Kicks Condor




This site is also on dat.


indieweb: .xyz, h0p3, enslen, tim holman, c.rwr.

true hackers:,, voja antonić, cnlohr,

esp8266: scargill, shin-ajaran, hekkers, jscottb, limpkin, 41j

zeptobars in the chips right now.

openfl makes programs. also see: moai.

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. probly the best carl chudyk game.

and opinionated gamers for non-chudyk game analysis.

my twitter. my github. minor things.


Ok I can see that you have spent too much time studying me for now. Rest up for the morrow. Use the feed if you need.


➥ Reply to Webrings are Dead

Brad Enslen:

If replicated how does one make such a ring topical? How would that auto signup feature check to make sure all the applicants are about one topic? (ie. blue widgets, Star Trek, catching lobsters. etc.) Just having the right code in place to join is not enough for most visitors. They want to surf a ring that matches their interests. Code is not content. Code is not entertainment.

This reminds me of these “useless web” sites—this being the primary one—that have managed to stay very popular. (A lot of YouTubers make videos of themselves clicking through this site and I often see kids at school using the site.) And it’s basically a webring. But it’s not a code-based one, it’s the opposite—it’s totally curated.

(Oh, also, the fellow who does this also works on a directory of “inspiring” projects that looks great. So, this is a person who is having some success playing with curated discovery projects.)

I think computers have completely blown it with discovery. The smartest minds have all been working on this for decades now and it has been a disaster. The question to me now is just: how do we equip our librarians? And I tend to think that we don’t need anything more—our technology is totally under-utilized. screenshot.

However, there is one promising development that I see from the directory: the self-designed cards that show big images on each entry. The directory is using the itunes:image entry in the podcast RSS feed. This is fantastic because the curator can select/filter the directory entries—but the authors can customize their cards.

I wish RSS stylesheets would have caught on so I could offer this kind of thing for the blog directory.

➥ Reply to Ripped Sheets of Paper


I have asked you some very personal questions, and I will continue to do so, nomad.

The repeated use of the word nomad has conjured up a song I had forgotten: Nomad Tell Us and its repeated admonishment, “You must relate to the earthling mortal!” Haha, it’s so emblematic of reading your wiki!

My wife is a librarian, and it feels like you are doing indieweb-librarian work to me. Do you consider it part of your vocation? It feels like more than just an aesthetic experience to me.

I suppose I will get a little personal then. My aunt died over a decade ago and she was a library director on the West Coast. I still think of her all the time. But she has been gone so long that I can’t find any of her interviews or papers like I once could. I talked to her once about Ranganathan, who I had just discovered, and she talked about edge cases in categorizing books—in fact, I think I’ll start storing books in an “edge case”—and then she died and I live with the regret of never seeing that promising conversation continue.

But I kept talking to librarians after that—it sates my wish to talk to her still. I had a friend for a little while who was a librarian on Microsoft’s campus. A corporate librarian! She was fantastic to talk about books with.

Librarians are not admired in the same way that teachers are, but their work can be very important. Someone has to sift through the vast sea of words and pluck up the ones worth saving. This is becoming even more impossible today. I sometimes feel like there could be an amateur librarian’s movement—this is what I’d hoped the old Internet “surf clubs” would be—but it truly is a gift of generosity to attempt to organize the world out there. I admire your wife and these others.

If I understand correctly, there are diminishing returns in the scaling of triangles for visual modeling.

Well, I guess I thought that more triangles would only improve definition, but this is a great observation.

(Oh, comment about this conversation: we are using a type of embedded reply form here which is quickly growing deep. I wonder how else we might capture this discussion—which might go on for some time—into a large flat structure, simple to read back on, but which might keep related threads together without losing access to the original message. Or maybe these quote-and-reply forms are too restrictive, I wonder if we can sprawl out more.)

I hope that my representation becomes increasingly accurate and useful to me. Even if I fail, I hope to come closer and closer to success on this issue.

Well, here’s one question—how will you endure a drastic change? Like: what if you reverse a core tenant? Or, moreso, could you discover that you aren’t a wiki, but are a different type of information structure? Perhaps you’ve decided you are and that’s the end of it.

You are sort of bumping up against communicating with the outside. I will be interested to see how you sort this out. Your many-meg single page site is so unique and I find the opportunity to download all of it to my computer memory like the visit of an oracle—a single being, sent to deliver the collected wisdom of any query I might have.

So I am happy to communicate however you see fit, because your oracle’s purpose is to organize your thoughts, not to be a telegraph system. My organization here is the opposite: it’s designed to send dispatches to individuals. But I am going to make some small changes to have a tiny oracle as well.

I don’t think any of these things are technological problems, though. I am happy to drive to your house and ring the doorbell or go to the basement doorway and let myself in—or whatever the protocol is for you. I think that’s what’s so marvellous about your site and sites like

I hope you don’t think I’m a snob. I would argue I deal with many unsavories.

I hope you’re okay being a snob! Why would that be so terrible? We all live on a giant graph paper and, speaking for myself, I really like my coordinates. You might just be snobbish about being your own type of unsavory.

There is an interesting poem I recently read called bulldyke that made me think of this. The poem itself dabbles in unsavory—are these words disgusting? Are these thoughts perverse? Is the afraid little boy lover in the poem—certainly he’s the unsavory one. (And, also, poetry—isn’t poetry just awful?)

I don’t know, but I like deciding these things. Who doesn’t? I’m a snob, too.

Like everyone else, I hate Facebook and what it has done to the Hypertext Kingdom and I will fight it valiantly and with great, upturned nostrils. But I have also used it to obsessively follow the death of Kaylee (and other children that I will write about some time) and I have depended on this awful unsavory to read their obscure stories. It has filled me with profound spiritual mayonnaisse.

I should also say that I enjoyed the recent VICE video with a girl in big Sally Jesse Raphael glasses interviewing an Incel. I felt that I really loved both of them. Not in a Jesus way; like the Double Rainbow guy, crying and marvelling over colorful semicircles. I don’t know if VICE is unsavory—I guess I wonder if all businesses are.

Perhaps the biggest worry I have is that I will think someone to be pure and unscathed and godlike—only to discover that they have touched their whole staff in all the wrong places. 😂

I’ve been thinking about a problem which you’ve probably seen a dozen answers to. I have now been asked twice for a way to push notifications of updates. I am worried that my wiki isn’t well-designed for that. I’m not entirely sure what I would push to others (my New kind of does that). I would like to know your thoughts on where I should go with this.

I am happy with how you have things. I understand how you work now. If anything, I would argue that you should continue innovating in the way you have been. That, like the single-page oracle metaphor from earlier, you will find more ways for the technology to symbolically represent you. This is paramount. -- kickscondor%3A Whirlwind

➥ Reply to Why Decentralized Search is Good, Especially for Blogs

Brad Enslen:

The more advanced the solution, the greater the technology bar to entry. Just about anyone can start a human edited directory, but creating an RSS search engine requires more programming skill.

A more advanced solution also scales. Which I would argue is a bad thing! :)

A large super-crawler ends up taking on the Whole Web. Which leads to a massive directory. Which leads to the big players having the resources to game that directory. Drowning out the individuals again.

If there are 100,000 bloggers, then we need 100,000 blogrolls.

This is the magic of it: Google can’t compete with 100,000 blogrolls. Yes, they can aggregate them. Destroying them in the process.

So, yes, we agree on how decentralized can really give us progress. And I agree that our problems are mostly not technological, but are human problems.

(This is similar to the discussion on decentralization out there that seems to think the answer can simply be solved by new technologies. Dat and IPFS are fantastic, but we can decentralize in vastly more meaningful ways today—but we don’t. We could learn to be better human discovery engines.)

If people began to link again, to read again, to explore again. Less statistics, fewer algorithms. More curation, more editors.

Great stuff today, Brad!

➥ Reply to 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.

➥ Reply to The Future of Blog Snoop

Brad Enslen:

I’m hitting a fork in the road with this site and the experiment of using a blog as a directory of blogs. […] I don’t think using a blog for this is as good as using a real web directory script, but if a blog is all you have it can be pressed into this use.

I think the idea behind Blog Snoop is solid—I mean you’re just talking about trying to define the edges of a certain community. I’m sufficiently convinced now (between Reddit wikis and ‘awesome lists’) that directories still serve this purpose. Find The Others.

I guess part of the problem is—what is the community? Bloggers? The Indieweb? The subset of the Indieweb that wants to talk about discovery? (Search, directories, blogrolls, etc.) I think you are shooting for larger than the Indieweb—bloggers, in general, right? That operate independently? So, do Medium blogs count?

Ok, so, the usability of the directory is central. This makes sense: a directory is a practical instrument. It needs to be elegant and tight. Using a blog as a directory is very novel and very convenient—and it can work! But I think the directory itself needs to be incredibly sweet to use: full of great stuff, well-organized and fun to use, if possible. I think you have to really want to visit the directory regularly.

Google won by distilling everything down to one box. It was actually fun to use Google because you could start typing and it would try to finish your sentence for you. Which I actually think more people enjoyed for its novelty than its usefulness. And it was useful, too!

So a few starter suggestions:

  • The whole tag cloud is off to the side, as if it’s not important.
  • I can’t see some of the words in the tag cloud, they are too small.
  • The biggest words in the tag cloud are words like “General” and “Internet” which are almost non-categories because they apply to all blogs.
  • It’s not clear how to submit my own blog unless I dig. People should really be encouraged to participate.
  • The text is large, so lots of scrolling is involved. I think this is what the ‘awesome lists’ are doing right. It’s also what Chris Aldrich is doing so well with his blogroll.
  • A dense list, like the one Chris has, also feels more active, for some reason.
  • The thing you are doing perfectly, though, is the care in the descriptions. This is actually the most important thing once the directory is usable—and you have that already.

I am working on a personal directory right now, so my attention is there. But maybe if we keep talking about this, we can figure it out. Don’t give up—just keep talking and refining.

You’ve actually given me a great idea (I think it might be ‘great’, who knows) for I think I’m going to make a directory of the sites that submit to it. And it will also show the sub (‘tag’) that they most commonly submit to. It would be a simple change and might help me gradually collect links to blogs that I can go through over time.

Good luck, Brad! These tiny efforts may seem small in the face of massive social empires out there, but I think there are many people who are (or will) participate if they can just be found.

Navel-Gazing on Blogs

I admit that the Indieweb (and the blogosphere before it) seemed repellent at first - I thought it was navel-gazing. Blogging about blogging. I think I discounted the beauty of innovating a medium by simply using the medium.

➥ Reply to Hello, Nomad!


It’s important to form accurate representations of yourself even if only for yourself. To do it in public is morally valuable because deconstructing and constructing yourself out in the open casts some sunlight on the process (keeping us out of temptation, in some cases).

I like that other people can get a very palpable view of who I am through my site (if they wish to invest the time). If you really want to know who I am, you can know (it’s been a very useful tool in my life).

Ok, here we go. Hello my friend.

It is a real surprise to get a note from you. Frankly, I’m blown away by what you’re doing—and I felt that you were deeply embedded somewhere in your wiki, not exactly reaching out to pass notes. But I’m so glad.

The representation you’ve chosen for yourself is no illusion. If all I see of someone is pictures and quips, the image of that person is just a bit of shattered glass. But one thousand words cannot lie. They may be untrue, but they divulge so many more triangles to build that person with.

I am reluctant to say that even a verbose persona can ever be accurate, though. We start to believe that these pixels are us. I think they are just a good show. We are always in public here. And our souls know it.

I do look forward to the good show you have going. (Likewise: to you out there reading—hark, reader!—we are looking for you. Please read h0p3’s Find the Others as proof.)

I like what you are doing; my quest differs. I’m not looking for an ennobled species of thinker. I don’t want to avoid the unsavories. I am looking for Anyone. This is not right—there are plenty of Anyone’s around, aren’t there? Well, I am wanting to fall into fate, rather than to find only my most meaningful bosom friend. I want to travel down the river and stop at all the places that happen to be there along the way. And maybe a friend will crop up. Strange things, images and tales, too.

I am sold on it myself. I know I can communicate who I am, what I’m thinking, etc. with very low friction on my own medium-turf. My message integrates well into my identity when I use my own tools.

Yes, well, this is quite stunning actually. There is a sense on your wiki of a full use of hypertext that I haven’t seen before. It is the complexity of your organization and nomenclature. It is somehow still inviting. You have made a journal that is a vast puzzle.

I have been working, privately, on a directory of the web from a certain vantage. (I don’t know that my role is to journal; more, to explore out there.) And I think the real key that has been missing—from directories, wikis and engines—is artistry. To make it beautiful and elegant. Your work is a brilliant stone in that respect. Anyway, (hark, reader,) I’ll stop there.

Well, this will be fruitful. Feel no pressure to find some technology to make a connection with me. Climb down. We can link just fine.!

➥ Reply to Brad’s Comment on ‘The Awesome Directories’

Brad Enslen:

On some hypothetical future niche directory it’s that webring code that prevents the linkrot. As long as the webring/directories robot keeps finding that validation code you stay in the directory, no code and eventually you will be dropped. Not perfect but it automates the process a bit.

Ok, yeah—this will be essential. I wonder if I can use the page’s title tag for this? Like: save the title tag the first time I check the site. Because it’s much less rare for the title tag to change than the body text.

I like the idea of the webring code. I just don’t have any influence on some of the sites that I am linking to. But yeah: mixing webrings and is interesting.

As for the size of a directory (or webring), that is such a big problem on the Web. They need to have upper limits, for sure. If it gets too big, it feels (and does become) unusable. If it’s too large, then nothing in it is special. Like with these “awesome lists”—you are led to believe that the list is a severe abridgement, because the links in it are truly impressive.

With webrings, someone is special by virtue of discovering the ring first. So I can see closing admittance. I’m not that into webrings because it’s a pretty fragile link between all parties.

I’d like linking to take some effort, which also limits the amount of links you can have and makes them more potent.

Thanks for the ideas! Great stuff.

The 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 Except that there is no photo or bio of the expert. 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 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.


Foundations of a Tiny Directory

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?

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 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, 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 Webmention1. 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.

*topic/subtopic format time-depth (author, url, age)

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 age—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: now that so many people are 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. 


➥ Reply to Cataloging Horror Fiction

Brad Enslen:

The thing is with a static hierarchical directory you get stuck with the hierachy you built. Tags, even reddit semi permanent tags, are more dynamic and finer grained. By letting a site like Reddit create the categories you help stay on top of what topics are new and fresh. It’s like suggestions coming from the grass roots rather than top-down.

So, perhaps tags (or subreddit-style categories) are good for initial categorization and then a more detailed hierarchy is good for a competent editor. I also wonder: how did you track expired links? Changed links? Would you indicate that a story got an update?

Reddit has done a similar thing with wikis. By giving each subreddit a wiki, many are able to arrange a heirarchical directory of links. I guess I’m wondering if a wiki is a suitable replacement for a directory. Or if the only difference is having a crawler attached. (Which is a formidable difference.)

An idea I’ve had with is to have users submit a finer-grained category using the u-category class. So they could submit:

<a href="" class="u-syndication u-category">
  xyz/startrek: Photos: DS9: Nog</a>

And it would place it in the permanent hierarchical directory (which crawls links to keep them fresh.) It feels like some moderation would be needed. But I am trying to stay away from that.

I appreciate your thoughtful replies. I am starting to both see how directories are present in our modern incarnation of the Web and desire some innovation for them.

➥ Reply to The IndieWeb, Discovery and Web Search

Brad Enslen:

It seems to me, at some point, the problem of commercial silos of web search engines must be addressed since 1. a near monopoly is held by Google, 2. both spidering engines (Google and Bing) are oriented towards brands, data mining user profiles, advertising and the commercial. […]

Niche directories can still work when tied to an interest community (just ask almost any local Chamber of Commerce). Filter blogs might work too.

Fantastic. Yes! This is exactly the problem. It’s very difficult for a new participant to make headway because they simply get lost in the pile.

I think all of these approaches need to be reconsidered just like you’re doing, but I want to focus on directories—which are still very much in vogue, but are unrecognizable when compared to the old Yahoo. The big directories these days are Reddit and Pinterest. (And Wikipedia, like you say.) Delicious was one of these too. They are directories because they are topic-based catalogs of thought.

Niche directories exist in the form of stuff like Pinboard, Hacker News, and so on. So, Hacker News acts basically like a directory of thought for its community. And the users there spend their time pruning and curating this directory.

All of these directories struggle with a sort of memory failure—no one really plumbs the archives of these sites—but that makes perfect sense given that the focus is on absolute recency. Part of the spectacular failure of Yahoo-style directories was due to no sense of recency (a heartbeat) on all those links.

The nice thing about Yahoo was that you could categorize yourself. Reddit, Pinterest, Pinboard—you have to wait for someone else to find you.

To your point about filter blogs: I think there used to be an answer here. It used to be that for topic-based technology blogs, much of their grassroots content came from mailing lists. Mailing lists used to be the primary announcement system for software. (If you look at technology blogs, they are much more commercial now.) So the mailing lists acted like a completely open submission system where you could safely self-promote. And then blogs skimmed their favorite stuff out of these. (IRC and web forums also acted as support systems here.)

So here’s what I’d like to see in a directory:

  1. Allows self-promotion. No one wants to leave a software (or fan art, essays, open question) announcement to their lonely blog. You want to push it out to the relevant community yourself.
  2. Sorting isn’t driven by upvotes or algorithms. You shouldn’t need to have to figure out how to game the system. Yes, these algorithms help prevent spam. But they enable clickbait!
  3. Drives users to the blogs themselves. Reddit isn’t just a directory—writers post their thoughts directly on Reddit. But those writers aren’t given all the tools. First off, the posts are limited in their layout. But also, they aren’t given syndication and identity tools like blogs have.
  4. Personal views of the directory. Right now it seems that we have this idea that our moderators should have the power to decide who’s in and who’s out. But this was never true of mailing lists. I still like the idea of killfiles. You block the specific users and blogs that drive you nuts.

I am trying to accomplish some of this with my directory, but I’m also not sure it will all work due to self-promotion having problems of its own—in addition to being a dirty word on its own.

At any rate, wonderful post. Thankyou!

Things We Left in the Old Web

The Old Web isn’t dead. It just got old enough that it constantly seems to leave the spreadsheet with all of its passwords open on the desktop. It is sinking into the sofa while images of a low-bitrate Spaghetti Western dance in its bifocals.

We decry the loss of privacy and data ownership that seemed to be there in the Old Web. And we always wish there had been security. However, there are other things we left in the pockets of that Old Gray Web on the couch.

High Def With No Color

It seems that everything is white and blue in the present day. We’ve settled on these neutral colors, in case we need to sell it all. Hotmail logo. The old garish animated construction cones and embedded MIDI files are relegated to Neocities now—and who even cares what that is?

When we post, we post a few words. A picture and a few words. Some gray words on white. With a little blue.

This is one reason I was happy to see RSS fall out of favor. I don’t really want to read everything in Arial, gray on white with a little blue. Blog posts that were beautifully arranged in their homes, now stuffed together into a makeshift public shelter of dreary gray and white and chalked around with a little line of blue.

Did Google’s killing Reader kill the web? Or did Reader at least do some initial trial strangling?

Google Reader

We had been bitten too deeply by Myspace—its many glittery backgrounds and flame-filled Lightning McQueen backgrounds, golden cash symbol backgrounds and spinning Cool Ranch chip backgrounds. (Incidentally, some of this made a return with Subreddit style; 4chan and creepypastas never left the Old Web.)

Actual Home

I always wondered if the term “blog” was supposed make the term “home page” sound cooler. They both empitomize the idyllic Early Internet. Maybe the idea of “home” just IS corny—you only ever see it cross-stitched.

We moved on to a cosmopolitan empire, where we’re all living in the street. My house is full of your shit. And my uncles’ and aunts’ shit. And The Donald’s, of course, and the sad, desperate slideshows that Facebook makes for me in its spare time—it’s been basking in my shit again, trying to find some meaning in those three pictures I posted of a metal chair I spray-painted. It turns them over and fades them out again and again to try to stir some vital force. It all ends too quick—I’m trying here, but you’re not yet worth a slideshow, kid.

Gah, how I miss a good arm’s length. Between myself and all those people, bots and algorithms analyzing me for the little fractions of a second I might get. But what am I talking about? I have a blog and you’re standing on it right now! Or maybe you’re not. It gets lonely out here and I’m talking to myself again. The handful of devoted Baidubots, who quietly read the journals I leave on the stoop, look up but don’t even want to admit they’re there.

Reddit helped this situation so much. You could have a blog AND have a public place to leave a card!

The trouble is that Reddit has become the Big Blog. You are welcome to post your stuff there. But it’s usually in gray and white with a little blue—so that I lose a sense of who I’m reading exactly, who they are and where they call home. Reddit isn’t keen on a link to your blog without an acceptable amount of foreplay. You’re not yourself, you’re a Redditor—ten to twelve letters with a little bit of flair, maybe a cake, maybe a gold star. Could I be so lucky?

Reddit chain

This might be reaching: I think an actual home—a blog or a home page—gave people time to represent themselves. In a stream of faces, you have to leap up from the river and shout HEY, throw a stick before the current pushes on. That picture has to have all of you in there.

Twitter has done well with this. You can find yourself reading someone’s history there. But Facebook, Instagram, Reddit—these all leave you crammed in the subway.

Website jam.

The Web—Old Web and The Now—it’s all a public place. Every page is an exhibition. Maybe Reddit has it right. By draining away the individual to a few letters, it becomes all about the message that they post. It hearkens back to mailing lists, when all you knew was a person’s From field. Though there were signatures, too, I suppose.

I think this has blossomed into a nice devotion to their community, because a Redditor’s works are tied up there. Do Redditors ever wish their stuff was home—where they could style it, save it, share it elsewhere?

$0.00 Got You Something

I was recently impressed by something in the FAQ for a service called Bridgy:

How much does it cost?

Nothing! We have great day jobs, and Bridgy is small, so thanks to App Engine, it doesn’t cost much to run. We don’t need donations, promise.

This too felt very Old Web. Part of the tension in the modern Web is that we expect free in a billions-dollar industry.

When one company is taking on everyone’s blogs and pictures and witty repasts, that takes a toll. But the cottage tilde blogs of yesteryear came with your Internet connection.

The Effort All Around

It was an age of building things. Mostly little communities that had to be sought out. You had your phpBBs out there and blogs for different topics that acted like subreddits, but weren’t definitive. You built your own brick in this.

It sounds like I’m asking for the suburbs back. We built the ideal metropolis—now move back to the suburbs? What for? The Arcade Fire once sang a song about how much that sucks!

BoardGameGeek screenshot.

I think it’s more like a grassroots community thing vs. a corporate complex we can all live in. You can see the advantage in a community like BoardGameGeek, which hasn’t found its equivalent in Facebook and Reddit and so on. It houses a community tailored to its topic—every board game has its rules questions and its variants, so forums are tailored to this. You can search through the tree of associations—who designed what game and what other games and expansions did they produce?

Yes, it’s gray and white with a LOT of blue. It’s graceless in a way. But it’s managed to stay alive and independent. And it coexists with Reddit. They link back and forth and have a grand old time. (BGG also encourages posting on a forum rather than on your blog.)

It feels like there’s still building to do. No BGG isn’t ideal—but what does it become? Communities can still build out their facilities. I wonder what happened with the maker community. Hackaday seems to link mostly to YouTube and Instructables. Top notch work is still posted there and all around us (and at /r/diy.) It just seems that the will to “make” your web has left this crowd.

I guess this brings us to the Indieweb where you can probably still call each other Netizens and bemoan the death of RSS. Even though it’s been around since 2013, I see a spark of hope in this ragtag group of HTMLists. (Why isn’t “ragtag” some kind of microformat for the homeless?)

Now, certainly the Old Web had its spam and trolls and barriers. Discovering each other from across the Web has always been difficult. At least millions of people can get on Twitter and attempt to flag down Robert Downey Jr. in realtime. I just wonder if the little builders of the Web out there can start to reconnect.

Tender Shoots

I see a few projects out there that are in the vein of what I mean.

At first I thought these were very odd. Reading some one’s comment on your blog from their web page seemed… a mess. But, after tinkering for a bit, I’m sold! In practice, the blogs are forced to clean things up if they want to participate.

The dat:// Project.
Dat transmits your blog from your actual home. We all want decentralized, right? I don’t think we need to be peer-to-peer to be decentralized. However, I’m impressed at the robustness of this network—and the quality of the Beaker Browser.

I do think this protocol directly addresses the point about the $0.00 blog.

Hugo, Jekyll, etc.
Static sites still seem pretty crucial. The hosting fees are low. You can handle high traffic in spurts. And you can publish anywhere without needing to set up a bunch of software. So much innovation could still happen here!

Why am I not excited by Mastodon? Or Secure Scuttlebutt? Or

These seem like great projects. My main issue with them is that everything posted is, once again, reduced to gray and white with a bit o’ blue. (In Mastodon’s case, invert those colors.) They address decentralization, but not the other bits.

Now, just let me know you’re out there. If I link to you and you link to me, that’s a pretty good start I’d say.


Tridactyl Trycts

Having long been a fan of web-browsing with a keyboard—by way of the old Vimperator extension for Firefox—I have enjoyed its rebirth in the present incarnation of the Tridactyl extension.

As I’ve been adapting to the subtle differences, I’ve found myself browsing the complete list of key combos lately—trying to impress the useful combos into muscle memory. I’m going to jot some favorites here for future reference.

I know this is going to seem sketchy, like I’m hiding something, but I often find myself needing to clean cookies for a web site while I’m working on it.

:sanitize cookies -t 1h

This cleans all cookies set in the last hour. Wish I could narrow it to a specific domain name match.

Adding your own helpful signout command might look like:

:command signout sanitize cookies localStorage -t 1h

Never had this ability before: a combo to copy an HTML element’s text to the clipboard and then “put” it into the current tab—which will usually pass the text into your search engine. (If it’s a URL, though, it will just go there.)


The ;p allows you to yank the contents of a page element by name. And the P puts (or pipes) the clipboard contents into a “tabopen” command.

(I think of this move as the “double raspberry”—it’s the emoticon upon one’s face when landing such a maneuver.)

Pagination on Old School Forums

It just so happens that the [[ and ]] keybindings work great on BGG geeklists and forums. This is so much more convenient than follow on those tiny fonts they often use.

Simpler Tab Switching

I’ve bound the shifted J and K to tabprev and tabnext—hitting gtgtgtgt over and over again was a bit too much of an exercise. Perhaps I would use that hotkey more if it was possible to hold down g and hit t or T in repetition to cycle.

:bind J tabprev
:bind K tabnext

In my mind, this works well with H and L to navigate history.

(Incidentally, to pop a tab out into a new window, use the :tabdetach command. I tend to use this frequently enough that it should probably be bound—just not sure where!)


This isn’t documented very well, but if you want to bookmark a site, you can supply it’s URL to the bmark comand:


These are not kept in the same list as your Firefox bookmarks—this is a flat list rather than a hierarchy.

There are some keys bound to some bookmark calls. Allow me to clear them up:

  • A bookmarks (or unbookmarks) the current URL.
  • a does the same, but allows the URL to be edited first.
  • M<key> gives the bookmark (at the current URL) a single character alias. To use this, you must be on the bookmarked page.
  • To use the alias, prefix it with go, gn or gw—these expand to open, tabopen and windowopen. (So: gwp will open a new window with the URL aliased as “p”.)

These three commands are created when you run the M command. So, to remove these commands, you’ll need to do individually: :reset gnp and so on.