility of a read-write Web. (I believe this idea took a step back in 2004 when Netscape took Composer out of its browser—which at that time was a ‘suite’ you could use to write HTML as well as read it.) Pictured above, I am editing the source code of my site right from the browser—but this is miniscule compared to what Beaker can do[7]. (Including Beaker’s dead-simple “Make an editable copy”—a button that appears in the address bar of any ‘dat’ website you visit.)

(And, yes, Twitter has given you read-write 140 chars. Facebook gave a read-write width of 476 pixels across—along with a vague restriction to height. And Reddit gave you a read-write social pastebin in gray-on-white-with-a-little-blue[8]. Beaker looks to me like read-write full stop.)

Now look—I couldn’t care less how you choose to write your mobile amateur Karaoke platform[9], what languages or what spicy styles. But for personal people of the Web—the bloggers, the hobbyists, the newbs still out there, the NETIZENS BAAAHAHAHAHHAAA!—yeah, no srsly, let’s be srs, I think there are even more compelling reason for you.

The Web is the Machine

Broken software is a massive problem. Wordpress can go down—an upgrade can botch it, a plugin can get hacked, a plugin can run slow, it can get overloaded. Will your Ghost installation still run in ten years? Twenty years?

Google's 503 error.

Dynamic sites seem to need a ‘stack’ of software and stacks do fall over. And restacking—reinstalling software on a new server can be time-consuming. One day that software simply won’t work. And, while ‘staticgens’ can break as well, it’s not quite a ‘stack’.

And, really, it may not matter at that point: the ‘staticgens’ do leave you with the static HTML.

The more interesting question is: how long will the web platform live on for? How long will HTML and JavaScript stay on? They have shown remarkable resilience and backward compatibility. I spend a lot of time surfing the Old Web and it’s most often Flash that is broken—while even some of the oldest, most convuluted stuff is exactly as it was intended.

Static HTML is truly portable and can be perfectly preserved in the vault. Often we now think of it simply as a transitory snapshot between screen states. Stop to think of its value as a rich document format—perhaps you might begin to think of its broken links as a glaring weakness—but those are only the absolute ones, the many more relative links continue to function no matter where it goes!

And, if there were more static HTML sites out there, isn’t it possible that we would find less of the broken absolutes?

Furthermore, since static HTML is so perfectly amenable to the decentralized Web—isn’t it possible that those absolute links could become UNBREAKABLE out there??

Your Death

A friend recently discovered a Russian tortoise—it was initially taken to the Wildlife Service out of suspicion that it was an endangered Desert tortoise. But I think its four toes were the giveaway. (This turtle is surprisingly speedy and energetic might I add. I often couldn’t see it directly, but I observed the rustling of the ivy as it crawled a hundred yards over the space of—what seemed like—minutes.)

This friend remarked that the tortoise may outlive him. A common lifespan for the Russian is fifty years—but could go to even 100! (Yes, this is unlikely, but hyperbole is great fun in casual mode.)

This brought on a quote I recently read from Gabriel Blackwell:

In a story called “Web Mind #3,” computer scientist Rudy Rucker writes, “To some extent, an author’s collected works comprise an attempt to model his or her mind.” Those writings are like a “personal encyclopedia,” he says; they need structure as much as they need preservation. He thus invented the “lifebox,” a device that “uses hypertext links to hook together everything you tell it.” No writing required. “The lifebox is almost like a simulation of you,” Rucker says, in that “your eventual audience can interact with your stories, interrupting and asking questions.”

— p113, Madeleine E

An aside to regular readers: Hell—this sounds like philosopher.life! And this has very much been a theme in our conversations, with this line bubbling up from the recent Hyperconversations letter:

I do not consider myself my wiki, but I think it represents me strongly. Further, I think my wiki and I are highly integrated. I think it’s an evolving external representation of the internal (think Kantian epistemology) representations of myself to which I attend. It’s a model of a model, and it’s guaranteed to be flawed, imho (perhaps I cannot answer the question for you because I consider it equivalent to resolving the fundamental question of philosophy).

God, I’ve done a bang-up job here. I don’t think I can find a better argument for static HTML than: it might actually be serializing YOU! 😘

I am tempted to end there, except that I didn’t come here to write some passionate screed that ultimately comes off as HTML dogmatism. I don’t care to say that static HTML is the ultimate solution, that it’s where things are heading and that it is the very brick of Xanadu.

I think where I stand is this: I want my personal thoughts and writings to land in static HTML. And, if I’m using some variant (such as Markdown or TiddlyWiki), I still need to always keep a copy in said format. And I hope that tools will improve in working with static HTML.

And I think I also tilt more toward ‘static’ when a new thing comes along. Take ActivityPub: I am not likely to advocate it until it is useful to static HTML. If it seems to take personal users away from ‘static’ into some other infostorage—what for? I like that Webmention.io has brought dynamism to static—I use the service for receiving comments on static essays like these.

To me, it recalls the robustness principle:

Be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others.

In turn, recalling the software talk Functional Core, Imperative Shell—its idea that the inner workings of a construct must be sound and impervious; the exterior can be interchangable armor, disposable and adapted over time. (To bring Magic: the Gathering fully into this—this is our ‘prison deck’.)

Static within; dynamic without. Yin and yang. (But I call Yin!)


  1. Certainly there is an ‘awesome’. But also custom directories, such as staticgen.com and ssg. Beyond that, there are loads of ‘10 best staticgens’ articles on the webdev blogs. ↩︎

  2. A tool that builds a dashboard from static HTML pages. (Think of it: HTML is the database schema??) Anyway: vapid.com. ↩︎

  3. A chat platform built on static files. I do consider this to be in the neighborhood—it can die and still exist as a static archive. See the repo. ↩︎

  4. Original comment here by slathrop, July 2018. ↩︎

  5. Build a JSON API with Hugo’s Custom Output Formats, April 2018. ↩︎

  6. If you’re in Beaker: dat://fritter.hashbase.io. ↩︎

  7. The DatArchive API, which any website can leverage if it runs inside of Beaker, allows you to edit any website that you own FROM that same website. A very rudimentary example would be dead-lite. ↩︎

  8. The “gray on white with a little blue” phenomenon is covered in further detail at Things We Left in the Old Web. ↩︎

  9. My apologies—I am pretty glued to this right now. Finally there is a whole radio station devoted to the musical stylings of off-key ten-year-olds and very earnest, nasally Sinatras. ↩︎

  1. @kicks I like seeing sites done in good ole static HTML and I hope it has a revival. My biggest problem with static pages was going through and updating the navigation manually when I added a page. Well MS Frontpage did that automatically if you had Frontpage extensions on your server. (Tripod did which was cool.)

    I'm not sure I'm buying into this newfangled CSS stuff yet though.

    Good article, I think you hit all the right points. I don't really have anything to argue for or against. There are so many websites that would be better served by just having a few static pages instead of a blog or CMS.

    You did lead me down a rabbit hole: I searched around and found that Seamonkey is still free and still has a working copy of Composer, the WYSIWYG HTML editor, so I downloaded it since I have a Windows computer now. Just in case. WYSIWYG is pretty much my speed in HTML.

    I'll research what Jekyll and Hugo are, I've seen them mentioned.

  2. @bradenslen If by new fangled CSS you mean CSS Grid I hope you run to it fast. So much better then failing with floats.

  3. @jgmac1106 What is this Grid of which you speak?

    Um, I started with HTML 3.?? where the style sheet was right on the page with the rest of the code. Then somebody slipped in this CSS stuff and I started hiring web designers. :-)

    Seroiusly, I can edit bits of HTML but hand coding a page from scratch would be beyond me without a WYSIWYG editor or a page builder. Maybe, maybe I can edit CSS a little, I'm experimenting now, waiting for a cron job to update and see if I did it right.

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19 Sep 2018

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18 Sep 2018

Timeline of Things Phil’s Done

Hybrid ‘grid’/‘timeline’ as a directory

Ran across this interesting directory of a certain fellow’s life—seems like this kind of thing could be applied effectively to the personal wiki crowd (h0p3, sphygmus). Anyway, it’s a starting place for a discussion about the visuals that could go into a self-reflexive directory.

Also relevant here: this guy ran the Haddock Directory, which was a link directory by a London-based mailing list—‘a bunch of friends’. It ended up with 27,000 links.

This directory is probably the closest I’ve seen to what I aspire to do—not in its design, but in its effort to catalog the links and web explorations of a small informal group (as opposed to a corporate effort, software team effort.) Look past the design and the categories—the little sentence describing each link is done with care. It’s cool that they also shared book and music reviews on the site.

According to a blog post written about the shuttering of Haddock:

Back in 1997 no one on the list had a weblog — well, the term barely existed — but now plenty of us have them, and plenty of people post links to their own sites or del.icio.us so there’s still plenty of regular material from some of those on the list, should you feel the need for an idea of what people are thinking. Roughly.

The post is from 2007. I wonder where the list meets now. Or if they do.

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I am going to be online Tuesdays and Fridays from now on. I don’t expect anyone to care about this schedule unless they are looking for a response to something. So, yeah, I am going to be concentrating my reading and responding on those days. Ok, sorry—carry on!

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14 Sep 2018

‘He was a pekingese, and as such he had a peculiar, droll manner of walking that aroused my sympathy no less than his facial expression, which was a constant meld of almost tearful sorrow and unreasonable, condescending arrogance.’ — p501, The Island of Second Sight by Vigoleis

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‘I had a memory of reacting similarly to my own mother’s breakups, to cutting off my emotions for the men I had once loved or for whom I’d at least felt an affection. Once I failed at such an attempt; I sobbed and mouthed the name of my mother’s ex while a new man slept in her bed. I sobbed similarly on subsequent nights until I had finally rid myself of any lingering affections.’ — p195, Person/a by Elizabeth Ellen

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Reply to Rebuilding the Web

Brad

The point is, everyone has some skill, idea, knowledge that is worth sharing and equally, there are other people looking for the information you have in your head and take for granted.

Yeah, hey, great discussion! Thanks for pointing it out—missed it somehow.

On your points:

  1. We, the little people, need to rebuild the web. […] This is the foundation of everything. Yes, cool—you see this at a football game when things get heated and two guys start fighting. Then another guy stands up and says, “I’ll fix this,” and he starts walking down. Oh boy. Sure.

    So, like: not only is another social media site going to solve this, but no one of us is going to have an ‘answer’. TiddlyWiki doesn’t work for me—but h0p3 and sphygmus are doing great things for themselves—and I think there are many people who will be served well by it (as compared to micro.blog).

  2. Someplace to go is actually many places built by us. Sweet! I get really excited at the prospect of more places to go.

  3. Link freely. This has the added benefit of creating a TON of noise for Google. 😘 If the tradeoff on something is “bad for bots, good for humans,” I’ll take that trade.

  4. Discovery, and search, will sort itself out, if we do #1,2, and 3. Trying to decide if I agree with this. I kind of agree with “it’ll all come out in the wash” but I also don’t think discovery gets better than Brad linking to Simon and me reading Simon.

    Once I start relying on a bot, what else is it giving me? And do I begin to get lazy with my discovery effort? And then am I isolated again?

  5. We may end up with 5, 6, 10 or more favorite places we go to search and that is good. More and more, I’m finding myself just using Stack Overflow, Pinboard and YouTube search directly. Google just does this anyway. I tend to use Google more as a glorified address bar: ‘indieweb.org author’ and click the first link. I know this will take me to Indieweb wiki’s page on authorship. (So there is a specific page I already know—basically a ‘feeling lucky’.)

Love being a part of this discussion. I am working hard on my directory to finish it—hopefully by end of October. (Again, it’s not a directory people can submit to: it’s my model for the modern Little Web Library. Just trying to get a good amount of links, categories, fun to use, all that.)

  1. > using Stack Overflow, Pinboard and
    YouTube search directly

    You got it. Pre-Google, I used to keep 5 or 6 directories and search engines in my bookmarks and those were my first line tools in searching for something.

    >but I also don’t think discovery gets better than Brad
    linking to Simon and me reading Simon
    .

    Yes, surfing. Especially after you find those voices you trust. I think we may need spiders for freshness. But I would hope there is room for curated directories too. Lovely link collections for people to explore.

    Kicks, remember my post about the 7 Directories? You already know this, but I’ll state it for anybody else reading: the thing they did wrong is they tried to index the same sites on the web that Google does. That was fine in pre-Google days, but today you can’t beat Google at it’s own game. You have to list the sites that are worthy but buried in Google. Those directories should have specialized in listing the stuff Google won’t rank or that Google does not understand.

    I’m so glad your directory work is proceeding. I’m really looking forward to it.

    I’m working on a directory too. Or rather I am stalled on support tickets with hosts and script companies but I’ll find my way through it. Once it launches I will allow submissions but they will have to “expand the web” or some such to get in.

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Danielx on Whimsy.Space

Ok, trying out an interview here—throwing some questions to the author of a beloved ‘zine’/‘operating system’.

I try to go out looking for links as much as possible.

(God’s sake, man—why?? Who needs more links, I can give you links—don’t toss yourself into the brambles—)

But I love to see the horrors and grotesques—to measure and inspect them. I aspire to be a grotesque and must be very studious about achieving it!

It all pays off when a link like whimsy.space comes a long.

kicks: Daniel, had a few questions about whimsy.space. (I really love glitch, too, of course—and hope it’s doing well, but the zine hits a nerve for me.) So, what ‘works’/‘zines’ inspired whimsy.space?

danielx: I was inspired by sites that have a lot of heart, things like the original Geocities. Also the feeling of personal computing from the mid 90s like win 3.1 and Win95. I’m also a fan of things like Dwarf Fortress and Bennett Foddy’s games.

Not necessarily that they are inaccessible for the sake of being inaccessible, but that if they were simpler they would be something different. Philosophically I’ve read and respect Alan Kay “The real computer revolution hasn’t happened yet” and Bret Victor.

kicks: Yeah, oh man, Foddy. I teach at an elementary school and a favorite activity I do is to play Foddy games with the kids hooked up to wires (Makey Makey-style) so that when they close the loop (by jumping on the floor or slapping hands, for instance) then CLOP hops around. It’s a credit to the simplicity of his design that we can do that.

What do you hope for it now? Was it just a momentary plaything—or is it an obsession?

danielx: It has been an on and off obsession. It depends on what else I’ve got going on in life and work outside of my own esoteric pursuits.

It’s definitely the hobby that brings me the most joy when I get to dig into it and see where it goes. Early on I decided that it would be for my own personal enjoyment and I wouldn’t look for ways to “make it a success” or “turn it into a business”. I want to keep my work and play separate you could say :)

kicks: I like that it doesn’t explain itself. I didn’t even get that it was REALLY a zine the first time I visited. I still don’t really understand how the filesystem and social media inside of it works. And I can’t help but feel that its opacity is symbolic. It feels like a hidden trove - like a person is or maybe like an animal is. You probably don’t care about ease of use - how did you design it?

danielx: I’ve created a lot of different web applications and sites and things over the years. Some of them for fun and some as businesses. With whimsy.space my goal was to have it be a curated collection of all my works along with other things I find interesting. About eight years ago I built an online game development environment at pixieengine.com. Now it’s been simplified to a pixel editor and art community. Whimsy.space is the spiritual successor to that, I want many different applications that can interact and contribute to creating content. To recreate the part of personal computing where the operator of the computer could combine small components in interesting ways to get profound results.

I care some about ease of use, though it’s not been my top priority lately. Similar to Bennett Foddy’s games I want it to be as easy as it can be without losing its essence and becoming something else.

The design and implementation is a lot of custom code and some integrations of existing components. The site itself is serverless/static hosted on AWS with S3 and CloudFront. I use AWS Cognito for the My Briefcase authentication feature and each user can upload to their own S3 subfolder. The UI is all my custom js/css inspired by Win3.1/95. The code editor is Ace. The apps run in iframes and talk to the system over postMessage. I use CoffeeScript for most of the code.

The essence of the zine part came from my tendency to always go too deep on architecture and infrastructure, so by having a periodic release of content it would force me to prioritize only the features that aided the content and not be a system of pure mechanics with nothing to showcase it.

kicks: Jeepers, didn’t expect that. Is this a kind of backend that you would recommend to hobbyists? I’m used to static HTML and JS.

danielx: I wouldn’t recommend going deep into AWS or other Cloud services for hobbyists. Since I do software engineering for my employment I’ve gained a lot of experience on “industrial strength” solutions.

The challenge is finding the subset that actually solve more problems than they cause.

I often feel like I’m crawling around in Jeff Bezos’ spaceship trying to bring alien technology to the people.

kicks: Are handmade ‘blogs’/‘zines’/‘home pages’ dying? Would that be a bad thing - like: is there something else?

danielx: They’re dying in the sense that every living thing is in a constant cycle of death and rebirth. There are probably more handmade blogs and home pages today than ever before (in an absolute sense) but proportionally they make up a smaller part of the internet.

I would like to see more people sharing personal computing and smaller internet communities. Businesses exist to consume consumers, by getting our hands dirty and crafting using technology individuals can gain knowledge and understanding of how these systems work so we might not be so vulnerable to all these forces trying to devour us. The web is a modern marvel, not quite as complex as nature, but it has its own evolution and ecology. I enjoy the first hand experience of digging around in it to see what I can learn about systems as well as myself.

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12 Sep 2018

Alice’s Hand-cranked Blog

I’m not against minimalist blogs or anything—it can just be harder for me to see the uniqueness. But subtlety in color and layout is not lost on me. And a blog like this is very pragmatic. It is written directly to Github Pages. (Source, if you are interested in cribbing from this.)

(I try not to link to any large websites—but I usually give Github a pass because it’s not strictly a corpasa. It feels like linking directly to Windows Explorer for a folder. Wonder if there’s another way…)

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Caesar Naples Wiki Social Media Website

I created Caesar Naples so I could have an influence in social media sites. The name is part of my personal brand of writing that only I can write. Over the past 3 years, I’ve been gathering influence on different popular social media sites, and I’m almost to a point where I can give control of the brand over to an organization of writers all aligned to the same purpose. He’s like an action figure, when he is friendly, fun, and inviting. But the information he delivers to people is often very uncomfortable for them to accept.

I think I am prepared for Caesar Naples to have an influence on me. I don’t know if you all will see it, but this ‘wiki’/‘book’/‘presence’ is at the crossroads of a lot of things that seem to be going on around here.

I see faint threads to Lion Kimbro’s serious and informationally whimsical work in Caesar’s Social Media Marketing Book, excerpt:

  1. Do you make odd faces when you’re thinking? This is know as tardive diskinesia and is a sign that you’re being controlled by a drug user.

  2. Do you make hand gestures at weird times? You’re basically lost at this point; it’s a satanic method of marking their territory.

  3. Does your mood shift greatly depending on your behaviors? It’s not that you’re learning how to control your emotions; it’s that an Illuminati controller is.

(From the section titled “Manchurian Candidates: The wild-card in your campaign.”)

There are echoes of zine culture in this—Charlie McAlister would love this, I think. The author is active on /r/conspiracy and seems to be forming a group there to write under this and other personas—though it’s difficult to tell whether it’s all made up—don’t think I care, I think it’s very exciting.

I see h0p3 in there too: in the Caesar Naples Wiki, there is reference to autism as a horcrux—this seems uncanny, given Sphygmus’ recent usage of the horcrux as a metaphor… What is going on??

Unlike h0p3, his writing is scattered everywhere, laced together with a bunch of Google sites—the copypastapublishing one is a good place to start, with the story Publishing Company 2002 and the To OK Gov piece. More are here. Some of the stories appear to be based on Markov chain generated text, others are quite lucid.

(Ah, I am not familiar with the ‘copypasta’ thing—this is my first exposure to it—it seems to want to take conspiracy-sounding or overserious rants out of context? I don’t know if it is a political thing—I am naive about all of that. There is a prolific person under this. I also am starting to see that people likely suspect my own self of being fradulent, of being h0p3, of being alt-right, of being an ARG, of being Brad Enslen, of being a schizophrenic, of being a radical leftist, of being a greatest showman—I am fine with all of these explanations and I think it would be a fortunate thing to even be thought of by someone somewhere.)

This person also has an understanding of community dynamic, another topic that is bubbling up lately.

I let my Caesar Naples act pour mercilessly into my communication with the writers of this community. There were personal details I shared that would make anybody uncomfortable related to my schizophrenia. I would host imaginary games where I pretended the chat room was a group of survivors in the apocalypse. I also made some very unreasonable claims and tried my damnest to justify them - all part of the Caesar Naples act. Eventually, I was kicked from two communities that I very much wanted to be part of, because they represented my instant recovery from exile.

Now that I’m no longer a part of those communities, I try my hardest to balance the wild, incredible parts of Caesar Naples with something more human.

Posts can be found under ‘CaesarNaples2’ on Reddit.

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11 Sep 2018

Time to scare up some links. Today, I’m asking around for personal websites on Reddit’s /r/web_design—if you want to participate: post there, or respond to this on Twitter, or send this post a Webmention. https://www.reddit.com/r/web_design/comments/9etudd/what_personal_blogs_or_websites_have_you_made/

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10 Sep 2018

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Snackronyms

A compendium of pronounced shortenings and portmanteaus employed in this vicinity.

I very much dislike acronyms—you string together some letters and you’re done. They are certainly convenient when typing. They can confuse conversation. And usually the sound of them is stilted by the implied periods.

A snackronym is simply my term for a ‘word acronym’: a prounceable initialism of a term. These variations on a phrase are much more appealing to the author. (In a way, they recall the mood of cryptic crosswords, where skills and disciplines collide, not willy-nilly, but with blissful meaning and grammar punning.)

bipsbiff

Phonetic BPSBF. beautiful, pretty, smart, brave, fire.

Kaylee said this everyday before she died. “I am beautiful, I am pretty, I am smart, I am brave, I am fire.” She was six-years-old and she knew to do this. Yes, beautiful and pretty is redundant. 😎 One of many wonderful things about this mantra.

This is usually not said but thought: “You are bipsbiff to me.” Or sometimes I say it to myself: “I am beautiful, I am pretty…” To bring ‘her’ into my mind. Sometimes I just say: “I am fire.” (She is fire.)

Also, if you’re wondering who Kaylee is—the strange thing is that I actually never knew her or met her, so I have no relation to her.

CorpASAs

corporate anthologies of self-advertising. (e.g. Instagram, Behance)

I am not just trying to issue disgust and denegration with this term. (The word ‘corp-asa’ is pleasant to hear, although bland—it could be the name of some interdivisional connecting tissue between medical supply chains.) I just use the term to encompass three things that the term ‘social media’ doesn’t.

  • ‘corporate’: you are surrounded by branding in these things.
  • ‘anthology’: it edits and combines the source materials.
  • ‘self-advertising’: your words and art are forced into specific layouts, as if they were banner adverts.

If I want to be derogatory, I call them the ‘penny pages’.

‘cottoms up’

Phoneticalized ‘COTMs up’. COTM is crontab of the mind.

Much like a jubilant toast, this expression ends an immensely thought-provoking discussion where I am left with much to reconsider. Like the ‘crontab’, a long-running system process that periodically triggers itself, these are the thoughts that might poke me on an hourly schedule throughout the night.

dwim

do what i mean.

This could be seen strictly as an acronym, however I find the sound of ‘dwim’ as a word to convey exactly the sense of the fully expanded phrase. I usually use it in the context of a tool functioning well in the overall spirit I intend for it and may have to adapt for situations. I also feel like this term wards against uses that would be nice—but would move it outside its purview. But also: ‘I have been holding the kite like this, but feel free to dwim it much higher.’ (So: ‘the specific rules are not important if the wind changes.’)

heyfey

Phonetic HFEI. have fun, encourage, inspire.

This is my ethic as a teacher. Having fun is priority one. And part of that is to encourage the kids along their way and inspire them to dig in with me. Of course, there is a lot more to teaching—but there are times I forget to heyfey and I always regret it…

nai-burrough

not an ideal burrough.

Communities tend to implode. You start with a few people who are fascinated with each other or collaborate well. Then more get in on it and you have a very good group, maybe one or two buggers in there. Then you get waves of new people and everyone has to adjust.

And, eventually, either the originators tire of change and welcoming and the gradual mutation of the group, or the newbs misbehave and tear the group up because, well, they have nothing to lose anyway. They probably have some good points in the process—but it’s not worth it, the group implodes.

So I think you need to go into a new group with a ‘nai-burrough’ feeling. It’s very much like a real neighborhood—you completely understand that you’ll like and dislike each other, but you also have a keen understanding of what you share. I think any group that starts with ‘this is the best group ever; finally the best people are here’ is DOOMED. (Related: Those Delirious Tales, the last story there.)

ridtyawtr

reality is darker than you are willing to recognize, but it could be brighter than what you can imagine.

Courtesy of h0p3. This is close to articulating the feeling I live in. I think I take issue with the ‘is’/‘could’ dichotomy. I am more like: it is ‘is’/‘is’.

I’m also tempted to make it more phonetic, but I think a phrase like this deserves to be pronounced Rid Tee Yawter—or to be butchered senselessly every time.

Tim Toady

Phonetic refactoring of the acronym TMTOWDI. Or, there’s more than one way to do it.

This is a contentious term; I think it is useful to combat dogmatism. It’s worth exploring other routes end if they turn up as culs-de-sac. I have lived in many culs-de-sac and I think they have some benefits. Extra parking, for instance.

tultywits

talk of and use the little things you want to survive.

This page, for instance, uses HTML definition lists. (The <dl>, <dt> and <dd> tags.) These are quite obscure tags compared to the heavily dominant <div> and <p> tags. I use them because someone has put work into them and I guess I want them to survive. They are a ‘tultywit’. The acronym doesn’t quite stand up under that usage; I assure you, the meaning does.

Some of my current tultywits: Beaker Browser, the Indieweb and Blogging of a personal, misdirected, colorful kind.

Please reply with your own vital terms if you like. Thankyou for reading, as always.

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09 Sep 2018

How to Make a Complete Map of Every Thought You Think

I am not linking to this so that you can make a complete map of every thought you think necessarily. I think this is an inspiring personal infobio or something. ✤ h0p3 has some news on this fellow!

This is a 100-or-so pages about how to put everything in your head into notebooks—this is an old link I have been searching out for a few years—its link changed and I couldn’t remember the name of it.

Anyway, the author has a very peculiar (remarkable?) system here that requires those four-color ballpoint pens that you can click to get different colors. In fact, he says to buy three of them.

You need one to carry with you, you need one for backup, placed in a trusted place, and you need one to be a backup to the backup. YES, you really need this. If you are wasting time looking for a pen that you lost, you are just wasting time. The pen will come back. In the mean time, you need to write, so you’ve got to fetch your backup. You have a backup to the backup. If you have ready access to a store, you need to buy another pen, should you not find your first pen by then.

It seems like you also don’t want to store the three pens together, because you REALLY cannot lose them all in one go. It seems like you really might need ten—one in your car/bike, one in your desk, no, two in your desk, one under the front mat, one in the junk drawer, one in the pen cup, one on the nightstand for sure, I had eight more places, what were they.

This is also a document that kind of sits in an interesting place wrt Indieweb, wikis—it mentions Ted Nelson’s Xanadu as inspiration, which has become an important namedrop in redecentralized web convos. What’s more he makes a very salient point related to web directories, library work—all the things I dabble in also—

Thinking about Information Architecture will be EXTREMELY important to society in the future. All these programmers wondering, ”Why aren’t we reusing each others components?” Yes, very significantly, our languages and practices are limiting us. Quite severly. But even if we had the best reuse languages mechanisms and what not, we STILL need it to be easier to figure out what other people have written. The RETRIEVAL problem is MASSIVE.

His name for it is: Public Field Technologies. But I can find no other reference to it.

UPDATE: h0p3 found the guy!

It’s interesting—I have been very wtf about h0p3’s ‘Gentle Clearnet Doxxing’ policy, where he posts the ‘private’ details of a person—their address, phone number and so on. But, this is quite incredible—he SMS’d Lion Kimbro and got a call back:

h0p3: Hey. I read your book recently. I was blown away by it. I’ve been working on my wiki (https://philosopher.life/) for a couple years. I was hoping to have the chance to learn about how you think about the problem and what you practice these many years later.

kimbro: What a creative and itneresting idea– a Groundhog’s Day Dungeons and Dragons adventure …!

I look forward to talking with you. Can we make a time?

h0p3: Yes! anytime is good for me

Instantly called me. Cool.


We talked a bit on the phone. He told me about his adventures into the world, traveling to understand visionary communities. I’ve seen some of those breadcrumbs while looking into him. He’s definitely searching for community. He’s not a luddite, but he has moved offline (although, he clearly still uses the internet…he’s just building something else). He did not want to be associated with contemplative living. Honestly, he’s got that cultic charisma, no doubt.

This strategy is connecting people. It’s triggering a major rethink. Crontab of the mind LOADED UP.

  1. @kicks Interesting concept. But I'm really replying to say I love your site. That is one unique looking set up you're using. Completely against the current minimalist ethos, but I like it!

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08 Sep 2018

Our Daily Bread

Place reflections on toast in your ear.

In the 1960s, using the most primitive of tools, an American plant scientist demonstrated that a small family, working not all that hard for about three weeks, could gather enough wild cereal seeds to last them easily for a year or more. Jack Harlan’s experiments on the slopes of the Karacadağ mountains in Turkey offer a perfect gateway to this exploration of the history of bread and wheat.

I’m not a podcast listener—but I think I’m beginning to understand them. At least, the two kinds that are: a conversation or a story. (The recent hypertext conversations on my site can feel stilted and I miss the natural alternate listening cycle of a vocal conversation. And simply just reacting with nods and movements of the eyebrows.) And, strangely, I always did like radio, being a long-time listener of WFMU.

So this podcast about bread is by Jeremy Cherfas—who I see around the Indieweb here and there—and it’s all about bread, which is a favorite topic of mine, having saved my brother-in-law’s sourdough starter after he died and continued its lineage. He did 31 podcasts throughout August.

  1. I'm really glad you're enjoying the podcasts. I would also like to know more about your brother-in-law's starter and how you have continued to use it. Fancy an actual conversation?

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Reply to Hash Tag Creative Coding

HammadB

If you’re eager to find more “creative coding” type works. Going on instagram and using hashtags like #creativecoding are a great way to find amazing work. Also twitter is a great source of absolutely mind-blowing artistic work that leverages technology. I’ve spent far too much time just browsing all the amazing stuff out there.

Ok, I did this - this is great, there are some ‘neat’/‘inspiring’ things there. A few other questions for you:

  • How do I find more hashtags? I would have never found #creativecoding - is it known to be a community or is it just an ad hoc hashtag like #lostinthehashtags (which I just made up - but which has posts!) I guess what I’m saying is - I don’t sense that these hashtags are a community - or are they?

  • As ‘neat’/‘inspiring’ as these are, they are mostly only (very small) images and (very short) clips. I ultimately can’t see myself using Instagram or Twitter much because you just kind of skim and can’t go deeper. They lack the ‘hypertext’. (This is similarly to the OP’s trouble with this post just being a simple ‘box algorithm’ - where do I go for more?

  • Most of these look like art I’ve seen on t-shirts or album covers. Dating back even to the seventies. It is still beautiful and remarkable - but I can’t help but wonder: Where is innovation happening in tech+art?

I will say that I do follow a lot of things happening in vaporwave - any idea what else is happening out there? Thank you for your time, HammadB. I am eager.

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Web Recorder

An incredibly sick tool for archiving—maybe this is already popular and beloved, but it doesn’t hurt to wave it around a bit here.

A modern WWW archiver service—just was overhauled and the bleeding-edge can save the archive to Dat. (Makes me want a ‘record’ ⏺ button in my URL bar that I can just leave on! Any ideas if this exists??)

(INCIDENTALLY discovered this on the Code for Society Agenda notes on Etherpad, which I hadn’t seen in many years—it’s fantastic that it’s still around! This is a tool surely in the vein of what our little internet surf club here has been discussing recently. (Video here, haven’t watched this, so this is also a TODO.)

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Blogging

A ‘steno’ format. A depleted word. A still personal word. A simulation. A read-write simulation. A truncated octahedron.

(This is the first of a new type of post on this blog—a “steno”. This format will house ‘thoughts’/‘discussions’/‘works’—much like an old-time c2-style or everything2-style wiki page that always ended up being an amazing catastrophe. The “steno” acts as hasty notes, links to other places around the blog, recurring nexus, link stations, breathers maybe, between the other articles and notes, revolving around a kind of ‘topic’/‘idea’.)

(In a way, I realize that starting off with an aside is a bad way to get anyone jazzed about some new ultimately pointless post styling—but I purposefully want these pieces to be less heavily edited and focused than all the other things. So, by throwing in a wankery introduction, it acts as a kind of gate you have to get through. So if this is too self-indulgent or tangential then you know to go away and I just continue and we’re all fine—although I think we’re deep into peak self-indulgence now that ‘people’ have evolved into ‘influencers’. Gah, that sounds condescending—and it is—and, worse, I think being condescending—especially in public like this—is probably much, much more destructive than influencing.)

(This isn’t just a gate, though, I want to mark this as the first steno, so that I can point to it later—and have it contain the reasoning behind this. Sure, I could make a separate steno that goes into those ideals, but it’s also kind of tied into the topic of ‘blogging’ anyway, so it’s like: why not just explain the thing and then flow right into it and then let it be for awhile and then come back and build on to it and—this is all just like what h0p3 does on his pages, this whole thing is a chance to have a part of that—and, again, what c2 had, what everything2 had/‘has’—it’s almost as if they were a fad. Like a sudden explosion of truncated octahedrons.)

Blogging simply made the static page seem alive. Then it turned into feeds and streams and the rate of speed was dramatically hiked up.

It’s possible that the word ‘blog’ is depleted. I think it was entirely stupid, but nostalgia has made it kind of neat. Like those little dixie cups dispensers that people used to have stuck on their bathroom walls. How great would it be to brush your teeth with such a companion again?

(This is unrelated, but if we are in a simulation, then we are probably deep into many, many simulations. It seems unlikely that we are only ever one-level removed from ‘reality’. It makes me feel like we’re probably either not in a simulation or that our inability to leave the simulation makes this absolute reality regardless.)

(This IS starting to feel strange. It does feel self-indulgent. It feels like it’s more for me than for you. Because I can’t rightfully expect anyone to read this—much like trying to read all of Wikipedia, there’s a threshold you have to set for yourself, that you’re not going to spend the time to read this kind of tripe. I don’t respect you for this, I don’t respect either of us. Maybe I never should have. And, for myself, it’s good to write carefully—to draw you in with great care and to not act this way. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to possibly know what to do with any of these pages! There are recipe and howto articles. There are anecdotes, punchline type things. You can easily add your two cents to a thought that’s propagating around. But I don’t know—I’ve never lived in a large city, and rarely even been to a really massive city, and I find myself looking at the buildings, just the sound of the air is so strange to me, the feeling of being on a street that is so worn and has fragments of millions of boots and beards and bits of sandwiches. I can see that it is an inverted rock tumbler, where the street is being tumbled by all of the things colliding against it. It is erosion of an industrial strength. But that wouldn’t be interesting to someone in a city, would it?)

(And then there is the experience of swimming—and often when we are swimming, we just wander around and work ourselves, talk and float. But if the pool is empty and you go to the bottom and hold your breath, it is the opposite of the city, it is insanely quiet, or an alien kind of subterranean quiet, and it feels like you have entered another level of the simulation, where you are a different person—you can do advanced yoga things down there that you normally wouldn’t be able to do and you sound differently, the bubbles that burst out in spurts produce loud, spontaneous waves and that’s what we sound like down there. And that, also, might not be interesting to anyone—or it might be interesting for everyone. Revealing that I also don’t know what’s interesting is a poor choice!)

Anyway, there’s about fifty reporters behind that door—real ones, not bloggers.

— Tony Stark, Spiderman: Homecoming, 2017

I like that ‘blog’ has remained a non-corporatized word in many respects. A ‘blogger’ is an ‘amateur’; the ‘blogosphere’ is the peanut gallery. It is a futile endeavor—and this is all good, because it important that some of these words stay personal.

Ok, so:

  • A blog is still the state-of-the-art as far as the personal ‘home’ online.
  • And, actually, all the credit goes to the browsers—HTML and CSS are pretty marvellous: they’ve gotten better and we have choices, it’s an impressive platform overall.
  • A static blog is fantastic. You can always back it up and move it anywhere.
  • No one seems to have figured out what to show on the first page yet. A list of recent things is almost the same as a list of random things—until a visitor knows where they are? But how do they know where they are? h0p3 has done a good thing with having an actual front door. (In a way, it feels like an old-school BBS.)
  • RSS is gone for me.
    • I don’t want to read unstyled content.
    • Yeah, don’t want to be fed posts everyday, I want to drop in.
    • I could see a use in a blogroll that colors the sites that have had activity. But no stats or anything.
    • It would trouble me if I was in your face everyday.
    • I still understand if you like RSS and it’s all about the raw text and links for you.
  • Indieweb-style replies and mentions are a huge leap forward. It is just so flexible—we can have threaded discussions, forums, e-mail and new-style hypertext wiki back-and-forth madness simply by adding Webmentions. (See These Indieweb Folks Just Might Be Onto Something.)
  • Beaker Browser means you don’t even need a server to host your blog. This is so straightforward that it’s mindblowing. The browser has hit a point where it has become fully read-write. (See A Web Without Servers.)
  • I think you have to pack it all up at some point. Perpetual blogging seems—arrogant?
  • I wonder if there would be a way to let other bloggers take the wheel from time to time. (This seems along the lines of how Sphygmus is writing into h0p3’s wiki through this ingenious tactic of simply sending him wiki-formatted text. Since h0p3 is bound by creed to publish in full anything that comes his way, Sphygmus can effectively communicate with his audience directly—though I start to worry that h0p3 is just going to become another silo. 😎)
  • It is important to repost stuff that has been overhauled. If we revisit writing, we move away from a strictly ‘chronos’ view of the blog and toward a focus on where thought is concentrated.
  • Yes, so salience. Perhaps this is what the algorithms are attempting and FAILING at. So give it to the nomad. How does a nomad sprinkle salience?

As for the software behind this particular blog, I call it Homeshade. I moved away from Jekyll the first week of September 2018. It was taking two minutes to generate my blog. That is down to three seconds now. (I’m sure Hugo could have done that, too. But I had other things I wanted to do as well—such as putting it into the Beaker Browser so I can just do everything from there.)

The technical part of this discussion is, fortunately, not that interesting really. The things that excite me out there right now are just being done with plain HYPERTEXT. (There’s another great corporatized word that never even got to be lame!) Homeshade is only a refinement, it is not a big deal. The point is only to utilize those things that we have that are under-utilized—like swimming on the bottom long enough to shut the sound out.

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07 Sep 2018

Reply to Nothing is Personal

h0p3

If you sent me your passwords or bank account information, I’d refuse to post them (and, of course, I don’t think you should test me on it, but you are free to try, even with fake information [I will reason about why you sent that kind of information outloud]). I think we can construct examples in which I would be truly silent as well, but those are quite farfetched (or so I hope!); you will have to rely upon your own judgment of who I am in such cases.

“Do not let my honesty become your enemy.” vs. “What if the secret discovered was a good one?”

Let’s also bring this in:

At last I understood that the way over, or through this dilemma, the unease at writing about ‘petty personal problems’ was to recognize that nothing is personal, in the sense that it is uniquely one’s own. Writing about oneself, one is writing about others, since your problems, pains, pleasures, emotions—and your extraordinary and remarkable ideas—can’t be yours alone.

— Doris Lessing, from her Introduction to The Golden Notebook, 1971

(Okay, time to get everyone else up to speed: I sent h0p3 a private e-mail—to determine if there was any way of privately communicating with him. I did this partly to satisfy my curiousity: he seems to post every chat log, e-mail and letter he sends—except to immediate family members that have grandfathered-in immunity—or perhaps he just defaults to public mode unless a kind of formal agreement is established.)

(I also did this to simply converse privately. Since h0p3 has settled on a dogged insistence on Wikileaking his life, I am unsure how to have a personal relationship in public hypertext with this avatar. He says the avatar is competely, realistically human—it aspires to be—and I am finding out if it is. Am I starting from a place of distrust? Well, surely. But that’s minor. I am suspicious of BOTH of us. We want to believe these pixels are us—don’t we already know they aren’t?)

(Because, most importantly, there is you. Isn’t it awful to address you during a letter to my friend? I steal time spent on answers he wants. I talk about him as a third, which sounds condescending, simply because he is not us. And you could be anyone: an other, likely a reader, an agent.)

(Maybe it’s not about us at all. Maybe it’s about you. Ours is just a performance. And so there is no us, but just you.)

Let me start by responding to your brother:

He read the kickscondor letters in full (I didn’t realize he’d read it all, which is cool). He pointed to a shift in the tone of the writing. He said we were jerking each other off at first and then got to the meat’n’potatoes. He thinks I’ve been tested in the last section of the last letter. I think he’s right.

Heheh—it’s very true! I think there is a kind of jerking-ones-anothers-off process that has to happen before you’ll honestly read each other’s words, though. But there’s no doubt: I’m the one being tested here.

You have filled a wiki so deep that I can’t see the bottom—and it lands like a monolith; it looks like your beliefs, it is a flashing rainbow conduit. But I am still ripped pieces of paper that blow around in the wind and are lost in wild valleys. I think these things will stay this way.

Yes and HELLO to your brother! How can I send him a private e-mail? It’s very important that it be private. It is like when two of my friends meet and later I find them muttering unintelligibly by the bookcase. God—what are they saying?? What if even the Real U.S. Government and Amazon Alexa can’t seem to make it out??

I am going to publicly think about you, who you are, how you think, what you say, and what you do. Do you wish to be so open and honest? Do you really want to interact and be in contact with me? In this context, informed consent is your responsibility. Do not let my honesty become your enemy. You do not have to wrestle with me, but I hope you see I’m actually trying to radically cooperate with Humanity. How will you treat this naked madman in the desert?

(This bit is not from the letter I am replying to, but from Contact h0p3. I’m not sure I read the whole thing previously, but his rules of engagement are clearly spelled out. Please read this if you intend to strike up a conversation. I wonder if we could all use a page like this—somehow I can’t see myself doing this, as it feels in close proximity to a sign my neighbor has on her door: “DO NOT BRING DRUGS, ALCOHOL OR ANY ILLEGAL MATERIALS OR SUBSTANCES INTO THIS HOME!!” Such a note has the fragrance of a previous encounter all over it; there is a distinct banishment of the “you do you” from 2018—which may not actually exist.)

He concludes the letter:

In part, I aim to be so public simply because I don’t trust people in private. I think very poorly of most human specimens (including many versions of myself), but I desperately hope we find a way to become good human beings. I hope to protect and enable the percentage of legitimate altruists who exist in humanity; they deserve every ounce of my effort. They are truly constituted by Reason.

I play with my cards face-up on the table. In a way, I hope it has a kind of ripple effect in spreading awareness of what it means to be ourselves […]

Ok, so this I get. It seems feasible that a public performance of the private could shake out some disasters. It’s possible that we need everyone to weigh in on this. And we already have the benefit of your pupil Sphygmus (a reader like you out there—us—who stepped out of the ‘real’ to join us here).

On the other hand, this now adds infinite perspectives to demonize these conversations, to shame them, to hate them. I’ve honestly never had a chance in my life for someone to hate one of my private conversations—except for the other person (and even that has happened far too frequently.)

I think if I were to develop a seed of my own personal code (to stand in contrast to yours,) it is that I believe in well-mannered pseudonymity. Bonhomminity.

Secrets get such a bad name. We always discover horrible secrets. Thousands of them, stretching all the way up to the Pope himself? Or a document circulating the CIA describing a series of golden showers…

What if the secret discovered was a good one? And what if it stayed secret? Like a good joke kept to one’s self. Or between my love and I. Never to be sold off in a book or blog—kept inside.

I don’t imagine much is lost on a public inside joke? This is probably what Dan Harmon has with all of his fans. They all get to be in on it. It is the token of the group now. It is a special key. Millions may have the special key.

(Following is not a h0p3 quote.)

Do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Not considered: your private joke is heard by angels in Heaven!! (Sigh, further surveillance systems…)

Actually I quote this because there is something to it—the reward of public recognition does seem to pollute the pure giving of a private communication.

And what’s more: you have no idea whether I talk of you. Whether you get zero conversation hits or thousands. What I have read of yours. How I react to it—what I really think of you. (Do I know what I really think of you? Do I know when I’ve conversed about you?) How would it be helpful for either of us to know these things? And, worse, to know them forever.

Picture two computers scanning each other ports. These two daemons find each other and swap drive contents, RAM, video card states. Then they blink: blue, blinking red or bright white. They understand each other!

But what does it matter? Perhaps they can part ways now—there is no more data to exchange.

I must ask: do you simply FO desire to encourage me, or do you SO desire to FO desire to encourage me? The difference matters. There is a tension in this letter I’ve not been able to peel apart.

Boy, I don’t know yet. I like to think it’s way down—like zed order enouragement.

I think this only happens out of motivations like idle curiosity, amusement and meandering conversation. Which is to say: the greatest, most noble pursuits I can imagine. Convincing you IS NOTHING compared to these treasures!!

I hope to find: not truth, not love, not happiness, not even meaning—but ‘fire’.

And I guess I do hope to have gratitude, which is greater than happiness. And I think a desire to have immense gratitude for the idle curiosity, amusement and meandering conversation—that would be FO for me. I don’t know where that puts us. I am very serious about this. (And I am not just saying ‘I am very serious about this’ as a joke—it’s all very serious!)

Building trust and real relationships is exactly why I reveal myself to you and everyone else. I want people to see how I conduct myself and my relationships across the board.

My dad talks this way—to him, a conversation is a sacrament. Sometimes I am with him on that.

But other times I want to be in the dark of night with friends, carefully putting a pie in the road, as an example, since it is very spiritual to do so. Or eating different leaves and needles and recording reviews of the taste.

To simply swing alongside someone on a swingset is miraculous. To use one of those air seesaw things—where you sit across from each other and swing back and forth—I did that with my nephew a few weeks ago and he was wearing a hat that had a LEGO texture on it. He could have attached to a hell of different bricks! The feeling of amusement and ‘fire’ was there.

Of course, my worry about “how it feels” is that emotions can betray us. It’s very easy to confabulate. It’s a realm where I aim for reason to reign as much as possible.

Ok so three primary facets where we graph as opposites:

  1. You vaunt transparency; I side with opaquery.
  2. You look for your chosen; I would like to eventually find everyone.
  3. But most of all: you center on the rational and I fall in with the heart.

The unreasonable. The supernatural. The stuff of imagery. Perhaps symbolism is there, between us. Just as you fear an emotion betraying you and guiding you into delusion, I fear needing to act on perfectly rational orders that betray my heart—that go against my experience of the world. (Sloppy sloppy work, Kicks! Why am I rushing to codify someone? I think what’s happening is that I’m seeing this dogmatism for transparency on his part and so I’m rushing to ascribe these other dogmatic views—rasfarasfaaaaplagdaaaaahnono, no, so I don’t really care about this part of the letter—in a way this serves to show that I was wrapped up much more deeply in the visual part of this thing and rushing the text. As he has already said in reply: “I worry you’ve not carefully represented my claims.” Yes! Can I rewind slightly? I don’t think the head-to-headedness of this part of the correspondence needs to be here—I have undermined connecting in favor of spiraling. Emotion (or gamesmanship or something) has scattered the ripped pieces of paper. Oh to be pure and kind as Sphygmus, help me, Sphygmus!)

Because of the events of my life, I am close to people who have been in unimaginably horrifying situations. It’s not that they’ve lost a child. It’s not that they’ve lost a spouse or that they’ve tried to kill themselves—it’s that they’ve lost their whole family. Everyone they held closest died. (Usually it’s a parent who lost their spouse and children—there are more people in this situation than you would think.)

Let rationality guide you through that catastrophe! (This is assinine. I think I got worked up for some reason, not because of a disagreement with you but because I got passionate and spiraled. I mean this is proof of the danger of emotion—tempering it is a challenge for everyone.)

I will need to stop there. It starts to feel exploitative to talk in this way—to use their tragedy to make my point. But there are also stories that I want to talk about down the road, because they have happened in such quiet, without the notice of society—and maybe I see a reason to write them, because they have ‘fire’.

Swinging on a swingset is god damn vital! (Shut up. I don’t like that this comes across as a heavy-handed point to be made. Be light-handed. Always let the hand rise into the atmosphere.)

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06 Sep 2018

I’m so sorry for any extra comments or links that may be showing up on aggregators and micro.blog—my blog broke and I also changed the permalinks for everything. I have a system for keeping the old permalinks at their location (and had worked to prevent this) but ended up blowing it anyway!!

  1. No worries! Seeing a bunch of your content for a second time got me thinking about how much of online communication happens in the space of one or two transactional-loops. It has been interesting watching you and {h0p3} have a sort of multi-media hypertext exchange that is bigger than the average IndieWeb ping-pong.

  2. I was wondering that out of the blue Webmention was about. :-)

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29 Aug 2018

Reply to When the Social Silos Fall

Brad Enslen

With, first Twitter and later Facebook, suddenly you didn’t need Google to find stuff on the Web. Suddenly a little obscure website could become famous without or in spite of Google. If you really sit down and think about it, that is no small thing.

The silos did help mainstream users form communities. This is still useful—carriers of rare diseases can organize on Facebook, stuff like the ‘TomNod’ group that coordinates to scan satellite photos. On Twitter, humor and art (pixel art, for instance) communities formed that can be casually observed by other Twitter users—bolstering their exposure.

But even all this traffic has become a bad thing! For instance, there is no ‘surfing’ any more (in the mainstream). For the most part, traffic just shows up. You don’t have to look for blogs because Facebook and Twitter stuff you with whatever they please all day.

My relationship is a lot healthier with blogs that I visit when I please. This is another criticism I have with RSS as well—I don’t want my favorite music blog sending me updates every day, always in my face. I just want to go there when I am ready to listen to something new. (I also hope readers to my blog just stop by when they feel like obsessing over the Web with me.)

Google is a silo too. And I can tell you Google is part of what sucked all the fun out of Web 1.0. Facebook and Twitter were not even around. It was Google. And living under Google dominance is no fun.

This isn’t completely true—mailing lists and forums were a big source of real blog readers. Like Usenet before them. Google was a source of poor, transient traffic. In those days, you could share your writings/findings with fans of a certain band or movie director (if that was your topic) by posting on their forum, just as you would with Reddit. (And links were shared on forums and mailing lists.) However, now you can get algorithmed to death. Your link can get lost in the feed before anyone sees it.

I think the best thing the silos brought was simply the ability to be notified of a reply without needing to check your server logs.

But I appreciate your perspective, Brad. I wish I agreed more on this one! Maybe in time.

  1. RSS: I see your point and you are making me rethink how I “follow” other blogs, especially since my feed reader is getting overwhelmed. I may have to use my blogroll more to click through to the actual blog to actually poke around rather than helicoptering in on RSS. hmm.

    Google: search engines in general but Google in particular: they have warped the way we build websites, many websites used to have a splash or landing page first: “You have reached the Gates of Marlborodor” (complete with MIDI music) and a big Enter button. Search engines decided they didn’t like that so word spread to get rid of them. Rumors spread that large link pages (for surfing) might be considered “link farms” (and yes on SEO sites they were but these things eventually trickle down to little personal site webmasters too) so these started to be phased out. Then the worry was Blogrolls might be considered link farms so they slowly started to be phased out. Then the biggie: when Google deliberately filtered out all the free hosted sites from the SERP’s (they were not removed completely just sent back to page 10 or so of the Google SERP’s) and traffic to Tripod and Geocities plummeted. Why? Because they were taking up space in the first 20 organic returns knocking out corporate and commercial sites and the sites likely to become paying customers were complaining. Then ads. Google started telling sites that had sold their own ads long before Google was ever around that they had to nofollow those ads or risk a penalty. Of course Google is also by this time an ad network. So they are telling small single site competitors how they can display their ads or else. The whole ad thing runs deeper but I don’t have time to go through it. And the list goes on. Yes there were other SE’s in there but from 2001 Google was leader of the pack. And yes maybe getting rid of the Gates of Marlborodor was a good thing but if it was that webmaster’s choice to stick us with it so be it. Google isn’t moral or immoral it is amoral like most corporations. They look out for themselves, and to bad for you if you get in their way. Not everything they did was bad, some was good, but they are a silo. They have complete control over their own index and and the way you link and if you want in you obey. (Sorry if I’m not dispassionate about this, I’ve been PR0’ed by Google just for being on the wrong host. That’s another story but I know what being carpet bombed by them feels like, first hand.) 😉

    Forums: I still like them. I’m still a member of a couple. You can have an in depth nuanced conversation in a forum that you cannot have in social networks and is difficult in webmentions. I just wish they were not so darn hard to get established.

    All good points Kicks, we can’t agree all the time or we’d bore each other to death!

  2. Holy smokes—didn’t realize this was actually how this played out. I now see more what you mean by ‘sucking the fun’ out of Web1. Thankyou for spelling that out. Haha, now I am angry!!

    So, is getting rid of the ‘Gates of Marlborodor’ good? I think it’s similar to my feelings about Yahoo!—I don’t miss having to click down seven levels to get to the ‘smoothies’ topic. (Or not finding it in the hierarchy at all!)

    The trouble is: only a human can say if the ‘Gates of Marlborodor’ was useful to them. Google may not be able to tell the difference between a link farm and a link boutique, but a human can—and humans are the ones we’re trying to connect here, not the Baidubots!

    One interesting thing to me: as I have been digging and scraping around for sites, using all the search engines and feeds I can find, there is one that I am finding surprisingly useful. The search on Pinboard—which is a bookmarking site, the heir to Del.icio.us. If you type in ‘smoothies’ there, you are going to get much more interesting results.

    And it strikes me: I think it’s the closest thing we have to a human-edited search engine! Think of that.

  3. Great talk! Reminds me of some of Brad’s comments about the sci-fi/horror directories he’s worked. I’m sorry for the delay in responding (and your Webmention showing up here)—my blog has been broken for a week.

    Enjoy your conference. “Food and Communication”—wild! You should write about it…

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28 Aug 2018

A Kindergartener’s Best Computer is About to Die

I think the iPad Mini could have reshaped pre-reading education, but it didn’t get a chance to.

The iPad mini, which was last upgraded in 2015, and the 9.7-inch iPad, last refreshed in March, won’t be upgraded, a person familiar with the company’s plans said.

Chromebooks are the new fashion in elementary school. They are cheap; they are everywhere. And they are unusable by kids in kindergarten through, in some case, third grade.

Sure, by now children can do some rudimentary typing and mouse flicking. But if you think trackpads are awful for adults, you should observe children using them. Tears, people.

I like this—from an abstract I saw recently:

The choice of the proper device can lead to benefits in terms of user engagement, which often is the prerequisite for learning. There are also additional dimensions to consider, as the usability and the physical fatigue. Their undervaluation, in an educational context, can hamper the successful outcome of the experience.

The iPad Mini was the first device in a very long time that I was truly excited about. In my mind, the most underserved group in our educational system is the pre-reading group from K-2, which cannot be served by the current Internet and which are largely given mobile edutainment apps.

Despite that—the touchscreen is watershed technology for this group. And younger:

Children as young as 24 months can complete items requiring cognitive engagement on a touch screen device, with no verbal instruction and minimal child–administrator interaction. This paves the way for using touch screen technology for language and administrator independent developmental assessment in toddlers.

In my experience, using Chromebooks and iPads among these groups, the tablets far outshine—a child is able to immediately speak its language. Sure, time spent learning a Chromebook can be useful. But making the device an end unto itself is part of our problem—language is technology and technology is language.

The language that toddlers are picking up on their parents’ phones can be built upon in school. This is a great benefit—since it has been very difficult to map gamepads—another similar ‘language’ form—to education.

And yet, we have so many problems:

  • The software has not caught up. We are so impatient to move on that we don’t take the time to utilize amazing technology that is still trickling its way down to children.
  • The stock market has moved on. Apple is end-of-lifing the iPad Mini for its poor sales. Despite tremendous evidence that this device has the ability to transform the lives of a specific group of pre-readers (and, I would also argue, the lives of autistic and special ed students—who I’ve seen similar results with), Apple is ready to just leave these groups to Google in pursuit of further growth, when they should have the freedom now to make a contribution like this.
  • Mobile devices are still seen as lesser technology in education. Yes, for adults, a mobile device can be a handicap. But to a child, this perspective is reversed—they can actually work on mobile devices. They can create, they can express, their abilities are enhanced.

Apple has recently put a $299 price for schools on their standard iPad, but Chromebooks are still eating them alive. I’m afraid that this signal away from the iPad Mini could set us back for the foreseeable future.

If only we could see an era where a $199 iPad Mini flourished among second grade and lower. This age group needs a breakthrough.

  1. Hey Kicks! I'd be interested in your thoughts on this piece about how Chromebooks (and I guess iPads, too) potentially limit students' ability to push the boundaries of computing.

  2. I’m not an expert on all grades—and I’m only three years deep into my research on the grades I specialize in, which is 1st through 3rd in the U.S. I have spent a bit of time in 4th and 5th—Chromebooks are very useful to these grades and are a step forward. (From no computer 😆.)

    I have such a different perspective from articles such as Stager’s that I just don’t know where to begin! And since this is an off-handed comment, I’m not going to dig up citations—but hope to do more of that soon on my blog.

    On the topic of laptops:

    • Trackpads are a huge problem. Childrens’ hands get extremely tired trying to manipulate them. So an article that mentions a laptop without emphasizing a mouse—I realize this seems like a small thing, but it isn’t!
    • To say a Raspberry Pi is better—I just can’t imagine. I did RPi stuff in after-school clubs but the setup and takedown is insane. And you don’t want your kids behind giant glowing tombstone-sized screens. They also are totally underpowered—they take longer to boot and get going—so it seems funny to criticize Chromebooks as not being beefy, then mention… RPi?
    • To say that a Chromebook can’t fulfill Papert’s and Solomon’s list smacks as disingenuous—it’s just that there is a lot of elitism around what is proper technology. Just off the top of my head: Sphero, Twine and Voxel Builder are legit tech. Scratch and Scratch Jr. are legit—but are aging. I looked down on these, too, until I saw what kids were doing with them.

    There was also a project that Linden Labs was doing on iOS called Blocksworld that was fantastic, but everyone ignored it (and their in-app purchases were awful.)

    Since my focus is young kids, I feel (and the research seems to be showing more and more) that tablets are the sweetest computer at that age. A pre-reader just cannot navigate a keyboard yet. And a tablet is not a computer for mere consumption for them—armed with the right software, they will write, record, create visuals of all kinds, it totally opens them up. I hope to show more of the projects that I do with the kids because I think it will be eye-opening.

    For me, the hardware issue is pretty easy at present: iPads for up to 3rd grade; Chromebooks thereafter. The more interesting discussion—the software—is where we should spend our time. And also, there is a limit to how much time you can spend with technology in the younger grades, for motor skill developmental reasons.

    If I am off, I am always glad to be directed to papers I’ve missed!

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Sharing and Archiving with Dat

This is a technical overview of how to use/understand Dat. It covers how useful it is for ‘backing up’ websites—which is how I intend to use it.

So, this article (and the comments) cleared up a few things for me.

Dat can currently be configured to either track all changes (history) of files in a folder (at the cost of a full duplication of all files and all historical changes), or track only the most recent version of files with no duplication (at the cost of losing all history). There is not (yet?) any fancy dat mode which efficiently tracks only deltas (changes) to files with no other file overhead.

From my examination of the Beaker code yesterday, I noticed that the browser only downloads the specific version of a file that you need—I like this! (Rather than having to download the whole history of a file to put it back together.)

One advantage that Dat has over IPFS is that it doesn’t duplicate the data. When IPFS imports new data, it duplicates the files into ~/.ipfs. For collections of small files like the kernel, this is not a huge problem, but for larger files like videos or music, it’s a significant limitation. IPFS eventually implemented a solution to this problem in the form of the experimental filestore feature, but it’s not enabled by default. Even with that feature enabled, though, changes to data sets are not automatically tracked. In comparison, Dat operation on dynamic data feels much lighter. The downside is that each set needs its own dat share process.

I think this is a great benefit of Dat’s design. Because it basically just boils down to a distributed append-only log—a giant, progressively longer file that many people can share, and which you can build stuff like file folders or a database on top of—it’s incredibly flexible.

It certainly has advantages over IPFS in terms of usability and resource usage, but the lack of packages on most platforms is a big limit to adoption for most people. This means it will be difficult to share content with my friends and family with Dat anytime soon, which would probably be my primary use case for the project.

I totally disagree with this sentiment! Dat has the Beaker Browser—which is an incredible thing for a novice to use. Yes, it would (will?) be even better when it can be found on iOS and Android. But, for now, I’m happy to recommend it to friends and family: “Yeah, you can share your own websites—we can even have our own private Twitter-type-thing together—with this thing.”

I know the Beaker team has said that their goal is to get Dat accepted by the major browsers—but I think Beaker’s ability to customize itself to the decentralized web is an advantage. I could see it finding a lot of users.

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27 Aug 2018

Browser-Side Includes in Beaker Browser

A proof-of-concept for enjoying HTML includes.

It seems like the Beaker Browser has been making an attempt to provide tools so that you can create JavaScript apps that function literally without a server. Their Twitter-equivalent (‘fritter’) runs entirely in the browser—it simply aggregates a bunch of static dats that are out there. And when you post, Beaker is able to write to your personal dat. Which is then aggregated by all the others out there.

One of the key features of Beaker that allows this is the ‘fallback_page’ setting. This setting basically allows for simplified URL rewriting—by redirecting all 404s to an HTML page in your dat. In a way, this resembles mod_rewrite-type functionality in the browser!

What I’ve been wondering is: would it be possible to bring server-side includes to Beaker? So, yeah: browser-side includes. My patch to beaker-core is here. It’s very simple—but it works!

Quick Example

Beaker editing index.html

Here is Beaker editing the index.html of a new basic Website from its template. I’m including the line:

<!--#include file="inc.html"-->

This will instruct beaker to inline the inc.html contents from the same dat archive. Its contents look like this:

<p style="color:red">TEST</p>

Beaker displaying index.html

And here we see the HTML displayed in the browser.

But Does Beaker Need This?

I’m not sure. As I’ve been working with static HTML in dat, I’ve thought that it would be ‘nice’. But is ‘nice’ good enough?

Here are a few positives that I see:

Appeal to novices. Giving more power to HTML writers can lower the bar to building interesting things with Dat. Beaker has already shown that they are willing to flesh out JavaScript libraries to give hooks to all of us users out here. But there are many people who know HTML and not JavaScript. I think features for building the documents could be really useful.

Space savings. I think static blogs would appreciate the tools to break up HTML so that there could be fewer archive changes when layouts change subtly.

Showcase what Beaker is. Moving server-side includes into Beaker could demonstrate the lack of a need for an HTTP server in a concrete way. And perhaps there are other Apache/Nginx settings that could be safely brought to Beaker.

The negative is that Dat might need its own wget that understands a feature like this. At any rate, I would be interested if others find any merit to something like this. I realize the syntax is pretty old school—but it’s already very standard and familiar, which seems beneficial.

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25 Aug 2018

Reply to Shallow Reactions

Seth Drebitko

I don’t know that I’d want reactions on micro.blog. It’s a pretty shallow form of communication, and primarily just creates a vanity metric.

I think shallow responses are kind of nice—sometimes you don’t have time to reply fully and it can be polite to just 👍. In fact, I sometimes go back to likes and flesh out the reply. So it acts like a bookmark, an ‘ack’ and a reminder to return. That’s not too shallow?

It’s the vanity metric that is the issue. It’s a similar problem with ‘friends’ lists. Usually all we see of someone’s ‘friends’ is a number. Which makes me miss blogrolls, when people took the time to say “Ok so this is Heather, she is an archivist…” and, yeah, that starts to feel like a friend.

Both likes and friend counts are also fed into algorithms and become a basis for popularity (aka ‘value’, according to these networks). But popularity stems from discussion anyway—you don’t need an algorithm, if people are talking and linking, it’ll happen. There’s a larger algorithm at play here that the networks can’t replicate.

@herself 👍!

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24 Aug 2018

An ideal: privacy should increase as one goes further down the fame, class, race, power hierarchy. A public figure has traded privacy for these things, right?

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23 Aug 2018

Weird Indieweb Idea of the Day: Guestbooks

I think if you feel nostalgic for something, then it has some seed of intrigue left in it. For guestbooks, I wonder how you might innovate them…

One thought I have is—sometimes I get Webmentions to the root page of my site. I might make a ‘guestbook’ page that list any comments or links sent by Webmention there. (I do think that the Facebook ‘wall’ was a modernization of the guestbook—wasn’t it? Although perhaps that functions more like a public e-mail message.)

  1. @kicks @vega For webmentions to the root page I made a "Mentions" page tucked under "About". I shamelessly stole the idea from Chris Aldrich aka @c I like the idea of a Guestbook better than Tag boards.

  2. @bradenslen Aha - you are always a step ahead! You have a real knack for how things should/could work.

  3. @kicks I claim no credit. It was several clues and Chris Aldrich.

  4. @kicks @vega I'm still gnawing on this guestbook idea. It reminds me that Victorians and Edwardians always had a table in the entrance hall where a visitor could leave their calling card. (Pre telephone, there were elaborate customs attached to this.)

    Also, in those times, great houses generally had a guest book (sometimes a seperate book for shooting parties).

  5. @bradenslen Interestingly, when I made that "Mentions" page, I considered adding the word guest book to it as well! I wasn't sure it would actually get used in that way, so left it off. The only place in modern times that I'm aware that people still seem to follow leaving a calling card tradition is in real eastate where a realtor will leave their business card to indicate to the listing agent/seller that they stopped by with clients to view a house/property. Even that may disappear soon as lockboxes with mobile access automatically log the user data of the unlocking party.

  6. @c There was a setting in one of the Indieweb plugins on WP but I didn't comprehend it's function at the time. Later I was on your site, saw the Mentions page and it all clicked. SO thank you for being a good example.

    I did find a good guestbook plugin for WP that does not use the comments system. I might try that.

  7. @bradenslen Nice to see your Guestbook page on your site, and that WP plug-in is a great find. What @c and @kicks are considering with Webmentions sound like a way of "reinventing" the guestbook for the contemporary Internet, particularly if can gain some traction as a norm in the Indieweb space.

  8. @vega Thanks for signing! Once I figured out what that Mentions Page was for with Webmentions, I thought it a grand idea. What I like about it is it captures a a passing Webmention reference. It's a bit like being in your favorite pub or coffeehouse and two tables over you hear your name being mentioned just loudly enough for you to hear. Like a ping.

    I do think the Mentions page could be expanded to also be a Guestbook with conventional comments but it has to be explained, it's not intutitive. Somehow a Guestbook lies between a Contact/Feedbook form and a Webmention. With the guestbook there is an invitation for one to leave a public record of their visit.

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Reply to Micro.blog Mentions

Josh Dick

“There is no need to attach an @-style username to the main text…” Really? The doc says otherwise (bullet 4): Replies and @-mentions/.

After playing with it quite a bit, it seems that—if you reply to a specific micro.blog post using a link (in this case: https://micro.blog/jd/820446), it’ll add the @-mention to the beginning if you send a Webmention. And you can also force the @-mention(s). So, if you’re mentioning several people, you’ll want to put those on—and, in that case, it’ll leave them however you have them.

Great work on your site! I also use Jekyll and have been working on a fork of the ‘jekyll-webmention_io’ plugin that adds a bunch of features. I wish Jekyll was faster—my site takes over a minute to build now. Maybe I’ve done something. I have.

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22 Aug 2018

Ticker Tape Parade

It’s good to be a little ‘river’ of thoughts—apart from the estuaries.

Inspired by the concept of Ripped Sheets of Paper, I began to see a new blog design in my mind that departed from all the current trends. (Related: Things We Left in the Old Web.)

The large majority of blogs and social media feeds out there are:

  • Highly rigid visually—a linear list of paragraphs.
  • Mostly blue and white (with a little gray.)
  • Bland. Often all posts are structured virtually the same, unless there are images.
  • Alike. There are common templates.

So, yeah, no wonder the Web has deteriorated! We just don’t care. It’s understandable—we experimented for a good ten or twenty years. I guess that’s why I wanted this site to border on bizarre—to try to reach for the other extreme without simply aspiring to brutalism.

To show that leaving social media can free you to build your own special place on the web. I have no reason to scream and war here in order to stand apart.

Exaggerated Importance

When I started laying out the main ‘river’ of strips on my various feed pages—here’s my August archive, for instance—I started to want the different posts to have a greater impact on the page based on what they were.

Screenshot of the new home page.

A tweet-style note thing should be tiny. It’s a mere thought.

A reply to someone might be longer, depending on the quality of the ideas within it.

And the long essays take a great length of time to craft—they should have the marquee.

It began to remind me of the aging ‘tag cloud’. Except that I couldn’t stand tag clouds because the small text in the cloud was always too small! And they also became stale—they always use the same layout. (It would be interesting to rethink the tag cloud—maybe with this ‘river’ in mind!)

It’s All There

Even though these ‘river’-style feeds are slender and light on metadata—for instance, the ‘river’ is very light on date and tagging info—it’s all there. All the metadata and post content is in the HTML. This is so that I can pop up the full post immediately. But also: that stuff is the microformats!

Why bother with microformats? I remember this technology coming out like a decade ago and—it went nowhere!

But, no, they are actually coming into stride. They allow me to syndicate and reply on micro.blog without leaving my site. I can reply to all my webfriends in like fashion. They have added a lot to blogging in these times—look up ‘Indieweb’.

Honestly, they make this blog worth using. For me. I feel like the design should be for you; the semantic structure is for me.

This lead to a happy coalescing of the design and the structure: I could load individual posts on a windowing layer over the home page. This is a kickback to the old DHTML windowing sites of yesteryear. (And, in part, inspired by the zine at whimsy.space.)


Screenshot of right-clicking on a post.

What’s more—nothing (except the archives dropdown, I should say) is broken if Javascript is off. You can still center-click on the square blog post cards to launch them in a tab. URLs in the browser should line up properly without filling your history with crap.

I do have some new kinds of post layouts that will be cropping up here are there—such as how this article is made of individual tiles. But it all flattens to simple HTML where I need it to.

One of the struggles of the modern Indieweb is to have uniqueness and flair without sacrificing function. I have to do a lot of customization to integrate with Twitter, micro.blog and RSS. But I hope you will not need to work around me. So that remains to be seen.

At any rate: thankyou! So many of you that I correspond with offered juicy conversations that stimulated this new design. My muse has always been Life Itself. The experiences and conversations all around --> inspiration! I feel fortunate to any eyes that wipe across my sentences from time to time.

Time to get back to linking to you.

  1. @cn oh yes of course! the sinkholes too

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21 Aug 2018

Reply to Visual Vocabulary

Don MacDonald

Thanks for the kind words! I didn’t mean to imply your site is retro or a nostalgia thing, just that it reminded me of a kind of site that you’d see in that era, when people were trying out all kinds of crazy stuff with web sites, before there was a set visual vocabulary and design grammar for the web.

“…Before there was a set visual vocabulary…”

Ok I like that! ‘Before there was a set visual vocabulary.’ I definitely feel like the web has become extremely rigid. Blogs have coalesced into a common format. And home pages have, too—with ‘hero images’, for instance. I do miss the old styles of the web, but even more, I miss the variety. (I even feel like CSS has played a role in this. With old tables and spacer gifs, one could really concoct strange layouts. To some extent, image maps and Shockwave helped there.)

I am feeling a fresh liberation of style after having lived through the recent era of staleness. It’s like something is brewing, about to begin.

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Inspired by Brad Enslen’s ‘exit page’ concept, I’ve added a ‘the end’ post to this blog. (I also have to say that many of my upcoming changes are inspired by h0p3’s wiki—moving away from just a blog of recent posts, to a kind of modern home page with updates and Indieweb intertwingliness.) ‘The end’ can be seen right now on /page3, if you scroll to the very bottom. Small, needless things—lovely.

  1. ‘Small needless things – lovely’ Yes! I really like that. And your Exit is great. You may never know if anyone ever finds it but that makes it even greater.

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20 Aug 2018

Reply to Micro.blog Limitations

Manton Reese

I think the limitations you mention with Webmention on Micro.blog — or having accounts — are temporary. I plan to expand both of those.

Oh definitely! I apologize if I’m coming across as critical - I’m kind of working in the dark here as to how one should connect with micro.blog from the outside. (How to craft replies, where Webmentions show up.) But this isn’t unusual—every blog has its quirks, its templates and conventions. There are a jillion microformats and there are Salmentions and so on. Anyway, on the contrary, I’ve enjoyed sorting out how to participate here and hope I can perhaps provide some useful stuff to you.

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I’m in the middle of a redesign. I’m rolling it out in pieces. You’ll know it’s done when I put up an article about it. And, yeah, this doesn’t matter. 😘

  1. @kicks I really like the look of the root page right now!

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19 Aug 2018

Reply to Diversity on Micro.Blog

Vega

From my point of view, M.B’s diversity challenge comes out of Indieweb’s own priorities and values. Decentralization, independence, tech-centrality, building your own bespoke blog/website with home-grown/open-source tools… to me, these values originate from a particular paradigm and method of engaging with the world. This paradigm is itself shaped by the wider culture. To put it in reductionist and stereotypical terms, the “self-made” webmaster who builds a self-contained website, independent of the centralized aggregate (and by extension, The Man), using home-grown tools, falls very much in line with the values of the American Dream.

“To put it in reductionist and stereotypical terms, the ‘self-made’ webmaster who builds a self-contained website […] falls very much in line with the values of the American Dream.”

This entire essay is very insightful—and your whole blog has a whimsical and determined air that has me punching my ‘subscribe’ button several times to make sure it does the job.

One question I wonder: while I think the self-made entrepreneur has got to be synonymous with imperialist America—couldn’t the independent autodidact, operating apart from corporate interests, be a modern type of vanguard for the dispossessed? I feel like the Instagram influencer is more a direct descendant of The American Dream; the bespoke blog a piece of the underground press—particularly in 2018, when they have become ancient machinery.

As Chris quotes:

I write it myself, edit it myself, censor it myself, publish it myself, distribute it myself, and spend jail time for it myself.

— Vladimir Konstantinovich Bukovsky, 1942

Perhaps the difference is that the Indieweb has had an “every person for themselves” kind of ethic. There are those who DIY and there are those who GTFO. Whereas underground presses functioned collaboratively. And maybe M.B could be an underground press if it had an editor and it sought out its sources. It feels more like a Lions Club, some casual martinis and a snapshot of the dwindling sun.

I hope that’s no condemnation. I think the underground presses had their coffee houses, which gave you a place to bump into co-conspirators.

But it’s the editor thing that I keep bumping up against on this Web—that we do need more editors, more librarians, more collaboration. We haven’t quite figured out how to organize in structures that benefit, well, all of us. That means starting with the lowest tier. If the library can make a way for books to land in the hands of prisoners, refugees, the poor—then those books can make it anywhere.

And I think this spiritual cause exists in the Indieweb when I see notes like those on Brid.gy’s FAQ entry “How much does it cost?”

Nothing! We have great day jobs, and Bridgy is small, so thanks to App Engine, it doesn’t cost much to run. We don’t need donations, promise.

I feel to inspire readers that might fall across this post—those who can fashion things and who can throw themselves into rebuilding the Web (as if it were Dresden)—to take up this same spiritual cause. To make a generous piece of this crucial public engine. (I realize that this sounds terrifically technopiliac and loathsome, maybe even in a shameful ‘tech bro’ way, but this technology is here, right here, fucking everywhere else too it turns out—so let’s try to find our way, shall we?)

I do think the Indieweb has the glimmer of real answers. But it’s a massive undertaking. But that’s okay—real answers are too.

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