Kicks Condor
31 Oct 2018

Reply: Directory Features

Brad Enslen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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29 Oct 2018

Reply: A Cabinet of Bookmarks

Frank Meeuwsen

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

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

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

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GeoCities Institute’s Interview with Susansthoughts

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

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

OL: Why and why in Heartland neighborhoods?

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

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

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

Welcome to My Page

Here’s the Page

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

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

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

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Reply: Self-Made Doorways

h0p3

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

A discussion of portals into a large hypertext.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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26 Oct 2018

Reply: Indieseek.xyz, It’s Small!

Brad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hypertexting

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

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

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

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

Although:

Ton Zijlstra:
At some point social software morphed into social media, and its original potential and value as informal learning tools was lost in my eyes.

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

You can compartmentalize your various writings, though.

Jennifer Hill:
And you’re probably all sitting there and you’re like, “This girl wants me to delete Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… I got a following! I got a brand!”

No, that’s not what I’m saying. You have two selves. You have a career self, who—I’m pretty sure all of us have to use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for work or Medium or whatever other platform in the world you want to use—and then you have your personal self that knows the things that they’re doing. And what I’m speaking to right know is your personal self. You know, I understand you gotta make money, gotta make that dime…

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

On Supersets

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

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

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

Various tree and flat structures.

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

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

Advanced Hypertexting

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I would like to highlight is the ability of the author to use the ‘body’, its linking and formatting, to shape the structure. To infoshape.[1]

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

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

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

So, (tentatively,) let’s look at three aspects of your hypertext:

  • Permanent writings: thoughts that build over time into pages that act as storehouses or progressive essays—this page is that way for me.
  • Emphemeral links, notes, partial thoughts: materials that either inform the permanent stuff or just act as simple interactions with others, participation in the present.
  • Directory and search: ways of navigating the above.

To bring this into practice, here are a few interesting ways I’ve seen this play out:

Zylstra.org: This blog builds on itself day to day. In a way, posts become redundant because Ton is very careful to rewrite the same idea in different ways—to be sure it’s understood. I have read articles from 2008 that are only subtly different from others in 2018. But this makes sense—his message hasn’t been received yet. On top of this, he has a small directory for reading through his writings. I found this perfectly useful. You can do this kind of thing by hand, if you need to.

h0p3: I guarantee you’ve never seen a wiki used this way—as a backup for physical letters, as a way of messaging people, of writing drafts in public, of keeping detailed link logs, chat logs—it’s all in there. Links are used liberally throughout everything, so that you can track h0p3’s growing nomenclature.

More than half of hypertexting is the reading behind it—because if you are hypertexting in isolation, then you are missing out on a world of links.

Ton:
I treat blogging as thinking out loud and extending/building on others blogposts as conversation. Conversations that are distributed over multiple websites and over time, distributed conversations.

Discovering New Ways

What you might think of as ‘advanced hypertexting’ simply allows the shaping of the hypertext. Could we go beyond that?

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

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

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

TODO

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

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


  1. The other side of this coin is Infostrats—the reading of hypertext. ↩︎

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19 Oct 2018

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

Pinboard and Indieweb.xyz as clustering tools.

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

To akaKenSmith’s point:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Might look like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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Reply: Robot Plus Human

Brad Enslen

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

Mild automation alongside hypertexting in the Indieweb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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17 Oct 2018

Reply: Finding Blogs in the Future

Don Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good to meet you all - take care.

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

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Meaningness

A hypertext book underway for ten years.

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

Couple things;

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

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

  • Comments on each page are hidden.

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

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

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16 Oct 2018

Reply: Simple Friendly Formats

Manton Reece

The Future of Blogging panel was good. Tantek Çelik asked a question about the complexity of Friend of a Friend (FOAF), and whether a more human-readable/writable format was needed. The question was not well received by the panel, which took the view that tools (like Movable Type) will be able to hide the sometimes messy details from the user.

What an astounding post—this feels like the situation today. (And sure enough—FOAF, XML-RPC and SOAP all went their way.) It is pretty surprising that Microformats have somewhat survived—the u- and p- prefixes, figuring out how to nest elements, complex rules like you see on the Indieweb authorship page.

I wonder what drives the complexity of something like ActivityPub. Is it a kind of premature future-proofing? Is it just a desire to load the thing with features? I especially wonder about something like FOAF, which should be conceptually simple.

Really appreciate the conversation, Manton.

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09 Oct 2018

Makefrontendshitagain.party

The name is odd; the campiness is tuned in.

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

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

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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.

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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. ↩︎

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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PLUNDER THE ARCHIVES

This page is also at kickscofbk2xcp5g.onion and 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.

waxy is back at it!

surfpals: nadia eghbal, subpixel.space (toby), things by j, gyford, also joe jenett (of linkport), brad enslen (of indieseek), 'web curios' at imperica.

an eye on: ᛝ ᛝ ᛝ — lucid. consummate waifuist chameleon. jacky.wtf, fogknife, tiv.today, j.greg, box vox, whimsy.space, caesar naples.

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

nostalgia: geocities.institute, bad cmd, ~jonbell.

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.