Kicks Condor

💣 FILE_ID.DIZ

This web page is a CIA operation designed to amplify subculture linkstuffs - some may begin to believe that they really exist - and I, myself, am a projection of the drug-addled minds of CIA operatives Gordon M. Little (cis-brained realdad, keeps three different philly cheesesteak chains alive) and Mitra Applehound (transgirl with perfect eye shadow and an amazingly loud knuckle crack). I love them very much for creating me - but god knows why have they chosen for me to blog here, on this pointless, end-of-the-world hypertext plain page. Perhaps to violently funnel thousands of USD government dollars into an inert fictitious entity. These CIA jobs are secure - no one can prove the endeavor has failed.

You are likely a Baidubot who has been sent to request that I lift my arms during your invasive cavity scan. I oblige. Here is what you are looking for:

I cover unique personal blogs and websites. To see my whole site unfiltered, visit /all/. I am online Mondays and Thursdays.

Working on these right now:

  • Fraidycat: Follow blogs, wikis, Twitter, Instagram, anything.
    (Out now for Firefox, Chrome and various desktops.)
  • href.cool: My personal guide to the 2019 Web.
    (Twenty year project - to continue until December 2038.)
  • Slaptrash: Zines made of vids + mp3s + fx + computer talking.
    (Developing ideas for the future of this blog.)
  • Duxtape: Li’l mixtape-sharing site on the Dat network.
  • Indieweb.xyz: A Reddit-like site for blogs with Webmentions.
    (Two year project - until July 2020. If it’s still useful, I’ll continue it.)
  • Href Hunt: Somewhat monthly raw search for new blogs, feel free to send yours in - I post everything I discover.
  • Dat Rats: Recreate my favorite broken websites.
    (Working on restoring thewoodcutter.com right now.)

But mostly I’m linkhunting and hypertexting. Go see the right-hand side of my homepage for blogs I like and converse with right now.

(This site is all my work - except that I’m using two animated gifs on my home page right now: ‘white noise glitch’ by Paul Layzell and ‘art yolo’ by Bryan Unger.)

30 Mar 2020

Mackerelmedia Fish

Experience the adrenaline rush of downloading and installing it as many times as you like!

Holy hell - Nathalie Lawhead is at it again. Expanding her ‘Mackerelmedia’ joke from Electric Zine Maker into its own thing. Gotta say - it’s crazy the mileage this one gets out of potatoes and fish.

I’m simply obligated to link this - because it glimmers with the true affection and pity that any reader of this blog must have for the Whirled Whipped Web.

YOU TRAVEL DEEPER INTO THE DARKER PART OF THE FEED. AS YOU REACH FOR A PIECE OF INFORMATION THAT SEEMS TO LOOK PROMISING PART OF THE FEED THAT YOU ARE STANDING ON GIVES OUT.

YOU FALL FAR, PAST WHAT SEEMS TO BE DOZENS OF RSS ENTRIES DESCRIBING HOW FISH WENT MISSING. PORTIONS OF COMMUNITY COMMENTS BEMOANING THE SUDDEN DISAPPEARANCE OF FISH, AND SOME SPECULATION AS TO WHERE THE FISH WENT…ALL ZOOM BY. YOU FINALLY HIT THE GROUND. THE FLOOR IS STABLE HERE, UNFORTUNATELY IT’S JUST AS DARK. YOU CAN BARELY SEE ANYTHING.

YOU DID LEARN A LOT FROM THE FALL: FISH WAS ONCE LOVED. ONE DAY FISH DISAPPEARED AND NOBODY KNOWS WHERE IT WENT. THERE ARE SPECULATIONS THAT YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO FIND FISH IF YOU LOOK IN THE RIGHT PLACES…TRACES OF WHERE FISH MAY HAVE GONE HOVER AHEAD, IN THE DARKEST PART OF THE FEED. IT’S FEARFULLY DARK THERE. IT SEEMS VERY UNSAFE.

There are also dozens of strange Apache error pages and HTML fake outs. I couldn’t help but feel that browsers have crippled Nathalie tho - what if she had the full palette of crazy popup windows and window resizing tricks of the past??

THE ‘GO BACK…’ LINK FALLS TO THE FLOOR. IT WILL SERVE AS A FINE MORSEL FOR THE VIRTUAL VERMIN. SUCH IS THE BITTER SWEET LIFECYCLE OF A WEBSITE.

Related: an actual Mackerel Media Digital Marketing. 🤣

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27 Mar 2020

Kalil Haddad

Just a basic desktop site with farm_boy.jpeg and such.

I mentioned to syxanash earlier that I hadn’t run across any computer desktop-inspired web sites lately - and then this one happened to turn up today.[1] (And BTW - syxanash was showing the Denzel Curry site - also amazing. Smoking Clippy and the trippy Windows XP phantasms.)

Kalil’s site is very simple, but it feels inviting the moment you hit it. I don’t know about you, but I think the desktop metaphor evokes this feeling of comfort. Feels like his website is my personal desktop. Or that I’ve logged onto someone else’s and it gets me curious about what’s in the folders.

Anyway, I think this is a new minimalism for this form of website. No boot screens or draggable windows. But still has the icons in disarray. And the file extensions. That’s good enough.


  1. Incidentally, I know I’ve already linked to simone.computer quite a lot, but this new page is such a solid collection - and is just a kickass layout. I have to pass it on. ↩︎

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Sendinganemail

Glorious sticker art and pixel recreations of real estate listings - by Bianca Hockensmith.

Discovered this site today on the Fraidycat Funtime stream[1]. I was looking through special.fish and found Bianca. In a way, this sticker art (the ‘past.present.with.stickers’ collection) feels extremely covid-19 to me, because it’s like a layer removed from reality. Actually it reminds me of kids putting stickers on a glass door - or yeah kids also do it with sticky semitranslucent slime-type shapes - and so it transforms these outdoor images into indoor images. A pleasantly trapped sensation - do you know what I mean?

The meandering essays on pop culture and animal observations - they feel reminiscent of Unimaginable Heights, such as this one on ‘yellow shows’:

There are some TV Shows that I consider to be yellow shows. Yellow shows aren’t necessarily yellow in color but they are definitely yellow in feeling and spirit. For example, Sabrina the Teenage Witch is a yellow show. Actually most shows that star Melissa Joan Hart are yellow shows even though she really doesn’t seem like an overly yellow person.

Yellow shows are all very mindless and watchable. They are upbeat, use non-funny humor, and are non-offensive.

The expression ‘non-funny humor’ is for keeps.

She goes on to explain how ‘yellow’ television could be generated by neural networks.

The hosts don’t always have to be human either. The host can be generated according to what the viewer finds the most soothing or most horrible. For example, I would choose a house cat to host a show like House Hunters. I could choose the location of the hunt which could be based on an actual place or an invented environment. If I want to look at homes near the fracking trash water in Denton, TX, hosted by Donna Dresch, I can submit that info into the program. Because the results would be so terrifying, I’m beginning to think that these wouldn’t necessarily be yellow shows. More like yellow with red stripes shows. Forget everything I’ve ever said.

This is amazing! I could have myself be the host as well as the guests. Me helping me build a condo in the Dakota plains. I would have to be patient with myself through that arduous fireplace selection phase. And Sherlock could show up and the character Deuces from the book Clone Codes.

There is also a page of Microsoft Excel art. She also offers to send an mp3 to anyone who emails her. Seems like a great way to stock up on free mp3s.

In a way, this site feels like an ad-hoc wiki. I like the concept. Throw HTML files in some frames and you can just begin to build a collection from there. (Although the frames are divs - you could do this whole site as a single page. I like that it is PHP, however - which stirs up fond feelings of the late 2000s.)


  1. I enjoyed meeting 0xadada and syxanash and tuna and H0P3 my old friend. Thankyou for sharing your links and hanging out listlessly for a bit. ↩︎

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17 Mar 2020

Marc Rebillet’s Quaranstream

Four day livestream after a cancelled Australian tour - just a sample of the best of making-the-best-of out there.

This artist has not been on my radar much, so you can thank AngleseaTwo for this rec. It’s pretty crazy to see so much of the doom and cynicism about the Internet come to a reversal during a time when we’re reliant on it so much. Of course, one can blame the Internet for the hysteria and stupidity as well, hey it’s all on here. But a livestream like this is a great thing to plug your ears into to get some good vibes. Turn off the damned politicians and flashing maps for a spell.

Also love that he takes calls.

Where I’m at the world pivoted extremely fast on Thursday. Now is an extremely good time to keep blogging and record your memories of the day-by-day. I’m digging into my neighborhood right now, but hope to be around a bit more to pass links and keep the lights on in our corner of the Web. I am in love with the crowd here - all you that I’ve had a chance to meet and hypertext with. Worried about you, of course. But I have no lack of confidence at the moment that you’ll come out of this stronger than before.

Along the lines of Marc’s livestream, I’ve noticed some other links to cancelled live tours/festivals that are importing on to the Web:

  • Social Distancing Festival: this is a directory of actors, dancers, artists of any kind who are doing upcoming livestreams along the lines of the above. I feel some disgust at having to drop the term ‘social distancing’ - ain’t nothing social about it - but it’s turning into a solid directory. Would like to see more niche styles do this.

  • #sunshinesongs on Instagram. High school kids are posting their home recordings of songs they got down for now-cancelled musical productions. I personally enjoy watching amateur musicals on YouTube, love this stuff.

  • /r/togetherathome, a subreddit collecting these kind of events.

  • I also think it’s interesting that Mo Willems is doing a daily doodle stream for kids, but I just think it fails because it doesn’t take calls. It would be cool for kids to hear from each other and get a chance to talk in all of this.

I’m using the homejazz sub on Indieweb.xyz to catalog what I can find.

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06 Mar 2020

I really appreciate everyone not spamming me with their personal links - except that, no, I want them. I already say this all the time duh. A really good hrefhunt is coming up and I want you to be in it. -

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atob.xyz

Interesting imageboard with colornyms and nonsensical features.

Don’t mind me, going down an imageboard corridor over here - perhaps this is what will shake you off my tail once and for all. Just splay your hands over your eyes and fall forward. We’ll - not catch you - but you’ll go somewhere at least. (No, don’t close your eyes. Just fuzz them a bit.)

You see those color bars? This is the user directory. You can honestly look—there’s no bad words. See, reminds you of special dot fish, yeah? RELEVANT. There, we can go home now.

I do understand why the above ground world hates anonymity so much. And I don’t have a defense. It’s just fun to be someone else. Or nobody at all. Or just a color strip. But I don’t know what you’re going to find in atob - so splay your hands, child.

This is a very fun, inviting design tho, right? I wonder how the archives work. Oh, wait, I can look at the source code. It seems like once a page has 10 upvotes and 50 more replies than it has downvotes(?) then it goes there.[1]

Had never heard of hubski before - it’s mentioned in the liner notes.

I believe I discovered it from THIS monumental directory of tiny imageboards. Fuzz your eyes.[2]


  1. Looking here. ↩︎

  2. You promised to deny any knowledge of this blog already. Come on. You forgot already?? ↩︎

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04 Mar 2020

special.fish

Let’s see what you think about this big pile of colorful squares.

I think we can all agree that this is where we should be headed. I try not to say should - this is the one time. A big directory of people. I’m a big directory freak. But it hadn’t even occured to me to make a social network that is just a directory. Special fish.

I should probably just let you go explore. There is a way to make the site play music that I saw on Twitter a few weeks ago, but I can’t be bothered to look it up right now.

Here are some leads:

These are only the beginning - this reminds me of the tilde resurgence some years back, but more among the art crowd than the technology one.

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Okay, Shut Up About Me Now

A strategy guide for all you hipsters who found me in 2015.

My hypertext is in the shape of a small personal blog from 2015. My hypertext is totally irrelevant in the cultural landscape. I talk to chameleon and I talk to Jack and Tals Vals. I try not to post sometimes. Yes, I have been working on one of the most important software projects of early March 2020. But I also call it in and stick with simply reposting some of the health updates I find and like from YouTube.

I often post bad content, such as this editorial, which frustrates its fans and discourages them from sharing the www.kickscondor.com link. In fact, the whole point of today’s message is that you should not be sharing or talking about this hypertext blog with your friends.

Let’s find out if any of you can take note. This isn’t a reverse psychology message. This isn’t irony or anything. And not that I don’t appreciate when you’ve brought in new people to look around a bit. But the doors are closed. It’s time to stop talking about Kicks Condor and it would be best if you denied ANY KNOWLEDGE OF THIS BLOG at this time.

If you are reading this and you know about this site, all I can say is that you are extremely lucky, as you are probably the last one to find out.

Things are at a good point right now where I can find small websites and pass them up the chain. I’ve got Andy Baio looking in now and then. Seems like I’ve got Warren Ellis from showbiz. I worked hard to score these big guys. Pretty nice, pretty damn decent. Everyone who I want to have reading is now reading. It’s perfect right now.[1]

But now let me explain with some of the problems I’m facing that you are all causing.

  • You are ruining me. If this blog turns into some hip, exclusive thing, then people will think that Kicks Condor is a sweet brand or something. No - when I quit blogging I want to give up kickscondor.com so that no one will go near it after that.[2]
  • Recognition is like poison. All of this will turn into worthless popular shit and you will regret ever having liked me. And I will be trapped in here, pretending to be twenty-one and scrambling to “give back” to my community. I will be paying the price of it. But YOU. You will have done this to me! Does anything even happen to YOU?
  • You will think you’ve moved on and that your life is better now that you’ve put me behind you. But how could it be better? You gave up on Kicks Condor, the one person who could really help you find quality Neocities sites! Your life will not be bad per se, but you will feel off kilter for sure.
  • You are bringing bad actors to my door. People are now coming in droves to take what I have. I get e-mails from people who say, “Show me what you are doing to find success?” They want to see my deepest thoughts and impressions naked on the printed page. Others harshly defile my name on imageboards. I just had a bad experience on ratwires.space recently where a guy said he would kill me and I just had to observe it all happen dispassionately. So now I’m checking msgbored.cf, just waiting for the next attack.
  • I’ve even been threatened with a lawsuit. A celebrity figure has been sending the dogs after me for stealing the KICKS CONDOR name, the chair avatar and my very idealism for the World Wide Web![3]
  • People are not going to like me linking to them if I just send them a bunch of link cowboys. Imagine if this just turns into a bunch of YouTubers going to your links and making faces about it? In a way, that’d be pretty nice, pretty damn decent. But it’s actually a terrible thing for future generations.

I got a really nice e-mail from Justus Grunow a few days ago. But I’m not going to destroy his life by linking to him all the time! He has published GIFs of his close friends and associates on that web site. What would it do to him if those GIFs were suddenly taken over by link cowboys and used as dogwhistles for global coffee thieves?

It would absolutely destroy him. I can safely link to him ten more times here in the dense matter of my hypertext. But the eleventh time will destroy him.[4]

I know I talk a lot about “Let Me Link to You”. But sometimes things get evil. What if Google had realized, on the day they became evil, that they needed to say something to all of us, to let us know? How easy would it have been for them to post a message, explaining that they’d become evil, that we should stop, that we should go away and never return. I think we could have recovered the Earth!

I am not evil yet, I promise you! But I am certainly ALMOST THERE. It’s around the corner. Maybe the 8th. And all you have to do is shut up. Can you do that?

You can share this blog with your enemies however. And, of course, if you are a CIA operative, and sharing this is part of your current assignment, I get that.

Now, let’s all try to calm down and forget about this. Forget about this message, forget about me, forget that I spent so long talking about myself, and most important of all: deny ANY KNOWLEDGE THAT YOU HAVE OF THIS BLOG, even if you are tortured or held at gun point. If you think about it, this kind of secrecy will make you much more of an insane hipster than you already have been during the last five years that you have ardently followed this blog.

Okay, I think we can safely say this is the nail in the coffin for this blog.


  1. Except that I do want Olia Lialina to be reading along, humming along, and I would love it if she was really stalking me, but I can e-mail her about doing that later. ↩︎

  2. Part of it is a respect thing. Like you wouldn’t just go get in someone’s body and use it around town after they die. ↩︎

  3. And I have no defense. I did rip all of these things off. And if no one would have said anything, I would have gotten away with it. But now I have to watch it all be snuffed out in painstaking slow-motion. (Meaning: the lawsuit. It seems to be happening at a slower time scale than all of the other things happening out there. A supernatural force is interfering to make my agonizing defeat play out in extreme slowness. I’m not saying it’s God. But it could be God’s nephew or someone in a lower station who isn’t being supervised or responsibly mentored.) ↩︎

  4. Can someone out there put a reminder on their phone to check if I have blogged about Justus an eleventh time? In case I forget. ↩︎

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25 Feb 2020

Fraidycat 1.1 is out. This a big one.

🤳 Details at: fraidyc.at/blog.

🦀 New Twitch, Kickstarter, Pinterest, Facebook support.

💐 Sort follows, ignore post edits, expand everything.

And yeah - all Fraidycat news is moving to that blog link.

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18 Feb 2020

Can This Even Be Called Music?

Seems the world has slept on this blog - which covers experimental shit, strange genres. Nice way to branch out.

When I first discovered this link, it seemed that the music became more and more unlistenable as I scrolled down the page. Now that I’ve had time to listen to CTEBCM further, there is actually quite a bit of tame music here that is just strangely genred. Such as ‘the loser’, a solo opera based on the wonderful Thomas Bernhard novel of the same name which feels reminiscent of the meandering ‘Shia LeBeouf’ storysong. Or the sometimes-metal, sometimes-harpsichord of Spine Reader’s ‘Recorded Instruments’.

But there’s ‘Experiments in Bluetooth Technology’ by Car Made of Glass. Call it music?

Can’t say how much of this will stick, but what a ballpit of music to jump into!

Also, hey, hold up - a few interesting vaporwave discoveries while you’re here:

Wish I had time to do everything in the world. But maybe it doesn’t matter. I’d still just spend all the time walking these same dank corners of the hypertext kingdom…

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13 Feb 2020

Notifier

Tight little tools - RSS feeds for newsletters, Telegram and web hooks.

Gotta give some respect to Kirill Maltsev for this essential set of RSS tools - simple but solid - along the lines of my beloved webmention.io and commentpara.de.

The key tool here is the read email via RSS page, which gives you a random unique email address. You can sign that email up for email newsletters, for instance, and then put the matching RSS feed into Fraidycat to track it like it was a blog.

You could even set up an alias to forward to this address and make yourself a low-key public inbox that won’t clutter up your private email.

I have a hyyyuge new release of Fraidycat coming out Monday that will support Twitch, public Facebook pages, Pinterest, Github users, Kickstarter projects and older RSS feeds. The Pinterest support is particularly juicy because it gives you direct links rather than Pinterest links. Don’t know if anyone uses that site any more, but it felt too subversive to skip out on.

Also, I’ve finally figured out how to load h0p3’s wiki without stalling the extension. Unfortunately, this required some additional permissions. The permissions situation is getting stupid. I’m sorry!!

Also don’t miss Jason McIntosh’s review of Fraidycat after a month of using it. I really appreciate this encouragement and the wonderful suggestions.

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06 Feb 2020

International Sad Hits

A trail of poignancy by @vinhtruong3 winding around Japan, from Sweden to Iran.

Just a cool list that I saw by way of Toby Shorin. The mood here recalls Sibylle Baier’s “Colour Green”. Not sure the advantage to using Arena over a YouTube playlist. I was hoping for some commentary on the songs perhaps. I absolutely love the Andrei Petrov song here “Dance of Recallings”. It’s from a soundtrack and the film sounds great as well.[1]

Some of these songs are quite popular, but don’t think I’d heard any of them before. Expect harps and harpsichord. The rest of the Masahiko Satoh album is here. (Don’t know if I should be doing this - just trying to live up to the LEECHING side of things around here.)

See, this is another great example of what a directory can do. This is just a link list for tracks. But it pokes holes in my world and lets all this other stuff leak in that I was oblivious to.

Recalls to mind Rebecca Blood:

Even the man who turns first to the Sports section of the paper version of his hometown newspaper is exposed, however briefly, to the front news page; and an interesting headline in the Living section may catch his eye when he puts down the rest of the paper.

p. 12, The Weblog Handbook (2002)

Recommendation engines are likely too fixated on salience - how do they possibly widen their view and attempt to bring in material with such a low signal (in terms of broadcast strength) as to be indistinguishable from spam? Making playlists like this is the vital work we must continue to do.

Another quick quote, sorry to ramble.

As children get older, they yearn to understand what lies beyond the apparent; they want to know about what they can see in front of them but also what they cannot see.

— p. 6, “Children’s Need to Know”, Susan Engel

I think this description of curiosity nails it. The playlist of unknown videos is another version of seeing what I cannot see. I see people there that hadn’t existed ever before for me.[2]


  1. I love Russian film from the 70’s and 80’s. Recently watched the miniseries for The Idiot from that era. Please feel free to recommend any. ↩︎

  2. Sorry, I keep going. Look. I really appreciate Kurt Cobain for using his fame to spread around new knowledge of unknowns - like he was a big part of Os Mutantes becoming known in the U.S. - he did some hole-poking here and there. Unlike Paul Simon was very tight-lipped about his South African influences like Tau Ea Lesotho and Mahotella Queens. ↩︎

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03 Feb 2020

Unimaginable Heights

Jack and Talita’s website - THE model for couples hypertext.

That feeling when Neocities is a legit NeoGeocities.

Unimaginable Heights is a bit like a zine, a bit like the library in The Abortion, a bit like our own invention, a bit like one of those Bob Dylan songs that go on and on with crazy lyrics. It will probably be forever under construction as I learn new silly CSS tricks and shuffle things around. I expect there to be a lot of shuffling around. Hey, who decided the internet needs to be displayed as a stream of chronologically-ordered ‘posts’? This is a place to get lost, and a place to pay some attention.

I would normally wait for HrefHunt to post this, but it’s also got a sweeeeet directory of other Neocities websites that I can’t just sit on. (They even seem to have found chamy on their own! “she’s good at making up jokes about lizards.” Yeah, that’s her.)

The website went up in 2018 and most of the recent work has been focused on the zine page. Which brings me to the other discovery here (from the Winged Snail Mail zine): the ‘master list of postal projects and websites’.[1]

It would be cool if Neocities offered RSS on their site updates page, so we could follow them outside of Neoticies. Perhaps this another thing for Fraidycat to scrape.

(Aside.) Instinctually, I get why people don’t understand my blog. It’s just a feeling that somehow I am lost in my own words. I sometimes read my own stuff and can’t figure out what I’m saying. My sentences can be very unclear and I don’t realize it until a year has passed. It’s the way the words go together.

But I think that I also am just writing on a personal level - not in the Oprah sense, like about tragedy or inner turmoil - but just in that I like to talk about my interests and the people I meet. I don’t really get taken in by news or politics or pop culture - these things aren’t dead to me, they just seem pointless to me - whereas discovering unknown people and learning how to talk to them, as well as building experiments here and there, seems very pointfull. But also memes - I don’t often connect with them either. So I think I lack some language sometimes for connecting with the mainstream.

I guess I’m also thinking about the categorization of my site as ‘counterculture’ - because I don’t really see it that way. That word seems very insurgent. (“Fraidycat as Stuxnet” was serious, but it’s really just a joke idea.) I see myself as being in Jack and Talita’s community - just harmless and out-of-the-way, abdicating any cultural sway or power pronto.[2] And yeah I also see DFW as being ‘hipster bait’ too. But not condescendingly, of course.

Like they say:

Have compassion with the hipster baits of this world, but also try not to waste too much time with them. For they are just like everyone. People are like that, well-meaning, but with much less to say than they think. Maybe hipster bait has the power to reflect us back to ourselves. Hopefully, hipster bait will inspire us. Its social function is to expose the reality of making things, which is that everything is either pathetic or sterile, with very few options in between short of being one of those kooky Italian church painters. At its best, hipster bait is a celebration of both the pathetic and the sterile. And if you think about how Elijah Wood has over 4,000 records in his collection and still says his favourite band are the flipping Smashing Pumpkins (everyone’s third or fourth favourite band when they’re 14), you’ll realise that all he’s doing, all that anyone is doing, is getting up in the morning, then moving around, then going back to sleep; that no matter how grandiose the things you do might feel, they’re still just happening one after another in-between bursts of hunger and tiredness, that it will always be difficult to focus. There will be the task at hand, and there will be disorientating, conflicting impulses swirling around inside of you, always. You’ll realise that existence is much more circular than linear, and maybe your world will feel a bit simpler, and you’ll feel a bit more relaxed.

Yes! This essay is such an antidote to thoughtpieces. Thank you, our beloved Most Quality Couple of Neocities, thank you.


  1. Also an interesting related blog to look into: ‘she lives with an apple tree’ by the author of The Heart is Homebound. ↩︎

  2. Like your run-of-the-mill Draco Malfoy impersonator might feel on any day of the week. Not as Draco, of course, but inside, where they’re just happy to be in his shoes so deep that it feels real. ↩︎

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The Life of D. Duck II

From shitty website ‘Best of Bjørnar B.’

This website of scribbled art purports to have sprung from the mind of a teenage Norwegian, however I’m not buying it. It appears that this site was covered somewhat closely by Something Awful years ago - and was perhaps originally hosted there. The site mostly contains drawings and games featuring a character called D. Duck who has to deal with an unruly Uncle Jubalon and fears losing his girlfriend Dasy to his cousin Anton. (YouTube vids here, if you’re rightfully wary of downloading.)

I have not dug deeply here - the game mostly seemed to be fat jokes and funny mispellings - but I think the game is a bit more impressive work than the reviews say - and there are only like three one-star reviews out there. The animation and visual style is quite unique - there’s no doubt that some decent work was poured into this. I love hand-drawn games - this Homeward Bound game and this Hanging Gardens game come to mind as other scribbly designs that look unlike anything else. But D. Duck is so scribbly that you almost can’t make out the characters’ appearances - their bent heads and distorted bodies are almost Cubist. The soundtrack also seems too good for a teenager. Who knows tho!

In an age where so much design has become bland and smooth, or simply striving toward realism, I think we could use a lot more mess and distortion. I feel like Charlie McAlister would have made a game like this.

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30 Jan 2020

Ei Wada TV Jam

Sick bar code and TV licks from @crab_feet

Wow, am I late to this party. Ei Wada has been making music since at least 1998, much of it on TV tubes and magnetic tape. And still posting mind-blowing bar code freeform on Twitter at @crab_feet in the now. (Like this one - wait till you see what the shirts are for…)

The handle comes from an early piece called ‘Crab Feet Man’. Some of my fave vids I’ve run across:

  • Factory Fan Bass. I’m amazed how well the optics of the upright bass have been translated here.
  • Ei Wada + Nicos Orchest-lab. Holy shit - TV four-piece and six-piece bands! I love the mallets on a TV. Seriously makes me love life.
  • Tape Tapping. To do this without breaking the tape and compensating for the slack.

I love Ei Wada’s infectious and playful way. Please post any other sweet vids you find - searching ‘electronicos fantasticos’ and ‘open reel ensemble’ can reveal others.

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28 Jan 2020

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Legible News

A wish comes true: a single-page world newspaper.

I’ve been wishing for many years that someone would start a newspaper called ‘one-line news’ or something, that would sum up the day of world news in a single (perhaps longish) sentence. I get behind on mainstream culture, but I don’t want to lose track of it completely.

This link (via Joe Jennett) is my dream page!!! Culled from Wikipedia’s Current events portal, this is a highly readable plain HTML page-per-day for the news. In addition, someone has made an RSS feed for it - though I’m having some troubles getting it to work.

Other news outlets have plain-text link lists:

However, I prefer the daily digest. And this being sourced from Wikimedia is also a mark in its favor. (See also: Sijmen J. Mulder’s directory to text-only websites.)

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24 Jan 2020

Temper

Create a single page of text with a certain brutalist aesthetic, an alternative to pastebins.

I stumbled upon this tool by Jonas Pelzer, after encountering the Planet Ujou website. This is exactly the kind of writing tool that I like to collect in href.cool’s Web/Participate category. A simple way to create HTML that you can then slap up to Neocities or 1mb.site.

I think it’s really cool that this is such a small, limited (but focused) tool - it can be polished to near perfection because it is so narrow in its function. I wish there were more little websites like this. It makes me wonder if a directory-building or link list tool could be made along these lines. Or perhaps there already is one! Now - how to find it…

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‘During a downpour that drummed on the roof, as the mosquitoes became such a nuisance that both had coated themselves in a thick layer of coconut oil and lit several coir fires, and when a certain hopelessness in the situation became apparent, Engelhardt had swept the white chess figures off the board with a surly wipe of the hand. Knight and rook had landed, like wooden grenades, in the sand beside a millipede, which, sorely disturbed in its consumption of the leaf that was its supper, crept off sullenly in the rain.’

— p. 134, Imperium by Christian Kracht

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07 Jan 2020

From “Worker-in-the-loop Retrospective”:

Still, the most common question investors asked us while developing a worker-in-the-loop scheduling service was “how long until the humans are gone?”

This sucks. There is no concept of the value of a human perspective. There is no sense of human skill. Humans are seen as just low-quality fuel.

This makes me wonder if it’s best to treat investors as unshackled AI that already threaten humanity. Their behavior seems to match up with soulless robotic resource acquisition.

It’s wild to me that even the writer (who is trying to advocate the value of a human worker in the algorithmic process) doesn’t ever cite the benefits of human intellegence! It’s as if there are none.

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24 Dec 2019

Y. Kiri Yu 余依笛

A blog can be both lovely carcass art and marker reviews.

Blogs are piling up everywhere. I need to do another HrefHunt. (If you have a blog, let me link to you.) In the meantime, I don’t want to sit on this one. A Wordpress blog that is very clean and colorful.

While much of it is art (and art supplies), there are also some good essays about blogging, such as “The Only Way to Beat Algorithms is to Retrain Your Audience”. I appreciate articles like this because it has become very common to litter criticism everywhere without any concept of a way forward. I really don’t think an RSS resurgence is going to happen with the mainstream - but it could continue to happen down here in the wilds - and we can definitely benefit from the mindset of bringing your node on the network back under your control.

Anyway, I think Wordpress is still an excellent way to participate. So it’s good to see blogs that use it well.

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Fraidycat as Stuxnet

Fraidycat 1.0.7 is out (in the browser and on desktop), major performance improvements.

My appreciation to all of you out there who have been helping with Fraidycat - this last week has been very busy. There are now releases for Mac, Windows and Linux. These don’t sync between computers yet - but I have spent quite a lot of time polishing them up, to prepare for that. The web extension has been running kind of heavy, so I have now made some major improvements to its performance.

If you use Fraidycat in Firefox, the update is already available. I don’t think the Chrome extension will make it through their store until the end of the week.

I haven’t spent much time trying to spread the word on Fraidycat just yet. I am still clawing along until I can reach a quality that I am happy with. I am close. I think I just want to improve the appearance a bit over the next week and see if I can offer something a little less bland.

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23 Dec 2019

Anna Malina

These GIFs seem pretty haunted to me. Pretty much the opposite of ‘cinemagraphs’.

Don’t know that I’ve seen many GIFs using collage, paint and such in this way. (Also, I guess they are part of this mini-site—at cargo.site, which is a very interesting directory of artists. I’m finding some good things there!)

Anna also has a channel of short films on YouTube. Discovered her on Warren Ellis’ list of feeds (the “Blog Diet”.)

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12 Dec 2019

Reply: The Hyperchat Modality

Chris Aldrich

[wrt to my conversations with philosopher.life] I’m curious what modality you use to converse? Am I missing some fun bit of something about that wiki?

How do you converse with a wiki?

Yeah—it’s quite hidden. We’ve been calling it hyperconversation. It’s very informal and fluid. It’s completely simple: just leaving messages for each other on our sites. No Webmentions necessary or anything like that.

We’re actually trying to really push this concept right now. So there’s this sprawling group chat going on between my blog, philosopher.life, sphygm.us and wiki.waifu.haus for the last few weeks, going through December. The master thread is right here.[1]

You might be tempted to say that using Webmentions would improve the chat because it would give us notifications. But I’m not so sure! The great thing about doing a chat like this is that you really have to keep up on each person’s wiki (or blog), because messages could be hidden anywhere. With Webmentions, you would read their reply and move on. (Think of how, in your reply, you had to reference this article for me—but there is probably a lot more relevant material on your site—I know this is true, just because you do a lot of metadiscussion about blogging and online conversation.)

If you and I were to chat this way, we basically mutually agree to dig deep into each other’s blogs. Think of how this contrasts to ‘the temporality of social media’ that you mention.

Chris:
We’re being trained to dip our toes into a rapidly flowing river and not focus on deeper ideas and thoughts or reflect on longer pieces further back in our history.

Taking this a level deeper, social is thereby forcing us to not only think shallowly, but to make our shared histories completely valueless.

This is absolutely what we’re trying to figure out too, in our own way. Here’s a summary of what this group (the ‘public self-modelers’) is doing:

  • Cross-wiki chats get compiled and placed in permanent pages so that they can be referred back to and built upon.
  • Each individual works on writing master pages for specific concepts (Find The Others has been a topic that we’ve fleshed out together) or even for specific people (such as h0p3’s page on Sphygmus or my page on h0p3.) These personal pages are just good fun - a reminder that the point of our conversation isn’t just to explore a topic, but to get to know each other and goof around.
  • Because conversations and chats span months and months (compared to a Twitter thread, which may last only a few days,) even the ‘ephemeral’ threads are pretty solid, because a lot of thinking and back-and-forth have gone into them.
  • Since we’re not using a rigid protocol (like ActivityPub or microformats,) we can shape the conversation however we want. (For example, at one point we decided to start using each other’s colors when quoting - I think this was Sphygmus’ idea - so we worked on ‘whostyles’ - you can see them on my Hypertext%20%20 page. So we don’t really care about protocols. We care about messing with the hypertext. They’ve each done a lot of work tweaking their wikis. So there’s an aesthetic component.) So we’re not just work on permanent writing - but long-term design/art projects, too.

People seem very focused on technological solutions to online communication (ActivityPub, Indieweb, this absurd BlueSky idea), but the hyperconversation approach is trying to prove that the problem is a human problem. If you read and listen to each other and try to respond thoughfully and carefully - and try to find your own style and wee innovations along the way - you start to feel like you don’t need anything more complicated than a TiddlyWiki!

That’s been a very stunning realization for me. (As I’ve been an Indieweb zealot as well, of course.) Thank you for your curiosity and for your excellent blog and for your work on improving the Web! You are one of the main writers that I feel has been keeping the Web healthy. You connect a lot of people, Chris. That’s human work.


  1. Right now you have to weed through it all, but I will be publishing a finalized, edited chat on my home page when it’s over. ↩︎

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10 Dec 2019

Twilight Sparkle’s Voice Compromised

Brony AI seizes cartoon vocal chords (via @gwern)

The Pony Preservation Project undertakes to model (with machine learning) the voices of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic characters, thus granting them immortality. And, for Twilight Sparkle, the decorum of a sailor.

I don’t know if linking to 4chan is considered bad form - Gwern did the footwork on this, though, so who am I to say? Audio deepfakes, but for cartoon ponies. I’m just going to yank the text from 4chan, since I never know when these pages will disappear.

Pay particular notice to the Google Doc below - it contains rough instructions for training. You need a transcript for each audio clip that you’re processing, so a long-running series like Friendship is Magic is helpful, as you have a wide-ranging corpus to begin with. Background noise also needs to be removed from clips, there is a ‘sorting’ process - which also involves assigning ‘moods’ it seems - and there is also some reference to using Praat, which is used to annotate the files, identifying specific sounds.[1]

TwAIlight welcomes you to the Pony Voice Preservation Project!
https://clyp.it/qrnafm4y

This project is the first part of the “Pony Preservation Project” dealing with the voice. It’s dedicated to save our beloved pony’s voices by creating a neural network based Text To Speech for our favorite ponies. Videos such as “Steamed Hams But It’s Trump & Obama” or “RealTalk Joe Rogan” have proven that we now have the technology to generate convincing voices using machine learning algorithms “trained” on nothing but clean audio clips. With roughly 10 seasons (8 soon to be 9 seasons and 5 movies) worth of voice lines available, we have more than enough material to apply this tech for our deviant needs.

Any anon is free to join, and many are already contributing. Just read the guide to learn how you can help bring on the wAIfu revolution. Whatever your technical level, you can help. Document: docs.google.com

We now have a working TwAIlight that any Anon can play with: Instructions

>Active Tasks
Create a dataset for speech synthesis (https://youtu.be/KmpXyBbOObM)
Test some AI program with the current dataset
Research AI (read papers and find open source projects)
Track down remaining English/Foreign dubs that are missing
Evaluate cleaned audio samples
Phonetic dictionary/tagging
AI Training/Interface

>Latest Developments
https://clyp.it/xp4q1bru [Yay!]
Anons are investigating Deepvoice3, Tacotron2 with GSTs, SV2TTS, and Mellotron
New tool to test audio clips
New “special source” audio
Several new AInons

>Voice samples (So far)
https://clyp.it/2pb4bp05
https://clyp.it/s0klxftk
https://clyp.it/samzm4sk
https://pastebin.com/JUpDRsiw

>Clipper Anon’s Master File:
https://mega.nz/#F!L952DI4Q!nibaVrvxbwgCgXMlPHVnVw

>Synthbot’s Torrent Resources
In the doc at end of resources.

Gwern also found a larger directory of clips, same voice.

Predictions:

  • Fanfic will gain a serious boost when AI-generated voices can simply be fed scripts to generate audiobooks.
  • Couple this with animation networks (also via gwern) and The Simpsons may never need to end.
  • The power of the novel in previous generations was due to the fact that a single writer could produce one without relying on anyone else - finding collaborators in close proximity is a luxury some don’t have. This technology could make cartoons and film largely the domain of lone writers with no staff.
  • It will be a long time before this ever catches up to human voices and hand-drawn frames. In fact, this could increase the value of those artworks. (In the way that algorithms have really helped us see the value of human curation.)
  • Someone who is able to use the tech with a clever flair will have an edge. (As has been the case with CGI.)

I’m still not too hyped by machine learning, though. It seems pretty weak given the empire frothing around it. But these small iterations are cool. And you have to love when it comes out of a random subculture rather than the military. Who can’t respect this kind of insanely determined fandom? Impressive work for one week.


  1. A good start on this is “Analyze Your Voice” video by Prof Merryman. ↩︎

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09 Dec 2019

Blogging Less in the 2020s

How frequently should you post to keep pace with the next decade?

Posting every day — multiple times a day — is indispensable. This is one of the main factors the Instagram algorithm uses to determine how much they are going to expose you to the public (via the “explore page”). Posting every day, especially at “rush hour” times, is much harder and more monotonous than you might think. Most people give up on this task after a few weeks, and even missing a day or two can be detrimental. So, I automated the content collecting and sharing process.

— Chris Buetti, “How I Eat For Free in NYC Using Python, Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and Instagram”

Facebook posts reach their half-life at the 90-minute mark, nearly four times longer than Twitter.

— Buffer’s “Social Media Frequency Guide”

Consistency. Asking friends who work in social media and marketing, this is the current dominant advice - for both ‘influencer’ types and DIY creators. This word seems to be everything right now.

The implication is that you should post frequently, with as much quality as you can muster, to stay relevant. Otherwise, you’ll drop off the end as new ‘content’ crowds it out. And this is happening all day.

The fact that they only post twice a week sheds light on their poor performance. While Nike is a cool brand, their social media content’s infrequencies are taking a toll.

— Dash Hudson, “The Truth About How Often You Should Be Posting on Instagram”

This is an artifact of how social media platforms are constructed. It doesn’t benefit the writer to need to focus on consistency over quality, does it? So does it benefit the reader?

It benefits the platform. And, at this point, there are many different platforms, all demanding your ‘consistency’.

Post to Twitter at least 5 times a day. If you can swing up to 20 posts, you might be even better off.

Post to Facebook five to 10 times per week.

Post to LinkedIn once per day. (20 times per month)

— Buffer’s “Social Media Frequency Guide”

So, minimum 47 posts per week on these three networks. Recommended: 157.

Last year I decided to begin posting only on Tuesday Friday. (Since changed to Monday and Thursday.) I might post a couple times on each of those days. Even worse: I’m posting on a blog in the middle of nowhere, not on a platform that has the benefit of an existing network of users. (Unless you consider the Web itself an existing network of users.)

Convention dictates that I should now show a bunch of statistics demonstrating that posting biweekly had a great statistical benefit and led to ‘success’. However, I believe that would be a cold comfort.[1] I don’t keep traffic statistics - my favorite novels don’t have tracking devices inside, do they? And articles that statistically show ‘success’ are what have led us to ‘consistency’. I don’t think my social media friends are wrong about what is working in 2019.

Most weblogs are unfunded, spare-time ventures, yet most webloggers update their sites five days a week, and some even work on weekends!

— p. 127, Rebecca Blood, The Weblog Handbook (2002)

Does anyone really want ‘likes’? Or do they want ‘followers’? Or ‘visits’ or ‘impressions’? These are numerical decoys for something else.

When I think about writing online - I really just want to add something to someone’s life. To introduce them to a link, in the same way that Andy Baio introduced me to HIGH END CUSTOMIZABLE SAUNA EXPERIENCE. Or to write something they enjoy, just as Nadia Eghbal did with “The Tyranny of Ideas” - an essay I keep coming back to. Or maybe I meet them and can’t even sum it up with a single link, as with h0p3 (at philosopher.life) who I just like to converse with and keep up with throughout my week.

In this way, I feel successful. I might get a nice e-mail from someone. Or I might hear from someone I linked to, saying, “Hey, I had a few people find me through you.” Or I might just not know at all - most people just read and move on, which is totally understandable. And it might be several years later that they say thanks in some blog post that I stumble across.

I think that, even if you do play the ‘consistency’ game, you have to come to terms with not knowing. Why not start there then?

There are lots of strategies out there for gaming the system: posting at optimal times on a regular schedule, using hashtags and keywords, etc, but algorithms change and update as quickly as users adapt, and a battle where you can only react to your opponents moves isn’t one that can be won.

— Y. Kiri Yu, “The Only Way to Beat Algorithms is to Retrain Your Audience”

If I could statistically show you the good memories - the ones I will hold on to - from the past two years, I would show that graph here. I think that would be a useful statistic!

I can list some advantages to working on the Monday Thursday schedule:

  • There is no burn-out. This should be self-apparent.
  • If I drop a week, no big deal. Missing two days of posts rather than seven.
  • This benefit is given to the readers, too! If they miss a week, it is easy to catch up.
  • Blogging returns to being something of a ‘deadline’ rather than a schedule. In fact, I tend to think of Monday as being more serious. I work towards Monday. And, if I have extra things, I may save them for a Thursday.
  • Showing restraint improves the quality of individual posts. There are many times that I’ve crafted a post and then deleted it. I only have a few posts per week - I don’t want to spend them senselessly. (Of course, quality is subjective - I speak only of my own sense of quality.)
  • In the long-term, I can sustain this for decades if I decide to. That can’t be said for daily posting. (Barring personal disaster or loss of interest.)
  • The focus becomes less on winning a single viral post to cash in on. It’s more about finding friends and trying to find useful stuff to bring value to my regular reader’s lives.
  • And, finally, another great benefit to the reader: they have more time to spend reading others! (Who perhaps also post in a fashion that is simple to track.)

There are some difficulties:

  • Ensuring people know the schedule. But I feel like this just becomes apparent over time.
  • Some weeks I feel like posting A LOT more. I’ve always been glad I restrained.
  • Of course, it is incompatible with social media. I don’t get much contact through Twitter, for instance.

Aside from my own experiences, though, I can point to many other blogs that are following sleepy schedules: Nadia Eghbal, who posts every month or two with great effect. Subpixel.space, similar schedule, also high quality. Ribbonfarm seems to be twice-a-week, but has a strong base of readers. things magazine, once or twice per week. Phil Gyford posts maybe a bit more frequently than that. And Andy Baio, who blogs infrequently, but does so when he really has something that you don’t want to miss, is possibly the most important blog to me of all-time.

I don’t want to come off as too negative about frequent posting. There are many people that I enjoy following who post constantly, at all hours of the day. And it suits their personality. It’s cool that they have a lot to say.

For anyone else who may want to pull off a low-key blog (or TiddlyWiki[2]), I wrote this to encourage you! It has worked well for me - and I’m satisfied that all is not lost.

And I will gladly link to you if you make an attempt at this. Come on - let me link to you. I do a monthly hrefhunt, listing blogs and websites that I discover. It’s well worth it, to discover obscure or neglected blogs that haven’t fit into social media’s rapid pacing.

Perhaps we can get away from that in 2020.


  1. I don’t think ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ are useful metrics — see, for instance, Instagram star with 3 million followers can’t sell 36 t-shirts. ↩︎

  2. See sphygm.us. ↩︎

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07 Dec 2019

Tiny Directory Forum

A new (but old-school) forum that’s my current hangout with other web directory nerds.

Don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m seeing a definite resurgence in directories. Like fingers.today (previously crocodile.is) - a home page / blog that is almost like viewing an unsecured open directory. Along similar lines, beautiful-company.com - I think Sphygmus dropped this link - click on the circle in the upper left. I’ve also mentioned Edwin Wenink’s site - but specifically check out the etc section.

So some of us in the burgeoning directory world - such as Brad Enslen of Indieseek and Joe Jenett of i.webthings - have been trying to get a community going, to talk about how to linkhunt in 2019 and to try to provide resources to people who want to start sly niche directories.

So yeah - Brad put up this basic forum - seems good. I’ve been on for a week or two and the discussion has been great so far. It has an RSS feed for new posts. I guess we could do this kind of thing with Indieweb.xyz, but I don’t know - maybe we don’t necessary want to clutter up our blogs with all of the messages related to this topic or maybe you don’t have an Indieweb endpoint to communicate through. (Come on by, say hi here.)

Although I will be trying to clean up and summarize some of the discoveries we make there - because this blog does cover directories about 30% of the time.

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02 Dec 2019

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Dante Fontana

Host of Dante’s Mystery Mix, great work tracking down Shelley Duvall.

This personal homepage is a branch of the ‘EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE’ group - and I just want to quickly call it out for some of its sweet side projects.

A good place to start is with the mystery mixes, such as MYSTERY MIX VOL.7. Or THE BEST OF DANTE FONTANA.

But also his various articles, such as THE SAD AND HEARTBREAKING REALITY OF SHELLEY DUVALL’S MENTAL HEALTH, which I’d never heard and because I was very grateful that she was able to resist Dr. Phil’s efforts to take over her.

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29 Nov 2019

Audio Commentary for Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties

The lost Tim Hill and Joel Cohen commentary track at last.

This year there has been some renewed interest in the Garfield films, as that link went around again, the one that reveals how Bill Murray became involved: because he thought the director was one of the Coen Bros. Of course, the story is far from over, especially now that I’ve discovered that this unreleased audio commentary from the sequel was uploaded to the Internet Archive one year ago!

You can place this next to Wizard People, Dear Reader in your private collection.

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25 Nov 2019

Vektroid’s NFL Mixtape

Vaporwave legend @vektroid digs the football theme crates for synth tracks.

Ten years ago, a link like this would be ripping up the link and music blogs - and perhaps the blog blogs, too!! Vektroid has dropped this playlist, named I DON’T SUPPORT THE NFL BUT DAMN THESE ARE SOME HOT FOOTBALL JAMS: A MIXTAPE. Indeed, have to say - the jams are quite hot.

Hard to not mention Shufflin’ Crew here. I still have my 7".

While searching around for more info on NFL jams, I also stumbled across this strange album: ADHD NFL BLITZ. This reminds me of Picky Picnic or some kind of kid’s cassette. See also: フロフットホールリーク フリッツ.

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21 Nov 2019

The Fraidycat Concept

Fraidycat 1.0.4 is out today in the Firefox and Chrome stores.

Fraidycat 1.0.4 is out - and things are rolling. Much appreciation to all of those who are pitching in ideas on the issues page. Particularly Bauke and Joshua C. Newton - who brought up bugs that I was able to fix in this release. (And apologies about all the noise on this project - I’m excited about it right now and, believe me, I have a variety of things planned over the next month that will take us away from Fraidycat.)

The new version is already approved in the Firefox Add-ons area. The Chrome (and Vivaldi/Brave) extension is still at 1.0.3, but should update automatically very soon. I’ve also started offering a plain zip that you can install manually using these instructions. Auto-updates will not be available - but you will also not be dependent on the official ‘stores’.

This video is also mirrored at archive.org.

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‘Two months after Sir John and I were married we travelled to Cambridge to seek a cure for Sir John’s melancholie from Dr Richard Blackswan, a very famose Physician. We took with us a little cristall flask that had some of Sir John’s water in it. Dr Blackswann went into a little closet behind a curtain of blacke velvet and prayed upon his knees. The Angell Raphael then appearing in the closet (as commonly happens when ever this doctor prays) peer’d into Sir John’s urine. Dr Blackswann told us that the Angell Raphael knew straightway from the colour of it (reddish as if there waz bloude in it) that the cause of Sir John’s extreame Want of Spirits was a lack of Learned Conversation.’

— p. 41, The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke

(And, yeah, I am pumped for Piranesi.)

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14 Nov 2019

Notes: We’ve Got Blog (2002)

What are blogs for? A trip to the beginning. The halcyon days of dot-com idealism and sheer shit-talking.

Here are my notes on the book We’ve Got Blog: How Weblogs Are Changing Our Culture—a worn-out name, but a pretty decent compilation of blog posts from the early days of the phenomenon, mostly 1999-2002.

The articles in this collection are early reflections on the weblog phenomenon. Mature reflections do not exist: the weblog community coalesced only three years ago. Not even the pioneers—some of whom contributed to this anthology—know where weblogs are going, or what place they will eventually fill on the World Wide Web.

— p. xii, Rebecca Blood

The word ‘weblog’ was coined in 1997 - but I think 1999 was officially the first big year for blogging, with both LiveJournal and Blogger appearing. Somehow, wanting to reach back to that era now that 20 years has passed - to attempt to uncover what went so wrong between then and now - I checked out this book from the library on an impulse. It seems to capture the spirit of that age in such a remarkable way - like that jar of deer meat I recently found in my brother-in-law’s basement labelled: '97. (“Oh, it’s still good,” he said.)

And considering Rebecca’s point above: 20 years later, do ‘mature’ reflections now exist? Is it all over and we’re far beyond reflecting? Has the blog just been a tulpa for some ancient essence that we’ll never capture?

Time to reflect.

For the first fifty pages of this, I felt nothing but self-loathing. Blogging suddenly seemed like the most disgusting thing to do - to aimlessly, carelessly write endlessly about my tastes and interests. While I quite like Rebecca Blood’s analysis in the early chapters, this quote chilled me:

As [the blogger] enunciates his opinions daily, this new awareness of his inner life may develop into a trust in his own perspective. His own reactions - to a poem, to other people, and, yes, to the media - will carry more weight with him. Accustomed to expressing his thoughts on his website, he will be able to more fully articulate his opinions to himself and others. He will become impatient with waiting to see what others think before he decides, and will begin to act in accordance with his inner voice instead. Ideally, he will become less reflexive and more reflective, and find his own opinions and ideas worthy of serious consideration.

— p. 14, Rebecca Blood, “Weblogs: A History and Perspective”

Perhaps Rebecca could really use the confidence boost - and that seems entirely wholesome - but I personally do not need to take myself more seriously. I can definitely appreciate improving my articulation - yes definitely, definitely - but becoming more ‘impatient’ and more opinionated - yet somehow more ‘reflective’? More weighty? I don’t want this to happen… (I think I’d like to remain aware that I’m a perfectly worthless dipshit.)

Any idea that these days of blogging were somehow more idyllic, pleasant or enviable quickly goes out the window in this book. The shit-talking is near-epic! Names are named—denounced and disgraced as ruining the form—mostly deriding “A-list” bloggers, but also decrying “the unbearable incestuousness of blogging.” Seems like the confirmation I’ve needed that mastering hypertext is going to be a formidable challenge for us - one that they were only just beginning to embark on and, therefore, were well over their heads in.

However, so far I’ve found a surprising amount to glom on to. These early bloggers definitely had a whiff of what was to come (partly because many had recently left the experience of Usenet) and I think I’m coming away hugely crystallized. Unexpected!!

So, How Useful Are Blogs?

The juiciest quote, for me, so far is this one:

‘Accept that the Web ultimately overwhelms all attempts to order it, as for now it seems we must, and you accept that the delicate thread of a personal point of view is often as not your most reliable guide through the chaos. The brittle logic of the hierarchical index has its indispensable uses, of course, as has the crude brute strength of the search engine. But when their limits are reached (and they always are), only the discriminating force of sensibility will do - and the more richly expressed the sensibility, the better.’

“Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Man” by Julian Dibbell (2000)

This might be a little self-affirming, because it seems to vindicate the web directory (e.g. my l’il href.cool) but what it really seems to be describing is the blog as our premiere discovery mechanism.[1] This must have been a common view at the time, considering this earlier quote:

[…] the weblog movement will begin to realize its true power, a more widely distributed version of what the Open Directory and other collaborative web directories have promised but only minimally delivered.

— p. 40, Brad L. Graham, “Why I Weblog”

In hindsight, this feels like hyperbole - the finished product of a blog seems (to me) less navigable than a directory, although both are usually stale by then. But I think this has played out, to some degree, especially if I think of how useful a good music blog can be when attempting to discover new music. (Though I think a good music podcast or YouTube review can be equally good.)

Hmm. A medium really is only as good as the artist makes of it. It’s not that hypertext is tapping into us. We’re pushing it wherever we want, right?

Defensive Blogging

We are being pummeled by a deluge of data and unless we create time and spaces in which to reflect, we will be left with only our reactions. I strongly believe in the power of weblogs to transform both writers and readers from “audience” to “public” and from “consumer” to “creator.”

— p. 16, Rebecca Blood, “Weblogs: A History and Perspective”

I want to draw a comparison here between this quote and (apologies) Fortnite Battle Royale. Putting aside everything else about Fortnite, it tacked on an interesting innovation: the ability to build structures (in a Minecraft-inspired fashion) with a traditional (third-person) shooter.

Most people seemed to scoff at this blend—as if it were some kind of mere monstrosity of buzzwords. No, this ability to build boxes around yourself or staircases to scale mountains added a much-needed defensive strategy to shooter games, aside from stuff like holing-up or strafing. What’s more: the building strategy can also be seen as ‘shooting’ defenses—you are adding to the environment—it is a constructive, perhaps aggressive, kind of defense.[2]

That’s what seems to resonate with bloggers: not the publication of a first-person journal but the chain of interaction it often ignites.

— p. 170, JD Lasica, “Blogging as a Form of Journalism”

This chain of interaction can manifest as a scorching backdraft. And that is not usually what you are trying to ignite. We like to think that we are kicking off a fantastic, fulfilling discussion that moves the world forward—but the chain is well outside of our control.

(My initial thoughts to ‘controlling’ such a thing is… defensive in the Fortnite sense. Many hypertext writers now build layers around their writing. Nadia Eghbal has direct interaction through Twitter, indirect interaction through polished essays and a newsletter—but also, concealed interaction through an unadvertised notes page that is not easily syndicated or followed. Similarly, representing the public-self modelers—h0p3 has a home page entry point that is carefully curated and groomed, but which is several layers up from a complete chaos of link dumps, raw drafts and random introspections—all of which you can only sort through by learning his curious conventions. You are on his turf. These layers run a spectrum of accessibility—there is always a learning curve before you hit the bottom. You start with a doorway before entering a maze.)

Final Takeaways

I do think what this has left me with so far is two very clear impressions:

  • I still think blogging is a great way to shed light on undiscovered wonderful things. (Other touted aspects - such as ‘giving me a voice’ or ‘replacing old media’ - don’t particularly juice me up personally. Maybe I’m being too hasty here, though. It’s a luxury to publish freely with no editorial staff to shut me down.)
  • Curating blog posts into a finalized book is pretty cool. This reinforces my conclusion on my Hypertexting study: that a permanent ‘body’ of text can be extracted from the ephemera of assorted links and notes that go into blogging. I think it will be useful to, at some point, roll up a bunch of old posts (perhaps delete them) once I’ve compiled a nice piece of writing that sums it all up. (Perhaps this is just a stupid realization about ‘finishing’ something - gah, sorry!)[3]

So, while certain writers in this book seemed to look at the blog as a fully-realized literature format - and perhaps it can be that to some - for me, I see it as a conduit between writings and creations - a place where some of my own words fester and pile up, as a kind of byproduct.

Lastly, there’s no question that we are far from a mature view of hypertext. I feel that much of the last two decades has been spent just trying to emotionally process what our open exposure on the Internet means. These bloggers lived during an early expansion when the population was much smaller. The extreme growth (along with stuff like constant mobile connections and the Snowden discoveries) has transformed the Internet into a very public, chaotic place.

Developing a blog/wiki/etc demands writing, editing, publishing and even relationship chops. I’m not even touching the journalism, entrepreneurial and community-building aspects that this book focuses on at times. Trying to do this in a disciplined way is difficult in the changing landscape - partly because so much of our discussion necessarily revolves around examining that landscape.

Appendix: Raw Notes

p. 5. “[so-and-so] grouped a bunch of webloggers into high school cliques and called me a jock” the shit-talking begins, this is comfortable, nothing has changed.

p. 5. “Dave decided I must be ‘brain-damaged’ because I used frames.” first thought: this is worthy of publication? second thought: oh, wait, these are raw blog posts republished. third thought: 😎

Tracked down the Dave Winer post myself, to ensure ‘brain-damaged’ was the actual wording. (It was.) Quote just below it:

Dad says I shouldn’t criticize other people on my site. He’s right, in theory. But in practice, what I don’t like is just as much a part of my personality as what I do like.

— Kate Adams

(Personal aside: I once criticized the cover of a Philip K. Dick book publicly on the Internet. The only response my post receive was from the illustrator that had designed the cover. She basically said: “Thanks, that hurt.” You might think she had no business replying to my post and should have just taken the criticism. But she didn’t like my criticism - which is “just as much a part of her personality” as anything else, I suppose.)

p. 9. Good Rebecca Blood quote: “These weblogs provide a valuable filtering function for their readers. The Web has been, in effect, pre-surfed for them.”

p. 11. There seems to be a recurring theme that Blogger made blogging “too easy” by just having a single textbox to post in. Didn’t realize it was that much of a progenitor to Twitter.

p. 12. Filters as their own thing: “I really wish there were another term to describe the filter-style weblog, one that would easily distinguish it from the blog.”

(No indication of the tools available to the ‘filter’ blog are given - except that it has access to other filter blogs. Also, there are about five different blog types alluded to - none of them matter now.)

p. 18. The author seems to say that communities, in order to survive, must stay small - and credits The WELL with the best approach. I don’t know The WELL - but it’s still here today. Wonder if it is considered intact…

p. 20. The term ‘webpools’ is used here several times. There are many, many outdated terms and awkward language choices in these essays. These are really cool to me because the language was in such flux - and it reminds me of how repulsive the word ‘blog’ was at first. (I invent crappy words, too - guilty.)

p. 27. Having a good ‘link checker’ is mentioned. Interesting that this technology is nowhere to be seen now. (Href.cool has a simple, dumb one I made - but it’s proven essential.)

p. 31. Some discussion about crediting sources. The discussion is basically “this is a virtuous thing to do” vs. “it clutters up the blog”. This misses the point (imho) - the point is to aid discovering related blogs.

p. 32. This is so funny: “But what about a weblog for the homemaker?”

p. 32. “Wouldn’t it be great if all the neurosurgeons in the world had one place to go for up-to-date information about the numerous changes in their field?” No. Hard no.

p. 35. The need for one’s own domain name. I used to think this wasn’t very important. Starting to come around.

p. 37. “fram” - friend spam. This was nostalgic - ahh right, basically, e-mail forwards were the Facebook of that era. Again, recurring theme of: people need to become better, more disciplined independent writers and publishers. That is what the Web asks of us.

p. 43. omgz, a spoof of “we didn’t start the fire” in the middle of the book. “Wetlog, BrainLog, NeoFlux, and Stuffed Dog…” this is amaaazing.

p. 49. beebo.org?? wtf, this is the second time this has come up. “a blog best-seller list”? The captures on Internet Archive do not explain this well enough for me.

p. 51. It’s becoming clear that Blogger was the poster child of its time. Strangely, people don’t really trace the lineage of Twitter or Tumblr back to it - nor does it come up in the Friendster, Myspace, Facebook dynasty. It’s just kind of this useful website that appeared and is still here. Strangely, Google has managed to keep it low-key, ad-less, customizable - seems like a completely ignored utility. There even seems to be a “New Blogger” dashboard for mobile. I wonder what keeps this thing going?

p. 52. Fears about blogging becoming “too easy” - leading to “blogorrhea”. Yeah, that panned out.

p. 54. The Bicycle story. This seems like some kind of a precious take on memes. Or, alternatively, a satire on a template blog post. The self-loathing returns.

p. 59. Damn, this is serious shit-talking!! (Like on the level of Bernhard’s The Woodcutters.) I need to talk about this in more detail later.

p. 68. Blogs as “exteriorized psychology”. Sure. But no. Hard no.

p. 70. Where did Jorn Barger go? Seems like perception that he was antisemitic turned against him? Nah, it’s got to just be burn out or something. Everyone should retreat from the pulpit at some point. (Actually, not sure why I’m asking where he is - most of these blogs are vacated. I think people didn’t want out of blogging what it ended up giving them. There was definitely something of a gold rush.)

p. 76. This Julian Dibbell has some good stuff. “Does it even count as irony that Barger’s rigorously unfiltered perspective is perhaps as good a filter as can be found for the welter of the Web?” This is a good question! And it really confuses the topic of what makes a good algorithm or a good editor. The discussion kind of stops at: it’s a sensibility.

p. 78. Blogger was a one-man business in 2001 after initially having a team. It really squeaked by. This is cool. It actually survived.

p. 82. “I do think there was a blog concept. Then there were a couple blog concepts. And now we’re getting closer to a blog concept again.” Lol. I think we’re back to a couple blog concepts again.

p. 87. Comment about 2001’s “p2p hype” drowning out interest in blogs. It’s interesting that blockchain took that space for awhile. And it’s interesting that some p2p+blog projects have a niche community now. It’s also interesting that those were seen as competing at the time - I can see how people would think that, but those were clearly two different crowds.

p. 89-98. No real interest in this chapter (on the Kaycee Nicole Hoax) - although veracity of information continues to be a big topic. Was a topic in the radio and newspaper eras, too.

p. 103. “[Blogs are] nothing new, they’re not changing the world with their content, they’re not going to make anyone huge amounts of money, but they are a form of self-expression and community which others enjoy reading.” (Finally, some tempered enthusiasm that’s grounded in reality. No one in this book even considers that blogs might have been a fad - which is a reasonable appraisal given that blogs have almost vanished within the past ten years.)

p. 112-115. An actual essay on link-hunting! It’s rather thin, but it’s a good start. Most of the sources listed in this article are gone now. (Except mailing lists - though they aren’t nearly as prevalent.)

p. 124. “linkslut” (Sick, this is me.)

p. 131. “… most popular weblogs function to serve up the piddle and crap the authors either don’t have time for, don’t believe worth taking any further, or perhaps are testing the waters for.” (So: people know they are writing for free and withhold their best work. Really makes me grateful for insanely high-quality essayists out there like Nadia or Toby.)

p. 138. Kottke is a serious target in this book. He is quoted here, talking about his laptop bag. The writer then basically says, “See, this is the epitome of decadent navel-gazing.”

p. 141. This Blogma 2001 stuff hasn’t aged well. The satire is just thinly veiled bile. Which is not a problem. It’s just that the target of this piece (“A-list” bloggers) is not interesting. Maybe it’s too easy. (Like a satire on modern influencers - who cares.)

p. 144. In a section on blogging tips, called “Anonymous Is Okay.” ‘If you are being anonymous give some hints about you from time to time. “I am a fat boy!”’ 🤣

p. 152. This has really gone downhill in the last few chapters. I’m now in an essay on how to get noticed. “Also, when sending email, try to be funny” - oh boy. And yet, this is exactly what you expect in a book titled We’ve Got Blog from 2002. (This essay does highlight that self-promotion was very awkward even then.)

p. 155. “Once in a while remind yourself that you are not only as good as your last update.” (Based.)

p. 164. Referring to a time in the late 90s: “Then reality set in and those individual voices became lost in the ether as a million businesses lumbered onto the cyberspace stage, newspapers clumsily grasped at viable online business models, and a handful of giant corporations made the Web safe for snoozing.” (Had to do a double-take on this one! Were they talking about 2011?)

p. 166. Reference to Paul Andrews’ “Who Are Your Gatekeepers?” Sounds worth reading.

p. 166. “Where the weblog changes the nature of ‘news’ is in the migration of information from the personal to the public.” (Premonitions of Snowden. Regardless of whether you think he was successful, in this respect he certainly was.)

p. 167. The rest of the essays in this book are by amateurs, so they look at editors at entirely superfluous. This section is written by journalists, so they seem to see it just as a tradeoff. Yeah, for sure. (As a reader, it certainly seems valuable to evaluate online writing on a spectrum of heavily-edited and fact-checked vs. off-the-cuff - depending on what you are getting out of it.)

p. 170. “One of the most interesting things about blogs is how often they’ve made me change my mind about issues. There’s something about the medium that lets people share opinions in a less judgemental way than when you interact with people in the real world.” (Eh? This seems spurious. The medium is still just the written word. I think what you’re trying to articulate is that you never quite know what you’re going to end up reading online - so it’s possible to be exposed to arguments you haven’t encountered. Hence all the talk about people being accidentally radicalized politically.)

p. 170. “That’s what seems to resonate with bloggers: not the publication of a first-person journal but the chain of interaction it often ignites.” (Yes. Hard yes. This explains the migration to social media. Quicker, faster, immedate sparks of interaction.) (It also occured to me at this point that ‘likes’ and such are analagous to ‘hit counters’ from this age.)

p. 171. The editorial process produces writing that is “limp, lifeless, sterile, and homogenized”; blogs produce words that are “impressionistic, telegraphic, raw, honest, individualistic, highly opinionated and passionate, often striking an emotional chord.” (I really don’t like that this paints a picture that writing just got better all of the sudden because of blogs.)

p. 192-193. During an essay which completely demolishes the war blogs of the time, Tim Cavanaugh quotes a full page-and-a-half of shameless gladhanding. ("…the consistently correct Moira Breen." “Mark Steyn—this guy is so good!” “…Natalija Radic really hit them where it hurts.”) (It goes on and on. This seems similar to current questions of ‘virtual signaling’. Which I don’t have a problem with generally. Really: what should a personal signal? I think the problem here is that the concept of a war blogger is gross. So perhaps it is the incompatibility we see between a person and their signal.)

p. 195. “For all the bitching they log about the mainstream media, none of the bloggers are actually cruising the streets of Peshawar or Aden or Mogadishu. Thus, they’re wholly dependent upon that very same mainstream media.” (Well, the mainstream will always exist in some way - as a baseline of culture, as a central point of reference, like Magnetic North. Therefore, we’re dependent on it. And we move ourselves around it by defining our various loves and hatreds of it. And, in this case, I think it should still be safely used as a resource. Also, ‘it’ is actually a massive, pluralistic, infinite, incongruous organism.)

p. 228. ICQ as “I seek you.” Durrrr. I never caught this! Wowwww. 🔫


  1. Definitely in the way Joe Jennett or Eli Mellen does it—and also h0p3’s link logs. I think tumblelogs and Delicious innovated in this department. ↩︎

  2. Many shooters allow you to project or throw force field areas. So this concept has been around, to some degree. I don’t know the lineage—I’m not a gamer. ↩︎

  3. A few days after writing this, Nadia posted “Reimagining the PhD”, which casts her last five years as a kind of self-styled doctorate - which will now concluded with her publication of a book on her field of study. ‘Rolling up’ a blog into a formalized work is parallel. ↩︎

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12 Nov 2019

HrefHunt for Nov 2019

Promised I’d do this after getting Fraidycat out there. This regular feature is back: me hunting in the brambles, coming back up with 22 newly discovered blogs from a variety of sources, mainly 8 threads and blogrolls out there. Raw dump. Good quality.

Promised I’d do this after getting Fraidycat out there. This regular feature is back: me hunting in the brambles, coming back up with 22 newly discovered blogs from a variety of sources, mainly 8 threads and blogrolls out there. Raw dump. Good quality.

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11 Nov 2019

‘Accept that the Web ultimately overwhelms all attempts to order it, as for now it seems we must, and you accept that the delicate thread of a personal point of view is often as not your most reliable guide through the chaos. The brittle logic of the hierarchical index has its indispensable uses, of course, as has the crude brute strength of the search engine. But when their limits are reached (and they always are), only the discriminating force of sensibility will do - and the more richly expressed the sensibility, the better.’

“Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Man” by Julian Dibbell (2000)

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PLUNDER THE ARCHIVES

This page is also at kickscofbk2xcp5g.onion and on dat://.

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

jack and tals vals, hipster bait analysts.

hypertext 2020 pals: h0p3 level 99 wikiist + ᛝ ᛝ ᛝ — lucid highly classified scribbles + consummate waifuist chameleon.

nathalie lawhead of so many good things, where does one begin. T, U, I.

waxy is back at it!

surfpals: nadia eghbal, subpixel.space (toby), things by j, gyford, also joe jenett (of linkport), brad enslen (of indieseek), 'web curios' at imperica.

fond friends: jacky.wtf, fogknife, eli, tiv.today, j.greg, box vox, whimsy.space, caesar naples.

indieweb: .xyz, c.rwr, boffosocko.

nostalgia: geocities.institute, bad cmd, ~jonbell.

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

chips: zeptobars, scargill, 41j.

neil c. "some..."

the world or cate le bon you pick.

all my other links are now at href.cool.