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.

#linking

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.

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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20 Nov 2018

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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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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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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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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Hypertexting

‘Constructing a body of hypertext over time—such as with blogs or wikis—with an emphasis on the strengths of linking (within and without the text) and rich formatting.’

‘Constructing a body of hypertext over time—such as with blogs or wikis—with an emphasis on the strengths of linking (within and without the text) and rich formatting.’

A superset of blogging and wiki creation, as well as movements like the Indieweb and, to some degree, federated networks.

Does it include social networks like Twitter and Mastodon? Sure, depends on what you’re doing. If that network is helping you build a body of hypertext, is keeping you sufficiently ‘linked’ and gives you enough of an ability to format the text, then ‘super’—you are hypertexting in your way.

I hope it goes without saying that Twitter is a limited form of hypertexting. It underutilizes the tech—that’s its whole point, right?

But the point of the term is not to disqualify a certain technology or to try to channel disgust or disdain into something new—that’s exactly why the term is envisioned as a superset. I am extracting this term from what I am seeing develop on the Web.

On Supersets

A superset is the inversion of a subset. So, rather than dividing a topic into further subtopics—we combine related topics into a new ‘super’ topic. By redrawing the lines of the topic, it is possible to discover new subsets within the superset or to work with folks across the topic as a whole.

In this case, the superset seems superuseful since the division lines between the hypertext niches are almost entirely structural. (This isn’t entirely true: some structures imply, for example, centralization. A feed of interleaved user ‘stuff’ is done most simply by a single network housing that data—at least at first.)

I’m not even sure the subsets actually exist. It is already all hypertext that conforms to a variety of possible structures:

Various tree and flat structures.

The blog (feed) and the wiki (ad-hoc) might not actually be different—despite that we think of wikis as being multi-writer (the original wikis anyone could edit, without respect to any record of permanent trolling demerits) and using a simplified markup that made linking fluid while writing—a blog can do what a wiki can do and vice versa.

By decoupling the hypertext from the implied structure of a wiki or blog, I can now look at these structures as mere arrangements of my hypertextual body.

Advanced Hypertexting

I think it’s worth repeating the criteria of ‘hypertexting’ so that it can be either corrected or remain crystal clear.

  1. A ‘body’ of hypertext is being created. Not just a single post or link.
  2. Linking is used both within and without the ‘body’. No comment on how this can be done ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. At the very least, though, this allows the body to be anything but merely linear.
  3. The formatting of the text is enhanced by inline imagery, charts, emoji, bullets, colors, aesthetics that allow the one hypertexting to communicate in addition to the letters themselves. (The standardization of HTML between us seems like a unique human collaboration that we should take advantage of. To some, this is all a distraction; to others, it is vital.)

There is nothing new at all here—in fact, it’s all becoming very old—but the superset distinction allow us to draw attention to the ‘body’ rather than the blog ‘post’ or the wiki ‘page’ and to ask: ‘what are we creating here?’ The body itself is a superset—and ‘hypertexting’ calls into focus what the work as a whole can be from a higher vantage point.

These three attributes imply an effort that goes beyond writing alone. The first creates a body whose length is practically infinite—no reader will likely consume it all. The second indicates that much research (both external and self-research) is required. And the third gives a sense of bottomless innovation to the publishing interface—in fact, as long as the body is able to remain intact, it can be published by anyone exactly as it is intended, as long as the browser remains compatible, which it has done remarkably well so far.

In addition, this gives us the impetus to preserve the browser’s life and compatibility, such that these bodies are kept alive.

Creating a body this large demands the ability to shape the structure. This is the problem: how do I begin to approach your giant monolith of hypertext beyond just reading your two or three latest posts?

What I would like to highlight is the ability of the author to use the ‘body’, its linking and formatting, to shape the structure. To infoshape.

Link directories are clearly a part of this superset. Delicious and Pinboard themselves act as hypertexting swarms that work to connect the bodies. Maybe these connections fill holes in the body—maybe they act as introductions between bodies. They are a way to shape the info and annotate it slightly.

h0p3: I’m actually annoyed when people call my wiki a blog, since it is obviously not that to me. Of course, the fool in me starts wondering what exactly on the web doesn’t count as hypertexting? What doesn’t have a single entry point?

The home page is definitely the curated entry point. But it’s not just that entry point that’s important—the points that go deeper from there are important. h0p3’s home page was initially the most important thing to me. But now it’s the ‘recent changes’ page and the bookmarks I have that indicate where I intend to next explore further. Sometimes he is a blog, sometimes he is a wiki. Sorry, man!

What you might think of as ‘advanced hypertexting’ simply allows the shaping of the hypertext.

  • What pieces are the hypertext broken up into?
  • How does one interchange or embed or inter-relate these texts?
  • Can these pieces be composed into—not just texts—but shapes for the text?

To me, this is a great advantage of the superset. If the platform could see itself less as being a blog or a wiki or a directory, but as a collection of hypertexts that can be shaped, perhaps by hypertexts themselves. (Wikis—and TiddlyWiki in particular—have long had this abililty to make a page that displays the other pages as a blog. And some wikis allow you to include pages in other pages.)

The advanced hypertexting doesn’t end with the wiki—it’s just one way. I think Tumblr was initially on to something—aesthetic and piece layout are important here. Now add the ‘advanced’ hypertexting and what do you have?

TODO

(This is an unfinished steno—it could use a survey of the hypertexting field here. And it will be interesting to see where things go over the next six months. I will have to revisit this after I learn more.)

(I think the other missing discussion is how ‘ephemeral’ fragments fit into this. See also: Blogging.)

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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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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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05 Oct 2018

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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19 Sep 2018

Reply: Ideas for Websites in Addition to Blogs

While Tumblr is a type of blog, I think it is sufficiently different to categorize differently—microblogging, tumblelogging. Simply because it generally eschews writing. And that appeals to people.

So, question for you: are you satisfied with a blog for your approach? It seems that you post links, essays and announcements generally. However, these three things are not equal. And to see your essays roll off the front page while links take their place—well, I can see myself wanting a directory of those.

Yes, you have an ‘article’ post type that shows me those essays. But even that list is not comprised of equals. I wonder if a wiki might suit these.

I also wonder if there is a new way to structure all of these thoughts that might do justice to what you are doing and assist the reader in navigating what you are doing. A way of mixing and matching the ‘blog’, the ‘wiki’ and the ‘directory’.

To me, the great failing of blogs is that it is difficult to find the beginning and the end—and I don’t think they facilitate the ‘memory’ of a discussion. A blog post is a thought balloon floating alone. You and I can follow it pretty well, because we are juggling some memories to do it—but someone who stumbles across this post will not realize what is really going on.

Anyway, this is a great post—I’ve been pretty stumped about how to preserve the wee ‘web page’ and this is a thread we’ll need to continue over time.

  1. >are you satisfied with a blog

    No. I keep looking at plugins for wordpress that might help. I’ve looked at forums plugins, tried one and decided to hold off. I’ve been reading descriptions of wiki and knowledge base plugins and I’m not sure exactly how I would use either as a part of ramblinggit.com . I’d also like to find a journal/notebook type plugin that does not push down older posts like a blog timeline. Sigh.

    I have seen blogs that have micro posts, Likes, Bookmarks, Articles all separated and on their own timelines, but I don’t know how to do that.

    What I do like is the idea of a web presence – keeping as much of my digital thoughts under one domain as possible.

    “Blog” = CMS
    I was sloppy in that article, wherever I say blog I should really be saying CMS. But since that article was intended for beginners I stuck with blog since most people have an idea of what that is whereas, CMS sounds and is scary *cough* Drupal *cough*. A WordPress blog is also a way to promote a website and get engagement using those Indieweb plugins.

    >>thought balloon floating alone

    Poetic. I Like. I’m finding that, now that I have many posts on the same broken record subjects that people are following the “Related Posts” down at the bottom of each post. They didn’t do that when the blog was new, but I’m seeing it happen more in my stats. Also people are finding me in search engines via category or tag archives which tend to have many posts on similar topics. Maybe shear force of verbage ranks in Google? Hard to tell now that everything is encrypted. Anyway those two things seem to be helpful. I’m trying to remember to link to my older posts to give background context but I often forget.

    I did want to show people that there was more out there than just blogs and blogging. That is, we, as web creators, shouldn’t just stop at static sites or blogs if we don’t want to and that there are all these neat scripts out there to help us build our little realms on the web.

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Timeline of Things Phil’s Done

Hybrid ‘grid’/‘timeline’ as a directory

Ran across this interesting directory of a certain fellow’s life—seems like this kind of thing could be applied effectively to the personal wiki crowd (h0p3, sphygmus). Anyway, it’s a starting place for a discussion about the visuals that could go into a self-reflexive directory.

Also relevant here: this guy ran the Haddock Directory, which was a link directory by a London-based mailing list—‘a bunch of friends’. It ended up with 27,000 links.

This directory is probably the closest I’ve seen to what I aspire to do—not in its design, but in its effort to catalog the links and web explorations of a small informal group (as opposed to a corporate effort, software team effort.) Look past the design and the categories—the little sentence describing each link is done with care. It’s cool that they also shared book and music reviews on the site.

According to a blog post written about the shuttering of Haddock:

Back in 1997 no one on the list had a weblog — well, the term barely existed — but now plenty of us have them, and plenty of people post links to their own sites or del.icio.us so there’s still plenty of regular material from some of those on the list, should you feel the need for an idea of what people are thinking. Roughly.

The post is from 2007. I wonder where the list meets now. Or if they do.

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14 Sep 2018

Reply: Rebuilding the Web

Brad

The point is, everyone has some skill, idea, knowledge that is worth sharing and equally, there are other people looking for the information you have in your head and take for granted.

Yeah, hey, great discussion! Thanks for pointing it out—missed it somehow.

On your points:

  1. We, the little people, need to rebuild the web. […] This is the foundation of everything. Yes, cool—you see this at a football game when things get heated and two guys start fighting. Then another guy stands up and says, “I’ll fix this,” and he starts walking down. Oh boy. Sure.

    So, like: not only is another social media site going to solve this, but no one of us is going to have an ‘answer’. TiddlyWiki doesn’t work for me—but h0p3 and sphygmus are doing great things for themselves—and I think there are many people who will be served well by it (as compared to micro.blog).

  2. Someplace to go is actually many places built by us. Sweet! I get really excited at the prospect of more places to go.

  3. Link freely. This has the added benefit of creating a TON of noise for Google. 😘 If the tradeoff on something is “bad for bots, good for humans,” I’ll take that trade.

  4. Discovery, and search, will sort itself out, if we do #1,2, and 3. Trying to decide if I agree with this. I kind of agree with “it’ll all come out in the wash” but I also don’t think discovery gets better than Brad linking to Simon and me reading Simon.

    Once I start relying on a bot, what else is it giving me? And do I begin to get lazy with my discovery effort? And then am I isolated again?

  5. We may end up with 5, 6, 10 or more favorite places we go to search and that is good. More and more, I’m finding myself just using Stack Overflow, Pinboard and YouTube search directly. Google just does this anyway. I tend to use Google more as a glorified address bar: ‘indieweb.org author’ and click the first link. I know this will take me to Indieweb wiki’s page on authorship. (So there is a specific page I already know—basically a ‘feeling lucky’.)

Love being a part of this discussion. I am working hard on my directory to finish it—hopefully by end of October. (Again, it’s not a directory people can submit to: it’s my model for the modern Little Web Library. Just trying to get a good amount of links, categories, fun to use, all that.)

  1. > using Stack Overflow, Pinboard and
    YouTube search directly

    You got it. Pre-Google, I used to keep 5 or 6 directories and search engines in my bookmarks and those were my first line tools in searching for something.

    >but I also don’t think discovery gets better than Brad
    linking to Simon and me reading Simon
    .

    Yes, surfing. Especially after you find those voices you trust. I think we may need spiders for freshness. But I would hope there is room for curated directories too. Lovely link collections for people to explore.

    Kicks, remember my post about the 7 Directories? You already know this, but I’ll state it for anybody else reading: the thing they did wrong is they tried to index the same sites on the web that Google does. That was fine in pre-Google days, but today you can’t beat Google at it’s own game. You have to list the sites that are worthy but buried in Google. Those directories should have specialized in listing the stuff Google won’t rank or that Google does not understand.

    I’m so glad your directory work is proceeding. I’m really looking forward to it.

    I’m working on a directory too. Or rather I am stalled on support tickets with hosts and script companies but I’ll find my way through it. Once it launches I will allow submissions but they will have to “expand the web” or some such to get in.

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Reply: Being on the Web

Simon Woods

Merely building posts and posts covering the nuances of these issues across a multitude of blogs… now there is your impact. Too many times I search for something and there are scraps to be found, barely any blog posts let alone useful things. I think this can change and it’s only if we’re allowing to independently stand up and say the things we believe, whilst sharing the things other people say. Sure, at some point people will create collections of these things for reference thus making it easier to access from the mainstream POV but that’s not the most important thing; rather, we must focus on the creation of this… this weird thing we used to call being on the web. Let’s get back to that.

I don’t think I connect with you and Brad quite as much on search—it’s one thing to search for ‘rotate div 90 degrees’ compared to searching for ‘aesthetically pleasing blog with poetry’. This is why I’m much more bullish on directories (blogrolls, wikis, that ilk)—if we can link to each other and describe each other to each other—that is another way to get somewhere.

Anyway, I’m not trying to convince you of my perspective, just saying that it’s cool: while you are looking for ‘useful’ and I am looking for ‘fascinating’—and in some ways I’m sure we’re both looking for both—we both want the same type of web. A well-lived-in one.

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Reply: Shoutout on Rebuilding the Web

(Strange that this didn’t show up in my ‘mentions’—wonder what else I am not replying to—)

Even aside from any larger societal impact, I can’t say that anything I have done on social media has been nearly as worthwhile. The past year, since about March, I’ve committed to spending less time on social media, and my creative output is way up.

I think this is so encouraging—maybe the most encouraging thing one can say! Can you point to what is causing this? Is it the feeling of working for yourself, rather than—as you say—giving ‘free labor’ to the CorpASAs?

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Danielx on Whimsy.Space

Ok, trying out an interview here—throwing some questions to the author of a beloved ‘zine’/‘operating system’.

I try to go out looking for links as much as possible.

(God’s sake, man—why?? Who needs more links, I can give you links—don’t toss yourself into the brambles—)

But I love to see the horrors and grotesques—to measure and inspect them. I aspire to be a grotesque and must be very studious about achieving it!

It all pays off when a link like whimsy.space comes a long.

kicks: Daniel, had a few questions about whimsy.space. (I really love glitch, too, of course—and hope it’s doing well, but the zine hits a nerve for me.) So, what ‘works’/‘zines’ inspired whimsy.space?

danielx: I was inspired by sites that have a lot of heart, things like the original Geocities. Also the feeling of personal computing from the mid 90s like win 3.1 and Win95. I’m also a fan of things like Dwarf Fortress and Bennett Foddy’s games.

Not necessarily that they are inaccessible for the sake of being inaccessible, but that if they were simpler they would be something different. Philosophically I’ve read and respect Alan Kay “The real computer revolution hasn’t happened yet” and Bret Victor.

kicks: Yeah, oh man, Foddy. I teach at an elementary school and a favorite activity I do is to play Foddy games with the kids hooked up to wires (Makey Makey-style) so that when they close the loop (by jumping on the floor or slapping hands, for instance) then CLOP hops around. It’s a credit to the simplicity of his design that we can do that.

What do you hope for it now? Was it just a momentary plaything—or is it an obsession?

danielx: It has been an on and off obsession. It depends on what else I’ve got going on in life and work outside of my own esoteric pursuits.

It’s definitely the hobby that brings me the most joy when I get to dig into it and see where it goes. Early on I decided that it would be for my own personal enjoyment and I wouldn’t look for ways to “make it a success” or “turn it into a business”. I want to keep my work and play separate you could say 😃

kicks: I like that it doesn’t explain itself. I didn’t even get that it was REALLY a zine the first time I visited. I still don’t really understand how the filesystem and social media inside of it works. And I can’t help but feel that its opacity is symbolic. It feels like a hidden trove - like a person is or maybe like an animal is. You probably don’t care about ease of use - how did you design it?

danielx: I’ve created a lot of different web applications and sites and things over the years. Some of them for fun and some as businesses. With whimsy.space my goal was to have it be a curated collection of all my works along with other things I find interesting. About eight years ago I built an online game development environment at pixieengine.com. Now it’s been simplified to a pixel editor and art community. Whimsy.space is the spiritual successor to that, I want many different applications that can interact and contribute to creating content. To recreate the part of personal computing where the operator of the computer could combine small components in interesting ways to get profound results.

I care some about ease of use, though it’s not been my top priority lately. Similar to Bennett Foddy’s games I want it to be as easy as it can be without losing its essence and becoming something else.

The design and implementation is a lot of custom code and some integrations of existing components. The site itself is serverless/static hosted on AWS with S3 and CloudFront. I use AWS Cognito for the My Briefcase authentication feature and each user can upload to their own S3 subfolder. The UI is all my custom js/css inspired by Win3.1/95. The code editor is Ace. The apps run in iframes and talk to the system over postMessage. I use CoffeeScript for most of the code.

The essence of the zine part came from my tendency to always go too deep on architecture and infrastructure, so by having a periodic release of content it would force me to prioritize only the features that aided the content and not be a system of pure mechanics with nothing to showcase it.

kicks: Jeepers, didn’t expect that. Is this a kind of backend that you would recommend to hobbyists? I’m used to static HTML and JS.

danielx: I wouldn’t recommend going deep into AWS or other Cloud services for hobbyists. Since I do software engineering for my employment I’ve gained a lot of experience on “industrial strength” solutions.

The challenge is finding the subset that actually solve more problems than they cause.

I often feel like I’m crawling around in Jeff Bezos’ spaceship trying to bring alien technology to the people.

kicks: Are handmade ‘blogs’/‘zines’/‘home pages’ dying? Would that be a bad thing - like: is there something else?

danielx: They’re dying in the sense that every living thing is in a constant cycle of death and rebirth. There are probably more handmade blogs and home pages today than ever before (in an absolute sense) but proportionally they make up a smaller part of the internet.

I would like to see more people sharing personal computing and smaller internet communities. Businesses exist to consume consumers, by getting our hands dirty and crafting using technology individuals can gain knowledge and understanding of how these systems work so we might not be so vulnerable to all these forces trying to devour us. The web is a modern marvel, not quite as complex as nature, but it has its own evolution and ecology. I enjoy the first hand experience of digging around in it to see what I can learn about systems as well as myself.

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10 Sep 2018

Reply: 7 Human Edited General Web-Directories 2018

Brad

Most of the top tier directories are gone, but I found 7 directories, still alive, that have been around a long time.

This is an impressive list! Not because these are very good directories—I struggled to find any new links that were of use—but a) because they are actually still there, b) the categorization systems that some of them use are different, c) some of the most interesting parts are not the actual directory (e.g. the editoral guidelines are useful—they’ve been in this game a lot longer.)

I wonder if any web portals still exist. It was such a fad and—while I never got into them—I wonder if the idea is still plunderable. I suppose the current Twitter/Facebook newsfeed is a progeny.

  1. There are still a few portals around. Kinda pale shadows of their former glory. http://www.lycos.com/ has search, email, news and they still have the Tripod and Angelfire free sites! http://excite.com/ is still there as a starting page. Of course there is still AOL, Yahoo and MSN.

    Plunder: A niche directory, blog etc combined with a forum can make a niche community (read social network.) I suppose you could substitute a Mastodon instance for the forum but, personally I think forums are supperiour for detailed discussion in a niche. You can make the social network ready made like with Invision Community. Or things like WSNLinks and WSNForums can all hook into each other to form a community.

  2. More on Niche Portals: A directory/blog/forum or a blog/knowledge base/forum can make a good niche portal.

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08 Sep 2018

Reply: Hash Tag Creative Coding

HammadB

If you’re eager to find more “creative coding” type works. Going on instagram and using hashtags like #creativecoding are a great way to find amazing work. Also twitter is a great source of absolutely mind-blowing artistic work that leverages technology. I’ve spent far too much time just browsing all the amazing stuff out there.

Ok, I did this - this is great, there are some ‘neat’/‘inspiring’ things there. A few other questions for you:

  • How do I find more hashtags? I would have never found #creativecoding - is it known to be a community or is it just an ad hoc hashtag like #lostinthehashtags (which I just made up - but which has posts!) I guess what I’m saying is - I don’t sense that these hashtags are a community - or are they?

  • As ‘neat’/‘inspiring’ as these are, they are mostly only (very small) images and (very short) clips. I ultimately can’t see myself using Instagram or Twitter much because you just kind of skim and can’t go deeper. They lack the ‘hypertext’. (This is similarly to the OP’s trouble with this post just being a simple ‘box algorithm’ - where do I go for more?

  • Most of these look like art I’ve seen on t-shirts or album covers. Dating back even to the seventies. It is still beautiful and remarkable - but I can’t help but wonder: Where is innovation happening in tech+art?

I will say that I do follow a lot of things happening in vaporwave - any idea what else is happening out there? Thank you for your time, HammadB. I am eager.

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Blogging

A ‘steno’ format. A depleted word. A still personal word. A simulation. A read-write simulation. A truncated octahedron.

(This is the first of a new type of post on this blog—a “steno”. This format will house ‘thoughts’/‘discussions’/‘works’—much like an old-time c2-style or everything2-style wiki page that always ended up being an amazing catastrophe. The “steno” acts as hasty notes, links to other places around the blog, recurring nexus, link stations, breathers maybe, between the other articles and notes, revolving around a kind of ‘topic’/‘idea’.)

(In a way, I realize that starting off with an aside is a bad way to get anyone jazzed about some new ultimately pointless post styling—but I purposefully want these pieces to be less heavily edited and focused than all the other things. So, by throwing in a wankery introduction, it acts as a kind of gate you have to get through. So if this is too self-indulgent or tangential then you know to go away and I just continue and we’re all fine—although I think we’re deep into peak self-indulgence now that ‘people’ have evolved into ‘influencers’. Gah, that sounds condescending—and it is—and, worse, I think being condescending—especially in public like this—is probably much, much more destructive than influencing.)

(This isn’t just a gate, though, I want to mark this as the first steno, so that I can point to it later—and have it contain the reasoning behind this. Sure, I could make a separate steno that goes into those ideals, but it’s also kind of tied into the topic of ‘blogging’ anyway, so it’s like: why not just explain the thing and then flow right into it and then let it be for awhile and then come back and build on to it and—this is all just like what h0p3 does on his pages, this whole thing is a chance to have a part of that—and, again, what c2 had, what everything2 had/‘has’—it’s almost as if they were a fad. Like a sudden explosion of truncated octahedrons.)

Blogging simply made the static page seem alive. Then it turned into feeds and streams and the rate of speed was dramatically hiked up.

It’s possible that the word ‘blog’ is depleted. I think it was entirely stupid, but nostalgia has made it kind of neat. Like those little dixie cups dispensers that people used to have stuck on their bathroom walls. How great would it be to brush your teeth with such a companion again?

(This is unrelated, but if we are in a simulation, then we are probably deep into many, many simulations. It seems unlikely that we are only ever one-level removed from ‘reality’. It makes me feel like we’re probably either not in a simulation or that our inability to leave the simulation makes this absolute reality regardless.)

(This IS starting to feel strange. It does feel self-indulgent. It feels like it’s more for me than for you. Because I can’t rightfully expect anyone to read this—much like trying to read all of Wikipedia, there’s a threshold you have to set for yourself, that you’re not going to spend the time to read this kind of tripe. I don’t respect you for this, I don’t respect either of us. Maybe I never should have. And, for myself, it’s good to write carefully—to draw you in with great care and to not act this way. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to possibly know what to do with any of these pages! There are recipe and howto articles. There are anecdotes, punchline type things. You can easily add your two cents to a thought that’s propagating around. But I don’t know—I’ve never lived in a large city, and rarely even been to a really massive city, and I find myself looking at the buildings, just the sound of the air is so strange to me, the feeling of being on a street that is so worn and has fragments of millions of boots and beards and bits of sandwiches. I can see that it is an inverted rock tumbler, where the street is being tumbled by all of the things colliding against it. It is erosion of an industrial strength. But that wouldn’t be interesting to someone in a city, would it?)

(And then there is the experience of swimming—and often when we are swimming, we just wander around and work ourselves, talk and float. But if the pool is empty and you go to the bottom and hold your breath, it is the opposite of the city, it is insanely quiet, or an alien kind of subterranean quiet, and it feels like you have entered another level of the simulation, where you are a different person—you can do advanced yoga things down there that you normally wouldn’t be able to do and you sound differently, the bubbles that burst out in spurts produce loud, spontaneous waves and that’s what we sound like down there. And that, also, might not be interesting to anyone—or it might be interesting for everyone. Revealing that I also don’t know what’s interesting is a poor choice!)

Anyway, there’s about fifty reporters behind that door—real ones, not bloggers.

— Tony Stark, Spiderman: Homecoming, 2017

I like that ‘blog’ has remained a non-corporatized word in many respects. A ‘blogger’ is an ‘amateur’; the ‘blogosphere’ is the peanut gallery. It is a futile endeavor—and this is all good, because it important that some of these words stay personal.

Ok, so:

  • A blog is still the state-of-the-art as far as the personal ‘home’ online.
  • And, actually, all the credit goes to the browsers—HTML and CSS are pretty marvellous: they’ve gotten better and we have choices, it’s an impressive platform overall.
  • A static blog is fantastic. You can always back it up and move it anywhere.
  • No one seems to have figured out what to show on the first page yet. A list of recent things is almost the same as a list of random things—until a visitor knows where they are? But how do they know where they are? h0p3 has done a good thing with having an actual front door. (In a way, it feels like an old-school BBS.)
  • RSS is gone for me.
    • I don’t want to read unstyled content.
    • Yeah, don’t want to be fed posts everyday, I want to drop in.
    • I could see a use in a blogroll that colors the sites that have had activity. But no stats or anything.
    • It would trouble me if I was in your face everyday.
    • I still understand if you like RSS and it’s all about the raw text and links for you.
  • Indieweb-style replies and mentions are a huge leap forward. It is just so flexible—we can have threaded discussions, forums, e-mail and new-style hypertext wiki back-and-forth madness simply by adding Webmentions. (See These Indieweb Folks Just Might Be Onto Something.)
  • Beaker Browser means you don’t even need a server to host your blog. This is so straightforward that it’s mindblowing. The browser has hit a point where it has become fully read-write. (See A Web Without Servers.)
  • I think you have to pack it all up at some point. Perpetual blogging seems—arrogant?
  • I wonder if there would be a way to let other bloggers take the wheel from time to time. (This seems along the lines of how Sphygmus is writing into h0p3’s wiki through this ingenious tactic of simply sending him wiki-formatted text. Since h0p3 is bound by creed to publish in full anything that comes his way, Sphygmus can effectively communicate with his audience directly—though I start to worry that h0p3 is just going to become another silo. 😎)
  • It is important to repost stuff that has been overhauled. If we revisit writing, we move away from a strictly ‘chronos’ view of the blog and toward a focus on where thought is concentrated.
  • Yes, so salience. Perhaps this is what the algorithms are attempting and FAILING at. So give it to the nomad. How does a nomad sprinkle salience?

As for the software behind this particular blog, I call it Homeshade. I moved away from Jekyll the first week of September 2018. It was taking two minutes to generate my blog. That is down to three seconds now. (I’m sure Hugo could have done that, too. But I had other things I wanted to do as well—such as putting it into the Beaker Browser so I can just do everything from there.)

The technical part of this discussion is, fortunately, not that interesting really. The things that excite me out there right now are just being done with plain HYPERTEXT. (There’s another great corporatized word that never even got to be lame!) Homeshade is only a refinement, it is not a big deal. The point is only to utilize those things that we have that are under-utilized—like swimming on the bottom long enough to shut the sound out.

  1. Kicks, you provide some interesting thoughts and reflections on blogging, especially in regards to the technical, as well as the different parts. I must admit I am yet to get to the Beaker Browser. Sounds intriguing.

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07 Sep 2018

Reply: An Indieweb Web Directory

Brad

What would happen if you combined a standard web directory script with Indieweb.org features like webmentions and such? I think you could end up with a very powerful tool for a directory.

Ok, sorry to be delayed in replying to you, Brad. I’ve had a broken blog for about two weeks. Rest assured, I’ve been reading along—around the time it broke, you wrote that Thank God for The Indieweb post and I couldn’t help but feel similarly, given that I started my blog around the same time.

I think you’ve got a great idea here—basically that Webmentions could be used to negotiate between two websites, to legitimize each other.

Maybe ‘nofollow’ links materialize into bona fide links once they each Webmention each other. I like that it could be started up from either side too. Someone who includes my directory in their blogroll is probably a good candidate to be in the directory.

One thing that I love seriously love about Webmentions is that they can just be easily killfiled. On Webmention.io, I can just nuke a mention and it’ll never come back. This means I don’t need any moderation tools built into my static blog, I can just use WIO directly.

So I think WIO is a great tool for a directory like this, because you could just build it in static HTML. In fact, this is what I’ve been doing with my directory—I am generating static HTML from a list of link descriptions. This allows me to easily host the directory aaaaaand now that you’ve mentioned this idea, I can hook up WIO in a few simple lines and have a built-in submission system!

So, yes, be flattered—I am stealing this/have stole. 😘

  1. I’m glad you got your blog mended. Heck, I’m glad I actually had a useful idea. Use away.

    I am now actively planning a directory or two so some of these ideas are fallout from my ruminations, whether I can use them or not. The more directories of different kinds the better. There is no one single right way to build one. There are only opinions on the best way. The only way to fix the current broken state of the web is to (re)build it the way we want it. Anything less is surrender.

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29 Aug 2018

Reply: Linkfarmville

Brad Enslen

Rumors spread that large link pages (for surfing) might be considered “link farms” (and yes on SEO sites they were but these things eventually trickle down to little personal site webmasters too) so these started to be phased out. Then the worry was Blogrolls might be considered link farms so they slowly started to be phased out. Then the biggie: when Google deliberately filtered out all the free hosted sites from the SERP’s (they were not removed completely just sent back to page 10 or so of the Google SERP’s) and traffic to Tripod and Geocities plummeted. Why? Because they were taking up space in the first 20 organic returns knocking out corporate and commercial sites and the sites likely to become paying customers were complaining.

Holy smokes—didn’t realize this was actually how this played out. I now see more what you mean by ‘sucking the fun’ out of Web1. Thankyou for spelling that out. Haha, now I am angry!!

So, is getting rid of the ‘Gates of Marlborodor’ good? I think it’s similar to my feelings about Yahoo!—I don’t miss having to click down seven levels to get to the ‘smoothies’ topic. (Or not finding it in the hierarchy at all!)

The trouble is: only a human can say if the ‘Gates of Marlborodor’ was useful to them. Google may not be able to tell the difference between a link farm and a link boutique, but a human can—and humans are the ones we’re trying to connect here, not the Baidubots!

One interesting thing to me: as I have been digging and scraping around for sites, using all the search engines and feeds I can find, there is one that I am finding surprisingly useful. The search on Pinboard—which is a bookmarking site, the heir to Del.icio.us. If you type in ‘smoothies’ there, you are going to get much more interesting results.

And it strikes me: I think it’s the closest thing we have to a human-edited search engine! Think of that.

  1. How were those Geocities sites outranking the big shots? Geocities was built before Google was around. Those early web sites all linked to each other via link pages and other means because surfing was the norm and search the exception. This meant there was a preexisting, very strong linking custom back and forth across the free sites. Thousands of those free sites were considered authorities on their topic, the way a Wikipedia article is considered today. Want to know about Kipling’s poems there were at least 5 sites that covered the topic in scholarly detail.

    Google comes along and they are all about linking and link patterns for ranking. Those funky old Geocities sites ranked real well in Google’s algo. At first even Google was happy, those were the sites people wanted to find, but very quickly the Web started to become commercialized, banner ads were $50 for 1000 impressions, huge money back in the pre Internet Bubble days. Well that commercialization meant sooner or later somebody had to knife Geocities sites in the back.

    >>Yahoo!

    If you are going to build a directory today, only the old guys will drill down to the Smoothies category. You have to have a good search function and you have to make that search box the center of attention just like a search engine. Most current directory scripts have very rudimentary search functions. You need something better, at least as good as some of the improved blog site search plugins. Another thing, depending on the niche seriously consider having a backfill from a spidering search engine feed. This takes care of two things: 1. providing results when the directory has very little on the topic, 2. You get that freshness of spidered results. On a niche directory that backfill needs to have added the niche keywords to the feed. (ie. A Star Trek directory would automatically insert “star trek” into the backfill so a visitor search for “uniforms” in the directory would be “star trek uniforms” for the backfill.

    That’s what I like about your replies, they always make me think.

    >>Pinboard
    I’ve never been there. I shall have to explore. Thanks for that tip!

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Reply: When the Social Silos Fall

Brad Enslen

With, first Twitter and later Facebook, suddenly you didn’t need Google to find stuff on the Web. Suddenly a little obscure website could become famous without or in spite of Google. If you really sit down and think about it, that is no small thing.

The silos did help mainstream users form communities. This is still useful—carriers of rare diseases can organize on Facebook, stuff like the ‘TomNod’ group that coordinates to scan satellite photos. On Twitter, humor and art (pixel art, for instance) communities formed that can be casually observed by other Twitter users—bolstering their exposure.

But even all this traffic has become a bad thing! For instance, there is no ‘surfing’ any more (in the mainstream). For the most part, traffic just shows up. You don’t have to look for blogs because Facebook and Twitter stuff you with whatever they please all day.

My relationship is a lot healthier with blogs that I visit when I please. This is another criticism I have with RSS as well—I don’t want my favorite music blog sending me updates every day, always in my face. I just want to go there when I am ready to listen to something new. (I also hope readers to my blog just stop by when they feel like obsessing over the Web with me.)

Google is a silo too. And I can tell you Google is part of what sucked all the fun out of Web 1.0. Facebook and Twitter were not even around. It was Google. And living under Google dominance is no fun.

This isn’t completely true—mailing lists and forums were a big source of real blog readers. Like Usenet before them. Google was a source of poor, transient traffic. In those days, you could share your writings/findings with fans of a certain band or movie director (if that was your topic) by posting on their forum, just as you would with Reddit. (And links were shared on forums and mailing lists.) However, now you can get algorithmed to death. Your link can get lost in the feed before anyone sees it.

I think the best thing the silos brought was simply the ability to be notified of a reply without needing to check your server logs.

But I appreciate your perspective, Brad. I wish I agreed more on this one! Maybe in time.

  1. RSS: I see your point and you are making me rethink how I “follow” other blogs, especially since my feed reader is getting overwhelmed. I may have to use my blogroll more to click through to the actual blog to actually poke around rather than helicoptering in on RSS. hmm.

    Google: search engines in general but Google in particular: they have warped the way we build websites, many websites used to have a splash or landing page first: “You have reached the Gates of Marlborodor” (complete with MIDI music) and a big Enter button. Search engines decided they didn’t like that so word spread to get rid of them. Rumors spread that large link pages (for surfing) might be considered “link farms” (and yes on SEO sites they were but these things eventually trickle down to little personal site webmasters too) so these started to be phased out. Then the worry was Blogrolls might be considered link farms so they slowly started to be phased out. Then the biggie: when Google deliberately filtered out all the free hosted sites from the SERP’s (they were not removed completely just sent back to page 10 or so of the Google SERP’s) and traffic to Tripod and Geocities plummeted. Why? Because they were taking up space in the first 20 organic returns knocking out corporate and commercial sites and the sites likely to become paying customers were complaining. Then ads. Google started telling sites that had sold their own ads long before Google was ever around that they had to nofollow those ads or risk a penalty. Of course Google is also by this time an ad network. So they are telling small single site competitors how they can display their ads or else. The whole ad thing runs deeper but I don’t have time to go through it. And the list goes on. Yes there were other SE’s in there but from 2001 Google was leader of the pack. And yes maybe getting rid of the Gates of Marlborodor was a good thing but if it was that webmaster’s choice to stick us with it so be it. Google isn’t moral or immoral it is amoral like most corporations. They look out for themselves, and to bad for you if you get in their way. Not everything they did was bad, some was good, but they are a silo. They have complete control over their own index and and the way you link and if you want in you obey. (Sorry if I’m not dispassionate about this, I’ve been PR0’ed by Google just for being on the wrong host. That’s another story but I know what being carpet bombed by them feels like, first hand.) 😉

    Forums: I still like them. I’m still a member of a couple. You can have an in depth nuanced conversation in a forum that you cannot have in social networks and is difficult in webmentions. I just wish they were not so darn hard to get established.

    All good points Kicks, we can’t agree all the time or we’d bore each other to death!

  2. Reply: Linkfarmville

    Brad Enslen

    Rumors spread that large link pages (for surfing) might be considered “link farms” (and yes on SEO sites they were but these things eventually trickle down to little personal site webmasters too) so these started to be phased out. Then the worry was Blogrolls might be considered link farms so they slowly started to be phased out. Then the biggie: when Google deliberately filtered out all the free hosted sites from the SERP’s (they were not removed completely just sent back to page 10 or so of the Google SERP’s) and traffic to Tripod and Geocities plummeted. Why? Because they were taking up space in the first 20 organic returns knocking out corporate and commercial sites and the sites likely to become paying customers were complaining.

    Holy smokes—didn’t realize this was actually how this played out. I now see more what you mean by ‘sucking the fun’ out of Web1. Thankyou for spelling that out. Haha, now I am angry!!

    So, is getting rid of the ‘Gates of Marlborodor’ good? I think it’s similar to my feelings about Yahoo!—I don’t miss having to click down seven levels to get to the ‘smoothies’ topic. (Or not finding it in the hierarchy at all!)

    The trouble is: only a human can say if the ‘Gates of Marlborodor’ was useful to them. Google may not be able to tell the difference between a link farm and a link boutique, but a human can—and humans are the ones we’re trying to connect here, not the Baidubots!

    One interesting thing to me: as I have been digging and scraping around for sites, using all the search engines and feeds I can find, there is one that I am finding surprisingly useful. The search on Pinboard—which is a bookmarking site, the heir to Del.icio.us. If you type in ‘smoothies’ there, you are going to get much more interesting results.

    And it strikes me: I think it’s the closest thing we have to a human-edited search engine! Think of that.

  3. How were those Geocities sites outranking the big shots? Geocities was built before Google was around. Those early web sites all linked to each other via link pages and other means because surfing was the norm and search the exception. This meant there was a preexisting, very strong linking custom back and forth across the free sites. Thousands of those free sites were considered authorities on their topic, the way a Wikipedia article is considered today. Want to know about Kipling’s poems there were at least 5 sites that covered the topic in scholarly detail.

    Google comes along and they are all about linking and link patterns for ranking. Those funky old Geocities sites ranked real well in Google’s algo. At first even Google was happy, those were the sites people wanted to find, but very quickly the Web started to become commercialized, banner ads were $50 for 1000 impressions, huge money back in the pre Internet Bubble days. Well that commercialization meant sooner or later somebody had to knife Geocities sites in the back.

    >>Yahoo!

    If you are going to build a directory today, only the old guys will drill down to the Smoothies category. You have to have a good search function and you have to make that search box the center of attention just like a search engine. Most current directory scripts have very rudimentary search functions. You need something better, at least as good as some of the improved blog site search plugins. Another thing, depending on the niche seriously consider having a backfill from a spidering search engine feed. This takes care of two things: 1. providing results when the directory has very little on the topic, 2. You get that freshness of spidered results. On a niche directory that backfill needs to have added the niche keywords to the feed. (ie. A Star Trek directory would automatically insert “star trek” into the backfill so a visitor search for “uniforms” in the directory would be “star trek uniforms” for the backfill.

    That’s what I like about your replies, they always make me think.

    >>Pinboard
    I’ve never been there. I shall have to explore. Thanks for that tip!

  4. Reply: Pinboard Serendipity

    Jeremy Cherfas

    Very interesting read; I too didn’t realise quite how effectively Google sucked all the fun out of the web, even though I was there at the time. Pure serendipity to read your comment about Pinboard and reread this talk from Maclej on the same day. http://idlewords.com/talks/fan_is_a_tool_using_animal.htm

    Great talk! Reminds me of some of Brad’s comments about the sci-fi/horror directories he’s worked. I’m sorry for the delay in responding (and your Webmention showing up here)—my blog has been broken for a week.

    Enjoy your conference. “Food and Communication”—wild! You should write about it…

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21 Aug 2018

Inspired by Brad Enslen’s ‘exit page’ concept, I’ve added a ‘the end’ post to this blog. (I also have to say that many of my upcoming changes are inspired by h0p3’s wiki—moving away from just a blog of recent posts, to a kind of modern home page with updates and Indieweb intertwingliness.) ‘The end’ can be seen right now on /page3, if you scroll to the very bottom. Small, needless things—lovely.

  1. ‘Small needless things – lovely’ Yes! I really like that. And your Exit is great. You may never know if anyone ever finds it but that makes it even greater.

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18 Aug 2018

XXIIVV Webring

Hey this is up my alley: a webring whose aim is to ‘share personal websites such as diaries, wikis & portfolios’.

XXIIVV Logo

Hey this is up my alley: a webring whose aim is to ‘share personal websites such as diaries, wikis & portfolios’. I’m reluctant to add myself—these sites all seem to share a muted minimalist aesthetic. (This is a trove, however.) And it’s odd: I don’t think of webrings as having a sophistication—but here it is, a classy one. Like a precision watch lying on a marble jewelry counter. VERY interesting that this sprung up in the last few months. See, there really are rumblings out there.

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15 Aug 2018

Reply to _joesavage

I am going to make an effort to read through this dissertation and comment on it. One thing I like about the web is that it’s made of more primitive building blocks—too much orderliness injures flexibility. (Even blogs and aggregators have become too structured and, well, boring in a way.) I will still really enjoy reading this!

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03 Aug 2018

My Href Hunt for August 2018

Ok, a new list of personal home pages, blogs and such. My point in doing this exercise is to explore sites that aren’t linked to, that failed to launch, that Google won’t take me to. It’s very easy to attempt to advertise your site and have it disappear into the stream. Each time I do this, I discover new, unknown links that are amazing. Keep in mind that this is a raw dump, which I offer up to practice my directory-building skills and to give you a chance to peek as well.

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02 Aug 2018

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Brad’s Blog Directory

Consider submitting your blog to this, if you are out there reading and have let me link to you before. I like that it’s focused on blogs—the directory I’m building is more general than that. His guidelines are very similar to mine: a few-hundred links with longer descriptions than you’d see on other directories.

Oh, and if you look at this and think: “I want to make my own directory!” Please keep me posted. I’m tracking the rise of these new directories closely.

  1. Kicks, I await the roll out of the directory you are working on with eager anticipation!

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29 Jul 2018

Reply: How Do You Find New/Interesting Blogs?

Brad Enslen

In the past there were blog specific places to search for blogs and new blog posts: blog directories, blog search engines, RSS feeds directories, RSS search engines. In addition there were blogrolls, mentions by fellow bloggers, regular web search engines,etc. Not a lot of that infrastructure remains today.

Mostly, similar to what coldbrain has said, I find blogs when they are casually mentioned on a blog or comment somewhere. Stuff like blogrolls and directories and such just don’t seem to exist. I know, because I’m constantly looking for them!

Now, these things do exist in the small enclave of the Indieweb. There is the Indieweb wiki, which has links all over it. And IndieNews, Indiemap, Blog Snoop and so on. But if I’m looking for blogs and websites that are out there—it’s impossible.

If I’m looking for a specific topic, I’ll Google “quilting blog” or I’ll look on Pinboard under the tag “chess”—and see what blogs come up.

But more often than not, I really want to read someone interesting. Someone’s stories and thoughts. To find all the great writers of our time that are out there. (Most writers I know that write in the literary tradition are lost as to where they should find readers now. It’s terribly ironic when you consider all the reading that is done on the Web in this age.)

This all excites me, though! It seems that there is still a frontier on the web. There is still a chasm to cross between all of us. We have a long way to go.

And I think that’s what drew me to the Indieweb. The answer will start here, in this group, because we’re thinking about it. I think about when Ward Cunningham came out with the wiki—it seemed like such a small, pointless invention. But what a masterstroke! What will be next?


Oh and one more thought about directories: I have a theory that exploring a directory is possibly not directly the best way to discover new things. They can be big and dry and tough to get through. I think they more directly benefit the builder of the directory and, also, those listed in the directory.

The builder of the directory explores and unearths other folks. They then leak into this person’s life in a myriad of ways. (For example, I began by simply linking to you once, in pursuit of new things, but now I follow you very closely.) The initial link begets more. Knotty, twisty—here I think of Sam Ruby’s word intertwingly—vines of links around each other.

And the recipient of the link is possibly motivated to build their own directory, so as to establish (or at least to not forget) their new network. So it can be viral. Blogrolls very much experienced this.

  1. I think I agree with most of your points. A directory is not the best discovery experience. It does however have the advantage of being available now and at very low cost. Because, as you say, there really is nothing out there currently and better solutions like a real search engine are years off. It’s a stopgap measure to be sure to be superseded eventually by better technology.

    There is a hard part to a hierarchical directory: sometimes blogs just don’t fit, neatly, into one category. For instance: my blog, your blog, Chris Aldrich’s blog, how does one categorize the entire blog by subject other than “Personal Blog” which tells us nothing? This is where the directory search function comes in, but frankly most directory searches are very rudimentary.

    There are a couple of blog directories left. I’m suspicious of all of them. If you are charging $85 for a listing red flags start flying in my head. Worse, some say they have tens of thousands of listings – that’s too big to browse and they need to have a really good site search to be any use. I don’t see that as a good discovery experience.

    >intertwingly

    Never heard that before, but I love it. In this context it fits in so well with “Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.” I think what you say is true – it forms another informal network.

  2. I have always found the traditional ‘list’ blogroll as limited and cumbersome. That is why I developed my own template. When I find a new author I add it to my spreadsheet.

    I like this in part, but also find the workflow a little annoying. I wish it were more integrated with my site. That is what interests me about Chris Aldrich’s work.

  3. https://islandinthenet.com/41457-2/
    Reading one blog article that mentions another blog article that then mentions another blog article is the way that I have found interesting content over the years. I have a few hundred feeds in my RSS reader and that helps too. But I am sure that I am missing out on a lot more interesting content.

    Right now discovery is one of the weakest areas of the IndieWeb. I think that many people POSSE their content for this reason. I get more readers via Facebook and Twitter than I do via organic Google searches or links from other bloggers. I recently stopped POSSE my posts and … the traffic has fallen off significantly.

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24 Jul 2018

The Awesome Directories

Continuing my discussion from Foundations of a Tiny Directory, I discuss the recent trend in ‘awesome’ directories.

All this recent discussion about link directories and one of the biggest innovations was sitting under my nose! The awesome-style directory, which I was reminded of by the Dat Project’s Awesome list.

An “awesome” list is—well, it isn’t described very well on the about page, which simply says: only awesome is awesome. I think the description here is a bit better:

Curated lists of awesome links around a specific topic.

The “awesome” part to me: these independently-managed directories are then brought together into a single, larger directory. Both at the master repo and at stylized versions of the master repo, such as AwesomeSearch.


In a way, there’s nothing more to say. You create a list of links. Make sure they are all awesome. Organize them under subtopics. And, for extra credit, write a sentence about each one.

Dat Project's Awesome

Generally, awesome lists are hosted on Github. They are plain Markdown READMEs. They use h2 and h3 headers for topics; ul tags for the link lists. They are unstyled, reminiscent of a wiki.

This plain presentation is possibly to its benefit—you don’t stare at the directory, you move through it. It’s a conduit, designed to take you to the awesome things.

Hierarchical But Flat in Display

Awesome lists do not use tags; they are hierarchical. But they never nest too deeply. (Take the Testing Frameworks section under the JavaScript awesome list—it has a second level with topics like Frameworks annd Coverage.)

Sometimes the actual ul list of links will go down three or four levels.

But they’ve solved one of the major problems with hierarchical directories: needing to click too much to get down through the levels. The entire list is displayed on a single page. This is great.

Curation Not Collection

The emphasis on “awesome” implies that this is not just a complete directory of the world’s links—just a list of those the editor finds value in. It also means that, in defense of each link, there’s usually a bit of explanatory text for that link. I think this is great too!!

Wiki-Style But Moderated

The reason why most awesome lists use Github is because it allows people to submit links to the directory without having direct access to modify it. To submit, you make a copy of the directory, make your changes, then send back a pull request. The JavaScript awesome list has received 477 pull requests, with 224 approved for inclusion.

So this is starting to seem like a rebirth of the old “expert” pages (on sites like About.com). Except that there is no photo or bio of the expert.

About.com screenshot.

As I’ve been browsing these lists, I’m starting to see that there is a wide variety of quality. In fact, one of the worst lists is the master list!! (It’s also the most difficult list to curate.)

I also think the lack of styling can be a detriment to these lists. Compare the Static Web Site awesome list with staticgen.com. The awesome list is definitely easier to scan. But the rich metadata gathered by the StaticGen site can be very helpful! Not the Twitter follower count—that is pointless. But it is interesting to see the popularity, because that can be very helpful sign of the community’s robustness around that software.

Anyway, I’m interested to see how these sites survive linkrot. I have a feeling we’re going to be left with a whole lot of broken awesome lists. But they’ve been very successful in bringing back small, niche directories. So perhaps we can expect some further innovations.

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12 Jul 2018

Foundations of a Tiny Directory

Can the failing, impotent web directory be transformed? Be innovated??

Can we still innovate on the humble web directory? I don’t think you can view large human-edited directories (like Yahoo! or DMOZ) as anything but a failure when compared to Google. Sure, they contained millions of links and, ultimately, that may be all that matters. But a human editor cannot keep up with a Googlebot! So Google’s efficiency, speed and exhaustiveness won out.

But perhaps there is just no comparison. Perhaps the human-edited directory still has its strengths, its charms. After all, it has a human, not a GoogleBot. Could a human be a good thing to have?

An Age of Link Fatigue

We now have an abundance of blogs, news, podcasts, wikis—we have way too much really. Links constantly materialize before your very eyes. Who would even begin, in 2018, to click on Yahoo!'s “Social Science” header and plumb its depths?

Yahoo! '95

Strangely enough, even Wikipedia has a full directory of itself, tucked in a corner. (Even better, there’s a human-edited one hidden in there!) These massive directories are totally overwhelming and, thus, become more of an oddity for taking a stroll. (But even that—one usually begins a stroll through Wikipedia with a Google search, don’t they?)

The all-encompassing directory found another way: through link-sharing sites like Del.icio.us and Pinboard. If I visit Pinboard’s botany tag, I can see the latest links—plant of the week the “Night Blooming Cereus” and photos of Mount Ka’ala in Hawaii. Was that what I was looking for? Well at least I didn’t have to find my way through a giant hierarchy.

Where directories have truly found their places is in small topic-based communities. Creepypasta and fan site wikis have kept the directory alive. Although, hold up—much like Reddit’s sub-based wikis—these mostly store their own content. The Boushh page mostly links back to the wiki itself, not to the myriad of essay, fan arts and video cosplays that must exist for this squeaky bounty hunter.

Besides—what if a directory wasn’t topic-based? What if, like Yahoo!, the directory attempted to tackle the Whole Web, but from a specific viewpoint?

Craft Librarians on the Web

You see this in bookstores: staff recommendations. This is the store’s window into an infinite catalog of books. And it works. The system is: here are our favorites. Then, venturing further into the store: this is what we happen to have.

Staff recommendations shelf

“But I want what I want,” you mutter to yourself as you disgustedly flip through a chapbook reeking of hipster.

Well, of course. You’re not familiar with this store. But when I visit Green Apple in San Francisco, I know the store. I trust the store. I want to look through its directory.

This has manifested itself in simple ways like the blogroll. Two good examples would be the Linkage page on Fogus.me, which gives short summaries, reminiscent of the brief index cards with frantic marker all over them. This is the staff recommendation style blogroll.

Another variation would be Colin Walker’s Directory, which collects all blogs that have sent a Webmention[1]. This serves a type of “neighborhood” directory.[2]

What I want to explore now is the possibility of expanding the blogroll into a new kind of directory.

Social Linking

Likes, upvotes, replies, friending. What if it’s all just linking? In fact, what if linking is actually more meaningful!

When I friend you and you disappear into the number twenty-three—my small collection of twenty-three friends—you are but a generic human, a friendly one, maybe with a tiny picture of you holding a fishing rod. With any luck, the little avatar is big enough that I can discern the fishing rod, because otherwise, you’re just a friendly human. And I’m not going to even attempt to assign a pronoun with a pic that small.

Href Hunt

It’s time for me to repeat this phrase: Social Linking. Yes, I think it could be a movement! Just a small one between you and I.

It began with an ‘href hunt’: simply asking anyone out there for links and compiling an initial flat directory of these new friends. (Compare in your mind this kind of treatment of ‘friends’ to the raw name dumps we see on Facebook, et al.) How would you want to be linked to?

Now let’s turn to categories. A small directory doesn’t need a full-blown hierachy—the hierarchy shouldn’t dwarf the collection. But I want more than tags.

---
Link Title
url://something/something
*topic/subtopic format time-depth
Markdown-formatted *description* goes here.

Ok, consider the above categorization structure. I’m trying to be practical but multi-faceted.

  • topic/subtopic is a two-level ad-hoc categorization similar to a tag. A blog may cover multiple categories, but I’m not sure if I’ll tackle that. I’m actually thinking this answers the question, “Why do I visit this site? What is it giving me?” So a category might be supernatural/ghosts if I go there to get my fix of ghosts; or, it could be writing/essays for a blog I visit to get a variety of longform. An asterisk would indicate that the blog is a current feature among this topic (and this designation will change periodically.)
  • format could be: ‘blog’, ‘podcast’, ‘homepage’, a single ‘pdf’ or ‘image’, etc.
  • time-depth indicates the length one can expect to spend at this link. It could be an image that only requires a single second. It could be a decade worth of blog entries that is practically limitless.

The other items: author, url and description—these are simply metadata that would be collected.

The directory would then allow discovery by any of these angles. You could go down by topic or you could view by ‘time depth’. I may even nest these structures so that you could find links that were of short time depth under supernatural/ghosts.

The key distinct between this directory and any other would be: this is not a collection of the “best” links on the Web—or anywhere near an exhaustive set of links. But simply my links that I have discovered and that I want to link to.

I don’t know why, but I think there is great promise here. Not in a return to the old ways. Just: if anyone is here on the Web, let’s discover them.


  1. Hat tip to my new friend, Brad for pointing this out. ↩︎

  2. I should also mention that many of the realizations in this post are very similar to Brad’s own Human Edited vs. Google post, which I cite here as an indication that this topic is currently parallelized. ↩︎

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10 Jul 2018

My Href Hunt for July 2018

Ok, a few folks out there let me link to them! Oh, I’m so excited! It’s strange how hard it is to ask a question out on the open Web and to get a reply. If you have any idea how I can find new, unusual personal home pages and blogs—please clue me in.

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08 Jul 2018