Kicks Condor
15 Oct 2020

Notes: The Bomb and How We Built It (2012)

Reaction to the Unimaginable Heights novella.

Talia of Unimaginable Heights (the gem of all of Neocities) has quietly published an incredible novella: The Bomb and How We Built It. These are my running notes from my first reading.

This is a science-fiction story (along the lines of Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We) about a woman living in a commune, the surrounding world existing in a kind of dystopian state. I found the story to be very imaginative and bursting with personality - with some tremendous imagery and funny observations. (I’m not as into plot or character, so I tend to not be as aware of these elements in a story - I enjoy novels that could never be made into films. This novella is definitely in this vein.)

Even though The Bomb is eight-years-old, I feel like it still hits. The human dynamics seemed like they could be a metaphor for virtual communities. There is something very detached and cartoonish about the figures of this story that made them feel almost like if Talita had ripped a bunch of personalities from a Discord channel or a Morrissey chat room and translated them into a real setting. (Doubt Talita did anywhere near this - just a feeling I had.)

Anyway, going to cite some bits and add some general observations at the end.

p. 1. “Now, in the morning, most Newcomers are out there working. Later they will come to the big Sunflower Field and dance naked under the sprinklers. Then they will have lunch, and then they will wash their dishes in a big metal tin, which will be placed right in the centre of the big Sunflower Field - they’re very strict about those kinds of things here, about centres.” (It’s very amusing that they dance and then wash dishes. I think the light-heartedness of the story is quite disarming. But the thing is - it gives the main character a very childlike feeling and sets the story apart from other dystopian stories which are nearly always characterized by a damp, heavy tone. This is why I pair this with We (1920), since the tone feels so similar. Also the note about “centres” becomes very important in the story - the desire to pierce the “centre” of a group dynamic.)

(Oh, I will say - this story is quite allegorical. But I don’t think that’s where it really kills. There are some amazing moments that are only tangential - like epiphanies that seem off-topic, but which are actually central - to me, at least.)

p. 1. “I’m still very far from being considered a part of this place, someone who really belongs here, and that’s because there is way too much ‘me’ in me.” (*It’s interesting that Leo can be Leo - and Jonah can Jonah - but she can’t be herself. I think there’s a very modern pressure to tone yourself down, or to abdicate your identity, perhaps even with good reason, which is why it’s easy to relate to Alejandra here. And I think I can see why this happens on the Internet

  • you have a worldwide group that has converged onto a massive virtual space - and there’s just not room for everyone, so there is pressure to pull people down, strip down one’s self, etc. At the same time, this will have to happen - one should probably step into the shadows from time-to-time.*)

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@h0p3 Hey have you heard back from epicfailguy228? (Or the other “netstalkers”?) I presume not - you woulda spilled. Ah well. RenRose is cool.

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Parametric TikTok

Snappy thread by Jon-Kyle on platforms shaping their interactions.

Okayyy, not sure what’s going on, but everyone needs to stop messing with my blog. There are files everywhere in these folders!! I don’t know who all you cops and lawyers are, but I am prepared to FIGHT. I am going through the artifacts and random e-mails (fabricated? people have been sending?) and try to sort out how to respond - maybe I’ve lost you already… I feel so hosed.

I’m just going to get back to it. From the linked blog:

What’s interesting is the feedback loop between how parametric the whole thing is and the TikTok algorithm — itself a parametrically weighted system.

We think of these algorithms as using us. They watch what we’re watching, dissecting every microsecond. Constantly crunching our taps and touches.

So - when people start crunching their own inputs and outputs through the algorithm like this - does this legitimize it? I mean, hey, if it can be used like a tool, it’s a tool. I’ve been skeptical of algorithms being so opaque that you can’t really leverage them. But, hey, would be glad to see that trend reverse course.

Hear me out; this shit is profound. He takes the aggregate behavior of 100,000 Youtubers and performs it in one go. Call it The “User is Present” or whatever.

I am totally onboard for this. This is very insightful. (Author can’t say this of himself - so says “profound”.)

I feel like this confirms my feelings about human curation. If you look at all these types of “content” - the numeric nature, the dense titles, the layers of imagery - they resemble computer outputs (Jon-Kyle’s point) blended humorously with human energy - from slamming a dance out to slouching lobotomized in a chair.

Perhaps another way of putting this is: an algorithm’s fingerprints are all over its library. Because the same is true of humans. You could count on John Peel for a certain spectrum from shoegaze to garage, right?

I think, in the past, we’ve thought of algorithms in this way - can we recreate John Peel in software? But maybe it’s the other way around. TikTok is its own kind of video jockey now.

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18 Jun 2020
16 Jun 2020

Winnie Lim

Introspective web of the heart.

As hypertext is a suitable metaphor for the mind, one often begins dumping knowledge into it - or sketching mind maps and pushing through idea- or topic-based webs.

In Winnie’s case, she journals in this way. So that, rather than simply starting from the present, she links back to past experiences and epiphanies. Her blog is a map of the heart, perhaps, more than merely the mind. Any devoted student of hypertext will find much to contemplate in her effort.[1]

She combines some confessional blogging with a larger project of self-analysis and plan-making. I think I would be more reluctant to quote her if I knew that this page would be widely read - for her tone is so completely introspective and private.

Trying to write honestly on this public journal is also a constant struggle, especially with what is happening around the world these days. It seems unfair that I am here writing in relative safety while people are out there either dying due to injustice or fighting for it. But I know if I get caught up in activism I won’t be able to survive the grief and fatigue that comes along with it. To survive, I have to carve a little bubble around me for as long as I can. The price to pay is the existential guilt that I carry around with me everyday.

“on processing books for kindling”

These kinds of admissions, I could never actually hit publish on. Here, in a paragraph detailing a pile of her weaknesses, the subtext is: the strength she has developed in managing those weaknesses.

And - in a way - it is astonishing to read a ‘blog’-type website that isn’t rooted in a criticism of the world or an admonishment to change.

And she develops strengths of a kind that many people simply don’t value. Such as the effort to build a robust aging strategy.

I love growing old, and the only thing I hate about it is people I love growing old — one of the most important things I’ve been working on is learning how to bear grief, and how to cherish love in the present.


In discussing her purpose, she writes something very similar to ‘find the others’, a close relative of my ‘let me link to you’.

Because I have abandonment issues, no matter where I go or what I do I feel alienated, isolated from what everyone else is doing.

So it has been deeply comforting to me when internet strangers send me messages to tell me that they resonated with what I shared. It is not validation that I seek, but resonance and connection. Sometimes, I would like to feel less alone. I would also like to facilitate the space for others like me to feel less alone.

“on processing books for kindling”

Of course, this is where I am supposed to suggest that social media is tearing the intimacy of online relationships apart - by converting them into war grounds. (While, it seems, her website enables meaningful connection.) However, I can’t help but confront my own reasons for reading Winnie’s journal. Am I merely attempting to voyeuristically examine her life? Perpetuating another ill of online life - the performance, the transaction of personal privacy in exchange for public karma dollas.[2]

What am I seeking in her words? Resonance and connection? Yeah - I think so. I am - for sure - responding to that feeling - resonance - something like, “Oh hey, what she’s saying has something new, but it’s also… very old. I recognize it.”[3]

Yes, yesyes, oui, oyyyy. Hypertext is our connection. She inhabits here more and more, so does h0p3, Talita, all these friends. I am not attempting to self-model, but it is happening. Part of my internal state is here. And they are woven thru it.

I wouldn’t call it self-modeling tho. It’s a soul thing, conjuring, maybe a subastral soulsync (soulseek?) a fomenting of the miracel or the bizet (virtual personas that don’t exist in the physical world, even in pixels, there is no picture of them because they are entirely made of our feelings for others and whatever it is that we’ve learned but don’t yet understand…)

I feel like I’m constantly loosening the invisible chains on myself with every year that goes by. I think the gift of working on ourselves is emotional freedom, and it is emotional freedom that gifts one creative freedom. There has to be a sustainable, steady force propelling us through a 30-year project, and we cannot let our psychological baggage be dead weight in that long, possibly arduous journey.

‘the long view: note-taking and becoming a person’

I need to quote some parts from the chronic pain stuff, as well as her excellent stuff on grief. In those respects, I feel like I live so similarly - it’s like I’ve found someone who says the things I don’t say, because almost no one understands them.

But I’ll also observe that her writing has been excellent during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not generally about the pandemic - more a crystallization of the state of her heart and mind, clearer than before even. So many have been sidelined by the virus - their posts are like “WHOA!” - whereas hers are more uniquely determined in some way.

  1. Her website goes back to 2012. So, as of this writing, there are eight years in the corpus - encompassing life in her 30s. Normally I wouldn’t mention an artist’s age - but age plays a central part in her work. ↩︎

  2. Or, ‘agreevotes’, as chame has unearthed. ↩︎

  3. The connection, on the other hand, for me, is the process of building this page, this person page that h0p3 first modeled. I am not trying to completely capture Winnie Lim here and to summarize her so that you don’t have to read her - but to subsume into my life all those words she’s said that will now be with me forever, to credit her, to be generous to her and to thank her. Could be another type of t42t. ↩︎

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@sphygmus I’ve been pouring time into an edit of the Hypertext 2020 conversation. It’s very large and I’ve probably spent 40 hours on it. A good amount of that time has been spent on all the wikis - re-reading and combing through - bc we all littered fragments everywhere. 😁

Whatever might happen - I’m very glad that we had that conversation, back on the cusp of the world getting thoroughly upturned. I enjoy reading it. I feel like I kind of ruined part of it by asking questions that fell flat - but it was fun to do and I like the variety of responses. I’m glad you were all up for it! I love to collaborate - it’s a chance to do more than I could ever do alone.

It’s been almost two years since I started reading you. (Two years since I found h0p3 and one year since chame joined.) What can I say? It’s been great. I had fun working on whostyling with you. And watching you write and build simultaneously across your wiki.

It’s probably weird for you that there are still snapshots of your wiki from back then. But I love it. 😅

I think I understand why you do your wiki. I mean - you love it, it’s your creation. You love to shape it and color it in. You like to write, too. You like to muse - feel out topics or emotions where you are uncertain. I definitely see h0p3 and chame fleshing out topics, too - filling in their workbooks - but I think you usually resist coming to a conclusion.

Similarly, you have always been off-and-on with the public side of your wiki. I think this is why it’s so fascinating to see where you go next. You’re still working through those reasons - and maybe resisting a conclusion there, too.

The thing is: we have this big public place now that we all share as humanity. And we don’t understand this place like we understand physical places - cities, homes, parks. This public place has only recently formed - because even the early bloggers and webmasters were virtually alone online. It was a niche thing until recent years.

So you get to be here at the beginning of its explosion. And part of the problem is that we have to try to figure it out before we really even know what it is.

When I think about it, though - I’m glad that you are here at the beginning, sorting through the conflicts this place presents. And working with the raw materials to create unusual, vivid designs for no other reason than the sheer fun and beauty of it.

There’s a price to being public. You rarely see the benefits. You may not see them at all. In fact, the benefit may go to all of us who marvel at your work and get to find inspiration in your designs and the ideas that you leave for us here and there.

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14 Jun 2020

Reply to brantonbits

I think we can safely say that a platform’s design usually predicts its use. A minified website would be severely hobbled if you’re browsing it with Beaker - forking and live-editing is central. It seems they’ve successfully upgraded ‘view source’.

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11 Jun 2020

Reply to wynlim

This whole tweet feels so much bigger that it looks. I’m keeping my own copy of it, if you don’t mind.

And your recent paragraph on the blog about ‘existential guilt’ as a price - it’s just as good. The things you’re writing are, like, palpable.

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ASCII-slathered wiki, single-player dungeon of thoughts, good links too.

I know wikis are already text - but this is an actual wiki of just text. Colors and links and text I should say. And it’s insane and more of a poetic wiki, if that’s still a beautiful attribute. So, yes, truly an original aesthetic. A pretty thing. You can copy any page completely into your clipboard. That’s not a big deal. Maybe having a page on BATTERIES is?

Actually, highlighting does help me read the darker pages. Mmmnn, ok - I’m going to copy out of my clipboard anyway:

#@£=~¨¨¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨¨¨~=£@#
@@=\.....¨                                          ¨.....\=@@
@@@=~¨¨¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨¨¨~=@@@
##@@£=\~.¨                                          ¨.~\=£@@##
##@@£=\~.¨                                          ¨.~\=£@@##
@£££==\~.¨                                          ¨.~\==£££@
##@@£=\~.¨                   ####                   ¨.~\=£@@##
#@=\~~~.¨¨               ††††    ††††               ¨¨.~~~\=@#
###@£=\~.¨           ####            ####           ¨.~\=£@###
@££££=\~.¨       ††††                    ††††       ¨.~\=££££@
@@=~¨¨¨¨¨¨   ####          CREATURE          ####   ¨¨¨¨¨¨~=@@
@@£=~~¨¨¨¨       ††††                    ††††       ¨¨¨¨~~=£@@
#@£=~.¨¨¨¨           ####            ####           ¨¨¨¨.~=£@#
#@@@£=\~.¨               ††††    ††††               ¨.~\=£@@@#
@@@=~.¨¨¨¨                   ####                   ¨¨¨¨.~=@@@
#@@@£=\~.¨                                          ¨.~\=£@@@#
##@@£=\~.¨ A  BEAUTIFUL  ANIMAL  IN  THE  NEON RAIN ¨.~\=£@@##
@£\\\.¨¨¨¨            A PURPOSEFUL BODY             ¨¨¨¨.\\\£@
#@@@£=\~.¨ A COSMIC  PARTNER.  IN  CRIME  AND  LOVE ¨.~\=£@@@#
###@@=\~.¨                                          ¨.~\=@@###
#@@££=\~.¨ I AM DRUNK ON  MY VIRTUAL TEARS  - THERE ¨.~\=££@@#
@@=~~¨¨¨¨¨ IS    A   FUTILITY    IN   BEING    REAL ¨¨¨¨¨~~=@@
@£=\~~.¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨.~~\=£@
@=~~~~~~.¨ SO    IM   ACTING   LIKE   I   AM   NOT. ¨.~~~~~~=@
###@@=\~.¨                                          ¨.~\=@@###
##@@£=\~.¨                                          ¨.~\=£@@##
@£=~.¨¨¨¨¨                                          ¨¨¨¨¨.~=£@
###@£=\~.¨                                          ¨.~\=£@###
@££\~~~~.¨                                          ¨.~~~~\££@

The rest of the site is really good. The music page is hells of fun. I feel awful though because I spent all my time trying to figure out if this was related to 9-eyes. And what to write about that. And this is all I came up with.

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10 Jun 2020

Admiring the Quotebacks Strategy

The new extension by @tobyshorin and @tomcritchlow is textbook. Hypertextbook.

You might think that the Quotebacks extension - for being a piece of rather simple tech - is being talked about enough already. But I think we need to slow down and look at this closer. (Are we few? Those remaining Web devotees…)

And, yes, the website says that Quotebacks does three things. But I’m just going to talk about it as if it did one thing: gives people a common format for embedding quoted stuff.

Looks like this:

Fuck that. I'm more of an editor than a developer any day, but I'll be damned if I'm going to cede that territory. I dont want to pour my words into a box, the parameters of which someone else decides (and obscures). I want to make the box, too. And remake it. And, hell, break it from time to time. It's mine to break.

Select the text. Copy it into the extension. And it’ll give you embed tags. (Much like YouTube does for embedding videos or Twitter does for embedding tweets.)

So. This is a cool extension - but also very sneaky and strategic. Something like this can actually draw people back to the Web. A bit of stylistic appeal paired with some subconscious luring.

The primary advocacy strategy on the Web for the last ten years seems to have been to write a blog post saying, “Hey, stop what you’re doing and write blog posts!” Unfortunately that offers nothing appealing to offset the risk of blogging on a seemingly empty Web. Especially for people who tried blogging already. (“Come on - I swear - people are still out here!!”)

Think of the appeal of ‘likes’ on social media. There was a lot of excitement around this kind of participation. Hey, likes - I could do that! I could get some likes! At the very least, I could give out a few - and I might get some back. Great!

A quoteback is a like, too, actually. It’s just a full paragraph one.

Likes are the most atomic way - the most basic way - of participating in social media. And perhaps the quoteback is the most atomic form of participation on the Web.

This suggests that people are quoting each other a lot on the Web.[1] This suggests that you will be quoting others and they will be quoting you.[2] There is an automatic action implied - a subconscious luring - that one should begin by reading. By finding quotes to quote.

And I think this is an excellent mindset to be in.[3]

Furthermore, this positions the Web as a container. The Web has already become a place to embed other network content. You don’t embed social networks into each other - you embed into HTML. This makes the Web a wrapper for every other kind of network. And the glue between networks.

Quotebacks can fabricate an image for social networks. Check it out.

Image of Nadia quote.

An acute reminder of hypertext sterilization on those Webs.

So, sure, go to the social networks to do detail work and messaging. But come back out to the Web to assemble it all into more encompassing creations. Essays, guides, journals and such.

The novel styling of quotebacks is not immaterial. The elegant formatting - and even the slight hover effect - creates desire to be quoted. Just as reading a book with gorgeous typesetting and paper aroma alone fills one with desire to write. (“This book sucks - but I can almost picture the book that might live up to a binding of this quality…”) The styling gives the Web texture and physical appeal that it is distinctly lacking.

If the Web is going to be treated as a place to drop embeds, this extension embraces that. Here are some more good-lookin’ embeds for ya.

And I actually hope that quotebacks become a more general thing. Imagine if you could snip video or podcast segments and spit out a block that is also recognizable as a quoteback. The Web contains and wraps those fragments, seeds in its garden.

Now, of course, I’m raving about something that is truly quite simple.

Am I dense? I'm still at such a loss on the thing that I feel like I must be missing something. I don't feel like "blockquotes don't have a fancy, common-design embed like tweets and grams do" is some sort of pressing obstacle for blogging?

Isn’t this just a quotation or citation? Haven’t these been around for centuries? Can’t I just use the blockquote?

Absolutely. I, personally, am sticking to the blockquote - because I already have a convention going for myself.

But it’s still appealing. This is inviting me to do something that I’m already doing. In a way, the fact that this is such a slight change - so simple and familiar - just tweak your copy-and-paste to get some slight advantage - almost guarantees that it will do well.

Anyway - I applaud this strategy. Creating new protocols for the Web is cool - but it implies more work for everyone. If you can help modernize the existing Web by adding tools that enhance it as a container, that encourage reading and which perhaps offer a way of understanding what it means to participate here - seems exquisite, right?

  1. Or, specifically, in blogging or expert wiki-ing or ‘networked writing’ as Critchlow puts it. ↩︎

  2. Which is already somewhat the format of e-mails, though it’s unnatural to quote different sources there. ↩︎

  3. With so many networks focused on tool for creation - here are the ways you can use videos, use stickers, filter yourself, sprinkle yourself with three-dimensional face dust, lower your pitch, tag yourself - I think it’s a smart counter-strategy to swing the other direction - here is something you can do with what someome else has said. Begin by reading, not by pressing REC. ↩︎

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07 Jun 2020

Reply to valstals

Oh the way he kept playing the opening bars - I was laughing so hard I was crying. The interpersonal tension between the two of them was so intense - it was way beyond awkward - like when he shows up at the bar. It was so much better than simple awkward comedy because they were working through something so deep.

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05 Jun 2020

Reply to valstals

Finally got around to this. Pretty fantastic! I’m grateful you pointed it out. Best use of dentures for sure.

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Chesterton’s Fence

There it stands - so smug and invincible!

I’m very slow to reason about things, so I often just avoid it. Which means I end up with a whole lot of things I haven’t reasoned about - until I have to. (It’s also overwhelming - the amount of things to try to figure out.)

I’m kind of ambivalent about Chesterton, but maybe he was ahead of his time. Borges liked him, so that’s probably enough. Anyway, I ran across this quote from him:

There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

— G. K. Chesterton, The Thing, 1929

This is tough enough to do with a fence. How do you possibly attempt to justify the purpose of abstract empires like Wall Street, religion, vaccines, capitalism, socialism, governments, police departments, academia and even stuff I personally loathe - such as influence-peddling and that ‘recognition’ is considered a good thing to do to someone?

A way to defeat Chesterton’s Fence is to simply obscure the purpose so deeply that - while there may be surface purposes, the true purposes are purported to be too deep to understand - except by a select few. (The term ‘quantitative easing’ comes to mind.) A fence like that becomes quite invulnerable.

He goes on, elsewhere to further object to passionate, sudden smashing. This is predictable.

Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, “Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good—” At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their un-mediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.

— G. K. Chesterton, Heretics, 1905

I do like that the monk is ‘excusably knocked down’. I feel the monk’s issue here is exactly what I described earlier - obscuring his reasoning in abstractions, in a way that feels like stalling. The pullers-down here may seem impatient, but hey, we can’t spend our whole lives analyzing a lamp-post.

In a way, all of the various reasons for pulling down the lamp-post are pretty damning. Couldn’t a variety of reasons be much more compelling than a singular, unanimous reason?

Besides, isn’t the fence’s destruction inevitable? By fire, rain, vehicle or animal - isn’t a fence ALWAYS a temporary solution? Hastening its destruction seems innovative - let’s find out what the consequences are - REAL, not imaginary - such that we can find a more permanent solution perhaps.

I think that, if people are talking about taking down a fence, then they are likely free from more pressing concerns. So they likely have the luxury of now addressing the consequences.

In this way, I feel like the current desire to destroy the police departments has come about BECAUSE culture and society have improved. We now have the luxury of this being our concern - and there is an inate feeling percolating that now could be the time to confront the consequences. (I don’t say ‘luxury’ accusingly - having experienced a lot of grief in my life, I feel that grief too is a luxury - not everyone has the luxury to dwell on a tragedy after it happens.)

I run out of steam pretty quickly on topics like this. It’s not that I don’t care - it’s just the futility of trying to tackle a big topic, having only lived as this one inadequate being. (I lose every debate I get into because I see the other person’s side too easily - and I just agree with everyone. It’s stupid - I wish I was principled.)

But I think I see the ‘fence’ differently than Chesterton. We are too attached to our personal fences. Even the big ones like capitalism and socialism. I feel that these are just tools for us to use. (And I think humans will ultimately move well beyond these two concepts.) Both capitalism and socialism have useful concepts that will stay with us. Even if they are one day only found as choices in the menu of a SimCity clone.

Life will one day be unrecognizable to us today. The events of the last few months are proof of that. And I almost feel certain that the least likely prediction will come true. (And I do wish that Chesterton’s fence was real - maybe it is - because I confess that it would be cool to visit such a thing. Even if it would only be kept alive under extremely vigilant care.)

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01 Jun 2020

Trippy game’n’song evokes early Web - more at

Not an incredibly deep game by any means - but I have to link to it. This is what you expect me to do. I’m just doing exactly what I’m supposed to.

Perhaps Superorganism’s website is even more of a callback - with spinning GIFs, a guestbook on the home page, and my favorite touch is that all of their vids have a Windows Media Player frame around them.

Of course, this website was not built entirely by the band, but was executed by Björn Flóki[1], who appears to be a very popular designer with musicians. So, in a way, it’s deceptive. This was funded to look like a Neocities website - it’s a simulacrum of the personal.

There is a recent trend to bang on this note in pop culture - like with the Captain Marvel website or the feature story on the Space Jam website in Rolling Stone. I can’t help but relish this turn, because these sites show that even mainstream artists feel the allure of leaving behind the rigidity of the corpypastas. Even during the height of blog abandonment, you had Bob Dylan’s tremendous interactive ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ multivid and Pharrell’s (now defunct) 24 Hours of Happy website, both in 2013.

The trouble is that most of these artsy sites are ultimately marketing stunts that reduce the Web to a little interactive trinket, rather than the unrivaled platform that you can find exhibited on websites like Glitch or Twine. Or, further out, in Beaker’s neighborhood. I don’t mean to say that these artists have some obligation to unlock the Web[2] - actually I’m saying quite the opposite, they have absolutely no reason to. To them, the Web is another stop on the tour.

I think it shows the surprising amount of novelty that is still under the surface of the Web which is yet to be plumbed.

  1. While the game linked above was done by Matthew Govaere. ↩︎

  2. Although it would be very interesting to see mainstream artists to mess around with the Indieweb or, again, PLEASE, for the Stranger Things cast to suddenly take up public Tiddlywikis. ↩︎

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From CorpASAs, or: corporatey anthologies of self-advertising. (e.g. Instagram, Behance, Facebook, Twitter)

From CorpASAs, or: corporatey anthologies of self-advertising. (e.g. Instagram, Behance, Facebook, Twitter)

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

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

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

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30 May 2020


I’m sorry… another project…

While messing with Dat last night, I got carried away in nostalgia and began… recreating Muxtape in Dat. I wanted to see how far I could get. (If you don’t know what Muxtape was—it was a way of sharing mp3 mixtapes online for a brief window of time in 2008, until it was shut down by the grown-ups.)

So, it seemed interesting to try to replicate Muxtape, because it would be very hard to “shut down” on the Dat network. And, sure enough, I was able to get it working quite well: you can upload songs, tweak the colors and titles, order the songs and such—I think this is quite faithful.

And, yes, it’s peer-to-peer. You can edit your tape using the URL created for you. Then you can pass that same URL out to share your tape. Visitors can listen to the music and seed the tape for everyone else.

If you’re interested in seeing what a mix looks like, try: hyper://61477c44…1c/. (You’ll need Beaker.)

Source code is here. Inspired by Tara Vancil’s dat-photos-app. Thanks, Tara!

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Dat: Lessons

Now that Beaker 1.0 is in beta, I have been sinking time into it. I’m very impressed - and I’ve crossed out the issues below that no longer apply.

I was very unsure about the direction that Beaker was headed last year - there was a lot of work on ‘social’ features that didn’t appeal. But they also put a lot of work into improving the protocol. Although I felt disheartened that multiwriter support was laid aside. This truly seemed the most crucial missing piece.

However, now that I’m using it again, I’m very happy with the new additions:

  • The system drive. All bookmarks, contacts and hosted drives are saved to a master hyperdrive. (The filesystem unit that can be shared on the network.) This is sweet because I can access these browser settings like any other hyperdrive.
  • Drive forks. There was already a mechanism before for forking a drive. (Making your own copy to edit.) But now there is a way to connect the fork back to the original drive. You seed the fork from Beaker and it adds it to the original drive’s fork list. You can also merge changes from that list.
  • Mounts. These are like symlinks, where you can embed a drive within a drive. It’s just a nice touch. Though I’m uncertain whether these are automatically seeded.
  • The built-in editor, explorer and terminal. These are VERY nice additions and really show that this is designed to help everyday users get comfortable peeking behind the sheet. People are always complaining about losing ‘View Source’ in the browser. This innovates on ‘View Source’.
  • Profiles. This is an interesting one. Basically you have a drive that acts like a user directory on Windows or OSX. When you use the microblogging app, you post files to that profile. And you ‘follow’ by adding those profiles to your address book. It’s interesting that if, say, someone made a YouTube clone that used the address book, you would be automatically subscribed to your whole address book on that new site. It turns the whole Beaker ‘Web’ into a cohesive community. I guess we’ll see how that works out.

There are still some performance needs - each page has a slight delay while it loads. But this is a tremendous piece of software. After a solid week of slamming this thing day in and out, I feel no frustration. Just pure adoration.

01 July 2019

Okay, dove in headlong with Duxtape: I’m beginning to see what Dat and Beaker really are like—in a practical sense. I’ve also spent so much time debugging that I need to keep more of a diary of what this transition is like.

Beaker is experimental—and I’m tempted to quit it sometimes, because something doesn’t work. However, I’m learning that quite a lot DOES work—and I am just bumping my head against edge problems. It is one of my tultywits, though! I need to push for it—there isn’t anything nearly as promising right now.

Problems I’ve run into:

Sites don’t stay seeded when you close the browser. (Major.) (This is now the case in Beaker 1.0.) This is a problem with Duxtape—people will create a tape and then close the browser. I sometimes find myself doing this! Since Beaker is kind of like a browser AND a server, it makes sense to keep Dat running as a daemon. And, like the link describes, to keep a system tray icon running.

There’s also a related issue: ‘increase default seeding duration’ that seems appropriate.

(Along similar lines, I wish datPeers could continue running on sites that you’re seeding. This is tricky—but it would be REALLY cool to have a kind of service worker that could access datPeers for an archive. This way a Duxtape could continue to advertise itself while it’s being seeded. I am NOT complaining, though! DatPeers is sick—I love having it.)

Large files uploaded through writeFile crash Beaker. (Seems major.) (No longer seems to be an issue with Beaker 1.0.) I’ve filed a bug with some clues as to where the problem is. You can definitely upload files through Beaker’s library pages—the problem here is that my Duxtape editor doesn’t allow large music files. It would be great to figure this out. Some platforms crash even on ~8MB files.

The globalFetch API doesn’t work just like the Fetch API. (Minor.) (This API is gone in Beaker 1.0.) I have now worked around this, but it was frustrating at the time. I also filed a bug, specifically related to redirects. This is pretty easy to fix, but illustrates that experimental APIs aren’t hammered out yet (obv).

Address bar problems on Linux. (Minor) (FIXED.) If I install basic Ubuntu, these go away. So this has something to do with my dwm setup. I’ve actually identified the problem! The isVisible method is always false—for some reason, the window manager is not reporting this correctly. As a result, I cannot ever type into the address bar. This seems like an Electron bug, but who knows.

Things I’m discovering:

Dat really isn’t a replacement for HTTP. For example, I think Webmentions are better done on HTTP than on Dat. And, really, Webmentions are just the dead simplest form of a REST API—which, I’m not sure how such a thing would look on Dat.

There also isn’t a “server-side” with Dat—and this is important when it comes to something like permissions. In a way, I wonder if Github is showing us the avenue: the code is all distributed, but the centralized workspace assists negotiating collaboration—although it would be nice if more of it was distributed: the logins, the issues, the messaging. I could see Dat and HTTP having the same relationship in Beaker as Git and HTTP do on Github.

(Still dreaming more dreams for this page…)

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29 May 2020

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Beaker: Easy Forks

The hidden magic in simple personal forks.

Just taking this chance to pass on a discovery I found in the new Beaker Browser. Notes and checkboxes by - which would also be splendid to somehow bring to the Hyperdrive Network.

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27 May 2020

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Reply: Losing Your Identity


I like your point about losing your author identity on Mastodon/Reddit/Medium, etc. The most important thing here, I think, is how an unified design papers over the real differences between authors. Which made me think about static site generators, like you mention at the end. Most target homogeneous designs (all blog entries are going to look the same, etc). At the end, it seems like any site that is built in any other way than by hand is going to be constrained by the design of the generator.

This is definitely a difficult problem - particularly if you want to somehow weave lots of custom styled hypertext together. But I feel that not a lot has been attempted yet.

One thing that’s interesting to me is to see how many people customize their Tiddlywikis. It seems like many static site generators have ‘good enough’ styles. (It also may not be clear how to tweak the default themes.) However, Tiddlywiki has such a bland basic theme that one immediately wants to go beyond it. So perhaps having poor defaults is good for a platform.

I also think whostyles - the concept for this came from Sphygmus’ wiki - show some promise. At least let people style some part of their post colors, fonts, outlines. This could be done successfully on Reddit - though perhaps they would limit the color palettes and font choices if they didn’t want readability to suffer.

Not really sure the answer to all of this. But thanks for the thoughtful comment!

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26 May 2020

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22 May 2020

'Those of us who stood close by, who saw the watch’s finer details, reported: it had no hands. Just numbers in a circle, that’s all it was. And that’s what the harpist was checking, it seemed. He was confirming that there was no time, that the numbers arranged in a circle didn’t count for anything. Yes, he nodded, his lizard lips playing with the toothpick a little, yes, right on schedule. Nothing o’clock.

‘That’s what time it always is at the bend in the frozen river.’

— p. 14, “The Tormentors” by Nathan Grover, Thrice Fiction, No. 26

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21 May 2020

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“We’ve been forty years in the desert crafting ancient licks - what have you done?”

This may not be new to anyone who comes across this - some of these bands are quite popular - so this is more just turning the page corner down for myself. This blog post has taken me down a rabbithole of backstory on the Tishoumaren music genre - Tuareg music, North Africa. (This is dumb - but I’m a big fan of the two-player game Targi. Anyway - it brought Tuareg culture into view for me.)

Love the image of the band in the desert with their axes. Name of the group is Tinariwen - they appear to be pretty popular on YouTube at least. The blog post’s stories and tracks from Bombino are cool, too - didn’t know him either.

However, what I’m really enjoying is the discovery of Super Onze de Gao, who run their desert lutes through distortion. Gah this party makes me so jealous:

A bunch of albums are here. The Takamba music doesn’t seem to have achieved the same level of Western notoriety as Tishoumaren, but who cares - don’t know why I even said that. Love this stuff. It’s definitely going in’s Tapes/Africa collection.

Totally different topic, but I only discovered this because I was wondering who Head Medicine was - happened to be on their Museum of International Comics. So that’s a link. Links links links. Blogspot.

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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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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

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

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.

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! 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 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 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: ↩︎

  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:// ↩︎

  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. ↩︎

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fragile narrow laggy asynchronous mismatched untrusted pipes

fragile narrow laggy asynchronous mismatched untrusted pipes

This term comes from a May 2020 thoughtdump by Tristan Hume, in which the problems of modern day hacking are blamed (mostly) on our flakey - no wait, our flanalagamu - distributed network. (And yet, our current network is still too centralized!)

But I find that this is true. Literal computers hate exceptions. And exposure to the network is like connecting to a nozzle spewing failure.

From the article:

  • Fragile: The network connection or the other end can have hardware failures, these have different implications but both manifest as just a timeout. Everything needs to handle failure.
  • Narrow: Bandwidth is limited so we need to carefully design protocols to only send what they need.
  • Laggy: Network latency is noticeable so we need to carefully minimize round-trips.
  • Asynchronous: Especially with >2 input sources (UIs count) all sorts of races and edge cases can happen and need to be thought about and handled.
  • Mismatched: It’s often not possible to upgrade all systems atomically, so you need to handle different ends speaking different protocol versions.
  • Untrusted: If you don’t want everything to be taken down by one malfunction you need to defend against invalid inputs and being overwhelmed. Sometimes you also need to defend against actual attackers.
  • Pipes: Everything gets packed as bytes so you need to be able to (de)serialize your data.

It’s tough to know how to deal with all of these simultaneously - the mismatched bullet has me troubled.

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20 May 2020

Reply to prosetech

If you want to start this movement, I’m on board. It just feels right to say this. And I think you can say this in conversation as well. “Please, if while I am talking, you suddenly never want to talk to me again, just stop me and click on my face and I will go away.”

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Desperate Pleas for Nothing

If you don’t ever want to hear from me ever again, turn away from the screen and begin walking as far as you can.

I have a pile of silly things I am wrapping up - hypertext projects, GIF ideas and unfinished interviews. But one side project that I have been unable to land is a type of ‘inverse interview’. I get halfway into it - and the first half should be the hard part, by the way - and then the whole thing disappears!

How the interview works is - someone e-mails me a desperate plea to contribute to my blog - in a voice that almost reads like an automated marketing e-mail.

I then reply that, no, they are not desperate - I am the desperate one. I truly want to interview them![1] And I attach my questions right there - to make it easy for them.

At that point, inexplicably, I never hear from them again.

Here is a recent e-mail from ‘Ginny’. I’m hoping that, if I publish the exchange here, then you out there can help me figure out how to fix this.

From: Ginny <>
Subject: ✌️ I’d love to contribute a guest post
Date: Thursday, May 07, 2020 1:04 PM


I would love to contribute a guest post. May I pitch you some ideas?

p.s. let me know if you want to see samples of my writing or anything else to help you make the decision 😃


Ginny, Content Strategist @

The CAN-SPAM act of 2003 compliance:
Address: 525 3rd Street N. Jacksonville Beach, Florida 32250
If you don’t want to hear from me ever again, reply with “no” or follow the link:

Her wish is my command.

From: Kicks Condor <>
To: Ginny <>
Subject: Re: ✌️ I’d love to contribute a guest post
Date: Thursday, May 07, 2020 4:09 PM

Ginny -

I would love for you to contribute a guest post. Go ahead and send it! As part of your post, I also would like your answers to the following questions.

  • Your website is I love this idea! What sort of delivery options do you have for your stories?

  • You are a content strategist. Is doing guest posts one of your strategies? Or is it just a fun thing that you like to do?

  • Have you had any supernatural experiences in your life?

  • At the end of your e-mails, the final line is “If you don’t want to hear from me ever again, reply with ‘no’ or follow the link.” It was very jarring to read this at the end - the thought hadn’t occurred to me that perhaps I should shut you down and banish you and your e-mails to some faraway quadrant. It made me feel awful to read. But perhaps I don’t quite understand the tone of this sentence. Are you saying it in a humble, grateful way? Or is this sentence supposed to sound bitter and harsh, so as to make me feel inhuman if I click the link?

Good to hear from you!
- kicks c

After this - silence.

On the other hand, it’s only been 13 days. She could still be crafting something very wonderful and surprising.

Here’s one that I’ve been working on for eight months now.

From: Watchideas <>
Subject: Great Article About Wristwatches!
Date: Friday, August 23, 2019 12:02 PM

Hi real quick message for you,

It’s Julian here from Watchideas, a site dedicated to wristwatches.

I noticed that in your article you referenced who were talking about Watch Movements. I actually wrote a very similar article recently with tons of research and great information that I thought might be useful to your readers, and wondered if you would be interested in linking to it at all?[2]

You can check it out here

I’d love to hear your feedback!



Julian B.
Your Trusted Source for Wrist Watches

Just click here if you don’t want any more emails from me.

Julian then presses me again, before I can reply.

From: Watchideas <>
Subject: Re: Great Article About Wristwatches!
Date: Tuesday, August 27, 2019 10:31 PM

Hey me again,

Checking in super quick.

Did you get the chance to check this out?

I’d love to work with you on this. If you’re not interested then perhaps we could collaborate in a different way, I could even write a guest post or something for you if you like?



Julian B.
Your Trusted Source for Wrist Watches

Just click here if you don’t want any more emails from me.

Ok ok! Yes, Julian. Yes, I will take some. I will take some watch ideas.

From: Kicks Condor <>
To: Watchideas <>
Subject: Re: Great Article About Wristwatches!
Date: Wednesday, August 28, 2019 1:07 AM

Hi - hey Julian B. Sorry to just now reply. My site is just a personal blog - and, unfortunately, I have no interest in wristwatches or product sales.

However, since you are so eager, I would love to interview you, if that would be cool. If you’re interested, please reply to these questions, and we can continue the conversation from there.

  • I’m afraid I don’t like watches, so what else do you think we could discover that we have in common?

  • As a watch enthusiast, what is your favorite time of day?

  • Do you believe in ghosts?

  • At the end of your e-mails, the final line is “Just click here if you don’t want any more emails from me.” It was very jarring to read this at the end - the thought hadn’t occurred to me that perhaps I should shut you down and banish you and your e-mails to some faraway quadrant. But perhaps I don’t quite understand the tone of this sentence. Are you saying it in a humble, grateful way? Or is this sentence supposed to sound bitter and harsh, so as to make me feel inhuman if I click the link?

That is ok for now. Thank you and nice to meet you!
- kicks

Since he followed up with me, I felt to extend the same courtesy.

From: Kicks Condor <>
To: Watchideas <>
Subject: Re: Great Article About Wristwatches!
Date: Monday, November 11, 2019 12:09 PM

Julian -

Hey, I’m quite surprised I didn’t hear back from you. You seemed very eager to collaborate. Do you think I’m toying with you or something? Because I’m quite serious about interviewing you.

I understand if you don’t trust me or are somehow intimidated. We just don’t know each other at all.

Either way, good luck.
- kicks

Ginny, Julian - I am serious. I would like to interview you. I am concerned that my e-mails somehow came off as condescending or something. I agree that they are flippant - but that is just for fun. I still want to have a conversation with you.

I also believe that their initial requests were sincere. There are touches of personality in those e-mails that I have fallen for. I don’t believe that this is spam, even though it may have been sent through automated e-mail software of some kind. (Thus the “if you never want to hear from me again” jargon - but even that evokes some humanity. Oh the pity those words stir within me.)

But perhaps I am merely attempting to will these people, their replies and their watch ideas into existence…

One thing is for sure though. I not going to click some link to make you go away forever. 😭

  1. It’s the perfect match. ↩︎

  2. This is true. I know for sure that I have linked to in the Bodies/Primitive category on ↩︎

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11 May 2020

Reply: Icelandic Raven Cams

Neil Mather

Oh man Osprey cam is like my favourite thing right now. Leave it running in the background, switch back when there’s a bit of squawking…

Good link, good link. Going to have to add these to my list of fave animal cams here: Way to keep this thread alive, Neil.

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18th Century Classical Beats

Our nation was founded on Thomas Jefferson type beats.

This isn’t just a playlist of great beats from the colonial era - there’s also a “Kids TV show type beat” and a basic “Vivaldi type trap beat” here. This is also one of those cases where the YouTube comments seem to know exactly what to do.

Thomas Jefferson YouTube

And - this is totally unrelated - except that these tracks were all part of a 48 hour bender down dank holes of SoundCloud playlists - I need to keep a link alive to this tight remake of the old Mii Channel theme. Makes me want to customize some digital eyebrows.

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30 Apr 2020


Portal to an alternate 1982 made from obscure YouTube playlists.

All credit to chameleon for this discovery. Novas is a cyberpunk rock opera by Nate Cull, all planned out in hypertext - and perfect for the quarantined audience - there is no theatre for us to go to. But this circumvents that, staging the scenes directly in your mind. You queue up the playlists in the background and then return to the text to read the storyline.

I’m not going to say much more about the story - if you’re really curious, you should go head straight over.

It just sort of came out of my subconscious, because most of this music is what I heard in the 1980s as a kid, and it always seemed like there must be some kind of backstory to all these strange people dressing like scientists and singing about nuclear war, space, and living inside computers. When I rediscovered this music in the mid-2010s, somehow the suspicion grew on me that I could write a story out of all these found components. And so this is that story, for that kid in the 1980s.

Novas (so far) spans around twenty playlists and accompanying blog posts. The whole thing is a great reminder of what can be done to make Wordpress into a wiki-like system.[1] (I love the layout of Nate’s home page.)

Logic System - 'XY'

This project happened on Wordpress (and YouTube). And I’m not sure there’s anything that millions of lines of code in our ‘modern’ platforms could do to augment it. I could definitely see this happening on Reddit - maybe Twitter, in some limited fashion - but definitely not on Facebook or Instagram. But, in many ways, these systems do the opposite - they would constrain the experience of this.

I struggle to sort out why we’ve pushed ourselves further away from hypertext, particularly since browsers continue to give the form more power. Novas is an example of the creativity that can emerge simply by using tools to form connections - to link audio and text together in a new fashion.

This feels somewhere between interactive fiction, mp3 blogging and nostalgic fanfic. (I might as well call it a directory of links while I’m here!) If anyone out there has had aspirations to dabble with making fun hypertext, there is a lot to spring off from here.

  1. I’m also an instant Martha and the Muffins fan. ‘Echo Beach’ is a sick track! ↩︎

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Reply: Emailing Comments


Let’s forget mf2 and like/reply/etc - but Webmention? Should I be emailing this comment instead?

Don’t see what’s wrong with emailed comments. But yeah - I do appreciate Webmentions. I get a lot out of them!

However, if the IndieWeb is just a suite of protocols, then I don’t see it as being quite as important to me as an ‘indie web’ - a collection of homegrown web sites and wikis that may not share any protocols outside of basic hypertext.

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Reply to JmacDotOrg

Oh I absolutely agree! I get a lot out of Webmentions. It’s more of a focus thing. I think the Indieweb is becoming synonymous with its protocols - moreso than, say, the Homebrew Website Club, which just feels like a more vital project to me. The human side.

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


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: marijn, nadia eghbal, elliott dot computer, laurel schwulst, (toby), things by j, gyford, also joe jenett (of linkport), brad enslen (of indieseek), 'web curios' defunct :(.

fond friends:, fogknife, eli,, j.greg, box vox,, caesar naples.

indieweb: .xyz, c.rwr, boffosocko.

nostalgia:, bad cmd, ~jonbell.

true hackers:,, voja antonić, cnlohr,

chips: zeptobars, scargill, 41j.

neil c. "some..."

the world or cate le bon you pick.

all my other links are now at