Kicks Condor

Hypertext%20%20

My part of the cross-wiki chat with chameleon, h0p3 and sphygmus as the new year approaches.

Sphygmus:
From my perspective, this worry about “projecting a facade” or “putting on a mask” is a worry about our extended lack of phenomenological contact with the qualia of others. That is, in a face-to-face conversation I have the experience of seeing and participating in another person’s outward expressions of emotion (laughing, frowning, body language, tone of voice). The true connection between the other’s internal state and their external emotions aside, I still experience a sense of physical, embodied, and emotional feedback which leads me to believe I am experiencing a true expression of their internal state.

Yeah.[1] I think this was a big part of my early letters to h0p3. Like: a total doubt that written communication could work. But it turned out to be really fun and rewarding - partially because it was so difficult and fraught with peril. So I find myself wanting to avoid corporeality with you all because I want to see how far this can go.[2]

The internet, our websites, and our conversations over/through them completely remove and de-sync this feedback, and that disconnect triggers our unconscious to start worrying about whether we are actually receiving the truth of others’ internal states.

Yeah.[3] I’m not at all against video or multimedia communication - I got into Snapchat for awhile. I just want to find the strength in hypertext writing. It seems hasty to me to give up after 20 years in (10 for most people). We have a lot to learn about reading and writing online.[4]

I think there’s a yearning for the return of text. Video and audio now dominate - and have serious issues, too. I think part of this comes from so much of human history being tied up in text - perhaps this lends a ‘sacred’ feeling to text - but it’s also that it isn’t as tied up with physical performance and is able to be ingested internally in a way. I’m seeing more people writing about what they’re reading and challenging themselves to read more - it’s still seen as a virtue in people’s minds.

I guess I feel like asking all of you: looking at self-modeling as a type of permanent serialization format, where you’re attempting to prematurely get frozen (cryogenically), what medium(s) would be your chosen form of carbonite?

28 Jan 2020

@chameleon:
I’d like to pre-emptively avoid lumping in “activists” with those types of people.

Yeah, ok, I need to fill that in a bit. I’m not making a judgement here. I’m not putting them all in a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ category. There are good and bad trolls, good and bad activists.[5] (Although sometimes I wonder if centuries from now we’ll look back and see the pursuit for humor as being far more virtuous and generous than the pursuit for political ground. Maybe slightly - eh probably not.)[6]

My grouping here is more a matter of directionality or something. Hypertext 2010 was an effort in isolation - or solipsism, as you say - impossible to intrude upon (without hacking it) - so quite unsuitable for a troll or activist, whose fuel is targets, people to trigger or people to sway. We don’t really have those directional targets. I mean I’m cool if people join us, but it’s not essential.

In fact, I think, for me, the directionality is inverted. I’m here to read. I’m not trying to own or gather up a bunch of Winnie Lims. I just want to read what she’s got and see what happens.[7] Maybe I want to be owned and gathered. No, that’s not it - I mean perhaps in the moment of reading, I’m happy to be destroyed by it - but I’ve got my own thing I’m doing, it’s just going to be less dramatic. The directionality is just: I want to collect some of these cool stickers you’re offering. It’s like the pleasant capitalism that happens at the level of coins rather than cash.

It’s possible that ‘hypertext 2020’ continues to be hermetic, ‘staying under wraps’. But, no, I think that while trying to articulate this directionality, I want that inverted movement. Perhaps it’s like a vacuum tube where the pressure got too hot. So now a hole broke and everything is getting sucked inside. It’s a nice breeze. Time to break some glass.

Agreed on the mainstream - just on principle. My back is turned.

21 Jan 2020

Ok, thank you - the answers about ‘funneling’ or ‘iceberging’ or ‘shitpiling’ or whatever you want to call it are all really interesting. I really like Chamy’s take on drafting as another layer. I hadn’t considered that kind of granularity at all.

I guess we can start to wind the discussion down - I think the last thing I want to ask about touches on the ‘culture wars’ and the surrounding online warfare that we find ourselves in. Specifically: the ingroup/outgroup dynamics that plague the Internet, the trolls and activists that stoke the fire, and the norms that are being established around how one should talk and write publicly. This is already a topic in the discussion - the personal/private distinction we’ve discussed indicates where we stand in defending ourselves, the topic of doorways into our icebergs is somewhat about who to invite and how to set the right note - and h0p3 just went into how the funnel can ‘bounce’ trolls and vampires. (Which troubles me, because I like to meet trolls and vampires, too. For sure I’d love to meet vampires! I’m not sure I want them to bounce as much as to rattle around inside.)

So this topic might kill the discussion - I feel like it’s more enjoyable to just allude to the conflict rather than to take it on - not that no one’s talking about it, it’s like everyone is talking about it all of the time. And I think it goes without saying that the shape of our ‘cozyweb’ is due to these forces.

I guess my question is: to what degree do you feel the four of us are being shaped by the culture? Or are we attempting to reshape it in miniature? Because ‘hypertext 2020’ isn’t really a complete discussion without some vision for how our smaller landscape could function. We have some good ideas for how the craft of hypertext might progress in 2020. How can it possibly work culturally?

7 Jan 2020

I’d like to propose this question as our next point of conversation: “what on this massive highly-interlinked website might I want to start reading?”

Yeah, ok - let’s get into this. What has really inspired me about all of your wikis - and some of the newer personal websites I’ve run into - is this layering of the hypertext. h0p3 has the ‘about’ page, people might have a timeline or a ‘now’ page on their site, even Twitter with its ‘pinned post’ - you don’t just have to have a blog that drops you into chronological posts.

But it goes much deeper that this. I’m starting to think of it as funneling, having layers of hypertext that become progressively more personal, or which become more detailed, or perhaps even more (or less) ephemeral as you go through the layers.

I think part of this is an evolution of the fragmentation that has happened in social networks. People may use Twitter for a certain self-image or community, then Facebook or a blog for another mode, and people have become very accustomed to using each network as a separate outlet. And there’s a nice advantage to this - because you can address groups differently and not expose certain groups to overly personal material or control the image you project in each network.

In a similar way, I see this with Nadia Eghbal’s site - she has a newsletter for offering a monthly summary of her work, or there is the blog where you can read essays when they are published, and then she has a raw notes page that isn’t tied to any notification system (like RSS even), so you have to go out of your way to visit the page to catch anything new. So rather than having separate networks, there are different avenues to how you can approach her work.

Your wikis accomplish these layers using titling conventions. Usually ephemeral stuff is marked with a date, letters marked with ‘@’, permanent content is plainly titled. But this is also related to your front page material - you all know where to hide on your wikis the more personal material that you post and how to surface the things that are more central to your dialogue with the rest of us. (Sphygmus’ page coloring is a very interesting approach here.)

So I think of this as a kind of inverted funnel - where you have these entry points to your wiki - might be an ‘about’ page or it might be one of your sidebar directories or some intermediate topical page - and pages are situated somewhere in this conical area, perhaps you are even aware of how far a page might be from the doorway when you post it. Or which series of doorways reach it.

(I’m wondering what you think about this concept - what I’ve got wrong or if I’m characterizing your process correctly.)

kicks, I think you already address this in your FILE_ID pop-up - would you say more about how you thought about what to put there?

Well, that file is kind of my personal website, but it’s hidden inside of a little square. I like my site to be disorienting to happen upon, because I think it demands a bit of curiosity as an admission fee. (I think you do this too with your KEEP OUT notebook. It has lips on it, which soften the sting.)

But I’m so big on directories - it occured to me that I could evolve the ‘pinned post’ into something like a mini-directory. h0p3’s ‘root’ page is much more detailed - it’s five pages in one - and each page is terrifically long. I just tried to think about what a mini-directory or cover page would look like.

I also like to hide it because talking about myself is very uncomfortable. I feel very insignificant - but I like it that way - to have to feel that my own ideas or personality or opinions are very valuable - that would be too much to handle. I’d rather have little ideas and wrong ideas of my own - and just be a random person living life and no need to size up what I’m saying against the great ideas of history - no need to establish some track record of being right or upstanding.[8]

So sometimes I think about getting rid of it - it seems like an advertisement for myself. But I hold out hope that I can make it a mini-directory and eliminate the self-promotional aspects. (On the other hand, I want to encourage other people to self-promote, so I don’t know why I see it as so shameful to write that way - when I like for other people to do it.)

I think the biggest discovery that I’ve made with ‘funneling’ is to have my /all unfiltered page and then to have a main page. To describe it in TiddlyWiki terms, it’s as if I’ve taken my ‘recent’ sidebar and curated it on the home page. And, rather than using titling conventions to do it, I use metadata - so that some entries are marked ‘hidden’ or ‘draft’ and that keeps them off the home page.

Are there things us wikis could be doing to better serve readers? Is it important for us to attempt to provide something like this for readers? Should it look like Gwern’s index, or is there a more wiki-native solution that might be more ideal?

I don’t know - the thing I’ve really enjoyed about your public wikis is that I’ve had to learn your conventions before getting into them. I think you require something from your readers - and I think that sets up a really healthy relationship that the rest of the Internet has struggled with. It’s not their place; it’s yours. And that’s abundantly clear. But when I became comfortable in your wiki, you may have trusted that I had done sufficient work to be worth interacting with.

But then again, I like funneling and there would be no cone without the point. Yours is a static image - but it’s also the colored tags to the side. I think you set the right mood for what it is you’re doing. Sometimes I wish I was structured more like a wiki - but stylistically I’m trying to evoke a turn of the century blog - and aesthetic is important to me, because it surrounds everything else. It accomplishes something that can’t be expressed or done any other way.

Are we modeling fictional characters or not? Does it matter?

h0p3:
We face infinigresses here; in a sense, it can’t be satisfied by us, it can only be sought.

I’m having a very difficult time replying to this (and the remarks that follow it.) Not because it’s not well-written or because I don’t agree - simply because I want to expand on it, but haven’t the language to do it.

But, to begin, I think there is something about ‘now’ which I think is important. We can’t satisfy the modeling of ourselves in a moment (‘now’), but we can’t develop something over time.

Who we are can only be understood through dialectics with others, and at least sometimes that occurs through dialectics with imagined characters. Of course, certainty cannot be achieved, (h:cba. Of course, certainty cannot be achieved, and any time you posit a limit, you posit something beyond it.) and any time you posit a limit, you posit something beyond it. (h:sbi. and what is beyond that limit is sometimes only something which fiction can initially explore.)

Similarly, if I sought after your model, I couldn’t achieve it ‘now’, in an instant. It would become assembled over time, as if it was a gigantic LEGO castle.

But what I wonder is: are the old models relevant to the ‘now’ model? Can I render all models useless in an instant? Perhaps, in modeling, I look back and see the model of me - and suddenly want nothing to do with it. Or perhaps it’s more light-hearted than that - it’s time for a drastic change. Or I’m just embarassed - that seems likely!

I’m not suggesting that the models are flawed - all the people I know who have gone through the death of many family members at once, this model becomes quite precious. For the memories it holds, but also because you don’t want to lose who you are through the process. You rely on the history of yourself to help you not lose yourself to an internally destructive force that wants to kill you.

But then - there are things from ourselves that we can’t take with us always. Ideas become outdated, of course. And then, like losing someone who we’ve had plans with, who suddenly is gone, any of our plans or projects might not survive in the present.

This also relates to the discussion about clarifying ‘wonderful’.

The process of clarifying who we are, including what is valuable to us, (fantastic Socratic anecdote, tyyyy) appears to be at least part of the treadmill of generating our models, and they ought to be. Our brains are constantly modeling the world (including ourselves); there’d be no intentional consciousness without it.

I may think something is wonderful in the ‘now’ but that could change. (I try to resist that, though - and to always be grateful for the things I’ve loved from the past. This helps me to guarantee that I will always love philosopher.life!) But I can’t always nab (in the instant) why I love something. And I feel that even attempting to can be foolhardy. In the moment, I can usually only assemble a tiny LEGO flower of an impression. And it often seems better to hold off and try to assemble something more. Although: flowers are dainty and beautiful in their own right and I can still later surround them with LEGO cabbages and LEGO motorcycles and minotaurs and to build the fine scenery that I mean to.

And I also think that my LEGO flower (in this case) would be the phrase, “I love it because it makes my life worth living.” And to avoid the rational dissection of it is to grant it real life for the moment.

(Of course, I’m not opposed to the conversation with Socrates, I would have it in an instant. “Because drinks are more seasonal to me,” I say to him. “Drinks can’t be more seasonal,” he says, “because they have no seasons.” I say, “Oh yes, they do. They hover right above the liquid…”)

10 Dec 2019

(h0p3: Apologies I don’t have a response yet.)

Sphygmus:
Kicks, do you ever deal with information overload? Like, you’re browsing and surfing and discovering personal websites and interesting articles and now you’ve got 10, 15, 20 tabs (tb: 100s?!i??!) open and they all seem like cool rabbit holes and you’re not quite sure where to go next? Or what it all means anymore? (maybe that’s just me.)

I have experienced this in the past - and I still experience this with books. Although I’m not sure it’s the same. What I experience is gah, I’m not spending enough time reading all the things I want to read, finding all the things I want to discover, given how much there is!! And I assume that’s what people mean when they say ‘information overload’. (Your image of so many tabs.)

Is it actually ‘overload’? Or is it that there is infinite information (and there was even a century ago) and you’re feeling some inability to approach it? Which, in my case, has usually been about losing my discipline for a time span.

But I am spending the right amount of time reading online right now - and I have a very long list to work through that is in a sensible order. (I no longer have tabs open - I do have a link list, so that has helped.) I am not spending enough time reading books. If I spend enough hours each week, I feel like I am at least methodically working through the infinite mass and I feel healthy.

If yes, what do you do with that feeling? Does curation help? Like you’re specifically looking for cool people doing cool things in obscurity and you want to let us folks in your corner of the world – so does the endless array of cool people doing cool things feel overwhelming or invigorating or? (I get the sense it might be the opposite, that you feel like it’s hard to find cool people doing cool things. correct me here!)

It’s so cool to me that you care to ask me a question like this! That, alone, makes me feel like there are plenty of ‘cool people doing cool things’. Even if it was just you and me - that would be enough.

No, I feel like there are many more cool people than I can possibly be aware of. I worry sometimes that I have no sensibility. I honestly find something amazing in almost everyone I discover. If they are working in hypertext, it feels like I can count on it. And yeah – it’s invigorating.

I do wish I was aware of more black writers. I know there is a tendency to do this out of guilt or political activism. But I simply feel like black writers have an unusual angle. I think this is why black artists are popular in mainstream culture - subconsciously we know that they are outliers and can show us what it means to be human in a totally unexpected way. I mean I am definitely interested in anyone out there, regardless of their race - but among Americans, I think black artists have shown that they are always on the avant garde of cultural movements.

So, at the same time, it is difficult to find certain subcultures that you may want to find. (I would also love to find a really sweet fitness goth blog. Especially if it was a .onion site.)

When I do find someone that I really really REAALLY connect with - then I greedily spam that link wherever I can - in my notes, into Fraidycat, I recite it in my mind. I am so afraid of losing it. And it means that I begin to visit that site very frequently, to try to read everything that I can. When I found Ton’s blog, it was like that. And I was very appreciative that I could tell which posts were ephemeral and which were polished, finalized essays.

This is also what helped get me into h0p3 (and you and chamy, because you follow the same conventions): because you clearly mark dated, temporary notes vs longer, central nodes or essays. So it is very easy to know where to ‘start’. Which is appreciated when I am discovering someone and want to move from the polished stuff down to the day-to-day stuff.

(Thinking more about your other questions…)

Chameleon:
The subtitle is “things chameleon knows” and I feel like that encapsulates it. To me this is a website to throw my ideas to the wall and see what sticks. It’s obviously not every last thing I know, but it covers a broad spectrum of my interests and ideas.

Yes, this seems like ‘self-modeling’. Keep going. Why do it publicly?

3 Dec 2019

Open question: while we’re all here - what do you personally want to talk about? Like do you have any topics you want to pitch?

sphygmus:
Perhaps it’s about feeling — when the wind is warm but just a little sharp, and blows that feeling of longing straight through your bones — if one empathizes with that feeling, resonates with it, then perhaps they’ll resonate with my work as well.

(First off - great quotes! The low-key Nadia quote is unexpected, but very refreshing.)

I actually think your wiki is an ‘artist statement’ without needing to explicitly state that - and I think that’s why h0p3 could capture your essence so clearly. Maybe he inferred it from all the pieces?

With h0p3, I think I am more curious about the ‘self-modeling’ part of the phrase - but with you I definitely wonder more about the ‘public’ part. And you kind of answer that here. It sounds like you’re looking for kindred spirits. But you also keep a lot of things private - and you do explain this from a curatorial angle:

Perhaps it’s confusing to stumble upon a website where everything is mashed together — the mundane details of what I ate yesterday right alongside finished letters, notes on projects, and my drafting of this response.

How do you decide what to reveal and what to make public? (I ask because I haven’t resolved this for myself either - whereas I think h0p3 has made this line very easy for himself.)[9]

h0p3:
I take it that you don’t see yourself as a PSM, kicks. Is that fair to say?

Yeah, I see more self as a conduit. I really get into finding people and connecting people (and saying hi to them). I don’t have a desire to preserve myself or to catalog myself. But having the dialetic does make some of that worthwhile. And maybe I do model myself in other ways: in pixels, in code, in colors flickering.

I mean - you’ve all influenced me a lot and I find myself mimicking some of your conventions. This leads me to think that part of PSM-ing helps a human function day-to-day. (Talking through, remembering, clarifying thoughts.)

I wish I understood better whether ‘modeling’ meant a self-‘styling’, self-‘bending’, self-‘constructing’ vs just trying to represent yourself as you are, ‘the plain picture’ in Bob Dylan’s meaning. Maybe it’s all of it, somewhere between, or simply not possible. Are we modeling fictional characters or not? Does it matter?

h0p3:
Why do you have sites like yours on the web, what are they for? What is anything for?

To me, it’s the same - I act as conduit for discovering wonderful things. To me, wonderful things and wonderful people make life worth living. (How do I know if it’s ‘wonderful’? — Because it makes my life worth living.) (To prevent you from asking me to clarify - it ends there - an instinctive feeling of simply ‘this is worth it to me’.)

h0p3:
You have the chance to reason about whether or not I’m trying to do the best I can with my pile of puke.

Hahah! We’re all standing around examining each other’s sick. I like this interpretation. I think that if people could begin with this image, use it as the basis for their consensus, they can admirably proceed with the dialectic. There’s a lot less picking things apart if you cut the whole conversation some slack. (But I’m also glad that you asked me to clarify - and that you dug into the response - sure, why not? It’s all doodoo - but still worth rooting in, on the chance of some swallowed gems…)

h0p3:
[…] my wiki allows me to re-use my data to understand what is salient in the world (including myself).

This is a great point! I forget that you are already employing a lot of self-editing and self-curating. (And what you do with us - making a tiddler for Sphygmus that curates her, in a way.) So this is starting to lead into my next prompt, what you refer to here as ‘the chain’ (but which I also think of as hypertext ‘layers’)… let me think how to articulate this and I’ll get back to you. ‘Soup to nuts’ is one way of putting it, but it’s imprecise, it’s not just a linear progression toward ‘the end’ - or it doesn’t have to be, I guess.

h0p3:
I keep almost mindlessly answering: 42 or 42ness, which is almost vacuously true, but I’m still not showing my work well enough to you.

I think this is probably your most useful analogy to helping me comprehend self-modeling. This goes in the final.

1 Dec 2019

(This steno is something of a scratchpad. I put the latest comments I have that relate to the current point of discussion in the top box - historic stuff is below.)

Sphygmus:
expert public self-modelers, oh my! and is that the first prompt - where to go in the next decade? no gun jumping here, I think it’s all fizzy excitement. mic check at will!

@hypertext-2020 Whoa whoa - how bout let’s back up to ‘public self-modeling’? (Seems like we’ve had an adequate mic check.) For yourself, personally - is this an adequate shorthand? Or do you think of yourself in any other terms that can help someone understand your work?

h0p3:
As a habitual wall-of-texting sprawler, I feel some of the claustrophobifying tweet-syndrome creeping into me here.

Looks like we have a formidable antipleonasmic analysis on our hands here. 😎

h0p3:
Adequate shorthand for what?

An adequate shorthand to describe you, your wiki, your work there. I feel like the phrase was an attempt to wrap all of that up into a shorter name so that you can refer to it briefly - and perhaps so people can understand from a glimpse. Or even so you can understand or remind yourself of what you are doing.

So, my first question is just to look at the phrase again. Seems like a good starting point. Is it that to you? Where does it function today?[10]

h0p3:
I’m giddy+nauseous at the thought of how to maximize a hypertexter’s autonomy and expressivity while still packaging it up for a securely scaled mesh.

You can fully expound - that could be a virtue of this style of chat. You could footnote off into a new tiddler, if you need. Or you can simply link in an old one if it represents your answer still well enough. Carry on. (And on.)

30 Nov 2019

@chameleon @h0p3 Tentative title for the chat: ‘hypertext 2020’ - where is an expert wikier supposed to go in the next decade? But yeah - just rip into what is going to be hot techs and paradigms for expert public self-modelers in this future timeline.

If we get Sphygmus on, I’ll do a mic check and then we can start. Hope I’m not jumping the gun - just pitched this idea today…


  1. Meaning: you’re saying great stuff - my actual response to your writing was to be dumbfounded by how solid it was and to have no good reaction - which means I’ve had to patiently walk around the neighborhood endlessly, attempting to summon a measly worthwhile thought. ↩︎

  2. Hah, and maybe we’re at the end! ↩︎

  3. Meaning: so good. ↩︎

  4. And may not be able to - so I understand anyone who wants to bail on it. ↩︎

  5. I will say that I imagine that, like a craft or role, there are probably true experts and the rest of us are just playing, probably destructively. I think that’s the thing about trolls and activists. You have to have quality moves as well as real message. That’s asking a lot! I think it’s this thought, of ‘minions’ that operate in the ‘troll’ and ‘activist’ roles, that really make me think to group them together. ↩︎

  6. Also, could activists be more effective as trolls? While throwing a shoe is activism, I think I have to score it in the troll camp. ↩︎

  7. Like it’s a catalyst? Like it’s an unknown substance? What happens if I put THIS in the tank? ↩︎

  8. Although I do get caught up in the allure of cultural commentary and trying to articulate a perspective that, in the moment, might feel ‘right’ - I only hope these are taken as good fun and not as objective truth. ↩︎

  9. This also seems very pertinent to the question of ‘public self-modeling’, since h0p3 begins defining this phrase by exhorting people to ‘deprivatize’ themselves. ↩︎

  10. As additional material - ‘public self-modeling’ is a phrase that chameleon has had fun with and I’m not sure to what extent it is a meme for her or if it is quite serious or what. On the other hand, Sphygmus has said a few months ago (referencing this word) that her wiki is “not an attempt to answer the question of who I am.” So, I guess I also wonder if “self-modeling” is a quest to answer who you are or if it is something else. ↩︎

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