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. k0sh3k. j3d1h. luxb0x.

nathalie lawhead of so many good things, where does one begin. T, U, I.

surfpals: things by j, also joe jenett (of linkport), brad enslen (of indieseek), 'web curios' at imperica.

an eye on: ᛝ ᛝ ᛝ — lucid. jacky.wtf, fogknife, tiv.today, j.greg, box vox, 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.

05 Oct 2018

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The GeoCities Research Institute

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel art of woman onswing.

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

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02 Oct 2018

Taming Outlandish TiddlyWikis

A prototype for the time being.

I’m sorry to be very ‘projecty’ today—I will get back to linking and surfing straightway. But, first, I need to share a prototype that I’ve been working on.

Our friend h0p3[1] has now filled his personal, public TiddlyWiki to the brim—a whopping 21 MEGAbyte file full of, oh, words. Phrases. Dark-triadic memetic, for instance. And I’m not eager for him to abandon this wiki to another system—and I’m not sure he can.

So, I’ve fashioned a doorway.

This is not a permanent mirror yet. Please don’t link to it.

Screenshot of the h0p3 archive page.

Yes, there is also an archive page. I took these from his Github repo, which appears to go all the way back to the beginning.

Ok, yes, so it does have one other feature: it works with the browser cache. This means that if you load snapshot #623 and then load #624, it will not reload the entire wiki all over again—just the changes. This is because they are both based on the same snapshot (which is #618, to be precise.) So—if you are reading over the course of a month, you should only load the snapshot once.

Snapshots are taken once the changes go beyond 2 MB—though this can be tuned, of course.

  • Total size of the raw archive: 6.2 gigs.
  • Size of my kicksnap’d archive: 736 megs.

Shrunk to 11% of its original size. This is done through the use of judicious diffs (or deltas). The code is in my TiddlyWiki-loader repository.

A Few Lessons I Picked Up

I picked up this project last week and kind of got sucked into it. I tried a number of approaches—both in snapshotting the thing and in loading the HTML.

I ended up with an IFRAME in the end. It was just so much faster to push a 21 MB string through IFRAME’s srcdoc property than to use stuff like innerHTML or parseHTML or all the other strategies.

Also: document.write (and document.open and document.close) seems immensely slow and unreliable. Perhaps I was doing it wrong? (You can look through the commit log on Github to find my old work.)

On the Snapshot Technique

I originally thought I’d settled on splitting the wiki up into ~200 pieces that would be updated with changes each time the wiki gets synchronized. I got a fair bit into the algorithm here (and, again, this can be seen in the commit log—the kicksplit.py script.)

But two-hundred chunks of 21 MB is still 10k per chunk. And usually a single day of edits would result in twenty chunks being updated. This meant a single snapshot would be two megs. In a few days, we’re up to eight megs.

Once I went back to diffs and saw that a single day usually only comprised 20-50k of changes (and that this stayed consistent over the entire life of h0p3’s wiki,) I was convinced. The use of diffs also made it very simple to add an archives page.

In addition, this will help with TiddlyWikis that are shared on the Dat network[2]. Right now, if you have a Dat with a TiddlyWiki in it, it will grow in size just like the 6 gig folder I talked about in the last box. If you use this script, you can be down to a reasonable size. (I also believe I can get this to work directly from TiddlyWiki from inside of Beaker.)

And, so, yeah, here is a dat link you can enjoy: dat://38c211…a3/

I think that’s all that I’ll discuss here, for further technical details (and how to actually use it), see the README. I just want to offer help to my friends out there that are doing this kind of work and encourage anyone else who might be worried that hosting a public TiddlyWiki might drain too much bandwidth.


  1. philosopher.life, dontchakno? I’m not going to type it in for ya. ↩︎

  2. The network used by the Beaker Browser, which is one of my tultywits. ↩︎

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Nikita’s Collected Knowledge

Along with a discussion of personal encyclopedias.

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

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

Screenshot of learn-anything.xyz

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

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

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


  1. Mostly centering around these two discussion threads:

    ↩︎
  2. Discussed at The Awesome Directories. ↩︎

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26 Sep 2018

Reply: H0p3styl1n6

h0p3

The CSS fragment idea is very interesting; it celebrates and signifies our participation in each others’ identities and work. It is a gift to try to represent someone’s aesthetic point of view or voicestyle in quotation. It’s like reading a letter in someone’s handwriting that you’ve seen many times before, conjuring memories like the smell of cinnamon rolls.

Ok, great start to our discussion about styling citations from each other in matching CSS.

I am sending this reply with a musky pork pie smell. See the attached WIFF file.

Yet again to my ignorance: I clearly do not appreciate Art as well as others. I’m an uncouth pig here. I love consuming it as a drug, and I’ve (very poorly) made plenty of it before. Trying to emotionally communicate the cognitively ineffable is something I do take seriously (enough to be very particular about it). Forgive me for being the joyless buzzkill rhetoric-hawk.

Ha-ha! Well, you are becoming very endeared to me, hawk. And you are right to keep us all in check. The buzz that you do kill—and it’s certainly not a buzzard-sized buzz—is not any buzz that was killed just 'cause.

I’m especially interested in form as it relates to function; I want something productive (pleasant workspaces help me work, of course). I don’t think I’m obsessed with minimalism (though I appreciate it), but rather plainness irwartfrr. If it works and it looks good enough: cool, I like that. I’m the kind of dude that will buy 5 identical shirts if I know they are cheap and comfortable. I want the majority of expressive work in my wiki to be in my words. Ideally, I want my words to carry as much of their meaning as possible without relying upon appearance (which I think can be nearly all of it), and only then do I want to work on appearance beyond as function as the delicious bonus.

Oh, I see this in you and I applaud it—loudly, standing—an ovation which goes in a great arc, knocking over the drinks of everyone else standing around me. (Part of this ovation is a simple appreciation of your last epic missive, which is due.)

I only side more toward art because I get so much out of it. I can’t think of a reasoned argument that has transfixed me as much as “Starry, Starry Night” has. And I don’t reach for a reasoned argument when life has fallen apart, but for Neil Young. (I am not arguing with you here—I know you have these things, too, and that you love cartoons and songs and shows and all that. And, come on—you are nuts for ASCII art, amirite? Alas, I also do fall into the trap you’re talking about of form over function.)

Alright, so with all those caveats in mind, we may end up doing this all by hand and passing tiddlers around—I’m also going to play with some styled RSS tonight and see what happens. And we’ll toss some ideas around.

One thing I know for sure: I don’t want to go too crazy on fonts, because I don’t want readers to have to load ten Web Fonts to make this work. That would be EXACTLY fonts over functions. But the basic colors and stuff—worth a try, yeah?

(One time you asked if you should read Vigoleis—no, don’t. He’s mine. And it’s like Infinite Jest, it will take you way too long to read and you’ll never want to read it again. Infinite Jest also wasn’t for me.)


Oh, also, from the footnote:

In a blind, stripped-down test, I’d prefer to make it so even a paraphrase of something I’ve said would evoke: ‘that sounds like h0p3’ or ‘h0p3 would like that’ or ‘you know who probably wouldn’t stop blathering on about this if he were reading this with me right now?..h0p3’ or ‘omg, this sounds like that asshole h0p3, lol.’

I feel this way about the words, too, for sure—but also the appearance. It’s like remembering The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch for both the chitinous foreheads inside and the orange-red cover of the bug-eyed man with the robotic hands. It all comes flooding back like that.

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25 Sep 2018

Sphygmus

Another promising introspective TiddlyWiki appears on the horizon of the network.

What excites me about sphygmus is: first, that she’s confronting this fear and we get to see what happens. (We out on the Old Web all have to confront this: that we might not find anyone here without the self-advertising infrastructure that the big networks have.) It’s uncertain why we are reading each other, why we are writing, who we are—there is a lot of uncertainty that I’m feeling, too, and I have this strange belief that someone else might have the answer. (In a way, OF COURSE SOMEONE ELSE HAS THE ANSWER—you out there are the ones who choose to ‘ignore’ or ‘respect’ or ‘dismiss’. Or to ‘jump right in’.)

But I am running a blog with comments—it’s easier to get feedback. A TiddlyWiki is genuinely on someone else’s turf. It is AT ODDS with the Indieweb. The ‘Indieweb’ is attempting to solve personal interaction with additional technology. But a TiddlyWiki like this is attempting to solve personal interaction by—well, it’s not trying to solve personal interaction. It expects you to learn its system and, in a way, the technology works against you, because it has a learning curve.

In other words, it’s all on us to understand and read each other. (The entire Twitter network is built on the idea that you can take someone’s 140 characters on its own, out of any context, as an independent statement—there is no need to read back on the history there. But with a TiddlyWiki, the system requires you to dig—it is possibly the literal opposite.)

We must bear in mind that, fundamentally, there’s no such thing as color; in fact, there’s no such thing as a face, because until the light hits it, it is nonexistent. After all, one of the first things I learned in the School of Art was that there is no such thing as a line; there’s only the light and the shade.

— Alfred Hitchcock

On the Web, we are the light to each other’s faces.

Aesthetics In The Info

Second, sphygmus’ entrance adds to our midst another person really thinking about how visual style is a non-verbal form of personality. That it can augment our discussion—maybe even be necessary!

I don’t think of it as part of my artistic practice but I think you are right to see a connection. My relationship with my digital spaces is deeply connected to what suits my visual eye - I’m on an absurdly out-dated version of Chrome simply because I hate the way the new Material Design Chrome looks […]

She has already made the innovation of posting all of her material in her own dark-gray-and-cornflower-blue CSS styling. When she posts h0p3’s replies, however, they are in his dark black style and narrow monospace font. (See the screenshot above.) This conjures him in that moment when we read!! (I address this in Things We Left in the Old Web, where one of my criticisms of RSS is that it cruelly strips our words of their coloring. Cruel!)

So: I am interested in how we can cement this. I want to style my h0p3 quotes and my sphygmus quotes similarly—can we come to an accord on how to do this so that I can give YOU control over how these things look? Perhaps we could share CSS fragments on our respective sites?

Documents Are Us

I covered this a bit in Static: the Gathering, that this HTML might actually be us, might be a model of our soul. But, let’s tilt on the topic a bit.

We are all more or less public figures, it’s only the number of spectators that varies.

— Jose Saramago, The Double

So, yeah, thirdly—what h0p3 and sphygmus are tackling is an approach for being a fully exposed, well, let’s just say: a human. A wikified human. There have been attempts to do this in video or blog form—to keep the camera on a person. In this case, though, the camera feels to be focused on the mind, the internal dialogue. (In h0p3’s case: the family meetings, the link histories, the organizational workings—all the behind-the-scenes discussion—maybe it’s ALL behind-the-scenes discussion. I confess that I’ve also started a personal TiddlyWiki to store all these same kinds of materials.)

So, what is ‘oversharing’ and what is just ‘sharing’? Oh, GENEROUS ‘SHARING’—what would that be? What is ‘public’ and what is designated ‘private’? Are these pointless distinctions?

Might it be time to pause all the needless labelling of information and to just read?

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Reply: Highlights of Web Directory Building Past

Brad

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

A little directory of personal directories—sweet!

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

Couple questions:

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

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

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

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

  1. Hi Kicks,

    I’ll try and answer your questions.

    >>fanfic

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

    > Hip Rank

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

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

    >>encourage

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

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

    >>Godzilla

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

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Reply: Million Short

Brad

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

Tremendous ‘search engine’ discovery!

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

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

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Reply: Where Will the Current State of Blogging and Social Media Take Us?

Jacky Alciné

Using these isolated services make it hard for us to express ourselves in the days of MySpace (for my generation) or even further back. It has created ingenuity in terms of content production within these constraints but the act of being forced in a box for the sake of revenue reeks of that post-industrial content creation farms.

Your blog has been a big inspiration to me because of its design. Part of it is that you’ve used color and photography to craft a unique place. It’s nothing like a ‘a revenue box’—it’s like a lovely novel that stands out on the shelf.

And it goes beyond aesthetics and colors—it’s well-structured. (I really like the metadata section you have on each post. The layout is appealing and it makes me want to explore your site.) Sure, if I’m posting all pictures all day, then Instagram might have everything I need. But what if I’m writing essays and conducting interviews—I want to have the freedom to structure that data so people can find their way around. (In a way, I’m saying that I want to own the ‘algorithm’—I want to just do it by hand.)

And, yeah, I was using Jekyll, too—and left it partly because I want to start doing more blogging outside of the console. I think the Indieweb toolset is still so far behind social media’s—this is why people generally don’t hang out here.

I don’t know what existed before hashtags outside of planets but those two concepts were ways to find people and content on things you were interested in. Reddit’s plumbing is built around this notion. Twitter is compartmentalized around this notion too. Even platforms built on the notion of decentralization and federation uses a centralizing tactic of federating hashtag content to build community. It’s a bit inevitable.

Really great observation here. You’re right—we don’t have a way of tagging and community forming in the Indieweb. I have been building Indieweb.xyz as a way to kind of do this—but it’s hard to know if the approach is right, it hasn’t managed to draw people in. Maybe we need a crawler you can sign up for that will index all your tags and hook us all together.

This thought of yours also brought me to the rel=tag page, which I hadn’t seen before. Not sure what to do with it. Perhaps brid.gy could start adding these hashtags to syndicated posts? Don’t really know.

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21 Sep 2018

Reply: Steelwomaning

The text of my second private reply to h0p3’s ‘hyperconversations’—I am saving my own copy of this here after many days have passed.

(This letter was previously sent privately to h0p3, since I felt that I had bungled up a productive discussion. Now that I can see the overall waveform of our discussion, I think there are many things I’m learning about conversing through writing and reading—in fact, I really think my failures so far are more the failures of input rather than out!—and this immense dialogue is becoming a satisfying start to all the dialogues I would love to have with more of you out there!)

(Apologies in advance that I do so much talking here—I swear I’ll never write anything this long again. No one should feel compelled to read this. I will shut up and go back to silent, stoic reading for the rest of the weekend.)

Hi h0p3-

So I am going to try to rewind and do as you say: to take a better shot at addressing your part of our ‘hyperconversation’. I am sending you this as a private letter so that you can censor it if you like. I feel like I am starting to border on a troll of some type 😉 and feel like the nature of my blog would turn this into a type of ‘broadcast’ that can still receive ‘thumbs up’ and such sordid things. (Ed.: You can comment on this post, but ‘likes’ and ‘mentions’ are disabled to respect this sentiment!)

I hope I can preface these remarks—even if it seems like a bad idea, because it can perceived as changing the topic, taking time away from the ‘meat’. I will get to the topic(s)—but I wonder if some other items might be more pressing (might even be the ‘meat’) because it seems they might be preventing the main discussion from occurring fruitfully.

On Being ‘Intellectual’

Ok, so stepping back—I’ve jumped headlong into a discussion with you. (And might I just add: this is a rare opportunity for me and I feel fortunate to have the chance to converse—for you to respect my communications enough that you will give them the thought you have. I have NEVER had the opportunity to correspond in a strictly written way with anyone ever before—to attempt to come to an understanding with them—hmm, well, maybe once, but not to this extent—and this whole time I am wondering if the medium has its limits. I guess this is where Socrates chimes in. Well, of course it does—but I am probably the largest of those limitations—and that feels good. Perhaps my ability to write will strain under the pressure, perhaps yours—and it requires even more of our abilities to read and internalize each other’s writings! For this reason, I would like the conversation to remain written and for us to find some kind of resolution this way.)

This correspondence has had about three major episodes from each of us. I saw this encounter as a foray into a ‘pen pal’ type thing—which is to say: ‘informal’, ‘inconsequential’ and ‘probably frivolous’. (I hope you will let me say all three of those things in good ways, very good ways. I also admire that you are reaching out through/with your autism to speak with me—I do worry about aggravating your own pain, of putting you under unreasonable expectations of my own and of not seeing the full picture of ‘you’—who you are past ‘h0p3’. But only if you need it—I would rather just see ‘h0p3’ for now—this creation is by design and I intend to take it in.) I don’t feel that I want to ‘wrestle’ —I want to ‘pen pal’. After all, this is a work of fiction. The contents of this letter are products of the reader’s imagination. This letter is for entertainment purposes only. Although the form of this letter is autobiographical, it is not. Although this letter may appear authentic, it is not. What appears to be ‘wrestling’ may actually be a new type of sophisticated ‘pal’ engagement maneuver.

Now, I am not an intellectual by any stretch—I have idea no who Kierkegaard is and I can’t keep Kant and Hume straight. I do read a lot—fiction by a wide margin. I do read Vygotsky and Piaget and, sometimes, Jung. Of all the philosophers, I am most fond of Socrates—and feel a brotherhood with you through him. But the writers that I spend my time on are fiction writers - Albert ‘Vigoleis’ Thelen is someone I speak to in my mind very often. To call out to him: ‘Vigoleis’ when I see his place in the world. Denton Welch and Robert Walser are like this for me. But even these closest—I cannot speak intellectually about them, only romantically.

So yes—I think you want to have a philosophical debate with me, but I am not equipped to do it. And I wonder if it is possible at all. I can’t read all those guys and read your wiki and read the things I want to read and pursue my current ambitions. I don’t think you want to have this discussion unless I am an equipped intellectual. We are both trying to sing and shatter a glass—but your voice is trained. So while I might still be the one to shatter the glass here and there, it’s a hell of a lot more painful having to hear my notes along the way. So this is my opening question: am I misrepresenting what this discussion is—and what do you want out of it? (In a way, I feel I can almost ‘steel’ this because of the statement: “There is a lack of fairness in the dialectic here; I’ve had way more practice thinking about the nitty-gritty, and I must be extremely cautious not to assume others can or will see what I do.”—I agree with this and I feel like I am only fleshing it out further above. And this: “I can’t see far enough to know if he can see what I’m saying (which is a fairly technical claim in moral philosophy).”—I don’t see it, I had no idea there was some central claim to ‘hyperconversations’—I thought it was a series of different claims with some riddles mixed in—which is, I think, where the central claim is nestled? “I am failing this man.”—Dude, I don’t rely on you—I have my own system of living—I’m not just an imbalanced pinball lost in your machine! 😄)

And this: “Hedonic Kierkegaardian Aestheticism is here; it’s inaccurately factored into the eudaimonic calculation.” I’m not going to even try to parse this—if I tried, my reaction would be: I don’t feel like my aestheticism is hedonic at all, but quite virtuous! So I think your phrase is going to be misunderstood by me and I am just going to sound ridiculous. 😄 Perhaps this comment is not meant for me but for the audience, k0sh3k included. (Hey kid! If you exist! Hey! I /will/ you to exist for a single ‘Hey there!’)

Some classic Romanticism in here. Reminds me of that fighting phrase: “Brawl a boxer, box a brawler.” I’ve seen this shift many times against my arguments.

I do think we are paired as boxer vs brawler. That was what I trying to say when listing out some of our opposing polarities—you are codifying me in your statement above as well—no harm, just part of trying to understand someone. I don’t feel that you are degenerate and I don’t think you (yet) believe that I am either. I don’t sense that you are trying to assimilate everyone as boxers. But I do think that not being a boxer would forfeit my scrappy end of the ‘wrestle’ or ‘debate’ side and leave us to the ‘pen pal’ aspect strictly.

This is not a small aspect: while I have not been charitable with argumentation, I believe that I have been charitable with the effect you’ve had on my own work and charitable with the credit I give you for stirring up my inventive mind and stimulating me to materialize it. This will last beyond an argument.

For my part: I am not as interested in some of the topics we’re touching on: stuff like emotion/reason (I have spent almost no time thinking about my arguments there, I am going off half-cocked and I do appreciate/embrace your sayings), what ‘the good’ is (I am trying to figure out what the thrust of our discussion even is, man I can’t even begin to sort that out) and even T42T—I still think they are all very worthy topics, but I don’t think I’m your foil on those. I agree with you that I should be required to defend my ethics—but I also don’t have a list on hand like you do—and it’s changing too much for me to even know how to nail it down. I like the part which explores the texture of our online avatars, but even there—I think I need to sit in the presence of them longer before trying to mouth off about them.

On ‘Sadness’

I am going to try to make this quick and to the point—which isn’t “you can’t make me sad” but that “momentary sadness doesn’t register as much when there are more permanent sorrow in place” something like that.

But what’s so bad about this sorrow anyway? A woman crossed the street yesterday, waving to me, so I stood and waited for her. She said she knew someone—a name I recognized. She was pleasant and warm to talk to, so we talked. She said that her son had been murdered many years ago. If you just listened to her for five minutes, you would have thought she was insane. Very pleasant and insane. In a good way, a very good way. A whirlwind of details about trajectories and cover-ups. But if you listened for an hour, you could finally she her—and her sorrow. It wasn’t disgusting or repulsive—but familiar and natural. Just a sorrow—as plain as a pleasantness.

I wanted to show her something in the yard, so I motioned for her to cross the gutter—which is quite wide and was rushing with water—it’s more of a canal than a gutter. But her legs were short and she said, “Oh I don’t know.” I held out my hand and she made a move to try to cross. I realized that she was wearing flip-flops and trying to avoid some spiky weeds. I held out both hands—I probably shouldn’t have tried to persuade her—I don’t know, I began to pull her across and she kind of panicked and made a squeal! She stumbled over—she made it—and we laughed out of relief and I felt stubborn, but it was good to move abruptly from sorrow to laughter like that. Like we had come up for air. We are still in the ocean but we are in the air too.

And I wouldn’t like it if you held back some criticism. I should love to be rebuked! When you are in the freezing ocean, it is probably the best time to hear that you have made a grammatical mistake. What a helpful distraction that could be! And you may never forget to make it again.

And children, when they are rebuked—so often they simply drop their head down and say slowly, ‘Ohhh kay…’ For me, this embodies such an ideal—first, to acknowledge that criticism DOES sting, direct criticism truly can, possibly always does, it makes us drop our heads to hear—and, secondly, to simply ‘ack’ the criticism with no further commentary or defense. Perhaps to go without defense would be too submissive—on the other hand, can we endure any criticism as adults? Any?

I probably am doing my own sidestepping and defensiveness of criticism in this letter. I do know I am better to just drop my head and say slowly, ‘Ohhh kay…’

All of this context to say: I realize you aren’t making fun of me at all here, and I appreciate that very much.

Yes, but if we can find a way to truly make fun of each other—wouldn’t that be such a grand achievement?

On ‘Hyperconversations’

The shadow over our eyes is a serious problem: I believe it costs us the ability to be cognitively and emotionally vulnerable (even to ourselves). We don’t really get to know each other when we are engaged in good opsec (that’s kind of the point). The public/private adversarial tension does seem contradictory, but I hope to find a middle way; surely there is a linear logical framework from which geometric social cooperation can arise (I must hope).

Continued here:

You can always doubt, and you can only ever improve your Bayesian odds. The inductive step in trust is a leap of faith in Humanity, in The Other, sir. Building trust and real relationships is exactly why I reveal myself to you and everyone else. I want people to see how I conduct myself and my relationships across the board.

And then:

With diamond balls, I really aim to be practically transparent in my practice of saying what I mean and meaning what I say directly because my integrity is at stake.

And also:

We are each cameras, in a sense. I think of this wiki as an external, reifying camera of my internal camera states. I do hope to wield both wisely. I do not think I morally own either of them all the way down except insofar as I am constituted by (exist as an extension or instantiation of) The Moral Law.

If I were to try to identify this central ‘claim’ you are making and to ‘steel’ it: You feel that true and real relationships demand radical transparency. More than that, you see it as a virtue—embodying bravery, integrity and honesty. You see it as a direct solution to prevailing mistrust and misunderstanding in the world. You model this behavior for others.

To you, h0p3, this has a blissful and fortuitous collaboration with modern surveillance. You aren’t saying, “What do I have to hide?” It seems that you are saying, “You can’t make me hide.” And I do not think you do not see it as the ‘correct’ choice—you seem to acknowledge that it is a trade-off—but that you are willing to pay the price. But you believe you have sorted it out: you do believe that the reward will always be greater than the price.

Am I in the ballpark? I don’t really know how to do this!

To this, I have no response. I can only hang my head and say slowly, “Ok Mister H…”

I felt no need to respond to that claim after the letter—I found it well-reasoned! I did wonder how much of it is grounded in the tech ideals of ‘open source’ and ‘gratis’/‘libre’—I’ve had other tech friends dabble in transparency (sharing bank account info publicly, cataloging life activity publicly.) I stand by what I said:

The remarkable thing about your wiki is that you have turned your camera on. In fact, your wiki is defiantly personal—I think it goes beyond a mere camera. Your history. Your conversations. Your letter to your parents. Your thoughts about people—about me. A person can turn on a camera and never say these things. You are on to something. I have no desire to talk you out of it.

I realize now that saying nothing is a failure. You need an ‘ack’. Even if it is a repetition.

I think there is something unanswered here, though: Do you have any adaptations to ‘Gentle ClearNet Doxxing’ after the events of the last month? I have wondered if you were going to write more about this—maybe I missed it. To stand by a rule too doggedly is to be—well—dogmatic. Or has the rule functioned properly? (On the other hand, I might also aspire to be dogmatic about FOSS - just for myself and not for anyone else.) Feel free to just link me to the correct answers that I cannot seem to locate.

Ok, that is the end of this letter. I ran across the “business card” page on your wiki while researching “transparency” and loved it.

-kicks

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Reply: Good Ole Static HTML

Brad Enslen

You did lead me down a rabbit hole: I searched around and found that Seamonkey is still free and still has a working copy of Composer, the WYSIWYG HTML editor, so I downloaded it since I have a Windows computer now. Just in case. WYSIWYG is pretty much my speed in HTML.

Seamonkey is still alive?

I saw that on Wikipedia, but thought it was probably old and didn’t pursue it. But, hey, sure enough! This isn’t bad at all—it loads my site (seemingly perfectly) and allows me to straight-up edit the whole thing. I wonder if it would be difficult to merge this into Beaker somehow… (This plainly uses contentEditable—which makes me realize that I’m quite wrong—there are some lingering read-write features latent in Chrome, Firefox and so on.)

I’ll research what Jekyll and Hugo are, I’ve seen them mentioned.

I wouldn’t go too far into either of these. I previously used Jekyll, but it got too slow for me to regenerate all my HTML. Hugo is faster, but configuration is just too difficult. There is nothing yet as simple as Wordpress. I’ve ended up writing my own because Indieweb features had to be mixed in pretty tightly.

I think the most promising things right now are TiddlyWiki and Beaker. I think that, as Beaker continues to develop, we will see something as solid as Wordpress come out. But until then, I’d stay where you are comfortable writing.

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Static: the Gathering

Thinking harder about the surprising return of static HTML.

Static website and blog generators continue to be a very solid and surprising undercurrent out there. What could be more kitschy on the Web than hand-rolled HTML? It must be the hipsters; must be the fusty graybeards. Oh, it is—but we’re also talking about the most ubiquitous file format in the world here.

Popular staticgens sit atop the millions of repositories on Github: Jekyll (#71 with 35.5k stars—above Bitcoin), Next.js (#98 with 29.3k stars, just above Rust), Hugo (#118 with 28.9k stars). This part of the software world has its own focused directories[1] and there is constant innovation—such as this week’s Vapid[2] beta and the recent Cabal[3].

And I keep seeing comments like this:

I recently completed a pretty fun little website for the U.S. freight rail industry using Hugo […] It will soon replace an aging version of the site that was built with Sitecore CMS, .NET, and SQL Server.[4]

Yes, it’s gotten to the point that some out there are creating read-only web APIs (kind of like websites used by machines to communicate between each other)—yes, you heard that right![5]

Clearly there are some obvious practical benefits to static websites, which are listed time and again:

Webmonkey logo

Fast.
Web servers can put up static HTML with lightning speed. Thus you can endure a sudden viral rash of readers, no problem.

Cheap.
While static HTML might require more disk space than an equivalent dynamic site—although this is arguable, since there is less software to install along with it—it requires fewer CPU and memory resources. You can put your site up on Amazon S3 for pennies. Or even Neocities or Github Pages for free.

Security.
With no server-side code running, this closes the attack vector for things like SQL injection attacks.

Of course, everything is a tradeoff—and I’m sure you are conjuring up an argument that one simply couldn’t write an Uber competitor in static HTML. But even THAT has become possible! The recent release of the Beaker Browser has seen the appearance of a Twitter clone (called Fritter[6]), which is written ENTIRELY IN DUN-DUN STATIC JS AND H.T.M.L!!

Many think the Beaker Browser is all about the ‘decentralized Web’. Yeah, uh, in part. Sure, there are many that want this ‘d-web’—I imagine there is some crossover with the groups that want grassroots, localized mesh networks—for political reasons, speech reasons, maybe Mozilla wants a new buzzword, maybe out of idealism or (justified!) paranoia. And maybe it’s for real.

Screenshot of Beaker's editor.

No, my friends, Beaker marks a return of the possibility of a read-write Web. (I believe this idea took a step back in 2004 when Netscape took Composer out of its browser—which at that time was a ‘suite’ you could use to write HTML as well as read it.) Pictured above, I am editing the source code of my site right from the browser—but this is miniscule compared to what Beaker can do[7]. (Including Beaker’s dead-simple “Make an editable copy”—a button that appears in the address bar of any ‘dat’ website you visit.)

(And, yes, Twitter has given you read-write 140 chars. Facebook gave a read-write width of 476 pixels across—along with a vague restriction to height. And Reddit gave you a read-write social pastebin in gray-on-white-with-a-little-blue[8]. Beaker looks to me like read-write full stop.)

Now look—I couldn’t care less how you choose to write your mobile amateur Karaoke platform[9], what languages or what spicy styles. But for personal people of the Web—the bloggers, the hobbyists, the newbs still out there, the NETIZENS BAAAHAHAHAHHAAA!—yeah, no srsly, let’s be srs, I think there are even more compelling reason for you.

The Web is the Machine

Broken software is a massive problem. Wordpress can go down—an upgrade can botch it, a plugin can get hacked, a plugin can run slow, it can get overloaded. Will your Ghost installation still run in ten years? Twenty years?

Google's 503 error.

Dynamic sites seem to need a ‘stack’ of software and stacks do fall over. And restacking—reinstalling software on a new server can be time-consuming. One day that software simply won’t work. And, while ‘staticgens’ can break as well, it’s not quite a ‘stack’.

And, really, it may not matter at that point: the ‘staticgens’ do leave you with the static HTML.

The more interesting question is: how long will the web platform live on for? How long will HTML and JavaScript stay on? They have shown remarkable resilience and backward compatibility. I spend a lot of time surfing the Old Web and it’s most often Flash that is broken—while even some of the oldest, most convuluted stuff is exactly as it was intended.

Static HTML is truly portable and can be perfectly preserved in the vault. Often we now think of it simply as a transitory snapshot between screen states. Stop to think of its value as a rich document format—perhaps you might begin to think of its broken links as a glaring weakness—but those are only the absolute ones, the many more relative links continue to function no matter where it goes!

And, if there were more static HTML sites out there, isn’t it possible that we would find less of the broken absolutes?

Furthermore, since static HTML is so perfectly amenable to the decentralized Web—isn’t it possible that those absolute links could become UNBREAKABLE out there??

Your Death

A friend recently discovered a Russian tortoise—it was initially taken to the Wildlife Service out of suspicion that it was an endangered Desert tortoise. But I think its four toes were the giveaway. (This turtle is surprisingly speedy and energetic might I add. I often couldn’t see it directly, but I observed the rustling of the ivy as it crawled a hundred yards over the space of—what seemed like—minutes.)

This friend remarked that the tortoise may outlive him. A common lifespan for the Russian is fifty years—but could go to even 100! (Yes, this is unlikely, but hyperbole is great fun in casual mode.)

This brought on a quote I recently read from Gabriel Blackwell:

In a story called “Web Mind #3,” computer scientist Rudy Rucker writes, “To some extent, an author’s collected works comprise an attempt to model his or her mind.” Those writings are like a “personal encyclopedia,” he says; they need structure as much as they need preservation. He thus invented the “lifebox,” a device that “uses hypertext links to hook together everything you tell it.” No writing required. “The lifebox is almost like a simulation of you,” Rucker says, in that “your eventual audience can interact with your stories, interrupting and asking questions.”

— p113, Madeleine E

An aside to regular readers: Hell—this sounds like philosopher.life! And this has very much been a theme in our conversations, with this line bubbling up from the recent Hyperconversations letter:

I do not consider myself my wiki, but I think it represents me strongly. Further, I think my wiki and I are highly integrated. I think it’s an evolving external representation of the internal (think Kantian epistemology) representations of myself to which I attend. It’s a model of a model, and it’s guaranteed to be flawed, imho (perhaps I cannot answer the question for you because I consider it equivalent to resolving the fundamental question of philosophy).

God, I’ve done a bang-up job here. I don’t think I can find a better argument for static HTML than: it might actually be serializing YOU! 😘

I am tempted to end there, except that I didn’t come here to write some passionate screed that ultimately comes off as HTML dogmatism. I don’t care to say that static HTML is the ultimate solution, that it’s where things are heading and that it is the very brick of Xanadu.

I think where I stand is this: I want my personal thoughts and writings to land in static HTML. And, if I’m using some variant (such as Markdown or TiddlyWiki), I still need to always keep a copy in said format. And I hope that tools will improve in working with static HTML.

And I think I also tilt more toward ‘static’ when a new thing comes along. Take ActivityPub: I am not likely to advocate it until it is useful to static HTML. If it seems to take personal users away from ‘static’ into some other infostorage—what for? I like that Webmention.io has brought dynamism to static—I use the service for receiving comments on static essays like these.

To me, it recalls the robustness principle:

Be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others.

In turn, recalling the software talk Functional Core, Imperative Shell—its idea that the inner workings of a construct must be sound and impervious; the exterior can be interchangable armor, disposable and adapted over time. (To bring Magic: the Gathering fully into this—this is our ‘prison deck’.)

Static within; dynamic without. Yin and yang. (But I call Yin!)


  1. Certainly there is an ‘awesome’. But also custom directories, such as staticgen.com and ssg. Beyond that, there are loads of ‘10 best staticgens’ articles on the webdev blogs. ↩︎

  2. A tool that builds a dashboard from static HTML pages. (Think of it: HTML is the database schema??) Anyway: vapid.com. ↩︎

  3. A chat platform built on static files. I do consider this to be in the neighborhood—it can die and still exist as a static archive. See the repo. ↩︎

  4. Original comment here by slathrop, July 2018. ↩︎

  5. Build a JSON API with Hugo’s Custom Output Formats, April 2018. ↩︎

  6. If you’re in Beaker: dat://fritter.hashbase.io. ↩︎

  7. The DatArchive API, which any website can leverage if it runs inside of Beaker, allows you to edit any website that you own FROM that same website. A very rudimentary example would be dead-lite. ↩︎

  8. The “gray on white with a little blue” phenomenon is covered in further detail at Things We Left in the Old Web. ↩︎

  9. My apologies—I am pretty glued to this right now. Finally there is a whole radio station devoted to the musical stylings of off-key ten-year-olds and very earnest, nasally Sinatras. ↩︎

  1. @kicks I like seeing sites done in good ole static HTML and I hope it has a revival. My biggest problem with static pages was going through and updating the navigation manually when I added a page. Well MS Frontpage did that automatically if you had Frontpage extensions on your server. (Tripod did which was cool.)

    I'm not sure I'm buying into this newfangled CSS stuff yet though.

    Good article, I think you hit all the right points. I don't really have anything to argue for or against. There are so many websites that would be better served by just having a few static pages instead of a blog or CMS.

    You did lead me down a rabbit hole: I searched around and found that Seamonkey is still free and still has a working copy of Composer, the WYSIWYG HTML editor, so I downloaded it since I have a Windows computer now. Just in case. WYSIWYG is pretty much my speed in HTML.

    I'll research what Jekyll and Hugo are, I've seen them mentioned.

  2. Reply: Good Ole Static HTML

    Brad Enslen

    You did lead me down a rabbit hole: I searched around and found that Seamonkey is still free and still has a working copy of Composer, the WYSIWYG HTML editor, so I downloaded it since I have a Windows computer now. Just in case. WYSIWYG is pretty much my speed in HTML.

    Seamonkey is still alive?

    I saw that on Wikipedia, but thought it was probably old and didn’t pursue it. But, hey, sure enough! This isn’t bad at all—it loads my site (seemingly perfectly) and allows me to straight-up edit the whole thing. I wonder if it would be difficult to merge this into Beaker somehow… (This plainly uses contentEditable—which makes me realize that I’m quite wrong—there are some lingering read-write features latent in Chrome, Firefox and so on.)

    I’ll research what Jekyll and Hugo are, I’ve seen them mentioned.

    I wouldn’t go too far into either of these. I previously used Jekyll, but it got too slow for me to regenerate all my HTML. Hugo is faster, but configuration is just too difficult. There is nothing yet as simple as Wordpress. I’ve ended up writing my own because Indieweb features had to be mixed in pretty tightly.

    I think the most promising things right now are TiddlyWiki and Beaker. I think that, as Beaker continues to develop, we will see something as solid as Wordpress come out. But until then, I’d stay where you are comfortable writing.

  3. @bradenslen If by new fangled CSS you mean CSS Grid I hope you run to it fast. So much better then failing with floats.

  4. @jgmac1106 What is this Grid of which you speak?

    Um, I started with HTML 3.?? where the style sheet was right on the page with the rest of the code. Then somebody slipped in this CSS stuff and I started hiring web designers. :-)

    Seroiusly, I can edit bits of HTML but hand coding a page from scratch would be beyond me without a WYSIWYG editor or a page builder. Maybe, maybe I can edit CSS a little, I'm experimenting now, waiting for a cron job to update and see if I did it right.

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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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18 Sep 2018

Reply: Curated Stuff

Simon Woods

For example, I would love to see DuckDuckGo not only improve their search engine with whatever machine-lead efforts they might have but also find ways to work with the real communities of the web to reach the goal stated above.

Ok—understood. So, it seems our group here still has a lot to talk about wrt how to curate links in new ways. (The directories of old seemed really dry and pointless to me—until I started talking to Brad and seeing that directories are still everywhere, but in disguise.)

Alongside that though, continuing your line about DuckDuckGo working with the curators—I think it would also be useful to define how we would envision search participating. I’d rather have us giving them directions than have it go the other way (similar to how RSS was an initiative by bloggers, preferrable to the myriad of APIs that are doled out by the networks.)

I guess I wonder how everyone feels about microformats as part of directories. (I prefer microformats—microsub, for instance—to RSS because it doesn’t require upkeep of a separate document that ISN’T really HTML.) But I can’t ignore that microformats feel clunky and can be implemented 100x different ways…

I also wonder how human curation should play a role in search. (Like—is it possible for curators to hone algorithms—is this already done?)

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I am going to be online Tuesdays and Fridays from now on. I don’t expect anyone to care about this schedule unless they are looking for a response to something. So, yeah, I am going to be concentrating my reading and responding on those days. Ok, sorry—carry on!

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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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12 Sep 2018

Caesar Naples Wiki Social Media Website

I created Caesar Naples so I could have an influence in social media sites. The name is part of my personal brand of writing that only I can write. Over the past 3 years, I’ve been gathering influence on different popular social media sites, and I’m almost to a point where I can give control of the brand over to an organization of writers all aligned to the same purpose. He’s like an action figure, when he is friendly, fun, and inviting. But the information he delivers to people is often very uncomfortable for them to accept.

I think I am prepared for Caesar Naples to have an influence on me. I don’t know if you all will see it, but this ‘wiki’/‘book’/‘presence’ is at the crossroads of a lot of things that seem to be going on around here.

I see faint threads to Lion Kimbro’s serious and informationally whimsical work in Caesar’s Social Media Marketing Book, excerpt:

  1. Do you make odd faces when you’re thinking? This is know as tardive diskinesia and is a sign that you’re being controlled by a drug user.

  2. Do you make hand gestures at weird times? You’re basically lost at this point; it’s a satanic method of marking their territory.

  3. Does your mood shift greatly depending on your behaviors? It’s not that you’re learning how to control your emotions; it’s that an Illuminati controller is.

(From the section titled “Manchurian Candidates: The wild-card in your campaign.”)

There are echoes of zine culture in this—Charlie McAlister would love this, I think. The author is active on /r/conspiracy and seems to be forming a group there to write under this and other personas—though it’s difficult to tell whether it’s all made up—don’t think I care, I think it’s very exciting.

I see h0p3 in there too: in the Caesar Naples Wiki, there is reference to autism as a horcrux—this seems uncanny, given Sphygmus’ recent usage of the horcrux as a metaphor… What is going on??

Unlike h0p3, his writing is scattered everywhere, laced together with a bunch of Google sites—the copypastapublishing one is a good place to start, with the story Publishing Company 2002 and the To OK Gov piece. More are here. Some of the stories appear to be based on Markov chain generated text, others are quite lucid.

(Ah, I am not familiar with the ‘copypasta’ thing—this is my first exposure to it—it seems to want to take conspiracy-sounding or overserious rants out of context? I don’t know if it is a political thing—I am naive about all of that. There is a prolific person under this. I also am starting to see that people likely suspect my own self of being fradulent, of being h0p3, of being alt-right, of being an ARG, of being Brad Enslen, of being a schizophrenic, of being a radical leftist, of being a greatest showman—I am fine with all of these explanations and I think it would be a fortunate thing to even be thought of by someone somewhere.)

This person also has an understanding of community dynamic, another topic that is bubbling up lately.

I let my Caesar Naples act pour mercilessly into my communication with the writers of this community. There were personal details I shared that would make anybody uncomfortable related to my schizophrenia. I would host imaginary games where I pretended the chat room was a group of survivors in the apocalypse. I also made some very unreasonable claims and tried my damnest to justify them - all part of the Caesar Naples act. Eventually, I was kicked from two communities that I very much wanted to be part of, because they represented my instant recovery from exile.

Now that I’m no longer a part of those communities, I try my hardest to balance the wild, incredible parts of Caesar Naples with something more human.

Posts can be found under ‘CaesarNaples2’ on Reddit.

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09 Sep 2018

How to Make a Complete Map of Every Thought You Think

I am not linking to this so that you can make a complete map of every thought you think necessarily. I think this is an inspiring personal infobio or something. ✤ h0p3 has some news on this fellow!

This is a 100-or-so pages about how to put everything in your head into notebooks—this is an old link I have been searching out for a few years—its link changed and I couldn’t remember the name of it.

Anyway, the author has a very peculiar (remarkable?) system here that requires those four-color ballpoint pens that you can click to get different colors. In fact, he says to buy three of them.

You need one to carry with you, you need one for backup, placed in a trusted place, and you need one to be a backup to the backup. YES, you really need this. If you are wasting time looking for a pen that you lost, you are just wasting time. The pen will come back. In the mean time, you need to write, so you’ve got to fetch your backup. You have a backup to the backup. If you have ready access to a store, you need to buy another pen, should you not find your first pen by then.

It seems like you also don’t want to store the three pens together, because you REALLY cannot lose them all in one go. It seems like you really might need ten—one in your car/bike, one in your desk, no, two in your desk, one under the front mat, one in the junk drawer, one in the pen cup, one on the nightstand for sure, I had eight more places, what were they.

This is also a document that kind of sits in an interesting place wrt Indieweb, wikis—it mentions Ted Nelson’s Xanadu as inspiration, which has become an important namedrop in redecentralized web convos. What’s more he makes a very salient point related to web directories, library work—all the things I dabble in also—

Thinking about Information Architecture will be EXTREMELY important to society in the future. All these programmers wondering, ”Why aren’t we reusing each others components?” Yes, very significantly, our languages and practices are limiting us. Quite severly. But even if we had the best reuse languages mechanisms and what not, we STILL need it to be easier to figure out what other people have written. The RETRIEVAL problem is MASSIVE.

His name for it is: Public Field Technologies. But I can find no other reference to it.

UPDATE: h0p3 found the guy!

It’s interesting—I have been very wtf about h0p3’s ‘Gentle Clearnet Doxxing’ policy, where he posts the ‘private’ details of a person—their address, phone number and so on. But, this is quite incredible—he SMS’d Lion Kimbro and got a call back:

h0p3: Hey. I read your book recently. I was blown away by it. I’ve been working on my wiki (https://philosopher.life/) for a couple years. I was hoping to have the chance to learn about how you think about the problem and what you practice these many years later.

kimbro: What a creative and itneresting idea– a Groundhog’s Day Dungeons and Dragons adventure …!

I look forward to talking with you. Can we make a time?

h0p3: Yes! anytime is good for me

Instantly called me. Cool.


We talked a bit on the phone. He told me about his adventures into the world, traveling to understand visionary communities. I’ve seen some of those breadcrumbs while looking into him. He’s definitely searching for community. He’s not a luddite, but he has moved offline (although, he clearly still uses the internet…he’s just building something else). He did not want to be associated with contemplative living. Honestly, he’s got that cultic charisma, no doubt.

This strategy is connecting people. It’s triggering a major rethink. Crontab of the mind LOADED UP.

  1. @kicks Interesting concept. But I'm really replying to say I love your site. That is one unique looking set up you're using. Completely against the current minimalist ethos, but I like it!

  2. Reply: Against the Ethos

    What an encouraging thing to say—thankyou for taking the time to say it. I am definitely trying to go against minimalism (and mutedness)! However, I also feel like I’m exercising a lot of restraint—this still feels quite tame. (Also looking forward to Halloween—the world’s transformation.)

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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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Web Recorder

An incredibly sick tool for archiving—maybe this is already popular and beloved, but it doesn’t hurt to wave it around a bit here.

A modern WWW archiver service—just was overhauled and the bleeding-edge can save the archive to Dat. (Makes me want a ‘record’ ⏺ button in my URL bar that I can just leave on! Any ideas if this exists??)

(INCIDENTALLY discovered this on the Code for Society Agenda notes on Etherpad, which I hadn’t seen in many years—it’s fantastic that it’s still around! This is a tool surely in the vein of what our little internet surf club here has been discussing recently. (Video here, haven’t watched this, so this is also a TODO.)

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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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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: 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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28 Aug 2018

Sharing and Archiving with Dat

This is a technical overview of how to use/understand Dat. It covers how useful it is for ‘backing up’ websites—which is how I intend to use it.

So, this article (and the comments) cleared up a few things for me.

Dat can currently be configured to either track all changes (history) of files in a folder (at the cost of a full duplication of all files and all historical changes), or track only the most recent version of files with no duplication (at the cost of losing all history). There is not (yet?) any fancy dat mode which efficiently tracks only deltas (changes) to files with no other file overhead.

From my examination of the Beaker code yesterday, I noticed that the browser only downloads the specific version of a file that you need—I like this! (Rather than having to download the whole history of a file to put it back together.)

One advantage that Dat has over IPFS is that it doesn’t duplicate the data. When IPFS imports new data, it duplicates the files into ~/.ipfs. For collections of small files like the kernel, this is not a huge problem, but for larger files like videos or music, it’s a significant limitation. IPFS eventually implemented a solution to this problem in the form of the experimental filestore feature, but it’s not enabled by default. Even with that feature enabled, though, changes to data sets are not automatically tracked. In comparison, Dat operation on dynamic data feels much lighter. The downside is that each set needs its own dat share process.

I think this is a great benefit of Dat’s design. Because it basically just boils down to a distributed append-only log—a giant, progressively longer file that many people can share, and which you can build stuff like file folders or a database on top of—it’s incredibly flexible.

It certainly has advantages over IPFS in terms of usability and resource usage, but the lack of packages on most platforms is a big limit to adoption for most people. This means it will be difficult to share content with my friends and family with Dat anytime soon, which would probably be my primary use case for the project.

I totally disagree with this sentiment! Dat has the Beaker Browser—which is an incredible thing for a novice to use. Yes, it would (will?) be even better when it can be found on iOS and Android. But, for now, I’m happy to recommend it to friends and family: “Yeah, you can share your own websites—we can even have our own private Twitter-type-thing together—with this thing.”

I know the Beaker team has said that their goal is to get Dat accepted by the major browsers—but I think Beaker’s ability to customize itself to the decentralized web is an advantage. I could see it finding a lot of users.

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Browser-Side Includes in Beaker Browser

A proof-of-concept for enjoying HTML includes.

It seems like the Beaker Browser has been making an attempt to provide tools so that you can create JavaScript apps that function literally without a server. Their Twitter-equivalent (‘fritter’) runs entirely in the browser—it simply aggregates a bunch of static dats that are out there. And when you post, Beaker is able to write to your personal dat. Which is then aggregated by all the others out there.

One of the key features of Beaker that allows this is the ‘fallback_page’ setting. This setting basically allows for simplified URL rewriting—by redirecting all 404s to an HTML page in your dat. In a way, this resembles mod_rewrite-type functionality in the browser!

What I’ve been wondering is: would it be possible to bring server-side includes to Beaker? So, yeah: browser-side includes. My patch to beaker-core is here. It’s very simple—but it works!

Quick Example

Beaker editing index.html

Here is Beaker editing the index.html of a new basic Website from its template. I’m including the line:

<!--#include file="inc.html"-->

This will instruct beaker to inline the inc.html contents from the same dat archive. Its contents look like this:

<p style="color:red">TEST</p>

Beaker displaying index.html

And here we see the HTML displayed in the browser.

But Does Beaker Need This?

I’m not sure. As I’ve been working with static HTML in dat, I’ve thought that it would be ‘nice’. But is ‘nice’ good enough?

Here are a few positives that I see:

Appeal to novices. Giving more power to HTML writers can lower the bar to building interesting things with Dat. Beaker has already shown that they are willing to flesh out JavaScript libraries to give hooks to all of us users out here. But there are many people who know HTML and not JavaScript. I think features for building the documents could be really useful.

Space savings. I think static blogs would appreciate the tools to break up HTML so that there could be fewer archive changes when layouts change subtly.

Showcase what Beaker is. Moving server-side includes into Beaker could demonstrate the lack of a need for an HTTP server in a concrete way. And perhaps there are other Apache/Nginx settings that could be safely brought to Beaker.

The negative is that Dat might need its own wget that understands a feature like this. At any rate, I would be interested if others find any merit to something like this. I realize the syntax is pretty old school—but it’s already very standard and familiar, which seems beneficial.

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23 Aug 2018

Ticker Tape Parade

It’s good to be a little ‘river’ of thoughts—apart from the estuaries.

Inspired by the concept of Ripped Sheets of Paper, I began to see a new blog design in my mind that departed from all the current trends. (Related: Things We Left in the Old Web.)

The large majority of blogs and social media feeds out there are:

  • Highly rigid visually—a linear list of paragraphs.
  • Mostly blue and white (with a little gray.)
  • Bland. Often all posts are structured virtually the same, unless there are images.
  • Alike. There are common templates.

So, yeah, no wonder the Web has deteriorated! We just don’t care. It’s understandable—we experimented for a good ten or twenty years. I guess that’s why I wanted this site to border on bizarre—to try to reach for the other extreme without simply aspiring to brutalism.

To show that leaving social media can free you to build your own special place on the web. I have no reason to scream and war here in order to stand apart.

Exaggerated Importance

When I started laying out the main ‘river’ of strips on my various feed pages—here’s my August archive, for instance—I started to want the different posts to have a greater impact on the page based on what they were.

Screenshot of the new home page.

A tweet-style note thing should be tiny. It’s a mere thought.

A reply to someone might be longer, depending on the quality of the ideas within it.

And the long essays take a great length of time to craft—they should have the marquee.

It began to remind me of the aging ‘tag cloud’. Except that I couldn’t stand tag clouds because the small text in the cloud was always too small! And they also became stale—they always use the same layout. (It would be interesting to rethink the tag cloud—maybe with this ‘river’ in mind!)

It’s All There

Even though these ‘river’-style feeds are slender and light on metadata—for instance, the ‘river’ is very light on date and tagging info—it’s all there. All the metadata and post content is in the HTML. This is so that I can pop up the full post immediately. But also: that stuff is the microformats!

Why bother with microformats? I remember this technology coming out like a decade ago and—it went nowhere!

But, no, they are actually coming into stride. They allow me to syndicate and reply on micro.blog without leaving my site. I can reply to all my webfriends in like fashion. They have added a lot to blogging in these times—look up ‘Indieweb’.

Honestly, they make this blog worth using. For me. I feel like the design should be for you; the semantic structure is for me.

This lead to a happy coalescing of the design and the structure: I could load individual posts on a windowing layer over the home page. This is a kickback to the old DHTML windowing sites of yesteryear. (And, in part, inspired by the zine at whimsy.space.)


Screenshot of right-clicking on a post.

What’s more—nothing (except the archives dropdown, I should say) is broken if Javascript is off. You can still center-click on the square blog post cards to launch them in a tab. URLs in the browser should line up properly without filling your history with crap.

I do have some new kinds of post layouts that will be cropping up here are there—such as how this article is made of individual tiles. But it all flattens to simple HTML where I need it to.

One of the struggles of the modern Indieweb is to have uniqueness and flair without sacrificing function. I have to do a lot of customization to integrate with Twitter, micro.blog and RSS. But I hope you will not need to work around me. So that remains to be seen.

At any rate: thankyou! So many of you that I correspond with offered juicy conversations that stimulated this new design. My muse has always been Life Itself. The experiences and conversations all around --> inspiration! I feel fortunate to any eyes that wipe across my sentences from time to time.

Time to get back to linking to you.

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21 Aug 2018

Reply: Visual Vocabulary

Don MacDonald

Thanks for the kind words! I didn’t mean to imply your site is retro or a nostalgia thing, just that it reminded me of a kind of site that you’d see in that era, when people were trying out all kinds of crazy stuff with web sites, before there was a set visual vocabulary and design grammar for the web.

“…Before there was a set visual vocabulary…”

Ok I like that! ‘Before there was a set visual vocabulary.’ I definitely feel like the web has become extremely rigid. Blogs have coalesced into a common format. And home pages have, too—with ‘hero images’, for instance. I do miss the old styles of the web, but even more, I miss the variety. (I even feel like CSS has played a role in this. With old tables and spacer gifs, one could really concoct strange layouts. To some extent, image maps and Shockwave helped there.)

I am feeling a fresh liberation of style after having lived through the recent era of staleness. It’s like something is brewing, about to begin.

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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

Why is anyone upset with Facebook or Twitter? The keepers of the Web are all of us—the individuals. We built it. And still can. Does no one feel a pang of remorse at abandoning their blogs and home pages? And of not showing the newbs where to safely migrate? (Indieweb, for one.)

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Reply: Syndicating to Twitter, Micro.blog

Brad Enslen

Twitter: (changed) – this blog now posts to Twitter via WordPress Jetpack. I made the change because I can control what goes out to Twitter on each individual post.

I think the biggest problem with syndication is ensuring your stuff looks good on the other side.

This is a big problem with micro.blog for an outsider. I have no need to run my blog from there—and I don’t want to start storing some stuff on micro.blog and some stuff here. I want all my stuff on one master bookshelf. But I’ve had a hell of a time getting my Webmention replies to show up there.

For example, I have a reply that did appear on Eli’s post. But it doesn’t show up on the actual micro.blog thread.

I then signed up for an account and added my feed.json for syndication there. My reply to frankm showed up in my feed. But it wasn’t until I sent a Webmention that the post finally ended up on the thread.

I wish I didn’t have to have an account—I should be able to just Webmention a reply like any other Indieweb blog out there, right?

Indieweb.xyz – this is manual, on a post by post basis.

Sweet, this is the way to do it. I use Jekyll under the hood, so I added a field to my posts that looks like this:

syndicate: [xyz:/en/linking, twitter:kickscondor]

So I can selectively syndicate posts. Once I can get Twitter right, I’ll probably syndicate everything there, like you do.

I think one syndication service I’d like to see is one where I could syndicate to an e-mail digest that people could sign up to get weekly or monthly.

  1. >email digests

    I think I have this through WordPress. People can sign up for either instant email notifications or a digest. Nobody has signed up but it is a nice option to have.

  2. I really like the idea of a regular summary. One of my itches is to make an archive page that would provide a summary of all my activities for a selected month.

    I could build it with Google Sheets, I should probably start there.

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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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16 Aug 2018

Reply: Owning You

Frank McPherson

Does owning your own domain = owning your content? I am not so sure.

I personally don’t care about the domain thing. It’s nice to own a TLD, but I’d be happy with kicks.neocities.org. My thing is being able to reply and write on my own site so I can style it and have a place to call home.

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The Word.com Archive

While surfing today, I ran across this article—The Ballad of Jaime Levy—that goes over the history of an old 90s e-zine called Word.com. Man, had I forgotten. Boring name, yeah—but they were doing some really sweet stuff back then. This archive doesn’t do the zine justice; many of the best years were done in embedded Shockwave and Quicktime, but it sounds like they’re working on restoring those issues. I vividly remember the screenshot above—there was a kind of parallax scrolling going on in the banner.

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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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Reply: The Open Web is a Tool, Not a Silver Bullet

Josh de Lioncourt

The open web will not solve harassment or abuse—it never has. Those things existed online long before FaceBook or Twitter and will go on after they are footnotes in history books. IRC is/was a non-centralized chat system that was the 90s equivalent to Twitter in many ways. Abuse there happened every bit as often as it does on social networks today. I remember; I was there.

Heh, Usenet, anyone?

See, and now that I think of it—I think the Open Web is now the alt.* hierachy. While Twitter and Facebook are the Backbone Cabal. (See The Great Renaming.)

Maybe all we’re doing is going through centralizing and redecentralizing cycles here.

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Reply: The Public Square

Brent Simmons

For a long time there’s been just one thing I’d like to convince Twitter users of: that centralized social networking is harmful to society and to individuals.

I can make that point on Twitter — but it’s hollow there, since the medium really is the message.

(The actual post is here.) Just wanted to offer some encouragement—there are a lot of folks out there blogging again. We just need to stay linked. The great thing about micro.blog is that I can leave you comments from my blog. Would be nice to have that on ‘inessential’—but I’ll be sure to follow what you’re doing there regardless.

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Reply: Blogs in the Wild

Brad Enslen

There are blogs and bloggers out there, basically talking to themselves because nobody can find them. They don’t know if anybody is reading or appreciates what they post because nobody comments and they have no clue about Indieweb.

I think evangelizing the raw Indieweb might be over at this point. The term is at least five years old.

Webmentions have not had the uptake that even pingbacks had in their time. I still think it’s possible for platforms to find some hype—like Micro.blog has seen a lot of adoption, or Aperture might draw people in.

But that’s okay. I think what you and I are doing will go like this:

  1. We hunt for homegrown blogs, sites, wikis and such just as we are right now.
  2. We build directories, webrings and syndication services that map out this world.
  3. The thing becomes a self-sustaining flotilla of: a) Talking, pitching in with each other’s projects. b) Experimenting with the format—I like to think that we’re developing an alternate timeline, as if blogs had replaced Friendster/Myspace rather than these other derivative networks. c) And customizing these directories and projects for subcommunities.

This is all very unlikely. Somehow, I think saying it out loud
makes it even more unlikely. But this is what I look forward to, personally.

Difficulty: I think it is best if we have to do a little work to syndicate to xyz. I’ve thought about what if we could syndicate via RSS but that would spam xyz out. It does not need all my drivel, only my better (or longer) posts. And if you incorporated RSS then the real spammers would take over sooner or later.

Maybe someone can talk me out of this viewpoint: I think needing to have your own domain name will be a big hit against spammers. Basically, I’d rather take the Gmail approach to spam prevention than the Facebook/Reddit approach to upvoting and algorithms. Clickbait is a hell of a lot scarier to me than spam.

So spam prevention would involve:

  1. Limiting the number of webmentions that can come from a domain.
  2. The ability to blacklist at the domain or subdomain level. (And keeping a master list, perhaps overlapping with other blogspam lists out there.)
  3. Some subs will have moderation.
  4. Since we scan the source page for the Indieweb.xyz link, we can do other analysis at that time to detect spam.

All that said, Indieweb.xyz doesn’t excite me nearly as much as the directories that we’re working on. Those are invulnerable to spam. They can also be laid out and edited to the nines. And I think you’d only need a handful of directories to make an impact.

As always—really enjoy this ongoing discussion!

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13 Aug 2018

Reply: 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.

Microcast.club screenshot.

However, there is one promising development that I see from the Microcast.club 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 Indieweb.xyz blog directory.

  1. 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.

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