Kicks Condor
07 Nov 2019

Reply: Encouraging Comment by Chris

Chris Aldrich

Kicks, far from a dumb project. I remember seeing a version of your personal copy in one of your videos ages ago and thinking, “I want that!!!” Of course it may take some more development on your part or some serious coding study on mine to get this up and running for myself. I can’t wait to see where this goes! Keep up the awesome work!

I think once it is approved in the Chrome and Firefox official extensions, it’ll be the right time for you to give it a swing. For now, we’re probably a month out on that. Still - I appreciate the motivating words. (And glad to have you back recently.) (And glad you got a break, too, of course!) 😎

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Reply: Nice Anon


Hey, I just love this and have it installed already. Very grateful for being part of a wider distributed future in the here and now. Keep going and let the world know if you need any support!!!

Hey, I appreciate this. You’re sweet. You’re very sweet stuff. Just enjoy yourself and I’ll be glad. And, if Fraidy misbehaves - let me know. ✨

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Reply: Fraidycat’s Chrome Extension

Brad Enslen

@kicks I just had a chance to really look at Fraidycat and I think you are really on to something here. I can’t wait for the Chrome version, so I can see if it works with Vivaldi browser. It’s an impressive idea.

I use it primarily with Vivaldi - works great for me. (And I love that Vivaldi encrypts my synced feeds - so the data is mine even if I’m syncing it through them for the time being.)

I’m just waiting for the extension to get approved through the Chrome Web Store. I expect that this will be something of an ordeal - getting my extension through Firefox’s approval system has had quite a few hang-ups that could take me a month to resolve. But thanks for your vote of confidence, Brad!

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05 Nov 2019

Reply: Auto-XYZ


I also finally set up this site to autoping with my entry tags, because I keep forgetting to do that manually and anyway it was easier to just set it up to be like Technorati was back in the day. (Say, isn’t one of the prominent IndieWeb folks formerly one of the prominent Technorati folks?) In any case, I apologize for all of the apparent spam that’s going to happen when I do a webmention backfill.

Yup—this is great. Feel free to just syndicate everything to It looks like there are some percent-20 characters I need to clean up and I should try to show your posts in chronological order—so this has already been great for catching problems.

One thing to keep in mind is that your posts will really only show up under the first tag in the list. (So, since this post’s first tag is life, that’s where it shows up. The other tags will get cross-posted to—for example, you can see a bunch of light-green colored titles on /en/indieweb, if you click ‘view crossposts’.) The reasoning for this is to prevent what happens with hash tags on social networks—people just throw twenty hash tags on a post, diluting the meaning of each individual tag. If you have one tag to use, you may be more likely to use it judiciously.

I’ve had on the back burner for quite a while—but there has been more activity in the last few months. So I’ll spend some time in December improving it. It’s pretty barebones at the moment.

Anyway, great work on Publ. It’s cool to see what you’re doing with logins—love the idea of IndieAuth on

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01 Nov 2019

Reply: Not Necessarily YouTube


it’s interesting that YouTube is the repository for this stuff, but it’s worth pointing out a lot of the early things didn’t appear in YouTube originally. Like “All of Your Base” which was a GIF, Chad Vader (and the far superior Yacht Rock) were Channel 101 video things before YT existed. And the Tron guy, who was just a picture of a guy in a Tron outfit who appeared on Slashdot

Oooo… This is a great point. It hadn’t occured to me that YouTube has become somehow an Internet Archive to many people! (Well and, with ‘ALL YOUR BASE’, soon after it exploded, you had an spring up which had a Flash animation—something like that, with music and meme images—that’s how I first saw it—so it’s unclear where its ‘home’ really is. Kind of like how was ‘home’ for the he-man video for many years.)

Thank you for the reminder about Yacht Rock—you’re talking about this, right? I saw this on an old LiveJournal that I used to follow. Gah I can’t remember the name of that particular LJ any more! It was great!

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Reply: Heya, Tom

Tom Critchlow

This post is a test.

Hey, glad you got this going!

I completely agree that Webmentions are too hard. However, they’ve been rock solid for me after I got my setup in place. And they were ultimately worth it for me. I’m a believer now. The technology is sick—it just needs more believers.

(And I actually think a lot of people could get by with just setting up I use on to just be aware of incoming links. If someone comments on a page, I don’t want their comment to appear on the page—but I will read the comment to see if they have a useful submission. This has prevented me from needing a submission page for the directory.)

So I think most of the hardship with setting up Webmentions is getting comments to show up on your blog. That’s difficult—all the blog software does it differently.

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29 Oct 2019

Reply: Yes, I Still Answer E-mails


My site’s only been up for a few weeks. I’ve had maybe a dozen emails. It’s been fun and I’m sure it will continue to be. I would encourage you to pass the link as much as you like. I think it’s great if someone wants to do that because I’m sure it’ll reach places I wouldn’t get to myself.

Ok, wow—this is interesting. First off, I feel so fortunate to have discovered your page right when you are starting! Thank you for the reply—right off I can see why e-mail is so appealing to you, as it strips away anything but our words to each other. There are no graphics to try to dazzle you with or any distractions from just our sentiments to each other. I realize now that I haven’t used e-mail much recently. I mean—tell me what you get out of e-mail. Am I close?

I’m very curious how people have found you. I think I found you through an page that listed a bunch of simple, fascinating web pages—and yours was one. (Don’t ask me what is—I am not really sure! I fell into it!) How do you let people know about such a page if you have no contact with the “social” sites? I couldn’t find a link on Reddit, for instance. (I ask this because one of the troubles with the Web right now is the inability to find smaller sites now that they are drowned out in the search results—and posting your own links on Reddit is seen as self-promotion.) Yet, people are finding you! It’s great!

Oh also, I really like the idea of you answering e-mails as a profession or as a community position or something like that. Do you see yourself as a kind of telephone operator at the switchboard? Or would this position be more a counselor—in the way that a counselor provides comfort and support—perhaps reliable, regular conversation?

Whatever the case, I can’t help but feel that it is a generous cause you are gained in, Brynn. Very antimisanthropic, for sure! - kicks

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Reply: I Will Answer Your Emails

Brynn claims to respond to anyone’s e-mails. Brynn responded to mine!

Hey there. I stumbled across your website today[1] and I can’t resist writing you. I actually have a similar thing where I just like to meet random people through random chance. Don’t know if that’s part of your desire to respond to e-mails—clearly you like being useful to people—you mention that on the page.

I’m also really into The Web—particularly the people who choose to hang out there rather than on all of the corporate social sites. (For example, the two who write at and I kind of count you in that group now that I think about it—even though you’re only on the Web for three paragraphs—the rest happens for you in e-mail.

I can’t find any old snapshots of your site—so it seems it might be quite new, even though it looks as if it could have been there for many decades. Are you having fun with this so far? I’m a bit reluctant to pass the link on, because I don’t want you to become completely inundated. Perhaps you already are.

Well, I won’t go on. Pleasure to meet you. - kicks

  1. Found at ↩︎

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Reply: Dev in Iran Returns


Site is back BTW. He moved it to gitlab for hosting

Sweet! Hope we’ll see more posts there. Thank you—I was thinking about this yesterday but didn’t find time to check. So—much obliged to you, Anon.

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27 Oct 2019
26 Oct 2019

Reply: Sick Antimisanthropic Sentiment

Brad Enslen

So let us begin anew – remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us. – John F. Kennedy

This is good. Maybe it’s sad, but I try everyday to “begin anew”. Glad you’ve been posting alot lately, Brad.

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Reply: Hi, Mi

Hey, thank you for piping up! It’s always nice to receive encouragement. Please let me know if you have a personal website or project that I can share. Take care.

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22 Oct 2019

Reply: For Sure


↬ Thanks so much for that shoutout, I’m glad the laser eyes did not go unnoticed! Your site is an absolute gem with great style, I’ll have a lot of fun exploring it. I suspect you already know most of it, but perhaps you’ll find an interesting link here: .

Ahh, good to hear from you! Yes, I had seen your ‘www paleo’ page—and I am very glad it exists. I link to many of those same things at—I feel just as you do about them—(and,, etc.)—though I know that I first saw ‘keeping up appearances’ through you. (Your link is broken for me now, strangely.)

I think your site has that same kind of feel—self-organized, almost wiki-like, but still on the Indieweb… It’s cool to see you carve out your own place like that. (Salute.) That’s how it’s done.

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06 Sep 2019

Reply: Irony Cont’d


@kicks That’s a lovely passage. Hadn’t ever thought of benevolent vs. ferocious irony, but now I can’t stop thinking about it. Thank you for sharing.

I definitely like both kinds of irony—and perhaps there are both kinds of sincerity, too, of course. I like the quote and the whole book wrapped around it.

Your description of your cat today is fantastic. I’ve dealt with a lot of emotional pain in recent years (due to the deaths of many family members and children in my life) and nothing helps more than physical closeness like this—a ‘hug’ or holding the hand of the 86-year-old woman who lives across from me. But also laughter—if someone can make me laugh, it will reset everything. Having a ‘first responder’ who is light-hearted is great. I’m grateful that simple things can do good work confronting dark, heavy terrors.

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Reply: Href.Cool Changes


@kicks how? How the how do you track these changes???

I keep all my links in a giant document. That document is used to generate the website. One of my Fill Crawlers is used to check if a site has drastically changed and to take screenshots. It gives me a report. That’s all there is to it. Thank you for asking!

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15 Aug 2019

Reply: Sausages & Hamburgers

Prateek Saxena

So, when Siddharth showed me what sausage links were, I knew they would be perfect for this problem. I did some research and found some other documentation websites using them too.

Hey, Prateek—good to have you cross-posting to It will be interesting to see if sausage links stay or if they are a fad. It’s interesting that browsers haven’t adopted them for crowded tabs (or, perhaps, it seems that they moved away from hidden tabs… can’t recall.)

At any rate, you have a nice design here. Keep up the great work!

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25 Jul 2019

Reply: Lateral Connections


Serendipity in newspapers and record stores is dependent on unlike things being adjacent to each other. […] It’s the caprice, whimsy, lateral thinking, and uniqueness of the curator that decides what link stands next to what else—something that machine algorithms just can’t do. These days we rely too much on a machine serving us hyperlinks; a return to human-curated hyperlinks is perhaps a way of raising serendipity.

‘…unlike things being adjacent to each other.’

Great comments. Even without algorithms, this can be trouble—on subreddits, posts can be flagged ‘offtopic’—so overboard moderation is a problem. (Of course, Reddit is where one goes to fully ‘engage’. No /s—it’s fine to do that. Problem is: people may not know where to go to get outside of ‘engage’ mode.)

One thought I’ll add re: getting outside of my own interests—I think if we had better tools for keeping tabs on our interests, we could more easily move outside them. (Like: if my ‘reader’/‘news feed’ makes it difficult to track 100 people, then I can’t very well track 1,000 people.)

And directories are sweet here—they are little libraries. Sure, they can cover your interests. But they can be used to map the strange elven lands that you happen to sally in.

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Reply: Clearly You Are Blind or Evil, Lol


Thank you, penetration tester.


With great hesitation and hot coals, you pull logs out of my eye.

Haha, (head quivering in hands) these conversations are so enjoyable. You dropped the gun. It lies there in the sand, as innocent as a slice of chocolate cake, before melting into a dozen frightened beetles that shimmer in the hot sun.

I wish I wasn’t so slow to participate, wish I could be more thorough, more precise—it is overwhelming how much there is to talk about. And, anyway, I mostly just want to read. My mouth wants to be put away this summer. It is pleased to stay pursed, so something can form (not foam) inside it.

I’m sorry. I can see parts of your tooling work from Beaker Browser. I also cannot see the structure of the thing you are exploring and building from afar nearly as well as you can. You are a man who has in hands in more than one pie, so I see multiple signals. I am still squaring away where you have drawn the lines of your position here. I am doing my best to interpret your video, but surely you must say I am not charitable enough.

Your apology is unnecessary, but gracious. You are my friend, so we can rant and sling handfuls of mud, it’s all playful. I am in disarray—it’s true. It’s always been this way. Just to have you read is plenty of T42T.

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

— Proverbs 9:8

Our mutual rebuking is some good shit, brother.

With peer-to-peer, I’m a huge enthusiast—this is the ‘leeching’ part of ‘leeching and linking’. I once had a friend who had worked for Nullsoft and I really got into Gnutella when it came out. In fact, all of those networks: Kazaa, Soulseek, eDonkey2000, LimeWire—and was head over heels for BitTorrent when it came out. There are files I’m still seeding after a decade. I was on Freenet—though Tor never caught on with me, for some reason.

I was into Bitcoin when it first came out—I have to get into all of these things, to see what people are doing. I’m too curious. (I do this with all of the things that trend at elementary school: Fortnite, FNAF, Bendy and the Ink Machine, yes, even fidget spinners. I don’t give mainstream culture my full gaze; I just try to eat my helpings.)

I must also not be correctly understanding “The Conduit” you have in mind. It looks like more than a restyling to me, but you would know better than I. I see enormous progress in how you scrape and categorize in your feed not for the sake of what is “hot.” Rather, to some extent, you are eliminating karma-whoring clickbait and instead enabling each person to have a voice less distorted or tempted by improper incentives.

Well, there has got to be a better term—I’m lazily grabbing the word that materialized as I’ve been working. The ‘conduit’ is the central place where everyone’s words mingle together. It could be a subreddit’s ‘hot’ page or a Twitter feed or an RSS reader’s main view. This is where you monitor all your ‘others’ and perhaps discover more. Does this make sense?

I still have a long way to go to get the design and infoshaping right. It still feels bland and unexciting compared to the news feed. This is good—this is the point. But it needs a little bit of frosting still.

Oh and—on the topic of handling your large wiki size—I just submitted the start of a fix (see the bottom of here) to this. I actually think this work could do wonders for TiddlyWiki. Imagine if you could do separate tiddlers (like Bob) but also stuff like embedding videos (or torrents even) right in TiddlyWiki! (And I mean the data is inline, not hosted somewhere else.) This is really what Beaker makes possible.

(I am not saying Beaker/Dat are the end-all-be-all for peer-to-peer. Just that they are definitely a stepping stone toward innovating the browser and maybe the protocol too.)

Oh, I speak with all kinds, kicks. Make no mistake: I think most of the people I speak with in FTO are disturbingly evil, but I will speak with them as best I can.

Really? I think you find a lot of really great people. Like chameleon is sweet! Sphygmus is gold. I’m not denying the existence of disturbingly evil people—but there are a lot of appealing folks out there methinks. People are one of my favorite things ever.

I agree it is always a risk to be in public, especially under mainstream scrutiny. I agree there is always at least one weakness. We don’t have to make it easy, and we can make it much, much harder to break it. We cannot achieve certainty, but we can vastly improve confidence.

Okay, this is cool—raising confidence, I can dig that.

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20 Jul 2019

Reply: Prescription Sightdawgs


Requiring a webserver in a datacenter using a domain name I don’t own is a weakpoint I’m not going to accept. You want cohesion? Let’s not build a system on the web which isn’t meant to be owned by individuals of every stripe and status which can be so easily attacked by middleman between you and me.

Yes, of course—this isn’t clear from the vid, but my prototype requires no server and runs strictly from Beaker Browser. We’re square on that, right?

I understand if you have your criticisms of that—I do, too! But it’s not federated, it’s peer-to-peer. (In a BitTorrent sense.) So I’m not sure where we have a beef. I don’t want federation. Don’t put me with those people.

Yes, you know it’s in the realm of possibility for some TW users to join the indieweb. I’m gonna bet you could have it up and running in less than 60 minutes. What does it take? A VPS, domain name, nodejs, and some scripting, right?

This is why I showed the gif of the jacked motorcycle man. It would be pointless bravado. I’m not as lit on the Indieweb as all that.

I have no will to build an ecosystem which I already know is dead-on-arrival for those who deserve not to be censored. If it requires DNS or a VPS/dedi/webhost, it’s already a failure. That’s 99.999999999999999999999% of the web. It’s dead to me, no matter how much I use it.

I feel like you’re taking point blank headshots here because they make you feel good. I agree with you! Put the gun down already.

This prototype is purely to mock up the ‘feel’ of this world that could be. I am only restyling the conduit here—not anything else. To try to look past the ‘newsfeed’ or ‘forum’ view. To me, this is an actual problem—because I see Dat and Secure Scuttlebutt trying to mimic it. It’s paltry, but it’s a piece that still has to be rethought. I guess my thinking is that if I can provide a vision for how a tool like this could work, perhaps that could spark some optimism for ‘progress’ on this front.

It’s a convenience. I don’t trust it, but I’ll take the free lunch.

This is my same reasoning for using Webmentions or Beaker. It’s here; it’s partway there.

Tox is cool, LF is cool. I’m just not working on that part of the pipe at the moment. I have some personal urgency—trying to stay on top of my list of ‘others’. Our (your and my) way of messaging works great. I’m not trying to alter that. I’m just trying to give myself a simple dashboard so I can see what’s going on. (By the way, your blog isn’t in my ‘real-time’ feed because Beaker is crashing on the large wiki file size. But I am close to solving that.)

In our past couple messages, you have some salt for the bourgeois types that inhabit all these quarters—some of whom you seem to count as ‘others’ as well—but I am definitely mining this group and very interested in it. Perhaps I’m wrong and I’m only granting the word ‘privileged’ some kind of perjorative heft. The way I see it, the middle class can be a rich source of progression because: they have enough resources to build things and they usually have a strong desire to move out of ‘petit’ status—if this is aligned with a looking backwards to the poor—well, you seem to appreciate LF (made by ZeroTier, Inc.) and Tox (made by TokTok Ltd.)—so you must see some utility in this group, too.

I serve my website over the web because no one is going to listen to me unless I do; it’s too much of a chore to even enter a key. Their pursuit of convenience is why I have to give up way more privacy and power over my voice than I ought.

Well, how can you communicate with the public if you are lost in some layers of cryptography and routing deep behind some series of anonymous hashes? Yeah, there can be a network for that—but there’s going to be a public Web that mirrors the sensibilites (or lack thereof) of the mainstream. The ‘surface’—this is where everyone is going to be.

It seems to me that there’s no system that’s uncrackable—so interfacing with the mainstream is just risky. If an utterance can be read even, it can be attacked. (I might be leaking too many details of my life or character, there are chinks in the armor.)

I live in a country with concentration camps.

And I will go to the camps when it’s my time. Daniil Kharms did it. For writing that a carpenter fell out of a window—no one understood it. Can a technology really save us from this?

Slash hug, dawg. Always glad you even take the time to listen. When you say we ought to have ‘privacy and power’ for our voice: I don’t even deserve to talk. I do realize that.

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12 Jul 2019

Reply: Pure HTML All Over Again


@kicks Hello, Kicks. Replying to the comment in this post in praise of creating webpages in plain HTML/CSS. Boy has the Internet come full circle – back to the status quo of the early 2000s (so not that big a circle). I’m currently playing with Hugo static site generator, and at the back of my mind lingers the thought about whether it will give me more trouble than not in the long-term. HTML really is the elegant KISS method at the end of the day. Thanks for highlighting alternative perspectives in webdesign!

Hey, Vega! You know, it’s very strange to me that static sites have become so arcane. For a brief time, Movable Type made them the dominant style of blog. I’d really like to see a return to something like that. But simpler, perhaps.

I rather envy the freeform HTML sites. I really miss server-side includes as well—that seemed like a kind of ideal form, since you could do more complex things with plain HTML. I kind of wish modern HTML would let us do HTML includes without needing to resort to JavaScript. It seems strange that HTML didn’t go that direction.

At any rate, thanks for saying hi. Yours is a blog I enjoying reading from time to time.

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Reply: Cubit and Tribler


Hey, have you checked out cubit or tribler? they make torrent discovery in a decentralized fashion

Hey, thank you for the leads! I think what Dat could add is the ability to run your own custom tracker—in fact, I don’t even know if there would be a need for that. You could just put a simple web page up on Dat with your magnet links.

I’ll have to give Tribler a shot to see how smooth it is. In a way, we’ve seen this kind of thing before with the built-in search for networks like Soulseek and eDonkey2000 and such. I guess even Napster had that initially.

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05 Jul 2019

Reply: The Purpose of a Website?


[Referring to the website] It’s not a resume. It would have been an awful resume. I wouldn’t hire myself by this resume.

And keeping record is, of course, nice. But it has nothing to do with running your own website. You can keep record on Medium, too. In fact, it would be more effective since it works wonders for the small notes.

Still, I totally agree that keeping your own site is a fascinating experience and it’s well worth time and effort.

It’s amusing to me that you seem to be struggling to vocalize why anyone would want a website like yours—as if a ‘resume’ or a ‘journal’ were the only reasons to keep one.

But, as a reader, I think a website like yours is like having a chance to explore that person’s personality in a freeform way.[1] The design reflects their aesthetic (similar to how fashion does for the physical form), the organization reflects their favored mental models perhaps, and the myriad of topics and links makes it a graph-like structure for a ‘book’/‘journal’/‘life’. It’s strange to me that people question a personal website’s purpose—but accept that of a coloring or sticker book. To me, that only says that our brains haven’t quite caught up with how to use the medium. (Although, if you have read sites like, then I think you have a glimpse of what’s possible.)

  1. And, to me, this exploration of life is at the heart of what brings purpose and beauty to humanity—this is why I live, to try to understand or maybe to just immerse myself in what beauty I can find in the world or in the lives of its creatures. In a way, what could be greater than a website?! 😄 ↩︎

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01 Jul 2019

Reply: anon on the line


i sure am and always will.

Oh, you needn’t make a promise like that—but I love the grand gesture of it! I am wondering tho if while I’ve got you on the line, I might converse with you a bit longer? (Of course, if anyone else chooses to be Anonymous, I might find myself conversing with the inverse of a dissociative identity—a kind of floating, possessive identity…)

You say you read things. I guess you’ve been a long time reader? Have you read other blogs/forums/wikis along the way? Do you have any favorites dead or alive that you’ve run across in that time?

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Reply: ty anon


I love this. I found you via things and have now learned more about things from you. The blogosphere is dead - long live the blogosphere!

Hey! I love anonymous people tossing their note through my transom!

Hey! Are you still there?

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20 Jun 2019

Reply: Listening to Dux

Neil Mather

Listening to Kicks’ Kicks Mix on Duxtape, his dat-based remix of muxtape (mp3 mixtapes). The music’s good, the technology’s decentralized. Maxin and relaxin.

Sweet! A few others are sharing some nice tapes on there as well. I have some improvements that I hope to throw out soon. To clean up the empty or unseeded tapes that might be on there. Glad you posted this—I’m unsure how serious to take the project.

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Reply: Chris Aldrich Combs Through Domains

Chris Aldrich

One of the shining examples from Domains 2019 that I caught as it was occurring was John Stewart’s site where he was aggregating talk titles, abstracts, notes, and other details relevant to himself and his practice.

This is so cool. And your post totally highlights the advantage of hypertext: it acts as a kind of mini-directory to the conference, as a review, as a node to respond to. It’s cool for those who couldn’t attend—to get a sense of what happened—and for those who did—on where to go next. I am grateful for the work you did on this.

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Reply: And The Infostrat Goes On

Ton Zijlstra

Indeed, when I think of ‘knowing someone’ in the context of information strategies, I always do so as ‘knowing someone within a specific context’. Sort of what Jimmy Wales said about Wikipedia editors a long time ago: “I don’t need to know who you are“, (i.e. full name and identity, full background), but I do need to know who you are on Wikipedia (the pattern of edits, consistency in behaviour, style of interaction). As Wikipedia, which is much less a crowdsourced thing than an editorial community, is the context that counts for him.

Cool quote—your next sentence is interesting:

Time is another factor that I feel is important, it is hard to maintain a false or limited persona consistently over a long time. So blogs that go back years are likely to show a pretty good picture of someone, even if the author aims to stick to a narrow band of interests.

This is true. I have some experience with this—personas are kind of a ticking time bomb. I also think they are going to be pretty important going forward.

Jennifer Hill:
And you’re probably all sitting there and you’re like, “This girl wants me to delete Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… I got a following! I got a brand!”

No, that’s not what I’m saying. You have two selves. You have a career self, who—I’m pretty sure all of us have to use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for work or Medium or whatever other platform in the world you want to use—and then you have your personal self that knows the things that they’re doing. And what I’m speaking to right know is your personal self. You know, I understand you gotta make money, gotta make that dime…

Then during a bit of Q&A at the end, she makes the comment:

Jennifer Hill:
With the idea of websites comes the idea of allowing people to have multiple identities that they can throw on and off like hats.

I’m not making a definitive good/bad comment or recommendation, just tying together these thoughts with those you’ve made about ‘knowing people’. I think social media sets up the idea that you’re seeing a real portrait of the person—when it’s just a representation. (This makes we wonder if a social media ‘infostrat’ is more difficult than an RSS one, for instance.) Blogs and wikis are an obvious representation—they demand an infostrat.[1]

Instinct and intuition, hopefully fed with a diet of ok info, is our internal black box algorithm.

Cool, this is sick. Don’t want to code that internal algorithm too tightly.

News, as pretending to be neutral reporting of things happening, breaks that. Because there wont be any potential overlap between me and the news channel as filters, no feedback loops. And because it purports to lift something from the background noise as signal without an inkling as to why or because of what it does so. Filtering needs signifying of stories. Why are you sharing this with me? Your perception of somethings significance is my potential signal.

Ok, ok—I think I see what you’re saying. The specific kind of neutrality you’re talking about is a neutrality of relationship. To me, this might not be expressing ‘neutrality’—events no longer exist because they happened in the past. I think I am just trying to understand your low valuation of ‘news’.

There is a distinction between news (breaking: something happened!) and (investigative) journalism (lets explore why this is, or how this came to be). Journalism is much closer to storytelling. Your blogging is close to storytelling. Stories are vehicles of human meaning and signification. I do follow journalists.

After a certain event in my life (itself newsworthy,) I began searching online for others who had suffered catastrophes. I often found quotes from survivors in headline news articles which resonated with me. I messaged many people; heard back from one. My discovery of her has been monumental for me—and I still often revisit the original news articles.

You could simply say that these ‘news’ articles contain journalism—but the original articles describing her sudden event feel neutral—factual? Because of their urgency, they are raw details and quotes. And they could lead to further journalism—they shed the initial light on this woman.

But addressing your statement: neutral isn’t useful in a filter. I’m not sure I agree. If my filter is able to weed out certain search terms—like say I want to be notified if my own name ever occurs in the news, or if “Bernie Sanders” and “flossing” ever show up together—it seems the filter could potentially make the neutral useful. ‘Neutral’ seems to be synonymous with ‘clickbait’ or something—which I don’t think of as being ‘neutral’ but as being ‘devoid’.

I feel like I’m still missing your point—especially when you say: “Factual and neutral are often taken as the same, but they’re different, and I think I prefer factual.” Can you give me a more concrete example of ‘neutral’ that illustrates what you mean? (Also, if I’m harping on about something meaningless, feel free to just drop the thread.) I guess I feel like you’re onto something—but I want to actually understand it.

My views on technology as well as methods is that we must keep it close to humanity, keep driving humanity into it, not abstract it so we become its object, instead of being its purpose.

Dig this. Thankyou for all the bonus words, Ton!

  1. I might be hasty here—need to think about how to articulate this better. ↩︎

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Reply: Against Blogging

Chris Aldrich

What he’s getting at here, but isn’t quite saying is “Why can’t we expand the Domain beyond the restrained idea of “just a blog.” And isn’t that just the whole point of the IndieWeb movement? Your website can literally be anything you want it to be! Just go do it. Invent. Iterate. Have fun!

While it grates on me to seeing ‘blogging’ derided, I think it’s a good step if it moved away from being homework. One of the ‘generalizations’ in the slides is: “Most students don’t read blogs unless required/forced to.” I think you would agree that reading is actually the foremost activity when blogging—you and I do a ton of reading, all of my favorite hypertexters do. And possibly the biggest problem with social media today is how much writing is done without sufficient reading. (The term ‘the shallows’ returns to mind—which isn’t a good adjective for any of the blogs I really get into.)

To me, it is the method of reading that needs to be questioned—not the method of writing. Express yourself however you want. But now we’ve got mixed media everywhere and it’s been very hard for people to adapt to consuming a variety of it. (Certain people have adapted to listening to podcasts, others to YouTube, very few to blogs—possibly as a result of the complexity of hypertext.)

However, Ton’s recent stuff on reading by social distance seems to show how early we are in fathoming how to read the world of dynamic, criss-crossing text.

It kills me how many in the edtech/Domains space seem to love memes. It’s always cute and fun, but they feel so vapid and ineffectual. It’s like copying someone else’s work and trying to pass it off as our own. English teachers used to say, “Don’t be cliché,” but now through the use of digital memes they’re almost encouraging it.

It seems similar to clip art of previous generations—it prevents the paralysis of a blank canvas for many people. It also seems to be part of the movement to make text more visual—as seen in Twitter embeds or using screenshot images of text—people seem to be getting more averse to just straight text. (This could get even worse if VR ever takes off.)

But I really agree with your point. Even in this video, many poor reasons are given for dropping ‘blogging’: it’s not “disruptive” enough, students don’t intuitively understand it (lacking a historical context for it), it’s not trending any more… But text still has real power. If anyone doubts me on this point, go read Nadia Eghbal’s essay “The Tyranny of Ideas”—I thought this was tremendous. Sure, she could have done this as a video—but it would have likely taken longer, required more equipment, and I think it would be more difficult to review again and again. Does text need a performance?

I think h0p3 is spot on with the term pleonasmic (pleonastic?). Which could also be rephrased: “the dogged attempt to resist cliché.”

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Reply: Olia Lialina

joe jenett

I love it when you go all metaphysical in plain language. While I continue thinking about this, I must share something I just encountered - - cheers

Heya Joe. I love this! I have linked to her before (The GeoCities Research Institute)—but I wasn’t aware how many of her other projects I had encountered before. That main page that does the scrolling trick—I had thought about using that technique on my own page, but couldn’t remember where I’d seen it.

Oh and one recent link you’ve shared (Edwin Wenink) is a great discovery! I love how turning on “dark mode” turns on laser eyes for his self-portrait. It’s also a great portal to other things.

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12 Jun 2019

Reply: Further Infostrats

Ton Zijlstra

I have noticed that the news-feed type stream of posts of all feeds together carries echoes of the allergy I built up for my endless FB and Twitter streams.

Ok, thank you—I am with you on this as well. It sounds like we might be in agreement that there is much innovation to do in the spectrum of ‘feeds’/‘filters’. I think I also agree that needing access to the full post contents is useful—otherwise we end up with titles dominating and our filter weighs toward attractive headlines.

Re: ‘heat maps’—I’m reluctant to give any thought to the popularity of a writing. Yet, there’s no doubt that it’s important. If people are congregating, it’s worth knowing what the fuss is about. (I found your wonderful essay through Indienews—and this is a case where checking there has made it all worth it.) But I don’t want the zeitgeist jerking me around all day—think of it as a literal “ghost of The Now” pushing me around—I just want to peek at it usually and then move on to reading those things that are being overlooked.

I’m not saying you are wrong to prize that higher for yourself—I think perhaps the most innovative thing that can be done is to provide a variety of views on this filter—maybe RSS readers have just been too narrow by making themselves simple ‘inbox’ clones. We are trying to wrangle a lot of data here; we might need something quite configurable to do this task. (Which is contrary to my own reader—which I have been designing to be extremely naive.)

This is getting away from the juiciest part of your article, though: that there are serious human skills to build up. Reading and filtering. (I like your tag: ‘infostrats’.) But your mention of ‘heat maps’, for instance, reveals that our tools can improve with respect to enhancing our ‘infostrats’. Thank you for the further thoughts, Ton!

UPDATE: Okay, after looking through your archives, I can see that this reply was hasty. It’s amusing to me that you actually cover much of this in your discussions about ‘small tech’. Your essays over the years are a formidable work. I find myself very much in agreement as I read!

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Reply: Feed Reading By Social Distance

Ton Zijlstra

My filtering is not a stand alone thing in isolation, it is part of a network of filters, yours, mine, and other people’s. My output is based on filtered input, and that output ends up in other people’s filtered input.I treat blogging as thinking out loud and extending/building on other’s blogposts as conversation. Conversations that are distributed over multiple websites and over time, distributed conversations.

Cripes! I think this is the best essay I’ve read on how to read the Web. I agree with all of it.

I am definitely going to read this article several times before properly responding to it. But this is insanely rich stuff. I completely agree with and recognize the entire filtering strategy as my own. Feeling some kinship there.

As for the feed reader, it’s even worse: my own prototype (Fraidycat) is very close to what you describe. I assign feeds ‘importance’ levels that are much like ‘social distance’—I’m trying to decide if that term nails it for me. I’m not sure yet! It’s a good one, though.

I think the one area where I am not sure is still having to deal with a ‘news feed’-type stream of posts in each of those folders—is that your ideal way of reading? I feel like it focuses too much on recency. I’ve been enjoying just seeing a pulse of recent activity and then needing to visit their site to actually take it in (and perhaps explore further).

I definitely feel like the ‘social distance’ thing has helped crystallize why I put certain people into different ‘importances’—and it’s not just because they are actually more ‘important’ (like: to the universe). Anyway, brilliant!!!

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Reply: Duxtape’s ‘Megabyte’ Problem

Kevin Marks

Trying out duxtape - looks like a hidden limit though, I can’t add songs over 10 MB or so? dat://8e65d24d1c6cfb852abd27105fd2d8e1dfdca55d55205c18cb35fce59c6be2bd/

Indeed—I can’t seem to publish a 36 MB song. This must be related to the bug mentioned in the Hacker News comments. I will need to look into this—10 MB is a perfectly reasonable song size! Thank you Kevin.

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08 Jun 2019
06 Jun 2019

Reply: Irony Double-Down

Malcolm Blaney

hey Kicks, you could double-down on the irony… Fraidycat doesn’t display content, unless the content doesn’t link anywhere, then you do? Just a thought. 😃

I’m starting to think that, in Giles’ case, I need to run the photo through some image captioning algorithm and use that as the title. Generally, I won’t use algorithms—but this could be the exception. 😃

Good to hear from you, Malcolm. I haven’t encountered Dobrado before and it looks amazing.

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05 Jun 2019

Reply: Two RSS Experiments

Jason McIntosh

Giles Turnbull wants you to use RSS more. To that end, throughout June he runs an art project called Black and White RSS, where he posts one original monochrome photograph to a special RSS feed and nowhere else. If you can suss out how to subscribe, youll wake up every morning (Eastern time) with another photograph shared with you solely on this obscure channel you took the trouble to hook into. It feels pretty nice.

Giles’ B&W RSS and Fraidycat.

It cracks me up how these two projects don’t function together though. 😂 Fraidycat can’t consume a solo RSS feed—because it has no HTML to link to. So you’ll just get a graph and no way to view the pics. Hehehe!

Not sure where to go with this! Kind of loving the irony and don’t want to ruin it…

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Reply: Curse of the Garden Isle

Jason McIntosh

Two years ago I played, enjoyed, and wrote about John Baker’s all-but-forgotten John’s Fire Witch. And last summer, I had the pleasure to play Ryan Veeder’s Curse of the Garden Isle within days of its release. In the year since, I realized I’ve mentioned the game again and again in different contexts to friends and colleagues as a wonderfully accessible and rewarding example of modern parser-based interactive fiction, a real stand-out work. And yet, I have seen essentially no other mention of it online, not even within dedicated IF discussion spaces. Let me try to help rectify this, examining why I find it a quiet exemplar of the form.

This review coaxed me to start playing the game.

I really appreciate this review! I’ve kept myself quarantined to mostly Twine-style clicker fiction—though I’ve sampled stuff like “Everybody Dies” and “Lost Pig”. But this review got me really intrigued, so I’ve started playing Curse. I’ve found it very simple to get into.

I like that you can type anything you want for the first few scenes and you gradually work your way into the story. Wresting the parser is (I’m sure) always an accessibility problem you deal with in IFTF, yes?

[A] very minor but still noteworthy facet of its in-browser presentation: the static text that appears around the main gameplay pane, linking permanently to helpful resources (including that Googel map), and in particular the text parser tips displayed in the lower left margin. Its just a short bullet-list of the most common parser IF commands, readable in a few seconds. But thats the thing: I cant think of another modern parser game with a browser-play mode that bothers to offer a tiny cheat-sheet like this, even though many might link to longer-winded how to play IF guides.

So I made the poor decision to start playing on a phone while I was waiting somewhere—and it worked great! I was kind of relieved that the game didn’t use Parchment or some standard theme—just because I like that it has its own look. (Although it seems that most highly-rated interactive fiction does this.)

Also, having been to that island before, it was nice to know the rough directions and envision the map mentally while I played. I’ve never experienced that before—it helped me stay aware of where I was without any effort.

Anyways—I also like that your IF reviews are tagged. I’m going to keep an eye on this tag and post further on /en/games when I finish Curse.

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01 Jun 2019

Reply: Pure Kakistocracy


You don’t post a ton, so you make it easy on me to follow. I am much more talented at wasting our time though. So, while it doesn’t matter in the least (I mean, what does?), I realize my flooding wiki doesn’t really fit nicely in your tool.

The essential inadequacy of tools.

In your case, the tool is helpful because I can see a graph of activity—and, actually, now I realize: I think I would be interested in illustrating updates vs new material. I do value new material slightly more. And I think I would especially like to see minor edits (50 chars or less) not shown.

Yes, for you, the graph will be noisy. It will just show constant activity. But you do tend to update in clumps. So knowing the moment has arrived—and there is a new clump out there—that helps. It’s even more helpful for the rest of your family’s wikis. Because they are usually less frequent than you. Saving myself the cognitive load of simply having to determine whether the wiki has changed or not (manually) leaves me more time to read.

I think I could also, like you say, use the ability to monitor keywords. I do find messages using my name in search. And I also rank Link Logs higher—your roundups are some of my favorites. But I also don’t want to become too dependant on such things, because I like reading about your afterschool teaching and your meta-discussions about shaping your wiki. No matter the algorithm, there is a danger that the tool starts doing too much of the reading for you. That’s why I feel passionate about designing it to be painfully inadequate.

Assuming you are insane enough to be thinking about the problem, I also don’t know how far you want to specialize that crawlegator. There are many treadmills you’d need to tailor it to.

I think I am content leave it as a ‘bookmark folder’ with some perks. I want it to be like a hammer—an elegant, limited tool with one job to do. I don’t think I need it to become a massive engine. I don’t want to suddenly be spending all of my time with it.

Unfortunately, I spend little time trying to make my wiki RSSable because I have no idea how to make what is salient about my wiki algorithmically pop up for you in an easy manner (for so many stupid reasons). I have a fuckton of noise for you to sift through. What are you sifting for? I just don’t know what you perceive as S2NR for you.

I think you are doing a remarkable job at organizing your wiki! You are so consistent with your naming[1]—so that only left me to parse your whole wiki. This is the best RSS feed I could ask for. I wish every blog could be slurped up so easily. I can form a complete history and plunder it all immediately. I can read the timestamps on everything perfeckly.

Echo chambers, however, can be quite useful in crystallizing; they tumble rocks for gems too often. Further, I’m pissed off that I don’t have the power to construct my own filter-bubbles based upon how other people construct their filter-bubbles in a decentralized fashion. In my wildest dreams, I wish for an aggregator in which I choose the moderators who filter, updoot in ranged voting, and categorize any given of any given sub, tag, or content. I wish I could see through the eyes of my favorite crazy people, and I’d like to see the work which is censored by particular groups as well.

This is a very juicy take. I tend to think that if you find an enemy’s (or a friend’s) blog, then the information is all there. But I think your point is really hot: viewing your ‘feed’ might be a lot more interesting to me than it even is to you! Walking a mile in your shoes. I like this idea. I may crib this at some point.

So, I see two ideas here, actually:

  • I share a public ‘feed’ list that you can peruse—barring some feeds I would mark as private, possibly—and you would see the whole thing just as I see it.
  • An extension—like the ‘Reddit on Youtube’ one—where you can see related comments from anything in your feed. (It’s very possible that you’ve commented on something somewhere deep in your wiki and I’ll never find it unless I manually search—and I’m not going to do that for every link I come across.)

Yeah, I’m definitely interested in what the average Redditor and HN user has to say, but I’m especially interested in prioritizing what you have to say about the topic or link.

I will reply to you further on the rest of your letter. I have had a great time following the writing of it. I have enjoyed watching my interactions with your family play out.

I wonder how 1uxb0x is handling having a troll-admirer on his hands. I know T-Money probably thinks I am teasing. For me, to read 1uxb0x is to experience life in a very potent way. To only see laughter or amusement in the writing of 1uxb0x is to limit the experience immensely.[2] I worry that he will pack it all up and hide it all away, not knowing the harm of the lights I shine on it. I would understand this. Why go back to the place! Why read my wiki assignments from dad?

I don’t know exactly why he would feel embarassed at being so lauded. (I vaunt 1uxb0x, I VAUNT him.) But I think it is good, if so: to recoil against one’s own arrogance must happen I think.

  1. “There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things.” – Phil Karlton ↩︎

  2. I feel some regret at emphasizing the word “importaint”—as if an error in grammar were just another amusement to kick around. However—how could I pass it up? It is a pun of a higher order—so perfect for the son of Your Filthiness! The whole sentence is so readable. For such a short writing to instantly transport us to the Major’s Cabin, to Greece, to the death of the successful companies of this world. This is as good as it gets. To make our predictions, to cry our disbelief (“2 bucks?!?!”) and to finally say: “Shit.” For such is Sophie’s World. ↩︎

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23 May 2019

Reply: Knitting Rows


Funny you should mention knitting as part of your example, because the online knitting community has recently been going through an enormous row about racism and white privilege. See here for a primer from a few months ago (as I understand it is broadly ongoing).

Ok, wow—I guess there is quite a bit of ‘differentiation’ and ‘boundary work’ going on among crafters. Thank you for the citation! Even still, I can’t help but feel that this is a temporary situation—or, more likely, cyclical—that is afflicting all communities right now. We’re experiencing a global meshing of all kinds of cultures within communities—and there is a struggle to sort out the rules.

I do think that once everyone has had it out, you’ll either have communities permanently splitting along these lines or finding a way to coexist. (It also depends what global situations arise—we might be in for serious strife before we become nauseous of war again.) And, well, every community has its heyday, followed by its own dissolution.

I still feel like there is a difference between communities that have no natural enemy (or are built for conflict) and those that do. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe all groups are formed to both include and (perhaps more importantly) to exclude. God, I hope not.

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