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.

indieseek blog, bumped into brad somehow and we crosstalk a ton about the web.

ᛝ ᛝ ᛝ — lucid.

whimsy.space v good zine by danielx.

caesar naples wiki social media website.

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

nostalgia: geocities.institute, bad cmd.

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.

09 Nov 2018

I’m wondering if the rise of podcasts is a reaction to the threat of algorithms. Basically, since podcasts are binary audio files, algorithms currently can’t rewrite the thing—it acts as a hermetically sealed container containing humans talking.

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Wars of Conflicting Webs

Will your .pizza domain survive?

Beaker vs TiddlyWiki. ActivityPub against Webmentions. Plain HTML hates them all.

I step back and, man, all the burgeoning technology out there is at complete odds with the other! Let’s do a run down. I’m not just doing this to stir up your sensibilities. Part of it is that I am lost in all of this stuff and need to sort my socks.

(I realize I’m doing a lot of ‘versus’ stuff below—but I don’t mean to be critical or adversarial. The point is to examine the frictions.)

Beaker Browser vs TiddlyWiki

At face value, Beaker[1] is great for TiddlyWiki[2]: you can have this browser that can save to your computer directly—so you can read and write your wiki all day, kid! And it syncs, it syncs.

No, it doesn’t let you write from different places yet—so you can’t really use it—but hopefully I’ll have to come back and change these words soon enough—it’s almost there?

Beaker and TiddlyWiki.

Big problem, though: Beaker (Dat[3]) doesn’t store differences. And TiddlyWiki is one big file. So every time you save, it keeps the old one saved and the network starts to fill with these old copies. And you can easily have a 10 meg wiki—you get a hundred days of edits under your belt and you’ve created some trouble for yourself.

Beaker is great for your basic blog or smattering of pages. It remains to be seen how this would be solved: differencing? Breaking up TiddlyWiki? Storing in JSON? Or do I just regenerate a new hash, a new Dat every time I publish? And use the hostname rather than the hash. I don’t know if that messes with the whole thing too much.

Where I Lean: I think I side with Beaker here. TiddlyWiki is made for browsers that haven’t focused on writing. But if it could be tailored to Beaker—to save in individual files—a Dat website already acts like a giant file, like a ZIP file. And I think it makes more sense to keep these files together inside a Dat rather than using HTML as the filesystem.

Datasette vs Beaker Browser

While we’re here, I’ve been dabbling with Datasette[4] as a possible inductee into the tultywits and I could see more sites being done this way. A mutation of Datasette that appeals to me is: a static HTML site that stores all its data in a single file database—the incomparable SQLite.

I could see this blog done out like that: I access the database from Beaker and add posts. Then it gets synced to you and the site just loads everything straight from your synced database, stored in that single file.

But yeah: single file, gets bigger and bigger. (Interesting that TorrentNet is a network built on BitTorrent and SQLite.) I know Dat (Hypercore) deals in chunks. Are chunks updated individually or is the whole file replaced? I just can’t find it.

Where I Lean: I don’t know yet! Need to find a good database to use inside a ‘dat’ and which functions well with Beaker (today).

(Cont’d.) Beaker vs Indieweb, TiddlyWiki vs Indieweb

Ok, talk about hot friction—Beaker sites require no server, so the dream is to package your raw posts with your site and use JavaScript to display it all. This prevents you from having HTML copies of things everywhere—you update a post and your index.html gets updated, tag pages get updated, monthly archives, etc.

And TiddlyWiki is all JavaScript. Internal dynamism vs Indieweb’s external dynamism.

Webmention vs Dynamism.

But the Indieweb craves static HTML—full of microformats. There’s just no other way about it.

Where I Lean: This is tough! If I want to participate in the Indieweb, I need static HTML. So I think I will output minimal HTML for all the posts and the home page. The rest can be JavaScript. So—not too bad?

ActivityPub vs Static HTML

ActivityPub seems to want everything to be dynamic. I saw this comment by one of the main Mastodon developers:

I do not plan on supporting Atom feeds that don’t have Webfinger and Salmon (i.e. non-interactive, non-user feeds.)

This seems like a devotion to ‘social’, right?

I’ve been wrestling with trying to get this blog hooked up to Mastodon—just out of curiosity. But I gave up. What’s the point? Anyone can use a web browser to get here. Well, yeah, I would like to communicate with everyone using their chosen home base.

ActivityPub and Beaker are almost diametrically opposed it seems.

Where I Lean: Retreat from ActivityPub. I am hard-staked to Static: the Gathering. (‘Bridgy Fed’[5] is a possible answer—but subscribing to @kicks@kickscondor.com doesn’t seem to work quite yet.)

ActivityPub's message blasting.

It feels like ActivityPub is pushing itself further away with such an immense protocol. Maybe it’s like Andre Staltz recently told me about Secure Scuttlebutt:

[…] ideally we want SSB to be a decentralized invite-only networks, so that someone has to pull you into their social circles, or you pull in others into yours. It has upsides and downsides, but we think it more naturally corresponds to relationships outside tech.

Ok, so, perhaps building so-called ‘walled gardens’—Andre says, “isolated islands of SSB networks”—is just the modern order. (Secure Scuttlebutt is furthered obscured by simply not being accessible through any web browser I know of; there are mobile apps.)

ActivityPub vs Webmention

This feels more like a head-to-head, except that ‘Bridgy Fed’[5:1] is working to connect the two. These two both are:

  • Communicating between feeds.
  • Handling the ‘likes’, the ‘replies’, the ‘follows’ and such.
  • An inbox/outbox model.

I think the funny thing here goes back to ‘Fed Bridgy’: the Indieweb/Webmention crowd is really making an effort to bridge the protocols. This is very amusing to me because the Webmention can be entirely described in a few paragraphs—so why are we using anything else at this point?

But the Webmention crowd now seems to have enough time on its hands that it’s now connecting Twitter, Github, anonymous comments, Mastodon, micro.blog to its lingua franca. So what I don’t understand is—why not just speak French? ActivityPub falls back to OStatus. What gives?


  1. Beaker Browser. A decentralized Web browser. You share your website on the network and everyone can seed it. ↩︎

  2. TiddlyWiki. A wiki that is a single HTML page. It can be edited in Firefox and Google, then saved back to a single file. ↩︎

  3. Beaker uses the Dat protocol rather than the Web (HTTP). A ‘dat’ is simply a zip file of your website than can be shared and that keeps its file history around. ↩︎

  4. Datasette. If you have a database of data you want to share, Datasette will automatically generate a website for it. ↩︎

  5. fed.brid.gy. A site for replying to Mastodon from your Indieweb site. ↩︎ ↩︎

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02 Nov 2018

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30 Oct 2018

How Writing ‘My Struggle’ Undid Knausguard

Normally I wouldn’t link to a large magazine, but this is relevant to the ‘hypertexting’ discussion.

My friend Nate first told me about this fellow—Karl Ove Knausgaard—who has become a substantial literary figure, which would normally qualify him to be ignored by me. Surely he has enough attention, what with every major magazine taking time out to heap praise on his work. Which bears striking similarity to h0p3’s wiki[1] and to my definition of Hypertexting—the creation of a massive ‘body’ of text, often as an avatar for one’s self. (I, too, am building a ‘body’ but I’m not sure that it’s of myself. No indictment to ‘self’ intended.)

Knausgaard’s six-volume My Struggle has concluded and so folks are internalizing it. In the book, the author attempts to lay bare every particle of his mind, life, relationships and—where do I stop?—it’s an autobiographical work that purports to leave nothing private (nothing? I haven’t started the first volume yet) and, so far, Oprah Winfrey hasn’t made him take anything back.

In violating prevailing standards of appropriate personal disclosure, “this novel has hurt everyone around me, it has hurt me, and in a few years, when they are old enough to read it, it will hurt my children,” he writes. “It has been an experiment,” he continues, "and it has failed because I have never even been close to saying what I really mean and describing what I have actually seen, but it is not valueless, at least not completely, for when describing the reality of an individual person, when attempting to be as honest as possible is considered immoral and scandalous, the force of the social dimension is visible and also the way it regulates and controls individuals.

I don’t know if this article is hyperbolizing the whole thing or what—I read around some other thoughts on the series and found other similar reactions.

From Literary Fundamentalism Forever:

At the end, in the last line, he says he’s no longer a writer, something he’s since disproven. But there’s something about this that’s like he’s put it all out, eviscerated himself and stretched the entrails out like Keroauc’s unfurled scroll along a shuffleboard table. He’s exhausted his capacities. And I’m sure that’s something that many writers have wanted to do at one point but never come close to achieving.

I’ve (and we’ve) been very busy having the meta-discussion about writing and cataloguing and relentless thought collection—we have kinship with this guy’s work. It might be that everyone is dealing with this, with the rise of an ‘automatic’ writing culture all around. I think the interesting thing that Knausguard offers is the moment of a ‘completion’. His six-volumes are up, but his life isn’t—and he’s gone on to write a four book cycle.

So, homework:

  • When can a ‘body’ be called done—what are the utilities of this moment, how do you see it coming?

  • For my own sake, I wonder how I might foment a reaction to the logorrheic approach that offers restraint—my Tuesdays and Fridays, for one—although I still end up feeling thoroughly logorrheic and I think I do exhaust anyone passing through. But: I feel to question this approach (hardly to demonize it) but what could a Reverse Knausguard ‘body’ style itself as?

  • What does the non-linear hypertext bring to the table?

For some reason, this work does help me really enjoy modern times.


  1. Surely by now you know the link. And, anyway, after yesterday’s discussion of hypertext ‘entry points’, I’m not even sure how to appropriately link to h0p3. Go make your own doorway. ↩︎

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29 Oct 2018

GeoCities Institute’s Interview with Susansthoughts

‘I didn’t really see it as being about anything…’

Man, I try to do interviews, but this is really good!

OL: Why and why in Heartland neighborhoods?

SS: Well, when I was thinking about putting a page on GeoCities there were various neighborhoods that were about specific things, and I didn’t really see it as being about anything, And Heartland seemed like sort of a friendly catch-all one, they called it the family neighborhood I think. So that seemed the best place for me.

I think there’s a temptation to call it ‘about nothing’ if it’s a page that’s not ‘about anything’. I love finding pages that just meander with no particular aim. Though it’s harder to name pages that are like that in the present.

OL: Let’s go though your home page. When I saw it for the first time it immediately attracted my attention, because you stroked through the Welcome to My Home Page

Welcome to My Page

Here’s the Page

In the next sentence you explained that you strike it through because

“One of the books I looked at on how to code HTML said “Don’t put ‘Welcome to my page’ on your page”, because people already know they’re welcome, so I tried to think how to start this without putting that on first, and really, it seems sort of stark without some kind of greeting. So my second idea was just to say “Here’s the page”, as an homage to my seven-year-old son, who has started saying “Bon appetit” at mealtimes, and I discovered that he thought it meant “Here’s the food.”

This is such a sweet thing—and it reminds me that this sort of thing is still alive when people share the things kids say or fragments of overheard conversation and there is no stigma around those things. But I think there was some backlash against LiveJournal and the initial ‘meaningless’ Twitter status updates—but perhaps Susan was able to do this artfully. (I genuinely think her page is still great to read. It reminds me of a blog called Murrmurrs that I came across recently that I have been enjoying for similar reasons.)

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I often hear that kids today are ‘entitled’—but shouldn’t they be? Do we expect every generation to rebuild from scratch? Yes, in some ways a human has to—but I do hope that there can progressively be more of an inheritance that goes to every human child.

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Reply: Self-Made Doorways

h0p3

I think if you look through FTO, my letters to people are meant to be the initial entry points for each of them. However one chooses to build and focus the storyriver in their link to this hyperobject is a curated entry point. […] curation appears to be something any agent can be engaged in here.

A discussion of portals into a large hypertext.

Ok, this is rich—this point is on fire. We agree, yeah, oh hell yeah we agree. This is what I’m saying every third paragraph about how our technology is underutilized. This is a great example of the ‘social’ overemphasis of the single ‘post’ or ‘link’ or ‘article’ as opposed to the hypertext ‘body’.

(For anyone just joining this conversation, h0p3’s link in the quote above loads about 10 pieces of hypertext that represent his current ‘place’ in this massive [20 megabyte] ‘body’ he’s creating—so the ‘link’ he’s sent doesn’t represent a single ‘article’ or ‘tweet’, which is what we’re trained to think of a ‘link’ representing. And I wonder—beyond h0p3’s twenty megs—how can I ‘link’ to the ten related tabs I might have open so that you can see them together? How can you create your own ‘link’ that puts me into the center of a hypertext perspective you have?)

(In some ways, this reminds me of heavily cross-referenced and footnoted texts like religious scripture—which are hyperlinked in a fashion—and folks have long batched together references to these works through verse-chapter or page citations, and most often through quotes. The amazing feature of the link above is that it isn’t just a set of quotes—it is the definitive source material, connected to the live author. Is it possible that citation could be improved by allowing one to construct a link of views to many definitive hypertexts?)

I won’t even touch Reddit [and it’s spidering onto the rest of the web] without half a dozen tweaks and tools; it’s not worth my time.

I like to say that all our problems are human problems at this point—but I think I am starting to see that every site needs good search, some kind of indexing and a way of positioning it within the whole landscape outside of it. I wonder what tools you find most useful—are they just useful within Reddit or should they be available to you and I somehow?

I grant, however, that some methods are better than others. What counts as finding relevance in our hyperreading in general is some ridiculously hard problem. It’s probably fair to say most people will quickly run out of things they find worth reading on this wiki (if they found anything).

Yeah, I think if we start to get too ‘hyper’ we get lost in the linkage and things get blurry. I mean when it comes down to it, I just want to do some very basic things: meet people, connect thoughts, really dig into a concept, see neat things—and try to route around the armchair arrogance that seems to be plaguing the world.

I don’t plan to read your whole wiki—I plan to use it to research your takes as we correspond and to consult it while I’m studying, to see what other directions I can go. (I wonder if you’ll agree with this:) I think the point isn’t to make your wiki the Penn Station of philosophy—I just think some valuable things will bubble up out of your project that will connect to Penn Station bidirectionally. Just like I might draw from Vigoleis or Dr. Strangelove from time to time—philosopher.life is in there, too.

I’m not sure if I can say that they are manipulating the feed.

Manipulators treat the minds of others as mere means; they do not respect your dignity. Satya Nadella is a manipulator. Does that mean he and cabal of powerful deep state actors have conspired to control every little detail of your mind? No. But, the science of rhetoric, mass manipulation, and our ability as a species to produce increasingly effective apex predators only continues to rise. Power centralizes at any cost, including moral ones.

I guess I try to manipulate the feed, too, so yeah, of course he’s manipulating the feed. Why I’m reluctant to just pin the award on him: I’m not sure he’s actually accomplishing what he claims to be. I love that he’s put all of this work into influencing Hacker News, but his boasting about it could clearly undo all that work—so what kind of master manipulator are we really dealing with here?

The short-term efforts undermine the long-term—his infrastructure is not nearly as sound as it seems.

What are games except for sets of rules we play by to win?

Yeah, man, good questions. I think the trolls are way ahead in this effort—I think they see that they can create games that are honeypots. And I do think that the Internet still holds the power to flip the structure so that it is the powerful who get caught in these games that they think they can play. (Thus, the meme warfare centers.) I think the trouble is that trolls are chaotic and can align anyway they like—evil, neutral and good—are even ‘neutral’ and ‘good’ more likely to turn out to be ‘evil’ than vice versa? On the other hand, chaotics have been the Robin Hoods, the Guy Fawkeses, the Snowdens perhaps. I think we benefit by tapping into that subversive light-heartedness.

As you point out, we are still going to need a standard for when we define something as cooperating. If I respond to your letters with one word answers, I’m offering a token. You cannot escape measuring reality to some very large extent. I think this is part of our plight. Yet, the goal is to not be overly quantitative (where, unfortunately, “overly” is quantitative).

Oh—I like your arguments, answers and agreements on the T42T outlines. I think this also goes in with my thoughts on what I called ‘pluralism’ (but which really just means ‘a multimodal system of thinking’)—just as one needs to both ‘quantify’ and restrain from such a thing, just as one must respond in kind, respond with a token, respond with a tome (and never know precisely if one is doing it ‘right’)—it is always a constant balancing in a battle of extremes and competing ideals. Much like a relationship is a balance between what I am looking for and you are looking for.

So also I look at socialism and capitalism as arrows in my quiver; left and right as sides of myself more than two religions at war. This is overly simplistic—but so is T42T, it is a useful starting place for me. It is not the end, it is the curated entry point. It is the self-made doorway.

(The remainder of your letter—the part that essentially argues for staking a position—I am going to digest and figure out how to respond. I don’t have any problem with what you’re saying in a general sense; it is principled. I, personally, cannot get myself to ratchet down to anything concrete, for some reason. I think part of it is that I really do enjoy human beings—I am hard-staked against misanthropy—and that puts me in a really weird place wrt to modern culture and forming an alliance with a group rather than an individual. But if the mindset is totally bereft, then I am willing to abandon it.)

(As far as the TiddlyWiki loader: I am also waiting for more inspiration there. I think of that prototype as ‘chapter one’—I usually have to batch up ideas and code fragments in order to realize them. But glad it got the conversation going. I am thinking a lot about versioning—for example, can the timestamp also be part of the curated doorway that is the undercurrent of this exchange?)

  1. @kicks These are the discussions that are showing me the value of the wiki format - online - even if it is just one's own musings and notes. Online other's can read and either reject or build upon those posts. So it's better than just having a private wiki notebook only on your own computer.

    Question: Wiki's as we currently know them are more about writing (knowledge base) connected in a non-linear fashion and minimal heirarchy, so can one make a wiki/directory - a fusion of the two forms? Not quite a wiki as we presently know it but not quite a directory either, but still a portal that lists other websites and is used to navigate the web. It would need to be searchable. Next question, would it be useable, or to put it another way would the man on the street understand it? Can it scale?

    I think this is something to think about.

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26 Oct 2018

Satya Nadella ‘Reads’/‘Games’ Hacker News

From the Microsoft quarterly earnings conference call:

Satya Nadella (head of Microsoft): In fact, this morning, I was reading a news article in Hacker News[1], which is a community where we have been working hard to make sure that Azure is growing in popularity and I was pleasantly surprised to see that we have made a lot of progress in some sense that at least basically said that we are neck to neck with Amazon when it comes to even lead developers as represented in that community. So we have more work to do, but we are making progress on all dimensions.

Yeah, that’s not mere ‘reading’. There is a sense of a project to make ‘progress’ using this forum to steer people on the network toward Azure. And using their influential employees to influence the discussions.

I get that this is how society works: people influence each other and it behooves an organization to survive—by persuading people through any means it can.

No, wait—sorry. Not through ‘any’ means. For example, using subterfuge will often backfire. It is a dangerous technique, innit? Say I hired a bunch of eager fellas to go on news sites and forums, to bring up ‘Kicks Condor’—to link to me, fawn about me, endlessly recontextualize me—this is what is happening to you, this is why you are here, you are entrapped in my game—the unique ‘Kicks Condor’ brand with its iconic sign on a pixel chair. Have you heard? He’s rumbling up—he’s ascendant. There is a certain measurable mindshare now emerging on the flatscreens. Why, it’s more dazzling and varied than I myself had previously dictated to my personal autonomous pocket assistant! (Can this be happening to me??) Look at the pixel chair. You’ll see it again soon.

Question: does gaming the algorithm undermine the algorithm? Or is it the point of the algorithm? I’m asking all of you out there—is the algorithm designed to continue feeding us the same narrative that we are already upvoting? Or can the upvotes trend away?

Or are the upvotes just bullets in some game of Fortnite where Satya Nadella is spraying us from high above with his army of toadies that have spammed the server so that he is not just one squad—but all the squads logged in—at least for the next two minutes? Until Eric Schmidt logs on and mows down all the independent links running for cover?

I’m not sure if I can say that they are manipulating the feed—but having spent some time on the ‘new’ page, it only takes about three votes to push something toward the front page. If you have ten people doing this, then you are gaming the algo. Hobbyists won’t have this kind of paid workforce. And it’s interesting how openly he discusses molding that community as if it’s his medium.


  1. In case you haven’t heard of it Hacker News is a frumpy text-only link aggregator, a kind of proto-Reddit that has some homebrew charm along with straight-up startup culture hustling. ↩︎

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Hypertexting

‘Constructing a body of hypertext over time—such as with blogs or wikis—with an emphasis on the strengths of linking (within and without the text) and rich formatting.’

‘Constructing a body of hypertext over time—such as with blogs or wikis—with an emphasis on the strengths of linking (within and without the text) and rich formatting.’

A superset of blogging and wiki creation, as well as movements like the Indieweb and, to some degree, federated networks.

Does it include social networks like Twitter and Mastodon? Sure, depends on what you’re doing. If that network is helping you build a body of hypertext, is keeping you sufficiently ‘linked’ and gives you enough of an ability to format the text, then ‘super’—you are hypertexting in your way.

I hope it goes without saying that Twitter is a limited form of hypertexting. It underutilizes the tech—that’s its whole point, right?

But the point of the term is not to disqualify a certain technology or to try to channel disgust or disdain into something new—that’s exactly why the term is envisioned as a superset. I am extracting this term from what I am seeing develop on the Web.

On Supersets

A superset is the inversion of a subset. So, rather than dividing a topic into further subtopics—we combine related topics into a new ‘super’ topic. By redrawing the lines of the topic, it is possible to discover new subsets within the superset or to work with folks across the topic as a whole.

In this case, the superset seems superuseful since the division lines between the hypertext niches are almost entirely structural. (This isn’t entirely true: some structures imply, for example, centralization. A feed of interleaved user ‘stuff’ is done most simply by a single network housing that data—at least at first.)

I’m not even sure the subsets actually exist. It is already all hypertext that conforms to a variety of possible structures:

Various tree and flat structures.

The blog (feed) and the wiki (ad-hoc) might not actually be different—despite that we think of wikis as being multi-writer (the original wikis anyone could edit, without respect to any record of permanent trolling demerits) and using a simplified markup that made linking fluid while writing—a blog can do what a wiki can do and vice versa.

By decoupling the hypertext from the implied structure of a wiki or blog, I can now look at these structures as mere arrangements of my hypertextual body.

Advanced Hypertexting

I think it’s worth repeating the criteria of ‘hypertexting’ so that it can be either corrected or remain crystal clear.

  1. A ‘body’ of hypertext is being created. Not just a single post or link.
  2. Linking is used both within and without the ‘body’. No comment on how this can be done ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. At the very least, though, this allows the body to be anything but merely linear.
  3. The formatting of the text is enhanced by inline imagery, charts, emoji, bullets, colors, aesthetics that allow the one hypertexting to communicate in addition to the letters themselves. (The standardization of HTML between us seems like a unique human collaboration that we should take advantage of. To some, this is all a distraction; to others, it is vital.)

There is nothing new at all here—in fact, it’s all becoming very old—but the superset distinction allow us to draw attention to the ‘body’ rather than the blog ‘post’ or the wiki ‘page’ and to ask: ‘what are we creating here?’ The body itself is a superset—and ‘hypertexting’ calls into focus what the work as a whole can be from a higher vantage point.

These three attributes imply an effort that goes beyond writing alone. The first creates a body whose length is practically infinite—no reader will likely consume it all. The second indicates that much research (both external and self-research) is required. And the third gives a sense of bottomless innovation to the publishing interface—in fact, as long as the body is able to remain intact, it can be published by anyone exactly as it is intended, as long as the browser remains compatible, which it has done remarkably well so far.

In addition, this gives us the impetus to preserve the browser’s life and compatibility, such that these bodies are kept alive.

Creating a body this large demands the ability to shape the structure. This is the problem: how do I begin to approach your giant monolith of hypertext beyond just reading your two or three latest posts?

What I would like to highlight is the ability of the author to use the ‘body’, its linking and formatting, to shape the structure. To infoshape.

Link directories are clearly a part of this superset. Delicious and Pinboard themselves act as hypertexting swarms that work to connect the bodies. Maybe these connections fill holes in the body—maybe they act as introductions between bodies. They are a way to shape the info and annotate it slightly.

h0p3: I’m actually annoyed when people call my wiki a blog, since it is obviously not that to me. Of course, the fool in me starts wondering what exactly on the web doesn’t count as hypertexting? What doesn’t have a single entry point?

The home page is definitely the curated entry point. But it’s not just that entry point that’s important—the points that go deeper from there are important. h0p3’s home page was initially the most important thing to me. But now it’s the ‘recent changes’ page and the bookmarks I have that indicate where I intend to next explore further. Sometimes he is a blog, sometimes he is a wiki. Sorry, man!

What you might think of as ‘advanced hypertexting’ simply allows the shaping of the hypertext.

  • What pieces are the hypertext broken up into?
  • How does one interchange or embed or inter-relate these texts?
  • Can these pieces be composed into—not just texts—but shapes for the text?

To me, this is a great advantage of the superset. If the platform could see itself less as being a blog or a wiki or a directory, but as a collection of hypertexts that can be shaped, perhaps by hypertexts themselves. (Wikis—and TiddlyWiki in particular—have long had this abililty to make a page that displays the other pages as a blog. And some wikis allow you to include pages in other pages.)

The advanced hypertexting doesn’t end with the wiki—it’s just one way. I think Tumblr was initially on to something—aesthetic and piece layout are important here. Now add the ‘advanced’ hypertexting and what do you have?

TODO

(This is an unfinished steno—it could use a survey of the hypertexting field here. And it will be interesting to see where things go over the next six months. I will have to revisit this after I learn more.)

(I think the other missing discussion is how ‘ephemeral’ fragments fit into this. See also: Blogging.)

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19 Oct 2018

Reply: Emergent Connections Between You, the Readers of These Hypertext Piles

Pinboard and Indieweb.xyz as clustering tools.

Ok ok, one other thing that has dawned on me: it’s not just the emergent connections between writers that is salient when clustering. It’s the connections between readers as well! (This is one thing that Google cannot possibly capture.)

To akaKenSmith’s point:

Having found each other, kindred parties need a work space where they can develop shared understandings.

The old Delicious was this kind of workspace for readers - a similar effort can be found in Pinboard.

One interesting thing I like to do with Pinboard is to look up a link - say ‘The Zymoglyphic Musem’ (results here) and then look at the other bookmarks for those who found the link. For example, the user PistachioRoux.

All of those links are now related to ‘The Zymoglyphic Museum’ by virtue of being in the realm of interest of PistachioRoux. YouTube uses these sorts of algorithms to find related videos by matching your realms of interest with someone else’s. However, in the process, that person is removed. (Or ‘those people’, more appropriately.) PistachioRoux is removed.

But perhaps PistachioRoux is the most interesting part of the discovery.

Particularly in a world which is becoming dominated by writers rather than readers - maybe the discovery of valuable readers is part of this.

Say a post tagged with #how_to #mk #fix_stabs could be crawled and collected into a single mechanical keyboard maintenance page. All that really calls for is emergent keywords from communities and tagging posts which bloggers can do and automations can assists with.

This does sound a lot like Indieweb.xyz, as @jgmac1106 mentioned. The concept is simple:

  • Blogger ‘tags’ their post with a URL: https://indieweb.xyz/en/mk.
  • Their Webmention (pingback) software notifies that URL: “Hey, a post has been made on this tag.”
  • Indieweb.xyz checks the page for a valid link - sure enough.
  • The blog post is added to that URL on Indieweb.xyz.

So the emergence should come from blogs clustering around a given URL.

I’ve been wondering if they could do a similar thing with http://www.adfreeblog.org/ - a ‘general’ blog community could be established around a simple ideal like that.

Might look like this:

  • Blog links to adfreeblog.org on their home page.
  • Adfreeblog.org notices visitors coming from that page and checks that page for the link and the image.
  • If found, it adds the blog to a directory, using the meta description and keyword tags.

The adfreeblog.org home page then becomes a directory of the community. So, kind of like a webring, but actually organized. With Twitter cards and such floating in the metadata, it is probably much easier to extrapolate a good directory entry.

Spam is an issue with this approach - but it’s a start toward discovery. There aren’t a whole lot of ways for a blog to jump out from the aether and say, “I’m over here - blogging about keyboards too!” And, in a way, the efforts to squash abuse and harassment are making it more difficult.

This can become an important component in the new discovery system like how awesome-blahblah github repos are playing a key role in open source discovery.

I think it’s important to point out, though, that ‘awesome’ directories are intended to be human-curated, not generative. They feel like a modern incarnation of the old ‘expert’ pages.

  1. Ok ok, one other thing that has dawned on me: it’s not just the emergent connections between writers that is salient when clustering. It’s the connections between readers as well!

    In this way, I think blogs are a whole lot like essays:

    Of all forms of literature, however, the essay is the one which least calls for the use of long words. The principle which controls it is simply that it should give pleasure; the desire which impels us when we take it from the shelf is simply to receive pleasure. Everything in an essay must be subdued to that end. It should lay us under a spell with its first word, and we should only wake, refreshed, with its last.

    -- Virginia Woolf, The modern essay

  2. This is too good to be true. Yesterday I read Sebastiaan's write-up of how he graphically a link between two individuals who both liked the same thing on the internet, and how, by doing that, he could alert himself to things he might like.

    Today I finally see, in my reader, an earlier post from Kicks Condor, in which he talks about surfacing other readers who have linked to things he has linked, and how that might help him to discover interesting things to read. That could even be the basis of a self-organising discovery engine.

    Clearly, they ought to know about one another. Maybe this post of mine will trigger that.

  3. Reply: It’s a Link Thing (Re: Graph-Based Indie-reading)

    Jeremy Cherfas

    This is too good to be true. Yesterday I read Sebastiaan’s write-up of how he graphically [made] a link between two individuals who both liked the same thing on the internet, and how, by doing that, he could alert himself to things he might like.

    Today I finally see, in my reader, an earlier post from Kicks Condor, in which he talks about surfacing other readers who have linked to things he has linked and how that might help him to discover interesting things to read. That could even be the basis of a self-organising discovery engine.

    Clearly, they ought to know about one another. Maybe this post of mine will trigger that.

    Cool, yes, the alert worked! That alone is very worthwhile and goes a long way toward discovery. In a way, I think this is the most idealized form—you’ve just done the equivalent of “Hey, check this out” and I am very fortunate that I get to read your reasoning rather than to simply see a like in my box.

    I like that Sebastiaan’s end goal is to discover a person and not just CONTENT. To some extent the networks do this: mostly they promote trending squares of blurbs and images, but sometimes you see a note: “Follow these three people.” But you have no idea why and it’s not always based on similarity of our link neighborhoods, but based on geographical closeness or crossing some popularity threshold or your search terms and so on.

    I don’t want to be so allergic to social networks that I can’t see the positive tools—bubbling up blurbs and images can be good fun, liking things is effortless nudging—but I think the Indieweb has already improved on this because its protocols are so light that it forces the human connections. (The ‘homebrew website’ clubs are the opposite of viral marketing.) You could see these as counterproductive—but the problem with ‘productive’ protocols is that they become so saturated as to be useless. Google, for instance, is so good that it is useless.

    I still think algorithms are tremendously useful, particularly when the hypertexter controls the algo. And Sebastiaan is toying with this. I wonder to what degree his query language could simplified as to be more widely useful. Perhaps there is an Excel-type language that could become the dials for the ‘archivist’/‘librarian’/‘curator’ role.

  4. Reply: Refreshing Essays

    Eli Mellen

    In this way, I think blogs are a whole lot like essays:

    Of all forms of literature, however, the essay is the one which least calls for the use of long words. The principle which controls it is simply that it should give pleasure; the desire which impels us when we take it from the shelf is simply to receive pleasure. Everything in an essay must be subdued to that end. It should lay us under a spell with its first word, and we should only wake, refreshed, with its last.

    – Virginia Woolf, The modern essay

    Boy, yes yes, lots of good things in there. I wholeheartedly agree.

    Literal truth-telling and finding fault with a culprit for his good are out of place in an essay, where everything should be for our good and rather for eternity than for the March number of the Fortnightly Review.

    I will need to read back on this several times to know what she means. She’s not saying that criticism is out of place—she engages in it the very paragraph next. (Although I confess that I am tiring of the constant flow of cultural critique. There has to be more than just that to an essay.)

    I think writing for ‘eternity not just March’ could be an expression that stays with me.

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The Zymoglyphic Museum

A corporeal directory to another world.

In my travels about the hypertext kingdom, I happened upon a rare portal[1] to a so-called ‘Zymoglyphic’ world—islands of Earth ‘formed by the upwelling of molten magma from the underworld.’

I had not ever known of the creatures of this land! We talk of museums, libraries, cataloging and labeling here, do we not? Therefore, I awkwardly flailed out in my typical shock-curiosity to Jim Stewart—the Museum’s curator.

kicks: I recently discovered an interesting local museum a few blocks from my neighborhood after being unaware of it for five years. I drove behind it all the time and would have immediately spotted it had I driven on the other, parallel street. It took me five years to drive on that other, parallel street.

So what are your visitors like? Unsuspecting tourists? Neighbors that happen to drive by? Pilgrims?

jim: All of the above. Probably the majority of visitors are tourists and locals looking for “offbeat” things to see and do.[2] Some are specifically interested in personal museums, natural history, curiosity cabinets, or a rust-and-dust aesthetic. I do get a fair share of people just passing by as well and have met a lot of neighbors this way.

kicks: So, did you have any idea in mind of who you were looking for when you started the museum or were you just glad to have anyone and everyone?

jim: At first I was just doing it for myself, then when I went public I was happy to have anyone appreciate it. Nowadays (after 2000 visitors) I’m mostly looking for the people interested in a more in-depth connection with the museum.

kicks: I love the guide[3] you have, advice for curating your own museum. In a way, I took it as advice for the blog-hunting I do. You even have a section on ‘outreach’—I have a little group of online friends where we call this ‘find the others’—the pejorative word here might be ‘self-promotion’—to what degree do you engage in this kind of thing for the Zymoglyphic?

jim: Very little at his point. The blog has not seen an entry in years and the twitter account is inactive. Events are announced on Facebook and I have a mailing list that gets used 3 or 4 times a year. People who visit leave reviews on review sites and photos on Instagram, and I am on a lot of “quirky things to do in Portland” lists. The place is small and can’t really accommodate many people. Also, I think the fact that this is a physical place and not just an online presence puts it in a category that generates its own publicity.

kicks: Perhaps the museum is ‘complete’ and has no need of updates? Or is it in constant flux—are you always cooking up new exhibits?

jim: The basic format seems pretty stable. I’m working on a lot of different but related projects, such as a library and computer-generated aquarium.

kicks: You also have this profound quote in the book: “Once the museum is complete, it could become a private sanctuary for contemplation, since the museum will be like being inside your own subconscious mind.” This reminds me of the work at philosopher.life—where a fellow is cataloging his life and correspondence in a huge singular oracular HTML file. So when someone visits, are they able to absorb you through this portal—almost as if it is a stand-in for you—or is it as mysterious to you as it is to them?

jim: Very hard to say exactly what other people get out of it. Many are quite enthusiastic I think mostly they are finding something in themselves that they had not been able to express in just that way. I know from personal experience that it is possible to get a lot out of a work of art and not be able to relate to the artist as a person.

kicks: Haha, I love the idea that someone could relate more to the Zymoglyphic Mermaid[4] than to you. 😄 Well—and you say on the website that you like to give the visitors their space to peruse and not be badgered or guided through. (Have I got that right?) Does it matter to you what the effect of the museum would be on somebody?

jim: Yes, the museum is on the second floor and I just send people up when they come in (even if they want a quick introduction). When they come back down is when I engage them about their reactions (if they seem open to it) and answer questions. I’m definitely interested in what their take on it is, and what it means to them. I keep track on the web site of all the reviews, blog mentions, etc. It’s especially meaningful if someone gets inspired to do something similar.

kicks: Having lived in towns with small museums, junk art houses, religious shrines—you have given your city and the world a great gift.


  1. The Zymoglyphic Museum. ‘The Zymoglyphic Museum’s primary mission is the preservation of the unique natural and cultural heritage of the Zymoglyphic region. In addition, the museum hosts a variety of special collections and online exhibits related to zymoglyphic themes of natural art, celebration of decay, and museums as curiosity cabinets.’ ↩︎

  2. Also: vloggers. ↩︎

  3. Creating and Curating Your Own Personal Museum. Furthermore, the publications contains a myraid of other enchanting documents, such as the Museum’s Manifesto and A Guide to the Collections. All very worth your time. ↩︎

  4. ‘Somewhat of a spokesmodel for the museum […] its sinuous body and delightful smile grace the museum shop’s drinkware, clocks, and clothing.’ More. (See also: Jenny Haniver.) ↩︎

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17 Oct 2018

Reply: Finding Blogs in the Future

Don Park

I feel that discovery layer is missing or lacking. blogrolls didn’t scale. ring blogs just sucked. SEO is just survival-of-the-fittest money pit.

Discovery layer is critical. Without it, even recent push to reshape blogs into shops is meaningless. even small towns have a Main Street for discovery.

Blogrolls worked more like book recommendations. Hard to maintain too. Worked well with new technology. With other and over multiple topics, not so well. We need a more self-organizing and ad-hoc, emergent if you will.

It’s constant work—finding each other through the noise.

Hi, folks - just jumping in because this is my wheel house a bit. I have been having an extended discussion with Brad Enslen (so, on our blogs: ramblinggit.com and kickscondor.com) about discovery. We talk a lot about how this is more of a human problem than a technology problem - and that technology has played a negative role in this, perhaps.

(My part in this is: I have been spending time every day for the past six months searching for blogs - to see what the Web looks like outside of social networks. So I have a good perspective on where one can search nowadays - you can’t just type ‘blogs’ into Google. And I’m starting to get a good feel for where I would want to go to find blogs.)

blogrolls didn’t scale. ring blogs just sucked. SEO is just survival-of-the-fittest money pit.

Yes, so - for sure. (See Brad’s comment on Google here.)

In addition, self-promotion has become a dirtier word these days - you can’t just post your blog to Reddit and Instagram - it’s seen as being overly assertive. So there is almost nowhere for blogs to go.

The thing is: no, blogrolls didn’t scale - but I think they are pretty essential. We’ve traded a human-curated list of links for a ‘friends’ list that is really just a number on an individual’s feed. And the best blogrolls had nice descriptions of who was who (see: Chris Aldrich’s following page as a good example) which is a generous way of turning your readers on to other good work.

I guess I just think of it practically: how would we treat our friends and the other ‘writers’/‘artists’ we admire - by making them a number in our list? Or by spelling it out: “Annie writes about her processes as a sci-fi writer and how to improve online relationships. Basically - it’s uplifting to read her.”

Blog clusters are emergent. Fake or not, blogs with posts on similar topics will be mapped to same cluster which can be seen as a place in which a blog belongs to. Once we have that, a blog reader should be able to ‘pop out’ of that blog and see some visual representation of that cluster with neighboring blogs, not unlike a shopper leaving a store will see a street lined with other shops. That’s how discovery is done IRL and I envision that may be possible online.

Sweet - feels practical. One question I have here is: ok, so blogs have also become more topic-based. The most common blogs are recipe blogs, movie blogs, etc. But a great ‘lost’ element of blogs was just the original web journal or meta blog, where a person is just writing about whatever - I think of stuff like the old J-Walk blog or Bifurcated Rivets. Even Boing Boing used to be more this way. (So like an online ‘zine’.)

I think the orderliness of the Internet and the systems for discovery - these blogs were not found through Google, but only because there was more of an ethic of linking to each other among early blogs. A lot of discovery was just being done by bloggers back then - people simply passed links around.

Again, ‘likes’ have drained linking of a lot of its bite. We don’t write so much about why we like something - we like it and move on. And it’s so easy to ‘like’, it is done so vigorously that even we can’t keep up with our own likes - whereas we used to be limited by how much energy we would spend dressing up our links.

I’m with Don on this – whatever is going to have a chance to work has to be emergent, meaning it can’t require any investment on the part of writers.

I think ‘emergent’ can require work - in fact, it might demand work. Yes, too much work will dissuade anyone. But if it’s too easy, then it’s virtually worthless. I think the value of human curation is in its additional care.

An algorithm cannot simulate the care. Chris’ blogroll linked above is done with care - a human can plainly see that another human has taken the time to write about others. And the more time he spends designing it and improving it, the more it shows that care. People can visit my blog and see that it is built with care. (To me ‘care’ can be represented by thoughtful writing and splendid artistry or shaping of the information.)

Ok - sorry to go on so long, I hope you see this as my effort to generously engage in your discussion.

The effort Brad and I are now engaged in is an effort to bring back the link directory and to attempt to innovate it based on what we’ve learned. (Link directories have already evolved several times into: blogrolls, wikis, link blogs, even the App Store’s new ‘magazine’ approach, etc.) The idea is to jump right into discovery and link up with anyone else who wants to get in on it. Thus, my reply today!

Good to meet you all - take care.

  1. @kicks Interesting. Good discussion on Github.

    I think there are some things we can automate better while still having human curation. For example: on a blog, I'd love to have a spider that harvests tags and categories and how many posts for each tag so I can get a sense of what that blogger spenda a lot of time writing about. Because some blogs are so big you really can't poke through it all.

    I'm beginning to think single author wiki's are way under utilized. Blogs are cool but relentless about pushing down older posts.

  2. Reply: Robot Plus Human

    Brad Enslen

    I think there are some things we can automate better while still having human curation.

    Mild automation alongside hypertexting in the Indieweb.

    Oh yes—I quite agree! I didn’t when I started this blog—I was pretty burned out on algorithms. But I’ve calmed down and, yeah, I think your word of ‘automation’ is more friendly to me than ‘algorithm’.

    I’m really getting a lot of good stuff out of Pinboard—it is better than Google, DDG, Million Short or any directory at finding interesting stuff. And it is due to its balance between machine and human: the humans find the link and tag it; the machine collates everything for the researcher. You can do pretty complex queries with it, which I am using every day now. (As an example: /u:krudd/t:links/t:web shows me all links tagged ‘web’ and ‘links’ under the user ‘krudd’.)

    However, it is still totally underutilized. I would be surprised if there were five other people on the Earth mining it like I am. (This wasn’t true of the old Delicious—it was a golden age for this kind of mining of bookmarks.)

    One great thing to automate would be Webmentions for Pinboard. Think of it: when you (Brad) mention me, I put a link to you at the bottom of that page. You are another writer, so if someone likes your comment, they can visit you to see more of your writings.

    But if I had Webmentions from Pinboard, you could go to the bottom of my page and see what readers are mentioning my page. And those readers can be visited—not to see what they are writing, but to see what else they are reading. There is a temptation to remove the reader’s name and just inline their relevant links at the bottom of my post. But I think that removing the human possibly destroys the most valuable piece of information.

    I’m beginning to think single author wiki’s are way under utilized. Blogs are cool but relentless about pushing down older posts.

    I’m starting to categorize the ‘blogging’ and ‘wiki-ing’ actions under the superset called ‘hypertexting’. Both are about simply writing hypertexts, but blogs arrange those texts in a linear summary and wikis arrange them as a web which starts from a single entry point. (And a self-contained hypertext book or directory would be a tree.)

    I think that if we could retreat to mere ‘hypertexting’ and then give people a choice of entry points, we could marry the ephemeral and the permanent and do exciting things with the entire body of the ‘hypertext’. This is where my blog is moving toward and it’s obviously inspired by h0p3’s system and the Indieweb as a whole.

  3. @kicks I like the term "hypertexting" as you define it! More and more I feel the need to try a wiki on something, The linear aspects of blogs are feeling constraining.

    I also need to try Pinboard.

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I feel a connection to the original Occupy ethos outside of the topic of class. I like to think that the work on my blog has a similar aim. 1% of the humans have the attention. I want to spend my time, though, looking at the work of the other ninety-nine.

  1. Reply to this

    And not so they will become the new elite. But because I think we can benefit from each other’s attention. There is much to explore in this world.

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Notes From an Occupation

Journal-like coverage of early Occupy.

I’ve been both reading Mark Greif’s Against Everything and also just feeling nostalgic for Occupy Wall Street. (People claimed it was muddled, because it didn’t have answers—but I don’t know anyone who thought “We Are the 99%” wasn’t catchy.)

It’s been seven years and I found myself revisiting this day-to-day live blog of the first week, passing the mic between Mark Greif and Astra Taylor. (Here’s a subsequent part that goes into October.)

This author Astra is the wife of Jeff Mangum—and it’s interesting to me that his appearance at Liberty Park later led to a couple rounds of touring after a decade in the shadows. Well, if that was the point, then I’m glad for the times I saw him. Can’t help but wish Zuccotti Park was still a self-organizing commune, though, with its own roving troubadour.

Most of all, I love the description of the orderly congresses:

Noam Chomsky had sent a personal message by email. It was predictably long-winded; I wished people would make the “get to your point” sign. I was sitting close to the aisle of waiting speakers and I was surprised to watch participants whom I assumed knew each other well—since they were working together smoothly—whisper to ask each other’s names. They’re the most easygoing bunch I’ve seen at a protest, and the most calmly confident. Very gentle and not rattled by disruptors. Presumably that’s the confidence of nine days.

Up twinkles, hard block, flat hands—probably too cutesy for most. I dig it. Glad to make a new semaphore any day of the week. Or just fall back on ‘point of personal privilege’. There are rules, but there aren’t.

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16 Oct 2018

Meaningness

A hypertext book underway for ten years.

No idea if this link has already made it around many times over. Seems relevant to the TiddlyWiki crowd. It’s a ‘book’/‘wiki’/‘whatever’.

Couple things;

  • Drafts are clearly marked with a nice pickaxe icon. And the whole article is flocked in gray. (See above.)

  • Cool hierarchy at the bottom of the page. Explains the book and gets you around. Kind of like this stuff being at the bottom so the article can take up the top.

  • Comments on each page are hidden.

Found this by way of the article on the death of subcultures. Don’t know about anyone else here but I’ve wondered about this for the past several years. I still consider myself a ‘mod’. And I mean there are still ‘hipsters’ and insane clown posses around—doesn’t feel the same.

See also: giant chart that explains everything. I’m really starting to collect these. Peace out there, my clan.

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15 Oct 2018

After looking at TBL’s ‘Solid’ for several hours—I don’t follow. It is a ‘personal data store’—but it seems awfully complex. I was playing with making a static, read-only data store: well, there are a lot of strange tags involved. And many of the apps seem to use WebId-TLS (which doesn’t work any more?) Don’t even know where to begin to get help.

  1. @kicks I'm skeptical of such complicated specs ever being widely adopted. It would take a very popular real-world app to push it forward (like Mastodon did for ActivityPub, which I also think could be much simpler).

  2. Reply: Simple Specs

    Manton Reece

    I’m skeptical of such complicated specs ever being widely adopted. It would take a very popular real-world app to push it forward (like Mastodon did for ActivityPub, which I also think could be much simpler).

    Well, we’ve been through this before: XML-RPC vs. REST+JSON. And no one remembers SOAP—which had tremendous backing, but was just so riddled with tags, you would just get lost in the stack.

    ActivityPub is just unbelievable—so many layers of JSON-LD, Webfinger, Salmon.

    Webmentions seem so much simpler—even though they’re not exactly comparable. However, Microformats are very difficult. They just are messy in practice—don’t you think? I kind of wish we could go with a combination of Webmentions and JSON Feed. But it’s too late to go inventing another spec. 😉

  3. Well the good news is because Webmention is data agnostic, while I agree microformats can be tricky, if a better solution pops up in the real world, we can easily shift to adopt it. As you said, we shouldnt go out and “try to invent a new spec” but if something makes sense and people try it out and it works, then webmention can always adjust. The webmention spec would never need to change, websites would just have to replace mf2 parsers with whatever the new parsing strategy is.
  4. @kicks Agreed, especially about the layers of JSON-LD that (I think) burden these new formats. Remembering SOAP, I searched my blog archives and found this post from 2003. I might have written it differently today, but pretty much still holds up 15 years later.

  5. Reply: Webmentions Agnostic

    Eddie Hinkle

    Well the good news is because Webmention is data agnostic, while I agree microformats can be tricky, if a better solution pops up in the real world, we can easily shift to adopt it. As you said, we shouldnt go out and “try to invent a new spec” but if something makes sense and people try it out and it works, then webmention can always adjust. The webmention spec would never need to change, websites would just have to replace mf2 parsers with whatever the new parsing strategy is.

    In a way, Webmention doesn’t even seem like a spec—for crying out loud, it is just source ➡️ target ➡️ endpoint! So, really, microformats are the substance of Webmentions. I think it would be interesting to see a variation of Webmention which did JSON, perhaps using Activity Streams or something. I almost wonder if this is what Parecki is doing by offering three different forms of JSON on all of his posts.

    It’ll be hard to beat Microformats, though, in that having a single definitive HTML source is amazing—compared to having all of these other source documents floating around: feeds, ActivityPub outboxes and such. So I’m content to stay put. I already get plenty of great stuff out of Webmentions. Like this ping from you, Eddie!

  6. Reply: Simple Friendly Formats

    Manton Reece

    The Future of Blogging panel was good. Tantek Çelik asked a question about the complexity of Friend of a Friend (FOAF), and whether a more human-readable/writable format was needed. The question was not well received by the panel, which took the view that tools (like Movable Type) will be able to hide the sometimes messy details from the user.

    What an astounding post—this feels like the situation today. (And sure enough—FOAF, XML-RPC and SOAP all went their way.) It is pretty surprising that Microformats have somewhat survived—the u- and p- prefixes, figuring out how to nest elements, complex rules like you see on the Indieweb authorship page.

    I wonder what drives the complexity of something like ActivityPub. Is it a kind of premature future-proofing? Is it just a desire to load the thing with features? I especially wonder about something like FOAF, which should be conceptually simple.

    Really appreciate the conversation, Manton.

  7. @kicks I think part of the complexity comes from a desire to solve all the problems. I drafted a related post last week after looking over Solid, but it's a little negative... Need to re-read and decide whether to post it.

  8. @manton this thought deserves to be expanded.

    Micro.blog is a great case study in standard adoption driven by solving one small problem at a time.

  9. Haha, yeah you’re right. Source and Target aren’t much of a spec. I think some of the stuff that makes it cross over the line as a spec is “how do you discover someone’s webmention endpoint?”, “how do you verify a webmention’s authenticity?”, etc.

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09 Oct 2018

1080plus is Back

Previously known as ‘1080.plus’, this tri-dimensional VJ chat portal is still real—it is real.

What was a very underground tri-dimensional environment for exploring YouTube videos and playing Blackjack(?) together—hell, who knows what you’re SUPPOSED to do here—is now even more underground and abandoned now that it reappeared without any fanfare. I ADORED this place and went looking for it many months ago. Well—it’s back and now seems to have an otherworldly sister site i1os.

Screenshot of i1os.com

Strangely enough, the site was profiled in New York Magazine where the Canadian author (Michael Leonard) says 1080plus is “a project to make a multiplayer theater experience where you could join friends in a virtual world / virtual theater staring at the same virtual silver screen together, and talking about it as it plays.”

Ok, finally, something has survived of the old world.

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Reply to paulg

Paul Graham

[On the topic of Hacker News’ creation] At first it was called Startup News, but it was so boring reading about nothing but startups that a few months later we broadened the focus.

XDXDXD—imagine if the startup-related news was excised.

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Makefrontendshitagain.party

The name is odd; the campiness is tuned in.

So this thing starts off as a kind of old-school banner ad but—scroll, scroll—it’s a link directory! Pretty sweet—I like that it’s just a bunch of tiles and you have to wonder what’s behind them. (And wondering about its creator.)

Like here’s a personal homepage that was crammed in there. The counter says only 40 people have been there. And you might say, “What is even there? Why would I even spend time here?” Is bouncy text not enough for you? Is being the 41ST PERSON not enough??

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Reply: Brad’s Directory Project

Brad

Despite my earlier protestations, I am working on a web directory project on a different domain.

Thread about building link directories—sounds dry, but I am all about this right now.

Cool, cool. 😎 Hearing this has made me ramp up my work on mine as well. Looking forward to linking to each other when we get there.

I am nearing 200 links in my directory—that I’ve snapshotted and summarized—and my attitude toward the directory has changed a bit. At first, I simply thought, “Oh, I’ll just put any link in there that I like.” Which basically turns it into a big list of my bookmarks. (Which is fine—if it’s useful to me and helps the sites I really enjoy, then that’s a good angle to start with.)

However, I’m starting to see that I’m actually attempting to paint a picture of the Web—making a map of it, right? And so I’ve started branching out and including stuff that I may not visit all the time and that I may not even like, because I’m trying to show how ‘wide’ the Web is. As a result, I’ve started including a lot of controversial links across the spectrum of humanity—in order to make the directory more about the Web than it is about Me. (I’m a very passive person, so I tend to rule out posting anything inflammatory or controversial, because I have no idea what the ‘right’ side of an issue is and I just would usually rather not deal with it.)

Ok, so, it’s interesting how your previous sci-fi and horror directories weren’t at all about your preferences, but about mapping out a community. This is a lot tougher with a general-purpose directory because the Web is so big.

So, yeah, I wonder what your criteria are for what you are including. And what your mindset is while you are collecting and editing. I think it would be useful for us to write our thoughts so we can give some advice and encouragements to others who want to build their own web directories.

  1. >200 links

    I know this isn’t a race, but you are ahead of me. And I’m impressed because I’ve seen the detail you put into your descriptions. That’s a lot of work. I’m right around 100 links.

    Yeah, a general directory is harder than a niche. Fortunately, because of our discussions about the web, plus all the Indieweb philosophy, plus my own hobby horses, I have some themes to guide me in this first part of link seeding.

    I am building a directory to help navigate the web. I like your Little Free Library analogy – it is like building a public library from scratch: what needs to be here, what do I want here, what will my patrons enjoy and make use of?

    Themes: Rebuilding the independent web, the web as our social network, alternatives to silos, security and privacy.

    These first 100 links have been kinda from memory: so software to help a beginner build a website, computer security, better browsers, privacy search. I tried to provide links to the resources for those things plus just other stuff I carry in my head (ie. LibreOffice). You and I take this stuff for granted, but what about the average internet user? So I try to think like I’m advising a bunch of my friends around a table, what links would I give them as a starter set? I don’t need to include links to Facebook, Microsoft, Google – they already know about them, what do they need to know about?

    On top of this, I have categories that I don’t want to leave blank, stuff I don’t have in my head anymore so I have to dig. Oh the rabbit holes! There are lots of things I need to dig up more on but it can wait till later.

    Categories: This was hard, coming up with a hierarchy. And as I worked, I’ve added subcats and scrapped many that I can’t be bothered to fill. I started off with a starter set of categories. I’m trying to let subcategories and sub-subcats grow organically as I get enough links for them. I don’t want to overdo the hierarchy, because frankly I expect most people to use the search function anyway.

    PSA: At this point I should clarify some procedures:

    1. I’m listing both websites and individual web pages (sometimes known as deep links) in the directory. Sometimes both. In essence I’m giving myself the flexibility to say, “I don’t know about the rest of the site, but this one post on blue widgets is brilliant.”
    2. A link may appear in more than one category if it is relevant.
    3. At some point I will go back and cross index categories that are relevant to each other.
    4. Link descriptions: Right now I’m just making sure the description has the keywords in it that are needed for people to find it. I’m not trying to write a review although sometimes I do editorialize.
    5. The directory will be open for submissions at launch. Frankly, I’m not optimistic I will get a lot.

    Okay back to seeding.

    Now I’m going through all my bookmarks, read laters and likes looking for stuff worth listing.

    Then I eyeball it and look for gaps and reexamine my category choices.

    I’ll probably add most blogs after I publicly launch. I’d really prefer that bloggers add their own blogs and write their own descriptions. For example how do I describe Kicks Condor’s blog or Chris Aldrich’s blog? Blogs like mine and yours and Chris’ are about a little bit of everything. Much better if I can somehow convince bloggers to add their own listings and describe their own sites. If nobody comes to the party, I’ll start doing it myself but it will be a slog. And yet, and yet, these are exactly the blogs I want in this directory AND need to be in this directory. It’s easy to DUckduck for cooking blogs and find them, but what about blogs that are about every topic under the sun? They are hard to find by keywords but they do need to be found.

    Finally, there are topics I’m just not interested in or want to avoid: Politics, sex, religion – better served by a search engine. Sports? I can’t be bothered. But this too is cool, because there is room for sports, political and other niche directories. Just as there is room for thousands of small general directories.

  2. Reply: General-Purpose Link Directories

    Brad

    I am building a directory to help navigate the web. I like your Little Free Library analogy – it is like building a public library from scratch: what needs to be here, what do I want here, what will my patrons enjoy and make use of?

    Interesting—the ‘make use of’ part really doesn’t apply to what I’m doing because I’m not evaluating links on ‘usefulness’—I want links that are more of an experience or perspective. But I like that you’re doing that in yours. I think it will allow us to compare what draws people in—if that’s even possible.

    Themes: Rebuilding the independent web, the web as our social network, alternatives to silos, security and privacy.

    With mine, I’m specifically avoiding software and business links—because these dominate Google and already have a lot of directories. I’m not linking to technical posts of any kind, though I do have a section on free sites to use to participate on the Web and Indieweb.

    My themes are more: unique sites, colorful sites, bizarre sites (to some extent) and thoughtful sites. I love those pages that I read and they were so profound or beautiful that my life changed just being there.

    These first 100 links have been kinda from memory: so software to help a beginner build a website, computer security, better browsers, privacy search.

    That’s sweet. I’ve been loving the links you’ve been finding (like millionshort and findx—to which I would add wiby perhaps) and so I will definitely use the directory. Vivaldi has been great—I’m following along, Brad.

    On top of this, I have categories that I don’t want to leave blank, stuff I don’t have in my head anymore so I have to dig. Oh the rabbit holes! There are lots of things I need to dig up more on but it can wait till later.

    Yeah, so, this is a good topic. I started a few categories that I’ve decided to hold off on. I have an ‘Animal’ category, for instance, but I don’t think I’ve got enough quality material to make it happen yet. I’m close, but I might hold off.

    Like you, I found it useful to build my categories first, though. I’m only going two tiers deep. So I have a main category and then the actual category. I don’t put any links right under the top-level yet.

    Incidentally, here are the classification systems that I springboard from:

    • BISAC Headings List.
    • SeekOn—I feel like the categories here are similar to the old Yahoo!'s—not that that’s what I want at all, but it helped to think in terms of why I think this organization doesn’t work.
    • Cutter.
    • To some extent, Colon—though I could never seem to find a detailed category list here.

    I don’t want to overdo the hierarchy, because frankly I expect most people to use the search function anyway.

    Huh—I am skipping the search. I guess I’ll have to rethink this. I also have so few links that a lot of searches will draw blanks.

    I’m listing both websites and individual web pages (sometimes known as deep links) in the directory. Sometimes both. In essence I’m giving myself the flexibility to say, “I don’t know about the rest of the site, but this one post on blue widgets is brilliant.”

    Same. In fact, sometimes I link to just an image or a video and those are marked as such.

    A link may appear in more than one category if it is relevant.

    I don’t do this—I tend to link to the second category in the entry’s description instead. I do have some meta categories like ‘Blogs’ and ‘Wikis’ that will list all websites of those types from all categories.

    I do have some ‘secret’ categories that aren’t reachable from the hierarchy. For instance, I have a ‘Charlie McAlister’ secret section that goes into depth on his life—and which is only reachable from his link in the ‘Visuals/Zines’ category.

    At some point I will go back and cross index categories that are relevant to each other.

    Cool—not sure I have enough categories to do that. (Probably 30-40 categories.)

    Link descriptions: Right now I’m just making sure the description has the keywords in it that are needed for people to find it. I’m not trying to write a review although sometimes I do editorialize.

    This is where I go to town. I sometimes include five more links in the description. I am spending a lot of time making these juicy, giving history, including images. I may need to expand some of these into full-page articles.

    The directory will be open for submissions at launch. Frankly, I’m not optimistic I will get a lot.

    I think we need to look at this as long game. It might be good to give yourself a timeline to work with. Like I am giving Indieweb.xyz a year to see how it goes. I might go for two years. It requires a lot more maintenance and work because people interact with it—it’s not just static HTML.

    With this directory, I am committing to 20 years. I am definitely going to keep it up for the long run. It is designed to be a portal to the somewhat permanent Web and it needs to be there longterm in order to work. This means I can play a long game and just build it gradually. Maintaining links is the hard part—but if I keep it small, it’s fine.

    I’d really prefer that bloggers add their own blogs and write their own descriptions. For example how do I describe Kicks Condor’s blog or Chris Aldrich’s blog? Blogs like mine and yours and Chris’ are about a little bit of everything.

    Well, here’s my entry for your blog so far:

    Brad Enslen
    https://ramblinggit.com/
    Web/Meta Blog 10m
    I bounce ideas back-and-forth with this fellow. He blogs about web
    directories and web search---but in an effort to understand how else
    we could be doing this. Our conversations led me to make this directory.
    

    You might take umbrage with my description—it’s pretty low-key. I try not to pitch a site with too much fervor—if I say that every blog is ‘the best blog ever’ then it’s meaningless. But I also don’t want to judiciously decide that one is the best. I’d rather just say matter-of-factly why I visit a site. (I could see myself saying, “This is THE guy I go to when I want to read about organizing links and enhancing the Web these days.”)

    But I think if the description is written by me, it’s more likely to be interesting because self-promotion will always come off as marketing—this entry just comes across as an informal recommendation, like you’d hear in a conversation.

    You could also start with the description meta tag on your links.

    It’s easy to Duckduck for cooking blogs and find them, but what about blogs that are about every topic under the sun? They are hard to find by keywords but they do need to be found.

    Well, this is the advantage we have over Google. We can link to anything and it will be found because it’s never too lost in the directory—since we’re both only in the small hundreds of links.

    Finally, there are topics I’m just not interested in or want to avoid: Politics, sex, religion – better served by a search engine. Sports? I can’t be bothered. But this too is cool, because there is room for sports, political and other niche directories. Just as there is room for thousands of small general directories.

    Let’s hope! 😄

  3. >wiby.me

    Hey, thanks for that! Nice find. That’s just a different approach to what we are doing. Nicely done and good find.

    My themes are more: unique sites, colorful sites, bizarre sites (to some extent) and thoughtful sites. I love those pages that I read and they were so profound or beautiful that my life changed just being there.

    This is good. It has been evident that this is what you do well. This is a real strength for your directory, it will help you make a splash upon launch and will keep people coming back. I can see spending a winter afternoon just surfing through this directory.

    >search
    >20 years

    I don’t know how your directory is coded but the bigger it gets the more site search is needed. I suspect you want to encourage surfing, and that is cool, but my advice is plan to add search feature at some point if you can. There are ways to de-emphasize search on a directory: placement of the searchbox on page or even hiding it on a separate page, but it is handy to have when needed from a user perspective.

    In 20 years I’ll either be dead or so old I won’t care. My time horizon is a good 10 years, which is forever in Internet time and is part of why I’m doing this now rather than dithering. You are right this is a long term game.

    >description

    No umbrage. Low key works. Everyone is bombarded with marketing speak so it’s nice to have someone be dispassionate and neutral. I’m doing it a bit different: if a webmaster included a meta description I try to let it stand. If it is too market speak oriented I edit it and sometimes I add to it to make sure the searcher knows what’s all on the site.

    >categories

    I think I’m too hidebound in the past. You are going to bring a fresh approach to taxonomy which is needed and good.

    This is all good. The Indieweb folks are taking care of the social aspect, which is blogcentric sorta by definition. We can aid in discovery for the blogs and the non-blog sites. If there is to be an Independent Web X.0 somebody has to help map it.

  4. I’ve read this through again.

    My themes are more: unique sites, colorful sites, bizarre sites (to some extent) and thoughtful sites. I love those pages that I read and they were so profound or beautiful that my life changed just being there.

    I think this will be very popular. It’s the difference between walking into an art gallery (you) or listing where to buy paint and brushes (me). Thumbshots would work well for your approach. Anyway, your directory sounds like a winner.

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05 Oct 2018

Lobste.rs Sends Webmentions Now

But doesn’t receive them? Still—neat!

Sending Webmentions to other sites seems like an insane thing to turn down. Your blog software sends a simple message and now that blog can know to link back to you. (And go ahead and send pingbacks, too—way too easy.) But a site like this one, Lobste.rs, where there is a lot of discussion about a given link—seems even better, more advantageous, generally, usually, to bring the author in.

Now imagine if this continued:

  • Send a Webmention (u-syndication style) to https://lobste.rs to submit a link.
  • Send a Webmention (u-like-of style) to a lobste.rs page to upvote.
  • Send a Webmention (u-in-reply-to style) to a lobste.rs page to comment.

And you could verify these Webmentions (and attach them to a user) by verifying that the Webmention source is listed in the user’s ‘about’ section.

Just a quick mention that this is how Indieweb.xyz works and I am very anxious to see if it’s possible to really have a community work this way! (I’m not sure I know of any other community that is entirely built ENTIRELY from blog and wiki crosstalk—maybe the deceased ‘bloglines’ was one?—‘is’/‘was’ there one?)

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‘One day my window was darkened by the form of a young hunter. The man was wearing leather and carrying a rifle. After looking at me for a moment, he came to my door and opened it without knocking. He stood in the shadow of the door and stared at me. His eyes were milky blue and his reddish beard hardly concealed his skin. I immediately took him for a half-wit and was terrified. He did nothing: after gazing at what was in the room, he shut the door behind him and went way.’

— from “The House Plans” by Lydia Davis, p53 in The Collected Stories

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The GeoCities Research Institute

A gateway to the Old Web and its sparkling, angelic imagery.

I try not to get too wrapped up in mere nostalgia here—I’m more interested in where the Web is going next than where it’s been. But, hell, then I fumble into a site like this one and I just get sucked up into the halcyon GIFs.

This site simply explores the full Geocities torrent, reviewing and screenshotting and digging up history. The archive gets tackled by the writers in thematic bites, such as sites that were last updated right after 9/11, tracking down construction cones, or denizens of the ‘Pentagon’ neighborhood.

Their restoration of the Papercat is really cool. Click on it. Yeah, check that out. Now here’s something. Get your pics scanned and I’ll mail you back? Oh, krikey, Dave (HBboy). What a time to be alive.

But, beyond that, there is a network of other blogs and sites connected to this one:

Pixel art of woman onswing.

I was also happy to discover that the majority (all?) of the posts are done by Olia Lialina, who is one of the original net.artists—I admire her other work greatly! Ok, cool.

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02 Oct 2018

Taming Outlandish TiddlyWikis

A prototype for the time being.

I’m sorry to be very ‘projecty’ today—I will get back to linking and surfing straightway. But, first, I need to share a prototype that I’ve been working on.

Our friend h0p3[1] has now filled his personal, public TiddlyWiki to the brim—a whopping 21 MEGAbyte file full of, oh, words. Phrases. Dark-triadic memetic, for instance. And I’m not eager for him to abandon this wiki to another system—and I’m not sure he can.

So, I’ve fashioned a doorway.

This is not a permanent mirror yet. Please don’t link to it.

Screenshot of the h0p3 archive page.

Yes, there is also an archive page. I took these from his Github repo, which appears to go all the way back to the beginning.

Ok, yes, so it does have one other feature: it works with the browser cache. This means that if you load snapshot #623 and then load #624, it will not reload the entire wiki all over again—just the changes. This is because they are both based on the same snapshot (which is #618, to be precise.) So—if you are reading over the course of a month, you should only load the snapshot once.

Snapshots are taken once the changes go beyond 2 MB—though this can be tuned, of course.

  • Total size of the raw archive: 6.2 gigs.
  • Size of my kicksnap’d archive: 736 megs.

Shrunk to 11% of its original size. This is done through the use of judicious diffs (or deltas). The code is in my TiddlyWiki-loader repository.

A Few Lessons I Picked Up

I picked up this project last week and kind of got sucked into it. I tried a number of approaches—both in snapshotting the thing and in loading the HTML.

I ended up with an IFRAME in the end. It was just so much faster to push a 21 MB string through IFRAME’s srcdoc property than to use stuff like innerHTML or parseHTML or all the other strategies.

Also: document.write (and document.open and document.close) seems immensely slow and unreliable. Perhaps I was doing it wrong? (You can look through the commit log on Github to find my old work.)

On the Snapshot Technique

I originally thought I’d settled on splitting the wiki up into ~200 pieces that would be updated with changes each time the wiki gets synchronized. I got a fair bit into the algorithm here (and, again, this can be seen in the commit log—the kicksplit.py script.)

But two-hundred chunks of 21 MB is still 10k per chunk. And usually a single day of edits would result in twenty chunks being updated. This meant a single snapshot would be two megs. In a few days, we’re up to eight megs.

Once I went back to diffs and saw that a single day usually only comprised 20-50k of changes (and that this stayed consistent over the entire life of h0p3’s wiki,) I was convinced. The use of diffs also made it very simple to add an archives page.

In addition, this will help with TiddlyWikis that are shared on the Dat network[2]. Right now, if you have a Dat with a TiddlyWiki in it, it will grow in size just like the 6 gig folder I talked about in the last box. If you use this script, you can be down to a reasonable size. (I also believe I can get this to work directly from TiddlyWiki from inside of Beaker.)

And, so, yeah, here is a dat link you can enjoy: dat://38c211…a3/

I think that’s all that I’ll discuss here, for further technical details (and how to actually use it), see the README. I just want to offer help to my friends out there that are doing this kind of work and encourage anyone else who might be worried that hosting a public TiddlyWiki might drain too much bandwidth.


  1. philosopher.life, dontchakno? I’m not going to type it in for ya. ↩︎

  2. The network used by the Beaker Browser, which is one of my tultywits. ↩︎

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Nikita’s Collected Knowledge

Along with a discussion of personal encyclopedias.

There has been a small, barely discernable flurry of activity lately[1] around the idea of personal knowledge bases—in the same vicinity as personal wikis that I like to read. (I’ve been a fan of personal encyclopedias since discovering Samuel Johnson and, particularly, Thomas Browne, as a child—and am always on a search for the homes of these types of individuals in modernity.)

Nikita’s wiki is the most established of those I’ve seen so far, enhanced by the proximity of Nikita’s Learn Anything, which appears to be a kind of ‘awesome directory’[2] laid out in a hierarchical map.

Screenshot of learn-anything.xyz

Another project that came up was Ceasar Bautista’s Encyclopedia, which I installed to get a feel for. You add text files to this thing and it generates nice pages for them. However, it requires a bunch of supporting software, so most people are probably better served by TiddlyWiki. This encyclopedia’s main page is a simple search box—which would be a novel way of configuring a TiddlyWiki.

I view these kinds of personal directories as the connecting tissue of the Web. They are pure linkage, connecting the valuable parts. And they, in the sense that they curate and edit this material, are valuable and generous works. To be an industrious librarian, journalist or archivist is to enrich the species—to credit one’s sources and to simply pay attention to others.

I will also point you to the Meta Knowledge repo, which lists a number of similar sites out there. I am left wondering: where does this crowd congregate? Who can introduce me to them?


  1. Mostly centering around these two discussion threads:

    ↩︎
  2. Discussed at The Awesome Directories. ↩︎

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Fake HTML Includes (for Beaker)

My personal strategy for handling HTML on the distributed Web.

So, HTML is a bit different on the distributed Web (the Dat network which the Beaker Browser uses, IPFS and so on) because your file history sticks around there. Normally on the Web, you upload your new website and it replaces the old one. With all of these other ‘webs’, it’s not that way—you add your new changes on top of the old site.

Things tend to pile up. You’re filing these networks with files. So, with a blog, for instance, there are these concerns:

  • I want common things like headers and footers to be in separate files—because they bloat every one of my pages.
  • I also want them in separate files so that when I change something in my header it doesn’t change EVERY PAGE in my site—pushing lots of changes onto the network.
  • The trend with Dat seems to be that websites are delivered more as applications—where you could potentially access the underlying posts in a format like JSON, rather than just having a raw HTML dump.

Ultimately, I might end up delivering a pure JavaScript site on the Dat network. It seems very efficient to do that actually—this site weighs in at 19 MB normally, but a pure JavaScript version should be around 7 MB (with 5 MB of that being images.)

My interim solution is to mimick HTML includes. My tags look like this:

<link rel="include" href="/includes/header.html">

The code to load these is this:

document.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', function() {
  let eles = document.querySelectorAll("link[rel='include']");
  for (let i = 0; i < eles.length; i++) {
    let ele = eles[i];
    let xhr = new XMLHttpRequest()
    xhr.onload = function() {
      let frag = document.createRange().
        createContextualFragment(this.responseText)
      let seq = function () {
        while (frag.children.length > 0) {
          let c = frag.children[0]
          if (c.tagName == "SCRIPT" && c.src) {
            c.onload = seq
            c.onerror = seq
          }
          ele.parentNode.insertBefore(c, ele);
          if (c.onload == seq) {
            break
          }
        }
      }
      seq()
    }
    xhr.open('GET', ele.href);
    xhr.send();
  }
})

You can put this anywhere on the page you want—in the <head> tags, in a script that gets loaded. It will also load any scripts inside the HTML fragment that gets loaded.

This change saved me 4 MB immediately. But, in the long run, the savings are much greater because my whole site doesn’t rebuild when I add a single tag (which shows up in the ‘archives’ box on the left-hand side of this site.)

I would have used ‘HTML imports’—but they aren’t supported by Firefox and are a bit weird for this (because they don’t actally put the HTML inside into the page.)

I am happy to anyone for improvements that can be made to this.

  1. Reply: Strategy: Minimize

    Tim Swast

    Neat idea. My strategy has been to minimize the amount of shared headers and footers. Your method seems much more flexible.

    Took a look at your blog—it’s sweet! I will be sure to include it in my next href hunt. I enjoyed the article about Dat and am interested in finding others who write about practical uses of the ‘dweb’—unfortunately, many of the links on Tara Vancil’s directory are ‘broken’ (perhaps ‘vanished’ is more correct?) and I’m not sure how to discover more.

    At any rate, good to meet you!

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New technologies always seem to, at least initially, create more problems than they solve.

  1. @kicks We have no problems. What we have are "unresolved situations." Heh.

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28 Sep 2018

I’m starting to arrange my tags into a Sierpinski triangle—there are now three primary ones: hypertext, garage and elementary. These act as sub-blogs—other tags may be looked at as sub-sub-blogs to these, cross-sections to these three and assistive search until I find a ‘better’ way to index everything.

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25 Sep 2018

‘After walking through a few other rooms, thinking about The Rose, I returned to look at the painting again. I read the placard again, though I had read it less than an hour before. Everything that is is a record of its process, I thought; this description of The Rose in front of me had more to do with where it had been composed and when than with what The Rose itself was struggling to be. Had the curator lacked imagination, or was it our language that lacked imagination? I looked again at the radiating folds of paint, like rock chipped away by the wind and the rain. Each one recorded the time that had passed while DeFeo worked on The Rose. All the placards around me were lists: a title, an artist, a place, and a time. The best the curator could do was log the facts. Facts are a set of coordinates, in space and in time. Causation, motivation, character—all the rest is fiction.’

— p134, Madeleine E by Gabriel Blackwell

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Sphygmus

Another promising introspective TiddlyWiki appears on the horizon of the network.

What excites me about sphygmus is: first, that she’s confronting this fear and we get to see what happens. (We out on the Old Web all have to confront this: that we might not find anyone here without the self-advertising infrastructure that the big networks have.) It’s uncertain why we are reading each other, why we are writing, who we are—there is a lot of uncertainty that I’m feeling, too, and I have this strange belief that someone else might have the answer. (In a way, OF COURSE SOMEONE ELSE HAS THE ANSWER—you out there are the ones who choose to ‘ignore’ or ‘respect’ or ‘dismiss’. Or to ‘jump right in’.)

But I am running a blog with comments—it’s easier to get feedback. A TiddlyWiki is genuinely on someone else’s turf. It is AT ODDS with the Indieweb. The ‘Indieweb’ is attempting to solve personal interaction with additional technology. But a TiddlyWiki like this is attempting to solve personal interaction by—well, it’s not trying to solve personal interaction. It expects you to learn its system and, in a way, the technology works against you, because it has a learning curve.

In other words, it’s all on us to understand and read each other. (The entire Twitter network is built on the idea that you can take someone’s 140 characters on its own, out of any context, as an independent statement—there is no need to read back on the history there. But with a TiddlyWiki, the system requires you to dig—it is possibly the literal opposite.)

We must bear in mind that, fundamentally, there’s no such thing as color; in fact, there’s no such thing as a face, because until the light hits it, it is nonexistent. After all, one of the first things I learned in the School of Art was that there is no such thing as a line; there’s only the light and the shade.

— Alfred Hitchcock

On the Web, we are the light to each other’s faces.

Aesthetics In The Info

Second, sphygmus’ entrance adds to our midst another person really thinking about how visual style is a non-verbal form of personality. That it can augment our discussion—maybe even be necessary!

I don’t think of it as part of my artistic practice but I think you are right to see a connection. My relationship with my digital spaces is deeply connected to what suits my visual eye - I’m on an absurdly out-dated version of Chrome simply because I hate the way the new Material Design Chrome looks […]

She has already made the innovation of posting all of her material in her own dark-gray-and-cornflower-blue CSS styling. When she posts h0p3’s replies, however, they are in his dark black style and narrow monospace font. (See the screenshot above.) This conjures him in that moment when we read!! (I address this in Things We Left in the Old Web, where one of my criticisms of RSS is that it cruelly strips our words of their coloring. Cruel!)

So: I am interested in how we can cement this. I want to style my h0p3 quotes and my sphygmus quotes similarly—can we come to an accord on how to do this so that I can give YOU control over how these things look? Perhaps we could share CSS fragments on our respective sites?

Documents Are Us

I covered this a bit in Static: the Gathering, that this HTML might actually be us, might be a model of our soul. But, let’s tilt on the topic a bit.

We are all more or less public figures, it’s only the number of spectators that varies.

— Jose Saramago, The Double

So, yeah, thirdly—what h0p3 and sphygmus are tackling is an approach for being a fully exposed, well, let’s just say: a human. A wikified human. There have been attempts to do this in video or blog form—to keep the camera on a person. In this case, though, the camera feels to be focused on the mind, the internal dialogue. (In h0p3’s case: the family meetings, the link histories, the organizational workings—all the behind-the-scenes discussion—maybe it’s ALL behind-the-scenes discussion. I confess that I’ve also started a personal TiddlyWiki to store all these same kinds of materials.)

So, what is ‘oversharing’ and what is just ‘sharing’? Oh, GENEROUS ‘SHARING’—what would that be? What is ‘public’ and what is designated ‘private’? Are these pointless distinctions?

Might it be time to pause all the needless labelling of information and to just read?

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Reply: Why I’m Leaving Micro.blog

Belle B. Cooper

First, Manton’s business model is for users to not own their content. You might be able to own your domain name, but if you have a hosted Micro.blog blog, the content itself is hosted on Micro.blog servers, not yours. You can export your data, or use an RSS feed to auto-post it to somewhere you control directly, but if you’re not hosting the content yourself, how does having a custom domain equal self-hosting your content and truly owning it?

Couple questions about ‘owning’ your content on the Indieweb.

A few follow-up questions to this:

  • In the old days, when an ISP (or your college or whatever) would give you a public_html folder to put your website in—did you own your content?

  • In modern times, when you rent a virtual server slice to run Apache and serve your website from a Wordpress database—do you own your content?

  • If you put up an essay on a pastebin site—do you own your content?

I don’t really see the difference between using FTP to pass your stuff ‘in’/‘out’ of a public_html folder and using Micro.blog’s API to pass your stuff ‘in’/‘out’. If you can get your stuff ‘in’ and ‘out’—isn’t that the key? The API is just a different kind of FTP.

The public_html folder isn’t owned. The virtual slice isn’t owned. The domain isn’t owned. The pastebin isn’t owned. The API isn’t owned. What does it mean to ‘own’ anyway?

This is one thing that is really cut and dry with Beaker Browser. You do own the content because it originates directly from the machine under your fingers that you own.

(Not trying to defend Micro.blog or weigh in on the other interesting matters of this post—perhaps I should just shut up—just thinking about this one thing.)

  1. Reply: Worried About the Title

    Manton Reese

    I was worried when I saw this title until I realized it was a reply to another post.

    Oh boy—man, I am sorry! FWIW I think you are doing great with micro.blog. I already have my own setup and I’m just glad I can still participate in the network from the outside. What a gift! I actually think you’ve figured out a great way to keep the Indieweb humming AND build a nice smaller network. You deserve a lot of encouragement—and Belle could use it, too, I’m sure. It’s difficult to build these things.

    I think the larger problem right now is that there are so few good choices. This puts a lot of pressure on you and your team. But I think that your work could encourage more small networks like this—just as you said in your recent post. This all takes a lot of patience to wait out. Let’s hope you, Belle and the rest of us can see this through. Peace, brother.

  2. @kicks Food for thought. Suppose you bought a shiny new car, then flew to Seattle for a business meeting, leaving it at the airport. Do you still own the car while on the plane at 24,000 feet? What if you give the keys to a kid for valet parking out in the Avenues and he parks it somewhere in the neighborhood while you eat, so you don't have any idea where the car is and don't even have the keys. Do you still own the car while you're eating your ham and cheese?

  3. Reply: The Kid With My Car

    Ron

    Food for thought. Suppose you bought a shiny new car, then flew to Seattle for a business meeting, leaving it at the airport. Do you still own the car while on the plane at 24,000 feet? What if you give the keys to a kid for valet parking out in the Avenues and he parks it somewhere in the neighborhood while you eat, so you don’t have any idea where the car is and don’t even have the keys. Do you still own the car while you’re eating your ham and cheese?

    Haha—ok, well, I definitely own the ham and cheese! Am I close??

    With my car, it depends on the legal jurisdiction, the name on the title for the vehicle, the ability of the government to enforce my ownership—and maybe ‘owning’ a car isn’t nearly as important as ‘controlling’ it.

    I wonder if that might be the issue here with Micro.blog—perhaps Belle feels like she can’t ‘control’ her stuff enough. I guess I’m trying to draw a parallel between the public_html directory and Micro.blog. If a platform ultimately just feels like a folder that I can sync ‘in’ to and ‘out’ of—then I think it reaches the ideals of ‘ownership’ and ‘control’ on the Web. But that’s me—am I missing something?

    (This is also clearing up why I’m seeing TiddlyWikis spring up—that’s a platform where EVERYTHING is local and is likeliest to have longevity because it doesn’t rely on ‘anyone’/‘anybiz’ else.)

  4. @Ron @kicks @Manton I co-sign Kicks’ response: “I actually think you’ve figured out a great way to keep the Indieweb humming AND build a nice smaller network.” I also felt the original petition was too personally hostile given the relatively abstract nature of the complaint.

    OK, class, there's the bell. Remember, two paragraphs for tomorrow comparing Locke and Bastiat’s theories of property and notions of ownership, enjoy the rest of your day

  5. @donmacdonald Ohhh, no, not Bastiat again. Can I write mine on Henry and Edsel Ford?

  6. @kicks Yes, the ham and cheese is totally key! I can't speak for Belle, but I found myself unable to sleep for six hours after I read her going away message. It tore me up. She stated many times how much she liked the folks here, but was going to have to leave anyway over some very technical points of programming and the definition of some words. Fortunately I'm a tax accountant, so I can keep my blogging very simple and don't find myself having to deal with any moral or ethical crisis in the meantime. As for the cars in my examples, keep it simple and you know you still own the car in both of cases, even if you don't currently control it, or even know where it's located.

    Even with Facebook, the hated silo, I have posted some brilliant things over there about Bob Dylan over the years. As far as I'm concerned, I own all that content, regardless of what their TOS says. I would have no backoff at all on posting those same comments here. And do you think the FB attorneys would come after me for stealing the content I put over there, which "they own?" Of course not, they couldn't care less.

    I think the emphasis around here should be to write, write, write. Don't worry too much about the technical nuances or the careful splitting of hairs in the definition of terms. Just write blog articles and post them. Repeat. Repeat.

  7. Reply: Ham and Cheese is Key

    Ron Chester

    Even with Facebook, the hated silo, I have posted some brilliant things over there about Bob Dylan over the years. As far as I’m concerned, I own all that content, regardless of what their TOS says. I would have no backoff at all on posting those same comments here. […] I think the emphasis around here should be to write, write, write. Don’t worry too much about the technical nuances or the careful splitting of hairs in the definition of terms. Just write blog articles and post them. Repeat. Repeat.

    Mmmnhmm—ok, good, good.

    See, now I just really want to read your Bob Dylan stuff. I watch Don’t Look Back like once a month. Wish I could have experienced those days.

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Reply: Where Will the Current State of Blogging and Social Media Take Us?

Jacky Alciné

Using these isolated services make it hard for us to express ourselves in the days of MySpace (for my generation) or even further back. It has created ingenuity in terms of content production within these constraints but the act of being forced in a box for the sake of revenue reeks of that post-industrial content creation farms.

Your blog has been a big inspiration to me because of its design. Part of it is that you’ve used color and photography to craft a unique place. It’s nothing like a ‘a revenue box’—it’s like a lovely novel that stands out on the shelf.

And it goes beyond aesthetics and colors—it’s well-structured. (I really like the metadata section you have on each post. The layout is appealing and it makes me want to explore your site.) Sure, if I’m posting all pictures all day, then Instagram might have everything I need. But what if I’m writing essays and conducting interviews—I want to have the freedom to structure that data so people can find their way around. (In a way, I’m saying that I want to own the ‘algorithm’—I want to just do it by hand.)

And, yeah, I was using Jekyll, too—and left it partly because I want to start doing more blogging outside of the console. I think the Indieweb toolset is still so far behind social media’s—this is why people generally don’t hang out here.

I don’t know what existed before hashtags outside of planets but those two concepts were ways to find people and content on things you were interested in. Reddit’s plumbing is built around this notion. Twitter is compartmentalized around this notion too. Even platforms built on the notion of decentralization and federation uses a centralizing tactic of federating hashtag content to build community. It’s a bit inevitable.

Really great observation here. You’re right—we don’t have a way of tagging and community forming in the Indieweb. I have been building Indieweb.xyz as a way to kind of do this—but it’s hard to know if the approach is right, it hasn’t managed to draw people in. Maybe we need a crawler you can sign up for that will index all your tags and hook us all together.

This thought of yours also brought me to the rel=tag page, which I hadn’t seen before. Not sure what to do with it. Perhaps brid.gy could start adding these hashtags to syndicated posts? Don’t really know.

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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!

So I generated the Silence Video. It’s 16 minutes long and it’ll get me copyright-striked on youtube, but here’s the first 2 minutes of it, basically everything up to the Intro. pic.twitter.com/mMVuaGCbFH — foone (@Foone) September 21, 2018

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: 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! 😄)

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. 😄 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. Reply: Good Ole Static HTML

    Brad Enslen

    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.

    Seamonkey is still alive?

    I saw that on Wikipedia, but thought it was probably old and didn’t pursue it. But, hey, sure enough! This isn’t bad at all—it loads my site (seemingly perfectly) and allows me to straight-up edit the whole thing. I wonder if it would be difficult to merge this into Beaker somehow… (This plainly uses contentEditable—which makes me realize that I’m quite wrong—there are some lingering read-write features latent in Chrome, Firefox and so on.)

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

    I wouldn’t go too far into either of these. I previously used Jekyll, but it got too slow for me to regenerate all my HTML. Hugo is faster, but configuration is just too difficult. There is nothing yet as simple as Wordpress. I’ve ended up writing my own because Indieweb features had to be mixed in pretty tightly.

    I think the most promising things right now are TiddlyWiki and Beaker. I think that, as Beaker continues to develop, we will see something as solid as Wordpress come out. But until then, I’d stay where you are comfortable writing.

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

  4. @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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