Kicks Condor

LEECHING AND LINKING IN THE HYPERTEXT KINGDOM

I FIRST DISCOVERED
THE 【TECHS-MECHS】WHO
ARE A CLAN OF SOUTH
OF THE BORDER GUNDAM
BREAKING DOWN
IMMIGRATION FENCES
WITH THEIR
IMPRESSIVE MANOS
MECANICAS

PLUNDER THE ARCHIVES

This page is also on dat.

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

philosopher.life, the 'wiki'/'avatar'/'life' of h0p3. serious rabbithole.

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

linkport by joe jenett---blogs at i.webthings.

an eye on: ᛝ ᛝ ᛝ — lucid. whimsy.space, caesar naples.

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

nostalgia: geocities.institute, bad cmd.

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

chips: zeptobars, scargill, 41j.

dwm, julia, tridactyl these are things you'll want on linux.

neil c very famous but should be a world icon.

the world or cate le bon you pick.

sammyclassicsonicfan the original teen rage adventure.

innovation.isotropic.org probly the best carl chudyk game.

and opinionated gamers for non-chudyk game analysis.

my twitter. my github. minor things.

#catalog

I use three main tags on this blog:

  • hypertext: linking, the Web, the future of it all.

  • garage: art and creation, tinkering, zines and books, kind of a junk drawer—sorry!

  • elementary: schooling for young kids.

14 Dec 2018

Unlisted Videos

Huh: search engine that peeks through the cracks.

I’ve decided to exclude this from my directory for now, but I think this search engine raises some interesting questions. It indexes any video that is public, but not listed in YouTube’s searches. I’m not going to comment on whether these should be indexed—but I think this is a valuable tool in a surfer’s kit. (Continuation of the Searching the Creative Internet thread from the other day.)

Take this. Take Pinboard search. Take Million Short, Wiby.me, maybe take /r/InternetIsBeautiful—these start to give a good picture of the web we’re a part of. Oh, snarfed’s Indieweb search, perhaps.

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Reply: The Web Finally Feels New Again

Joe Jenett

I recently came across a Pinboard user’s note on a bookmark: “Overly commercial tone but looks useful.” That simple note made me think about the web and linking and what it all means to me.

(Joe’s full article is here.)

Yes, here we are again—I think what you’re saying is that even a single-line annotation of a link, even just a few words of human curation do wonders when you’re out discovering the world. (Perhaps even more than book recommendations—where we know that at least we can rely on certain publishers and editors to vet their publications—I’m a big fan of the Dalkey Archive[1], for instance—but we have no idea the quality of writings out on the Internet at large and are desperately reliant on these annotations in the field.)

Pinboard is doing everything right in that regard—of course, it cribs from Delicious before it—giving hyperlinkers an appropriate amount of meta-dressing to put around their link: tags, description, search tools. However, it misses out on the kind of visual styling and layouts that you, Joe, get to enjoy. (I really like how you batch up links for the day, similar to how h0p3 does it.)

I think another of my lingering questions is: what are we really doing here? When I look at h0p3’s links, he’s trying to catalog his discoveries for the day completely—at least, I don’t think he edits this list. You also mention in your essay that you ‘curate links for my own ongoing use’. Whereas I tend to ‘advertise’ links more, to bring attention to the parts of the web that I want to survive.

So it’s more natural for me to work towards a final directory of links, a hub of all the nodes that I want to see connected. I want these individuals to be aware of each other. I see your Linkport as being a type of directory; I wonder to what extent you are doing this as well—and I wonder what kinds of collaborations we could get going between our directories. You do say that ‘people finding me and finding some of my links enjoyable’ is a secondary goal. I guess another angle I keep alluding to is the benefit you give to the authors behind the links you’re publishing—this type of work is a tremendous gift to them.

Along these lines: I see link duplication as being an interesting thing—clearly we don’t all just want the same links, but I think it will be interesting to see how much overlap there is. I also really like, for example, when David Crawshaw’s article last week got linked by h0p3, Brad, Eli, other microbloggers—it made me feel like we were trying to send some kind of concentrated transmission to the author—linking as a greeting, links as an invitation.

With time, many personal sites and blogs disappeared from the web as people flocked to the big silos where their content became a heavily monitized commodity. To me, the web had lost much of its soul as people gathered in just a few, huge noise chambers. […]

Current trends and a rebirth of personal blogging certainly make the type of curation I do much easier, thank you. Had it not been for that stimulating conversation, I probably would not have been writing this.

It’s interesting to me that the corpypastas (or CorpASAs) had this kind of effect. Because they actually eased publishing and participation for so many people. Facebook is a type of gated community—so I see why it had this kind of effect. But it’s interesting that Twitter and Instagram also dampened the growth of the web. I hazard that perhaps this was simply because their game was best played by their rules—an external link to Twitter wouldn’t show up in your ‘likes’ whereas a like from another tweet was fully realized by the author and the… err… liker.

And I don’t want to chalk this up to mere ego—the author and the liker could see each other from across the Internet. And that is valuable. This is also what micro.blog is assisting us with—we have our blogs, but it is a useful capsule pipeline, so that we can get to each other clearly. (This is why I’m not just linking to your blog post and waiting for you to notice somehow—this communication structure that we’re using here is very useful to us, even if I can almost guarantee that this post is going to be flattened into a massive paragraph by micro.blog. No problemo—I’m just glad to have a direct line to you, Joe!)

Regarding another thing Kicks asked about: Aside from evolving html, accessibility, and design standards and practices, I’m really not sure if linking, in general, has changed over the years. I’ve been doing it the same since day one. But that’s just me.

For me, I do find that Webmentions are really enhancing linking—by offering a type of bidirectional hyperlink. I think if they could see widespread use, we’d see a Renaissance of blogging on the Web. Webmentions are just so versatile—you can use them to commment, you an form ad-hoc directories with them, you can identify yourself to a wider community. I really feel like they are a useful modernization.

But I like that you are true to the linking you’ve always done. It still works. It’s an ideal that we fell away from I guess.


  1. The Third Policeman, of course! But also: Heartsnatcher by Boris Vian (just my kind of meandering, vexing thing), Writers by Antoine Volodine. And soon I will get into Impressions of Africa by Raymond Roussel. ↩︎

  1. I was hoping our conversation would continue. I agree with you about webmentions being a great modernization. I thought the old pings and trackbacks we used to use were great until spam killed 'em and webmentions at least have some mechanisms for dealing with that. If you sent me a webmention, I never saw it. Oddly enough it was good 'ol RSS that led me to your post. As before, you've given me a few new things to think about before responding. In the meantime, I appreciate your reading my post (and obviously understanding much of what I said). Later.

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08 Dec 2018

Reply to davidcrawshaw

Oh and yeah—can you pass along this link trove? I do a monthly ‘href hunt’, asking everyone out there for personal URLs—one of the problems is where to go to notify the world of one’s nascent blog or wiki? I can write up your collection—or link your write-up. Anything to help.

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James Somers’ Home Page

A self-catalog—tho this format could fly as an outgoing directory.

I mostly cover obscure writers. James is a widely published author (The Atlantic, Playboy, Aeon) but this is a neat personal directory to his writing—very homespun and lightly annotated, with asterisks and highlighting used to nice effect.

Articles such as How I Reverse Engineered Google Docs To Play Back Any Document’s Keystrokes are a festive hybrid of code, anecdote and sundry links—found in paragraphs festooned with blue underlines that act like surprising miniature directories nested in the article. (This is an approach that I feel I need to cover in Foundations of a Tiny Directory.)

I also think it’s interesting that he catalogs all of his individual blog entries. This whole page very much fits in with my definition of Hypertexting—these scattered essays and posts become a body of work here. And the quality is excellent: generally well-considered and well-executed.

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Reply to davidcrawshaw

This article is in my dept, man—great stuff. I am writing a blog that covers obscure websites, interviews unknowns, etc. Although I am advocating a return to (dun dun) web directories: https://www.kickscondor.com/foundations-of-a-tiny-directory

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Searching the Creative Internet

More thoughts on moving beyond Google.

I’ve been saying for awhile that Google doesn’t work for me—but I think this essay crystalizes the thought in a much better way than I’ve been able to.

If you click through all 14 pages of results Google returns for [disney], nothing I could conceive of as interesting appears. Corporate website this, chewing-gum news article that. But if you refine it a little and search for [disney blog], then by result Page 7 things start to get interesting.

I’m not sure I agree yet with the idea that we can solve this with better search engines—I am really focused on trying to bring humans back in: as editors, as librarians, as explorers—we can do this kind of stuff really well, this is our strength! But I’m warming up to the idea that search engines could be a tool for these surfers.

What is clear to me is that it is time for separate tools. A search engine designed to be used by billions of people every day to do daily tasks is not one that will be appropriate for weekend meanderings though obscure topics. A content-sharing site like Reddit that encourages links to the New York Times will not generate thoughtful discussion.

See, to me the issue is that ANY algorithm involves encoding a ruleset that strictly describes what it is looking for. So by the time you encode your crate-digging behavior as an algorithm—it has lost its flavor.

Imagine a computer writing jokes. Not that that can’t work—but I think computers are far away from making jokes that aren’t inadvertant. So only by being nearly random does it become evasive enough to avoid malignant behavior. But a human is subject to its own evasive manuevers—it can get fatigued with sameness, it can become bored, it can become sensitive to the fashions of its time, it has its own ineffable subjectiveness. So it is capable of leaving its encoding—of evolving, or of returning to its roots, discovering something forgotten or uniquely nostalgic. (I think the algorithms are great for discovering the answer to a technical question—you want that search to be predictable.)

This is a great article and it describes a longing for the kind of thing that we’re all trying to build here—I know it sounds like I’m wrapping all of you out there—and those I’m communicating with regularly—in a blanket statement—if I am, then certainly push back—but I think this is what ties us: to preserve humanity on the Web, perhaps to find more meaning in this work. So I hope to see this Crawshaw person around here at some point.

  1. [...] I think this is what ties us: to preserve humanity on the Web, perhaps to find more meaning in this work.

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21 Nov 2018

Reply: More Joe Questions

jenett

@kicks Thanks for the compliment kicks. Though it’s never totally free of bad links, a fair amount of time is spent revisiting sites along with periodic link checking sessions. Glad to know you couldn’t find one - yay! I found your blog recently via this very thread - very unique. Spoiler alert: It’s in the pointers queue.

Wow, you hand-check the whole thing?? Ok, wow, so if you don’t mind I have a few more questions—actually, quite a few more, but I’ll constrain myself!

  1. A lot of links I find through just old-school surfing, but there are some tools that are like virtual mines for me. (Google is often useless, because a search for ‘interesting blog’ usually just yields clickbait and I don’t want to just regurgitate that stuff.) What tools or sites have you found most useful for discovering links?
  2. Also, is surfing a kind of skill? I mean: finding obscure avenues, well, they are obscure—hard to find by definition! At the same time, having a ‘linkpost’ at least provides an intersection between worlds where people can find each other. Do people find you? Is that just as important as you finding them?
  3. And, yeah, since you’ve been doing this for several decades—has linking changed over time? Like: what is modern linking?

Also, if you’d rather post your answers as a blog post, I can link to that. Great to meet you—I’m immediately a huge fan!

  1. @kicks @jenett Ditto on all those link Q's. Surely it has required great patience & perseverance over many years.

  2. @kicks I'm just seeing this and appreciate your interest (and your's too, @Ron ). These are thought-provoking questions and will take me some time to process. I've been meaning to write more about some of these things.

    The web, and the way I approach it, has changed drastically over the years. For now, a few things I find most useful for discovering links: People, as in people with similar interests who publically share bookmarks on Pinboard; and people with personal blogs and sites who link to what they like (bring back the blogrolls, please). Micro.blog and the indieweb movement are helping bring more people back to blogging, which is certainly helpful in discovering more of the types of sites I like to share.

    As far as tools go, a good feed reader (with filtering) is a must. Sifting takes time and feeds save time. For searching, The 'human-edited' directory @bradenslen is building is an excellent discovery tool.

    Stay tuned - I'll definitely put some thought into answering your other questions. Glad to meet both of you too!

  3. @jenett I myself used to love the blogrolls! Back around 2004-2005 there was a blog on Blogger called Two Things, places and sites of interest. It's how I discovered the unfortunately no longer working 43Things.

  4. @jenettIt was, in fact a linkblog.

  5. @hope Right now, Readkit (macOS only) is the best reader I could find to do what I need, including integration with Fever, a self-hosted tool I also use. Though ReadKit has a few bugs/issues, it's still the best in my mind and a recent update brought definite improvements.

  6. @jenett Is Fever still being developed? Also, will it let you view just one individual feed, instead of all the articles at a time? Lol I really don't like my RSS reader to look like Twitter!

  7. @hope I seem to remember that Fever is no longer being developed. You can view one feed or one folder of feeds at a time. It’s nice but I definitely prefer the desktop app over the web app and what I do would be intolerable without the filtering option. For me, anyway.

  8. @kicks Regarding “hand-checking the whole thing,” the periodic revisiting of sites is more of a spot-checking thing. Using a link-checking tool is the better way to check a large number of links at a time. I can safely say the majority of the links are good links but keeping up with link-checking is a challenge (it's time-consuming). I'm convinced that being totally free of bad links is the right goal but reaching it is impossible.

  9. @kicks I've answered a few other questions in my latest post at https/iwebthings.com

  10. @kicks I've answered a few other questions in my latest post at iwebthings.com

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20 Nov 2018

Reply: Hi, Joe

Joe Jenett

[…] sharing links […] - it’s in my blood.

Cool thread. Getting myself in here. Hi, folks!

Joe, amazing site—Linkport. How on earth have you kept the links all intact? I couldn’t seem to find a broken one.

  1. @kicks Thanks for the compliment kicks. Though it's never totally free of bad links, a fair amount of time is spent revisiting sites along with periodic link checking sessions. Glad to know you couldn't find one - yay! I found your blog recently via this very thread - very unique. Spoiler alert: It's in the pointers queue.

  2. @kicks @jenett Ditto on all those link Q's. Surely it has required great patience & perseverance over many years.

  3. @kicks I'm just seeing this and appreciate your interest (and your's too, @Ron ). These are thought-provoking questions and will take me some time to process. I've been meaning to write more about some of these things.

    The web, and the way I approach it, has changed drastically over the years. For now, a few things I find most useful for discovering links: People, as in people with similar interests who publically share bookmarks on Pinboard; and people with personal blogs and sites who link to what they like (bring back the blogrolls, please). Micro.blog and the indieweb movement are helping bring more people back to blogging, which is certainly helpful in discovering more of the types of sites I like to share.

    As far as tools go, a good feed reader (with filtering) is a must. Sifting takes time and feeds save time. For searching, The 'human-edited' directory @bradenslen is building is an excellent discovery tool.

    Stay tuned - I'll definitely put some thought into answering your other questions. Glad to meet both of you too!

  4. @jenett I myself used to love the blogrolls! Back around 2004-2005 there was a blog on Blogger called Two Things, places and sites of interest. It's how I discovered the unfortunately no longer working 43Things.

  5. @jenettIt was, in fact a linkblog.

  6. @hope Right now, Readkit (macOS only) is the best reader I could find to do what I need, including integration with Fever, a self-hosted tool I also use. Though ReadKit has a few bugs/issues, it's still the best in my mind and a recent update brought definite improvements.

  7. @jenett Is Fever still being developed? Also, will it let you view just one individual feed, instead of all the articles at a time? Lol I really don't like my RSS reader to look like Twitter!

  8. @hope I seem to remember that Fever is no longer being developed. You can view one feed or one folder of feeds at a time. It’s nice but I definitely prefer the desktop app over the web app and what I do would be intolerable without the filtering option. For me, anyway.

  9. @kicks Regarding “hand-checking the whole thing,” the periodic revisiting of sites is more of a spot-checking thing. Using a link-checking tool is the better way to check a large number of links at a time. I can safely say the majority of the links are good links but keeping up with link-checking is a challenge (it's time-consuming). I'm convinced that being totally free of bad links is the right goal but reaching it is impossible.

  10. @kicks I've answered a few other questions in my latest post at https/iwebthings.com

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Linkport

Joe Jenett’s link collection—been going strong for decades.

Oh boy, the micro.blog surf club is really coming together: Joe Jenett has said ‘hello’ by dropping a link to this directory of fantastic obscure blogs and things. (I think he and Brad Enslen met through Pinbard? Does that happen??)

Linkport goes back to 2000. But Joe has been collecting links since 1997:

I thought of pulling the plug (on the daily pointers) for the same reasons but decided to keep it going with a combination of new links and repeat links to sites with recent updates, along with working hard to keep it clean of bad links. Yes, it all takes a lot of time but fortunately, I enjoy doing it - it’s in my blood.

Even the oldest links in the directory still seem to work. I bow in humble deference.

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17 Nov 2018

One-Line Languages

It’s more common to converse with a computer than to just dictate our instructions to it.

I’ve been helping a friend with a Discord bot, which has opened my eyes to the explosion of chatbots in recent years. Yes, there are the really lame chatbots, usually AI-driven—I searched for “lame chatbots” and was guided to chatbot.fail, but there’s also the spoof ‘Erwin’s Grumpy Cat’ on eeerik.com.

Erwin's Grumpy Cat

We’ve also quietly seen widespread use of sweet IRC-style bots, such as Slack or Twitch or Discord bots. These act like incredibly niche search engines, in a way. My friend’s own bot is for a game—looking up stats, storing screenshots, sifting through game logs and such.

So, yeah, we are using a lot of ‘one-line languages’—you can use words like ‘queries’ or ‘commands’ or whatever—but search terms aren’t really a command and something called a ‘query’ can be much more than a single line—think of ‘advanced search’ pages that provide all kinds of buttons and boxes.


Almost everything has a one-line language of some kind:

  • Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia and YouTube all have search boxes on nearly all of their pages—a single line interface for querying the entire text. (Even general services like text messaging and e-mail have this prominently in their interface.)
  • Issuing short commands to voice-recognition machines like Alexa and Siri.
  • UNIX tools usually act individually.
  • Spreadsheet math done in the fx bar.
  • The browser address bar.
  • One of my favorites is Pinboard’s URLs, which can be used to find related things using whatever ingenuity you can muster.
  • Microwave cook commands.

Humans push the limits of these simple tools—think of hashtags, which added categorical querying to otherwise bland search engines. Or @-mentions, which allow user queries on top of that. (Similar to early-Web words, such as ‘warez’ and ‘pr0n’ that allowed queries to circumvent filtering for a time.)

It’s very interesting to me that misspellings and symbolic characters became a source of innovation in the limited world of one-liners. (Perhaps similar to micro.blog’s use of tagmoji.)


It seems that these ‘languages’ are designed to approach the material—the text, the tags, the animated GIFs—in the most succinct way.

I wonder, though, if ‘search’ is the most impotent form of the one-liner. It’s clearly the most accessible on the surface: it has no ‘commands’, you just run a few searches and figure out which ‘commands’ work until they succeed. (If they do?)

Feeling Lucky BBS

It also seems relevant that less than 1% of Google traffic uses the I’m Feeling Lucky button. Is this an indication that people are happy to have the raw data? Is it mistrust? Is this just a desire to just have more? Well, yeah, that’s for sure. We seem to make the trade of options over time.[1]

Observations:

  • The more generic the data (the Web as a whole vs. a creepypasta chat), the more generic the language seems to be.
  • Could the Web be viewed as something other than a giant container that we have to randomly access?
  • For example, many chatbots work like a conversation—they have a memory, such as for storing quotes/memes, and they can be used as Bayesian filters (for kicking spammers).
  • Is it possible to build a meta-bot that uses all the niche bots?
  • What one-line language could be extrapolated from micro.blog or Pinboard?
  • To what degree can cars, Christmas tree lights, video splicing, disc jockeying, playing video games—be driven by one-liners?
  • What would it take to get to two lines?

Some sites—such as yubnub and goosh—play with this, as do most browsers, which let you add various shortcut prefixes.


Oh, one other MAJOR point about chatbots—there is definitely something performative about using a chatbot. Using a Discord chatbot is a helluva lot more fun than using Google. And part of it is that people are often doing it together—idly pulling up conversation pieces and surprising bot responses.

Part of the lameness of chatbots isn’t just the AI. I think it’s also being alone with the bot. It feels pointless.

I think that’s why we tend to anthropomorphize the ‘one-line language’ once we’re using it as a group—it is a medium between us at that point and I think we want to identify it as another being in the group. (Even in chats, like Minecraft, where responses don’t come from a particular name—the voice of the response has an omniscience and a memory.)


  1. It’s also amusing that Google keeps the button—despite the fact that it apparently loses them money. Another related footnote: the variations on I’m Feeling Lucky that Google has had in the past. Almost like a directory attached to a search. ↩︎

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13 Nov 2018

The Federation

A directory of ‘federated’ communities.

A list of all of the various blogging and messaging services that are connected to each other by way of ‘federation’ (e.g. Mastodon). This is impressive—user statistics and lists of smaller communities within each group. I’ve thought that the Indieweb was ‘ahead’ of the Fediverse, but it’s much easier to find each other with this kind of centralized directory.

I also generally advocate human-curated directories. But, in the case of examining the offerings of a network, this kind of entirely machine-constructed catalog makes perfect sense. A stat-based and rather spreadsheet-like view is the whole point.

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02 Nov 2018

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Reply: Federated Wiki and Directories

Brad Enslen

I think our choice of tools is widening. I’m going to experiment with Dokuwiki. And you really need to check out Federated Wiki. It’s that copying feature, in essence “forking” another persons post, that really caught my eye and made me think back to all your conversations with h0p3.

I spent about a week playing with Federated Wiki and was initially extremely excited about it—I’ve always admired Ward Cunningham’s work, there was a recent blog post called The Garden and the Stream that promoted Fed Wiki as a way to do Hypertexting (‘the garden’) and I had hoped to integrate my hypertext with it.

However, it simply did not function for me and I could not seem to find useful protocol documents. I didn’t even feel like it was worth posting about yet. I will continue to keep an eye on it to see if it becomes something practical. (Even as a reader, I find fedwiki.org really neat but difficult to use—I feel that it is more opaque than TiddlyWiki even.)

If you chose to go with a search feature, I was going to add you to the search engines at the bottom of Indieseek’s SERP like I did with Wiby.me. That way I could share traffic – like someday when I have traffic, with your directory.

Yeah, so—I think we start talking about federating our directories. Here are some basic starting points:

  1. A central search engine that we can use to index our directories. I will work on this at some point. Or maybe sites like Wiby.me could collaborate with us. I may require microformats for the directory entries and maybe there will be a novel way to use Webmentions.

  2. And, possibly, a directory using the same index—the question is how to find matches between our categorization systems. Perhaps we could treat categories like tags—or to provide a mapping to another category system.

  3. Perhaps a way of collecting submissions from a central bucket? Maybe we could publish our submissions on a page, regardless of whether they’re included—this could also be useful for establishing a spam list.

  4. It would be cool to syndicate entries—like I may want to take an entry from yours and embed it in mine. People may want to syndicate entries elsewhere—maybe as Twitter cards. And, most importantly, I may want to periodically ‘guest’ a directory and highlight that directory’s activity for a month.

I think it’s also useful to acknowledge that this is all different from Pinboard because our directories:

  • Are heavily filtered. We don’t include stuff that is ‘to-be-read’ or not (in our view at least) of very high quality or interest.

  • Entries generally have thorough commentary.

  • There is kind of a team thing going on—you and I are working separately, but there is a lot of collaboration and linking going on—I see this being good long-term because we can rope in others who cover other topics and act like a decentralized DMOZ. We could even safely double-up on the same topics because people will have different takes.

Interesting point about using comments and stars yourself. Sounds cool!

I will definitely add a query string search and will look at doing what you do on your results page. Cool, so far, so good.

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31 Oct 2018

Reply: Directory Features

Brad Enslen

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

I didn’t much care about search when you said this, but using h0p3’s search and your directory and Pinboard—there’s no doubt that it’s useful. It warps you to a place in the collection that’s workable.

I’ve worked out a search index that’s entirely done in JavaScript—it’s the same one I’m now using on my blog. Thanks to TiddlyWiki for helping me realize that this could be a great way forward!

When I publish, it updates the search index. (Right now my blog’s search index is 300k. Raw text of my blog is 1.2 megs. The index is loaded when a search is performed and cached for further searches.) I haven’t decided where to place it in the directory yet.

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

Hah! I laughed when you wrote this and I might as well voice it now. See you in ten years, brother. 😎

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

I think one of my primary questions these days is: will the future be blogcentric? I feel like things are going to change. Although they could get more hyperactive. Thought streaming? Let’s hope not.

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How Writing ‘My Struggle’ Undid Knausguard

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

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

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

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

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

From Literary Fundamentalism Forever:

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

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

So, homework:

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

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

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

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


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

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29 Oct 2018

Reply: A Cabinet of Bookmarks

Frank Meeuwsen

I would love to have a better connection between my Inoreader Stars and Pinboard. Besides that, I’d love to work some more on an automation like Brett Terpstra’s Web Excursions including the amazing archive. I think my first steps with Pinboard and NodeJS will help me with this, since I now know better how to post articles through automation and the Micropub services. I will stop my foray into Jekyll plugins and Ruby development, for now, and will work on a better service to post bookmarks from Pinboard to this blog on a regular basis.

Cool—I am working on consolidating my bookmarks into a single directory (much like Brad has done at Indieseek.xyz, but it’s interesting to see you go with the approach of keeping links housed differently based on their purpose. It’s cool and your very thorough explanation is convincing!

I do like when people use Pinboard—and might consider double-posting there—mostly because I love that I can browse pinboard.com/t:toread to find interesting things. I keep looking for a common tag that means: ‘I don’t know what to think about this link.’

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GeoCities Institute’s Interview with Susansthoughts

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

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

OL: Why and why in Heartland neighborhoods?

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

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

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

Welcome to My Page

Here’s the Page

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

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

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

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Reply: Self-Made Doorways

h0p3

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

A discussion of portals into a large hypertext.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I think this is something to think about.

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26 Oct 2018

Reply: Indieseek.xyz, It’s Small!

Brad

Each index is a unique collection, presented differently from one another it helps break the dependency on Google and Bing in the near to mid term, at least until more major search engines get established.

And by “directory” I mean: A. a directory intended to help navigate the web NOT to sell links for SEO; B. traditional directories like Indieseek.xyz, also newer types of directories running hand coded scripts, hybrid directories that somehow incorporate a crawling spider, directories that incorporate webrings, local business directories, niche directories, even automated directories of some sort. Whatever kind of index human ingenuity can invent.

I am very tied up trying to finish mine, but you’re doing a lot of good writing and I wish I was done so I we could be synced up on this.

I think the other question we need to ask is: how do we make a directory that’s not a directory? Like: is there a new kind of directory that is an evolution of the tried format? And I think the main point of pain is having to enter this giant catalog through a straw.

Just like Google is ‘entered into’ through a few search words—terms that rarely hit the mark and need to be gamed—could the directory widen the straw somehow? This is what is done by providing a hierarchy—but I also wonder if there are other novel forms. Like: say the directory changed day-by-day to suggest common categories or to show where I’ve been editing or to suggest a few categories.

I also wonder if a ‘pinned post’ might be useful: here are a few suggested categories, here’s one I added recently that’s kind of sweet, here are a few links that I’m considering throwing out.

  1. directory change day by day

    You could do this with RSS. Example: Include the, say, 5 newest posts on a listed site via RSS. You would have to come up with a way to index the content of each RSS post maybe daily or every 12 hours and some way to weed out shorty posts like checkins. Discard old upon update. That would give you fresh changing content on the cheap. Still pretty server intensive.

    suggest common categories or to show where I’ve been editing

    Flag categories that are new or updated with an “Updated” flag for X number of days. Generate top lists via javascript: 5 newest categories, 5 most popular categories, etc. Likewise have a “New” flag for X number of days for each new listing.

    Sort order: you could have New listings appear at the top of their categories and first in any searches for the first X number of days.

    I like the idea of the Admin. pinning a category to the top saying “I’ve been doing a lot of work here check it out.”

    One thing I’m going to try to have done is have a “Random” link coded up. Click on “Random” and you get sent off to a random site from the whole index. Adventure!

    Idea: Play with your search and find 5 queries that return really cool results. Maybe queries most would not think of. Turn those into links on a sidebar. Change these up every few months.

    Tracking: this is important knowing where traffic is coming from, but also what pages people visit what they click on. Ditto logging search terms from your own search boxes.

    Tag clouds: WSNLinks uses keywords meta to generate the tag cloud box. The clouds refresh with each pageview so they are randomish. I don’t think those keyword tags are included for regular search box search, but click on a tag in the tag cloud and it initiates a search for that term. Kinda different. Might be some ideas there.

    General rules I’ve learned: 1. Don’t rely on user input if it takes any effort. 2. Don’t over complicate the UI. 3. Users like New so a page listing the newest sites gets traffic.

    I can’t wait to see your directory when you roll it out!

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21 Oct 2018
19 Oct 2018

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

Pinboard and Indieweb.xyz as clustering tools.

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

To akaKenSmith’s point:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Might look like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    -- Virginia Woolf, The modern essay

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

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

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

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

    Jeremy Cherfas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  4. Reply: Refreshing Essays

    Eli Mellen

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

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

    – Virginia Woolf, The modern essay

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

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

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

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

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Reply: Robot Plus Human

Brad Enslen

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

Mild automation alongside hypertexting in the Indieweb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I also need to try Pinboard.

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Reply: Indieseek.xyz

Brad

How much is enough to start out with and how much further seeding just adds noise?

Brad’s directory is coming together!

Boy oh boy—this is great! So you have done a great job writing descriptions, trimming the list down to your essential set and coming up with a good category structure and all that. (And I mean: who am I to tell you this—you’re the directorymeister around here.)

I wish that /links was the home page. I like being right in the middle of things and that page has tons of useful information. However, I can see why you’d want to take the Google approach.

I also wonder about starring things. I like that it’s an invitation to participate. (As are ‘commenting’ and ‘reporting’.) I’ve left this kind of stuff out of my directory, in part because I’d rather that they create their own directories if they disagree. I think ‘reporting’ is a really cool idea—I can see the value there, possibly. With starring: how valuable has this kind of feature been to you in the past?

I really like that you’ve highlighted categories like ‘Fiction’ and ‘City Planning’—in a massive directory, these would be deeply buried, but they are key to your experience on the Web, so they are near the top. This is a really cool advantage to a smaller directory: finding niches that aren’t ever nearby—except here.

I think, at this point, you will learn what works and what doesn’t. I’m going to browse around and announce this on my site soon once I have a chance to take it in completely. Man—this is so fun!

  1. Hah, Kicks, besides Googlebot, you are the first to find me. 🙂 Well I had to leave a trail for testing and I do value your observations and opinions, so I’m glad you found it.

    Stars/rating: I’m not convinced either. My experience in the past was mixed. I can always turn that feature off, but it is a way to invite participation so I figure I’ll try it and see how it goes. In the past the trick with starring was giving webmasters a remote voting code for their website: “Vote for us on Scifimatter” those voting links brought in traffic. I don’t expect that to happen anymore.

    Comments: same thing. Worth seeing if people use it. Could be interesting.

    Reports: This is kind of important. Domains change hands, sites change, articles go 404 so reporting helps police the bad wood and dead wood. Also lets you know people are browsing.

    Categories: I have to thank you for reminding me to build shallow. Once the category structure is more settled I will go back through and cross link related categories more completely.

    Descriptions: the seed listings descriptions are not all crafted as well as I like. Generally I give the webmaster a chance with their meta description if they have one. If that isn’t sufficient I try to edit it to say what is there and work the keywords in. It’s not always as good as I would like, but I’d like to get this launched.

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The Zymoglyphic Museum

A corporeal directory to another world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

  2. Also: vloggers. ↩︎

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

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

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17 Oct 2018

Reply: Finding Blogs in the Future

Don Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good to meet you all - take care.

  1. @kicks Interesting. Good discussion on Github.

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

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

  2. Reply: Robot Plus Human

    Brad Enslen

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

    Mild automation alongside hypertexting in the Indieweb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I also need to try Pinboard.

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

  1. Reply to this

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

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Notes From an Occupation

Journal-like coverage of early Occupy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Meaningness

A hypertext book underway for ten years.

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

Couple things;

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

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

  • Comments on each page are hidden.

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

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

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09 Oct 2018

Makefrontendshitagain.party

The name is odd; the campiness is tuned in.

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

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

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Reply: Brad’s Directory Project

Brad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. >200 links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    PSA: At this point I should clarify some procedures:

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

    Okay back to seeding.

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

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

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

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

  2. Reply: General-Purpose Link Directories

    Brad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Let’s hope! 😄

  3. >wiby.me

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

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

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

    >search
    >20 years

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

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

    >description

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

    >categories

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

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

  4. I’ve read this through again.

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

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

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05 Oct 2018

Reply: Discombobulated Blogroll

Cool—found your blogroll. This is great! I especially like the links to your diary-x blog. Really wanted to check out your links page from back then, but there appears to be none archived. (I also really appreciate your links to Blot things—was unaware of Blot.)

  1. @kicks thank you! They are a funny old relic from an earlier time. :)) I really do need to update the blogroll too—it doesn’t feel finished, but I guess they are meant to be evolving! :)

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Lobste.rs Sends Webmentions Now

But doesn’t receive them? Still—neat!

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

Now imagine if this continued:

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

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

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

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The GeoCities Research Institute

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel art of woman onswing.

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

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02 Oct 2018

Nikita’s Collected Knowledge

Along with a discussion of personal encyclopedias.

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

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

Screenshot of learn-anything.xyz

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

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

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


  1. Mostly centering around these two discussion threads:

    ↩︎
  2. Discussed at The Awesome Directories. ↩︎

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25 Sep 2018

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

— p134, Madeleine E by Gabriel Blackwell

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Reply: Highlights of Web Directory Building Past

Brad

I’ve built a lot of different niche web directories over the years. Frankly there are some that I have forgotten about. But here are some highlights.

A little directory of personal directories—sweet!

Ok, this is seriously insane! What a ton of work. Serious respect for your past lives in directory building!

Couple questions:

  • How much fanfic did you read while building these? I guess I’m wondering how much of this job bordered on literary critique or editing.

  • Scifimatter refers to ‘HipRank’ in the links—what was that? It seems that you used this to order the links.

  • You say on Scifimatter that you want to help ‘the surfer’, the ‘amateur and semipro websites’ and—most importantly, perhaps—to ‘encourage fans of SF/F to start their own website’—did this play out? (These are definitely my goals, too—I wonder how to accomplish them.)

Also, I’m a pretty big Godzilla (and monster movie, Kaiju, Biollante) fan, so I loved looking through those links on the Planets Doom. Also, I have to say: it’s impressive that many of the outgoing links in the directory STILL work thanks to the thoroughness of the Wayback Machine! Another benefit of static HTML—even if these directories are static versions of the original dynamic ones.

  1. Hi Kicks,

    I’ll try and answer your questions.

    >>fanfic

    I read a lot. But generally after the site got listed. As an editor you get into a routine of how you spot check a site for inclusion. For a fanfic site that meant checking to see if it was really fanfic and how extensive it was. I did not really judge how go the fanfic was, only that it was readable, navigable, legit. It was up to the visitors to judge how good the fic was. The other interesting category were the serialized fiction blogs. These were original fiction with each post being a chapter in the story. Again, they just had to be reasonably competent at least back then. I think my criteria for inclusion would be different today.

    > Hip Rank

    This was my parody of Google’s Page Rank. A lot of directories were starting to organize their listings by PageRank. There was a tiny search engine called Search Hippo that offered a free API of Hip Rank. I decided to sort my listings by Hip Rank, in mockery of Google. It was never popular. Nobody understood it, and if you have to explain the joke it sucks all the funny out of it. I think I only used HipRank for about 1.5 years then gave it up.

    The problem with sorting a directory listings by PageRank or AlexaRank is that it is not a mark of quality, it is only a opinion of popularity. So if the most popular sites are always first they tend to stay the most popular. Probably alphabetical order tends to be the most neutral and fair.

    >>encourage

    Well I hope I did. Directories in the later years did not inspire fan mail so I don’t know. I do know that I sent a lot of traffic to some sites because the directory script logged clicks out. Some sites got thousands of visitors from me. I’d like to think that helped.

    I think writing a series of easy how to guides would be good today. ie. How to use SeaMonkey Composer to make a site on neocities. Also having a category in your directory of free and easy resources for web building helps.

    >>Godzilla

    I love all those monster movies. One of my favorite sites is still around Stomp Tokyo. See, I remember it 18 years later! Any B monster movie, no matter how bad it is, is good. Plus the Universal Studios monsters from the 30’s. Plus anything with Vincent Price. Good times.

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Reply: Million Short

Brad

This is a search engine that lets you dig deeper into the search results. It lets you exclude the top 100 to 1 million most popular search results, getting you into the deep meat of the web.

Tremendous ‘search engine’ discovery!

What a tremendous discovery! I’m really impressed with this and am already finding it useful. I think this is the first search engine that I’ve been excited about in a decade.

You’re doing fantastic work, Brad. New discoveries all the time. Way to surf!

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21 Sep 2018

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