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  1. Last 7 days
    1. Unfortunately, despite common goals, some on today's old Internet are hostile to blockchain technology. I am not sure why.

      stares in youtube explainer

    1. And if we had the time, I would tell you that the same thing has always happened—with the troubadours of 11th century or Sappho and the lyric singers of ancient Greece or the artisan performers of the Middle Kingdom in ancient Egypt. Musical revolutions come from the bottom up, not the top down.


    2. The radio stations will only play songs that fit the dominant formulas, which haven’t changed much in decades. That’s even more true for the algorithms curating so much of our new music—the algorithms are designed to be feedback loops, ensuring that the promoted new songs are virtually identical to your favorite old songs. Anything that genuinely breaks the mold is excluded from consideration almost as a rule. That’s actually how the current system has been designed to work.

      Yeahhh I don't know about that buddy. Algorithms have really facilitated my ability to explore. The model of a radio station shoving in front of my ears those things it thinks I should listen to -- let that die.

    3. For example, the fear of copyright lawsuits has made many in the music industry deathly afraid of listening to unsolicited demo recordings. If you hear a demo today, you might get sued for stealing its melody—or maybe just its rhythmic groove—five years from now. Try mailing a demo to a label or producer, and watch it return unopened.

      Woof, that's bad. But shouldn't those jobs be separated anyway?

    4. I listen to 2-3 hours of new music every day, and I know that there are plenty of outstanding young musicians out there. The problem isn’t that they don’t exist, but that the music industry has lost its ability to discover and nurture their talents.

      Nurture their commercial viability.

  2. Jan 2022
    1. Sequential Wiki Not a formal term, but I use it often. A sequential wiki is like a wiki page, but people contribute blocks of [[content]] instead of arbitrary fragments; and they maintain clear ownership and control over their blocks.

      This is an excellent concept but I'm not sold on the name, simply because part of what's so powerful about this kind of thing is that the possibilities for sequencing are wide open. Like with the experimental upranking in settings -- maybe what I want to see first are my social contacts' blocks, people I "follow". Or maybe I want to pull in a ranking service that has experts vet medical info and be able to uprank based on that (not sure if that could be done client-side?). Or maybe I want to most of the time see something like one of the above, but sometimes surf the recent content just for fun. You know? "Sequential" makes me think the order is important, I guess, but that might be overly programmer-brained, and probably I'm coming at this with different metaphors than you had in mind. Curious to hear your thoughts

    1. codexeditor]] https://twitter.com/codexeditor/status/1482906226292039681

      There's a difference between linking [[something]] because the tool needs you to for search ...

      ... and linking something because it is 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘯𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘯𝘵.

      I dunno, I think a lot of the time it's still helpful to be made to think through the associations. Whether it be linking or cardinal directions, habitually attending to something has powerful effects.

    1. [[Is]] it [[in an [[endearing]] way]]?

      I, for one, was successfully endeared.

    1. It feels more like an invisible weight that can be felt through every idea and keystroke. Through every executed action, like something you can lose, something you need, something missing from the stream of data you’re writing.

      I recently read a poem about the internet that I didn't think much of. This caused some inner conflict because I love the idea of poetry about newfound technically mediated experiences. I don't know whether this is even meant to be a poem, but it seems like one to me, and I like it!

  3. Dec 2021
    1. I read a book once which argued that the problem with modern political discourse is it pits the "I don't want things taken from me" (liberty!) people against the "XYZ is a human right" (entitlement!) people. And that a better way to frame the cultural argument is "XYZ is my responsibility to society." As a simple example, "Internet access is a human right," is just a sneaky way of saying "someone should give people free Internet." Who is someone? It's left unspecified, which is skipping over the entire mechanism by which we deliver the Internet. It's much more revealing to write, "To live in a healthy society, it's our responsibility to make sure every person has Internet access." Suddenly, oh, crap. The someone is me! Healthy society is created through constant effort, by all of us, as a gift to our fellow members. It's not extracted from us as a mandatory payment to our overlords who will do all the work. If there's one thing we know for sure about overlords, it's that they never do all the work.

      This piece claims to be about free software but is actually full of sparkling social insight, which is probably illustrative of how you shouldn't be trying to do software at any kind of scale absent efforts at social insight.

    1. This set of tools for easily creating graphs is conveniently disguised as a set of fonts. OpenType features are used to interpret and visualize the data. The data remains as editable text, allowing for painless updates.

      Techie types laugh at fonts being so computationally complicated, but I love that it's one area where tech has risen to meet the complexity of a pre-digital system. And now that groundwork has enabled a really cool chart DSL that seems fully usable to my eyes!

    1. In response to a detailed list of questions about my purchases and about online sales in general, the EPA said that it understood its Risk Mitigation Decision “would not completely remove second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides from use by general consumers, as it intended to allow use by persons such as farmers and custodians.” It also said that it was “aware that retail has changed dramatically since 2008,” but it did not say whether it has ever taken any enforcement action against manufacturers or digital retailers. The agency added that it is currently reviewing the registration of these products but gave no timeline for the review process. Eisemann tells me there is a familiar pattern to regulating pesticides. The development of new technologies always outpaces the scientific understanding of their risks and benefits. As a result, regulators are continually playing catch-up. Even still, he was struck when I told him I had been buying the stuff from Amazon and walmart.com. “It’s probably time for the EPA to certainly take a look at doing enforcement actions,” Eisemann says, “and it’s probably time for them to reevaluate e-commerce.” 

      Our practices, values, and norms around maximizing freedom seem to have made sense only paired with an older world's practical limitations on access. There are a lot of obvious metaphors for things the Internet makes easy that mere logistics had prevented before...

    1. The first step was to build up a deep layer of indigo blue (usually 8-10 dips in the vat) followed by a mordant, and finally red and yellow dyes. That red could be madder or cochineal but I chose to use only madder, since that is what I am growing in the garden.  My preferred yellow is weld.  Each different combination results in a subtle variation. Some “blacks” are more purple, while others are a bit more green, or brown. I began using black walnut  and cutch as a substitute for the madder and weld and sometimes added madder or weld to those.  Each is a distinct hue, and definitely in the “black” family. I am confident of the lightfastness of these hues because of the primary dyes that have been used. 

      Black natural dye as a combination of blue, red, and yellow

    1. Alum and green vitriol (iron sulfate) both have sweetish and astringent taste, and they had overlapping uses. Therefore, through the Middle Ages, alchemists and other writers do not seem to have discriminated the two salts accurately from each other. In the writings of the alchemists we find the words misy, sory, and chalcanthum applied to either compound; and the name atramentum sutorium, which one might expect to belong exclusively to green vitriol, applied indifferently to both.

      This will be useful!

    1. “The in­ter­ro­b­ang was eas­ily made with a back-space and over-type”, as Ned told me via email, which is re­mark­able in it­self. But this quirk of type­writer op­er­a­tion also al­lowed the con­struc­tion of the fabled quasiquote, where a hy­phen and quo­ta­tion mark were over­struck to pro­duce something like "this", or 'this', and which en­cap­su­lated an ab­bre­vi­ated or para­phrased quo­ta­tion rather a ver­batim re­port of the speak­er’s words.

      I have wanted just this punctuation mark! Lapsing into italics doesn't give quite the right meaning, since it overlaps with fictional thoughts and therefore tends to impute intent.

  4. Nov 2021
    1. In the second century before Christ, king Ptolemy the Fifth promptly ordered craftsman to stop exporting one of their national products. The reason was as simple and mundane as jealousy. A rivaling library in Pergamon, then in Mysia an now in western Turkey, had gained enough traction to greatly annoy the king, who wanted to protect the fame and power of his Great Library of Alexandria at all costs. The sudden papyrus shortages did not stop Hellenic king Eumenes the Second from expanding the library in Pergamon. His hunger for literature was much, much bigger. The papyrus plant does not grow well in Mysia, and resorting to clay tablets greatly decreases the capacity of a single book. Instead of accepting defeat, Eumenes' experts perfected the eastern art of writing on animal skin, a method that until then was only used locally and not highly regarded. Ptolemy’s masterstroke turned out to be a painful mistake. It was called parchment—pergameno in Latin—as a memory to the city where this technique was perfected, and it was parchment that made sure Ptolemy’s already crumbling Alexandria lost even more political power.

      Limit a thing and people learn to live without it.

    1. Many stories out of the past have only become “escapist” in their appeal through surviving from a time when men were as a rule delighted with the work of their hands into our time, when many men feel disgust with man-made things.

      an inappropriately disrespectful of metal strain within paganism

    2. These prophets often foretell (and many seem to yearn for) a world like one big glass-roofed railway-station. But from them it is as a rule very hard to gather what men in such a world-town will do. They may abandon the “full Victorian panoply” for loose garments (with zip-fasteners), but will use this freedom mainly, it would appear, in order to play with mechanical toys in the soon-cloying game of moving at high speed.

      pack it in, sci fi, no more spaceships

    3. Art of the same sort, if more skilled and effortless, the elves can also use, or so the reports seem to show; but the more potent and specially elvish craft I will, for lack of a less debatable word, call Enchantment. Enchantment produces a Secondary World into which both designer and spectator can enter, to the satisfaction of their senses while they are inside; but in its purity it is artistic in desire and purpose. Magic produces, or pretends to produce, an alteration in the Primary World. It does not matter by whom it is said to be practised, fay or mortal, it remains distinct from the other two; it is not an art but a technique; its desire is power in this world, domination of things and wills.

      This gets tangled up, I think, because of the promises of magic to reveal hidden truths, and of hidden truths promising power.

    4. Let us take what looks like a clear case of Olympian nature-myth: the Norse god Thórr. His name is Thunder, of which Thórr is the Norse form; and it is not difficult to interpret his hammer, Miöllnir, as lightning. Yet Thórr has (as far as our late records go) a very marked character, or personality, which cannot be found in thunder or in lightning, even though some details can, as it were, be related to these natural phenomena: for instance, his red beard, his loud voice and violent temper, his blundering and smashing strength. None the less it is asking a question without much meaning, if we inquire: Which came first, nature-allegories about personalized thunder in the mountains, splitting rocks and trees; or stories about an irascible, not very clever, redbeard farmer, of a strength beyond common measure, a person (in all but mere stature) very like the Northern farmers, the boendr by whom Thórr was chiefly beloved? To a picture of such a man Thórr may be held to have “dwindled,” or from it the god may be held to have been enlarged. But I doubt whether either view is right—not by itself, not if you insist that one of these things must precede the other. It is more reasonable to suppose that the farmer popped up in the very moment when Thunder got a voice and face; that there was a distant growl of thunder in the hills every time a story-teller heard a farmer in a rage.

      Fairy stories not dwindled myth; myth not exaggerated fairy story.

    5. Faerie itself may perhaps most nearly be translated by Magic—but it is magic of a peculiar mood and power, at the furthest pole from the vulgar devices of the laborious, scientific, magician.

      The Golden Dawn's diagrams neatly at the other pole.

    6. I will not attempt to define that, nor to describe it directly. It cannot be done. Faërie cannot be caught in a net of words; for it is one of its qualities to be indescribable, though not imperceptible. It has many ingredients, but analysis will not necessarily discover the secret of the whole.

      Faerie as irreducible, beyond analysis.

    1. At first I tried to distinguish between symbols and symbols, between what I called inherent[Pg 65] symbols and arbitrary symbols, but the distinction has come to mean little or nothing. Whether their power has arisen out of themselves, or whether it has an arbitrary origin, matters little, for they act, as I believe, because the great memory associates them with certain events and moods and persons. Whatever the passions of man have gathered about, becomes a symbol in the great memory, and in the hands of him who has the secret, it is a worker of wonders, a caller-up of angels or of devils. The symbols are of all kinds, for everything in heaven or earth has its association, momentous or trivial, in the great memory, and one never knows what forgotten events may have plunged it, like the toadstool and the ragweed, into the great passions. Knowledgeable men and women in Ireland sometimes distinguish between the simples that work cures by some medical property in the herb, and those that do their work by magic. Such magical simples as the husk of the flax, water out of the fork of[Pg 66] an elm-tree, do their work, as I think, by awaking in the depths of the mind where it mingles with the great mind, and is enlarged by the great memory, some curative energy, some hypnotic command.

      It's interesting that there's a divide in the chemical/spiritual claim here

    2. I believe in the practice and philosophy of what we have agreed to call magic, in what I must call the evocation of spirits, though I do not know what they are, in the power of creating magical illusions, in the visions of truth in the depths of the mind when the eyes are closed; and I believe in three doctrines, which have, as I think, been handed down from early times, and been the foundations of nearly all magical practices. These doctrines are— (1) That the borders of our minds are ever shifting, and that many minds can flow into one another, as it were, and create or reveal a single mind, a single energy. (2) That the borders of our memories are as shifting, and that our memories are a part of one great memory, the memory of Nature herself. (3) That this great mind and great memory can be evoked by symbols. [Pg 30]I often think I would put this belief in magic from me if I could, for I have come to see or to imagine, in men and women, in houses, in handicrafts, in nearly all sights and sounds, a certain evil, a certain ugliness, that comes from the slow perishing through the centuries of a quality of mind that made this belief and its evidences common over the world.

      Ego death, loss of self, also rather Jungian

    1. Religious mysteries are things that you can understand, but not explain in words. Sex is a common example: you can read all the information about sex you want, but you won’t know how *you* respond until you do it yourself.

      Ehh. That's one definition, maybe.

    2. Basically, it’s what happens if you take a path intended for small groups of people with a high commitment level and formal structure, and mesh it with American ideals about free access, along with some of the feminist movement rhetoric around issues of power and control. Again with the handwaving over complexities, but you get the idea.

      How do we compare this to all the American fraternal societies?

  5. www.witchessabbats.com www.witchessabbats.com
    1. The Roman Catholic Church could not very easily call the Great Goddess of Ireland a demon, so they canonized her instead. Henceforth, she would be ‘Saint’ Brigit, patron saint of smithcraft, poetry, and healing. They ‘explained’ this by telling the Irish peasants that Brigit was ‘really’ an early Christian missionary sent to the Emerald Isle, and that the miracles she performed there ‘misled’ the common people into believing that she was a Goddess. For some reason, the Irish swallowed this. (There is no limit to what the Irish imagination can convince itself of. For example, they also came to believe that Brigit was the ‘foster mother’ of Jesus, giving no thought to the implausibility of Jesus having spent his boyhood in Ireland!)

      Oh, we do think we're clever, don't we...

      I am always reminded of this:

      "These are not irrational, unthinking people; they are poor, not stupid – those are not the same things. ".

    1. The attempt to make a distinction between the spiritual, devotional, or celebrational side of our religion, and the more utilitarian use of ritual and ceremony to effect desired changes in our world, would never have occurred to us. One of the principle tenets of Witchcraft is that the spiritual and material sides of life interpenetrate one another and cannot be meaningfully separated. To attempt to do so is to encourage the sort of Neo-Platonic dualism that has bedeviled our Western society for centuries and led to, among other things, the demonizing of sex and the body, and disdain for our environment. In fact, any attempt to separate Wicca from Witchcraft, the religious practice from the magical practice, is not only historically misguided, but politically dangerous. It plays us directly into the hands of our detractors. But I am getting ahead of myself.

      I despise the contemporary insistence that magic/ritual is nought but a secular add-on to any belief system. Nice to have an older citation in the discussion.

    1. Another example is something I do for ongoing workings. I create a design with symbols that make sense for me and that working. I do a sketch or five in pencil to figure out specific elements and layout, then do a full size one. I trace it in pen, add colour with watercolour pencils (I have a set of the Inktense ones, which are very vibrantThen when I’m ready, I activate the whole thing by going over it with a brush and clean water. That extra step makes it much easier to focus on the intention without worrying about the art.

      This is a nice affordance for focusing on the art part for the art, and the intention part for its dedication.

    1. Animism – which is a worldview, not a religion – teaches that all things are not things but persons. If we are virtuous and ethical, we do not use and exploit other persons – we form respectful relationships with them. Other-than-human persons are not human, so we don’t relate to them the same way we relate to other humans. Our relationships with tree-persons and wind-persons and cat-persons aren’t the same as our relationships with human-persons, but they are relationships nonetheless.

      Cf. what I love about konmari

    1. Communities are helpful and rewarding, but they require work by all their members.  Avoiding the unpleasant parts of community marks you as a religious consumer instead of someone who is committed to the goals of the community. Without the active, caring, and sometimes frustrating religious communities in which I live, work and worship, my practice and my life would be far less than they are.

      "religious consumer" is a very useful term

    2. Ancestors and family spirits are generally thought to be more accessible than Goddesses and Gods – a Heathen saying goes “if you feel a tap on your shoulder, it’s probably your grandfather, not the Allfather.”

      I wonder if g-dad would resent this. I still like it, though.

    1. It is connecting someone to the living human community of that tradition – a little bit like marrying into a family, or becoming a part of another tightly-knit group of people. Relationships like that are a two-way street. You can say “I wanna join you” all you like, but the community (at least in part) has to say “Yes, and we want to have you join us in this kind of connection.” But to get that far, you need to want to have a connection to that group of people – and they have to want it with you. No one can force that (or should), but at the same time, when it happens, it’s worth celebrating.

      Usefully explanatory

    1. I have a theory about why so few older people are hikikomoris or otaku. I think that they have succumbed to learned helplessness: they’ve suffered throughout their entire life the fear21 & stress of walking down a crowded street and having no idea who all these people are, what threat they are22⁠, or how they relate to you, and their minds have been warped to the point that it no longer bothers them, they’ve simply adapted to the mental burden23⁠. (As one would expect, young people are more exhausted by groups24⁠.) The remaining mental dislocation is handled by exactly those small-scale social organizations whose passing Putnam bemoans in Bowling Alone. (This solution is as viable as it ever was. But the young have other options, and are no longer forced into this ancient conformity.)


    2. Some people like to relativistically argue that all natural languages are equally complex and such comparisons are meaningless or ignorant (or racist). This is false. Children learn different natural languages at different rates (eg. Danish vs Croatian); this has real effects on their education (why are Estonia & Finland—with highly similar languages & regular spelling—ranked so high on PISA⁠, when the wealthier & healthier Swedish-speaking Finnish minority has lower scores?). To demonstrate with grammatical gender⁠; English has very little gender and when an Anglophone learns French, the male/​​female genders and associated differences in spelling & endings may strike him as superfluous complexity. He’s right. The gender rules, and specifically memorizing what gender each and every word is, are arbitrary and convey no meaning. They are random—a compression algorithm would choke on them. And we can run a thought experiment (no need to appeal explicitly to algorithmic information theory); imagine a French Prime which is like French but where there is a second gender system with, say, 20 different genders (and accompanying spelling & endings), and for each of the 50,000 words in Dictionnaire de l’Académie française, a random number generator decides what gender it is. By definition, the output of the RNG is unpredictable & uncompressible. All a Francophone can do is memorize 50,000 gender indications if they are to speak proper French Prime. Surely French Prime is more complex than French—all a French Prime speaker has to do is blissfully forget how many thousands of vigesimal genders he memorized. (If this is not intuitively convincing, then let the number of genders go to the 140 of Tuyuca⁠, or 50,000, or however many words there are in a language; the gender rules would be monstrously complex, with no simplification anywhere in the language.)

      Every time I find Gwern's style of writing seductive I run up against confident bullshit like this. Imagine knowing this little about the function of grammatical gender and speaking on it thus!

    1. The very concept of working for socially responsible computing implies several things. It implies, first of all, that a special kind of work is actually necessary. Computer people bring an ordinary degree of responsibility to the daily practice of their profession, of course, and outside social mechanisms such as laws and markets promote and regulate the use of computing in their own ways. Yet these factors together have not produced all the potential social benefits of applied computing, and they have not prevented certain institutional pathologies. Another implication is that computer professionals can, by departing from usual ways of doing things, actually ameliorate these problems. Doing so, whether as part of one's paid employment or on one's own time, amounts to a type of social activism whose relation to existing practices may not be simple.

      "Socially responsible computing" is a very unsexy phrase but the thought here is right and it's not like I have a better one in mind.

    1. The thing that all museums have gotten caught up in — and European museums as well in the last 50 years — is the building boom. The architecture bonanza has been great for architects, where a museum has to claim architectural singularity to get press, to get attendance, to get donors. So much of the attention and the money has gone into the making of the buildings, some of them good, some not so good — many of them not so good. But many of them, I think, to a fairly surprising degree, are not necessarily hospitable places to look at art. They might be incredible examples of urban intervention or the building arts, but they’re not necessarily places that are particularly congenial to, certainly, looking at paintings. Maybe looking at other kinds of art — they’re ones that could well be suited for that. I sometimes wish that less attention and less money went into the creation of these vast buildings and more to, as you say, just showing off the collection.

      What are the characteristics of this? Weird atria?

    2. For want of a better word, the academic style of painting is something which is hard to do alone. It’s part of a whole culture, a whole academy of looking, a whole way of looking and setting up the studio and having a certain kind of assistants, a certain kind of pigments, a certain kind of tests of drawing, and things that contributed to the look and feel of those paintings. One could do it. It would just take a tremendous effort of will, and then, what exactly would be the point?

      If we did want it, would it be possible to reconstitute a culture? Does atomization only go in one direction?

    3. I think people might underestimate the decorative function of painting. Painting has various functions. A good painting satisfies most of them or all of them, pretty much at a high level. One of the functions, historically, is to make the room look better, to make people’s emotional temperature quicken slightly when the painting is in the room as opposed to when it’s not in the room. That’s a decorative function. It’s an important one. I remember the first time I met Jasper Johns. He actually said to a friend of mine, who was standing with us, “The first obligation of a painting is to make the wall look better that it’s hanging on.” It is one of those statements that is so simple-minded it brooks mystification, but it’s just a simple fact.

      People react against this, of course.

    1. A lot of people find the idea “I can do anything I like in ritual” to be really appealing. The thing is, that’s a bit like saying “I can cook any way I like!” You have the freedom to do that. No one’s going to come into your home and stand over you and scold you. But that doesn’t mean that all methods lead to an equally good meal – or an equally good ritual or religious life or spiritual experience. Some methods may just not get the results you wanted. That’s a waste of your time and resources, but maybe a good learning experience. Bread and cake have a lot of the same ingredients, but they’re definitely not the same food. Some methods may be dangerous for you or for other people. For example, if you choose a bad method for cooking or food handling, you might get food poisoning or cause a fire. Those are a problem, not just for you but quite possibly for other people. The same is true for magic and ritual.

      This is a very useful analogy.

    1. One great thing you can do for yourself is try thinking through different ethical situations. What would you do if you were in that situation? (Or what would you do so you were never in that particular situation?) What would you do if someone in that situation asked you for advice? What pieces of the situation would matter to you? Which ones wouldn’t matter?  I read a number of advice blogs, in large part because I’m fascinated by the different ways people think through situations, how they demonstrate what they care about and value, and how people who think differently than I do go about resolving things. If you’re looking for examples to think through, try AskMetafilter (all sorts of things), b (personal interactions), and Ask A Manager (workplace situations). You can read the ones that intrigue you and pick up a lot of how to think through different situations along the way. 

      This is the first place I've ever found someone explicitly acknowledging that the appeal of advice blogs is ethical discussion.

    1. Exoteric religions are those open to the public, and generally accept anyone willing to abide by the requirements of the religion. They focus on the needs and demands of daily life – personal struggles, family and job life, community structures, and they are generally accessible to a wide range of people (all ages, genders, backgrounds, interests, etc.) Protestant Christianity is a great example. Esoteric religions and orders are designed for and focus on a much smaller group – not everyone is considered able, willing, or appropriate to the group’s goals. Just the same way that not everyone may go to (or want to go to) a particular college, not everyone will fit with these goals or practices. Esoteric groups also generally focus on religious mysteries, and often have some initiatory practice. Traditional Wicca is an obvious example, but the Freemasons are another well-known esoteric order.

      Whence my desperation for something esoteric?

    1. He writes about the present moment's popular culture as characterised by this stoppage of time: an attachment to retro which means our own period has yet to develop a signature sound that places us in time. He writes that the same distance of time exists between Glenn Miller and Kraftwerk, that exists between us and jungle. And yet, is there anything that's happened musically in the last ten years which would shock a listener of the 1990s, were it somehow piped backwards in time? Anything like the shock of jumping from big band to electrosonic?

      I don't buy this mostly because I have come across decade-wise fashion commentary from the 80s, 90s, and 00s where the authors would claim decades prior to the current had distinctive looks, but the current decade is too eclectic to pin down, no single distinctive style! Given the obvious conflict there, it seems like it's easier for folks to characterize and classify only that which they're not part of. I'll bet people in decades future will be able to point to the sound of now (though I'm guessing it'll have less to do with linear change among a coherent community of practice and more to do with, like, the dembow slamming into this country's ambient sense of dance rhythm)

    2. Digital art is necessarily abstract - to compress the physical world into binary and pixels that still read to the human eye as real. But unlike the abstractions of life that have existed in art, for as long as humans have created art, the digital is somewhat different. It's designed to be entered. To log on is to be surrounded by unreality - to become unreal.

      Is the digital the distinction? Or the endless reproducibility Warhol was going on about? Isn't a movie creating something to be entered, sensory immersion?

    3. Here, too, is political possibility: we practice living in a world where social and physical gender becomes an irrelevance.

      Cyberutopians have been claiming gender isn't relevant on the net since, well, the net, and it's never turned out to be true. In some sense, that's what the stargender folks are reacting against: if gender were irrelevant, it wouldn't be important to them.

    4. I think about chance online encounters that have changed my life, and yet there is another sense in which they have not happened at all; nobody saw them happen; nobody intended them; nothing was seen or recorded, ghosts that cannot be picked up on geigercounter, apparitions only i saw.

      And yet somewhere there were logged packets, documents, TCP connections, neat system interactions underpinning this sense of formlessness. It's an interesting contrast.

    5. The web is a necropolis, where the dead will one day outnumber the living. In my years online, people who have been part of my daily life have suddenly, unaccountably winked out of existance. Disconnected or died? or, like ghosts on a stone tape, merely overwiped. On the web we are ageless; our bodies may decay, but text typed at 14 looks much the same typed at 24 or 54.

      Think of carved inscriptions on Roman walls. They took for granted that they carried their dead with them. Maybe this isn't so strange so much as the illusion we'd all had that we could create something fresh, new, untouched by our ancestors.

    6. The early internet used the language of physical space - from "chatroom" to "homepage" - as if we weren't quite ready to relate to the digital world as pages and data. I remember vividly the sense of relating to the web as a series of places. My early pagan spirituality was built from pixels and Times New Roman in little hand-coded cottages with a "Garden" of herbal remedies and a "Library" of articles (sometimes, delightfully, with a little bookshelf you could click).

      Same, same, same, same, same. Damn.

    7. The digibeaches and flooding Miami malls recreated with loving irony in vaporwave are interpreted in popular culture as commentary on commercialism, nostalgia for the optimism of the 90s, or the garish aesthetic joy of retro. What seems to be missing is that these landscapes felt sinister. Uncanny valley, but for space rather than people.

      The landscapes didn't feel sinister -- you felt like they were sinister. Audience response worth analysis relative to the audience. Maybe stronger as a more personal observation, because I remember a lot of the vaporwave source material seeming not-sinister-at-all to me. Interesting to think about what the differences are between the people who find it so and those who don't.

    8. But if the web is a place, it is one where things from discordant times are jumbled up together - like the lost property offices and antique collections that form triggers for time to shatter in the world of Sapphire and Steel. A girl in sombre victorian clothes skips, unexpectedly, down the hallways of a modern flat; a maid in tudor garb appears, runs and then screams in a certain room of the video laboratory; and in my room, surrounded by wires, Al Bowly lives on as sound - repeated over, and over, and over, until he is interrupted by SOPHIE, and for a moment - we have broken time.

      This is really resonant -- I've heard this sentiment expressed about place, but not time.

    9. How strange that we are here, in the future, surfing the digital cyberhighway, becoming cyborg as our technology forms such an integral part of our bodies and psyche - and yet our sense of the future feeling "futurey" is gone - because our access to every tune, every era, every evocation of memory and moment, is happening all at once.

      Is this why? My sense would be that it has more to do with aggressive PR For The Future that has passed in and out of style over time, waves of techno-optimism met by backlash...

  6. Oct 2021
    1. "All I knew about the word 'cyberspace' when I coined it, was that it seemed like an effective buzzword. It seemed evocative and essentially meaningless. It was suggestive of something, but had no real semantic meaning, even for me, as I saw it emerge on the page."

      And now it's a large chunk of the DoD. A lesson's in that somewhere

    2. a virtually-integrated society in which our Fortnite costumes will carry over to our Onlyfans accounts and we will never, ever have to log off

      Well there's a quote.

    1. I’ve some really interesting threads on Twitter that are full of useful information, but as a consumer of that content, it’s a nightmare to follow. Content creators should make content as simple to consume as possible.

      Real creative humans don't tend to "create" "content". They write essays, sing, do sketch comedy, dance, take photographs, etc. This is a long-running peeve of mine but I'm bringing it up because the corporate language obscures the nature of this complaint.

      Imagine: "I've read some really good plays, but it's not always obvious what's going on. Playwrights should write out prose between the pieces of dialogue so it's as easy for readers to understand as possible."

      Anyone can see this would be silly, since the form--drama rather than prose--is part of the intended experience.

      If you are consuming Twitter threads equivalently to long-form content, you are missing out on part of their value, since each tweet is open to its own replies. This means that people can chime in with their own stories or anecdotes or objections non-linearly.

      Cory's thread doesn't do this because it's so long it breaks the Twitter UI's conventions of loading first the thread, then people's replies. I would cede that makes Cory's Twitter thread relatively ineffective.

      However, it can still be the case that someone can excerpt via RT a particularly interesting detail they want to highlight without viewing an entire thread as worth the time.

      So we get back to intent: some writers would hate that for sentences out of their blog posts. Some writers like to make that form of discourse part of what they're doing. (It's pretty common for a thread's author to further engage with replies to particular Tweets) If you don't engage with that, then yeah, of course it looks preferable to just copy-paste the text into a blog post to read. But that doesn't mean that people are mindlessly "forcing" each other onto a "bandwagon" because they "get a tonne of followers."

      A reprehensibly techie comparison: If you don't use stuff like transclusion and non-linear structure, outliners seem like they just introduce noise into what could just be paragraphs of text. But... the whole point is the part you're not using.

    2. Using the example above, I became aware of it because someone that I follow re-tweeted Tweet number 47 in this ridiculously long thread. Because it was a random Tweet in a very long thread, I (and I imagine most other people reading the tweet) had absolutely no context as to what the whole saga was about.
    3. I assume it’s because these people seem to get a tonne of followers off the back of these threads, thus perpetuating the whole thing and forcing more people onto that bandwagon.

      This assumption is... uncharitable.

    4. the bandwagon of a very annoying craze. Twitter threads

      A "craze" continuously occurring since before the feature's formal introduction in... 2017.

    1. Instagram is pure PR for the nuclear family, and it totally erases how much childcare has always been shared within communities — and how much families have always relied on each other to raise their kids. Because Instagram is just images, and momfluencers try to have everyone camera-ready for posts, and those posts need to be very easy to “read” while you’re scrolling (here’s the family toasting marshmallows, here they are at the beach, here they are all together in PJs) it’s just easier to control the imagery if it includes only the nuclear family. Like, you’re not going to ask your neighbour Janine who looks after the kids twice a week to put her hair in barrel curls so she can appear polished in a picture, you know? Also, no one’s going to read a caption explaining who some random person in the pic is. The audience is tuning in for the main characters. The upshot is that we see a completely ahistorical representation of family life in most of the mamasphere. Care-work is completely erased. There are no neighbours in the mamasphere!

      Wow, this is fascinating. The difference between written and photographed representations

    1. I joined Gizmodo at the start of 2020 and I think the plan was that I was going to write a lot about political ads. But I find political ads boring for various reasons. Not in content, but just the way that they’re served up. So instead I was just like: Screw it. I’m just gonna cover privacy. That’s gonna be my thing. It’s gonna be great. It was not great.It was a lot of late nights - and I wasn’t getting this at AdWeek as much and obviously I knew that there were men on every panel - but when I would moderate a tech panel it would be men. 99% of the time it was just a sea of white guys, and they’re the sources to my stories, which would also be about men 99% of the time. And when I got to a consumer publication I was writing about these really hardcore technical topics and I would notice that when my pieces would be shared on Reddit or Hacker News people would be saying: oh, this language is so flowery. And I took that seriously. I took that to heart. I’m just like: What does that even mean? Am I doing something wrong?So I went to a friend of mine and she was like: What? No! They’re just saying that you’re a woman. And thankfully that’s the minority and because of my aggressively centrist views I’m actually pretty well regarded. As far as lady tech journalists go. Venture Capital circles hate me because they hate everyone.

      This sounds 3000% correct.

    2. So adtech, by extension, you are deciding how advertisers are supposed to make people feel like they are worthless. Adtech is the technology that decides how worth gets distributed. That’s the broad philosophical overview and the idea I have come around on.VFD: I think that’s pretty right.Shoshana Wodinsky: It’s really more philosophical and profound than people would like. Because they like to see their jobs as making beeps and boops that decide where the money goes, and they’re just making software that connects to more software, and it’s not their job to decide whose money is good or bad, or who gets it in the end. That’s somebody else’s job. It’s a job that’s predicated by staying in your lane and kicking the can down the road to somebody else. And when you have enough people deferring responsibility, and enough people just not caring, of course you’re going to get insane shit. Like, you have companies that won’t fund LGBT news outlets but will fund white neo-nazi news outlets – not because they know that’s happening, but because that’s what the tech told them to do. And when you call them out on it they’re just like: Oh, no, I had no idea! And it’s like: why didn’t you have an idea?

      This seems like it's talking about something really important, but "Adtech is the technology that decides how worth is distributed" is something other than the boiled-down version of that thing.

    1. Likewise, curated link directories were a thing back when the Internet was in its infancy, but the task of maintaining such a directory is a full time job.

      This is exactly what's being proposed though - personal directories! Why pretend otherwise? The burden is the same, isn't it? The internet makes librarians of us all.

    2. The creation of a bookmark list is a surprisingly fun project, it has some of the appeal of scrapbooking; and the end-result is also appealing to browse through.

      Yes! Fully agreed. Cf. Kottke's, fully beblogged.

    3. relying on feeds shapes everything you write into a blog entry. It's stifling, homogenizing. The blogosphere, what remains of it, is incredibly samey.

      I am suspicious of this sentiment because I follow a bunch of RSS feeds and ... well, they don't feel samey to me. Characterizing "the blogosphere" can only be a characterization of your view onto it.

      Also, while I've got my own thoughts about breaking free from temporality, bookmarks without commentary are a pretty good use of feeds, because if I come back to your list of bookmarks, I don't want to do a diff operation in my head. I don't have a feed for updates to my blogroll, but maybe I should. (I'm also a fan of the half-assed attempt at feed-like utility that is adding the 🆕 emoji onto the latest stuff every time you update.)

    4. It's a bit strange, almost nobody seems to be doing this. Looking through a sample of personal websites, very few of them has links to other personal websites.

      This is where I begin to suspect that the author and I have very different views onto the world of small websites. A stacked brick wall of 88px by 31px banners is Neocities standard fare.

    5. Traffic is evaporating, and small websites are dying, which brings even fewer visitors. Rinse and repeat.

      I'd be curious to know if there's any data to support "traffic is evaporating." The whole world of Internet users used to be smaller, so small websites could have a smaller slice of a bigger pie than they used to... our standards for what constitutes a meaningful amount of anonymous attention have shifted drastically, as anyone who's shifted from Twitter to Mastodon can tell you.

    6. There are a lot of small websites on the Internet: Interesting websites, beautiful websites, unique websites. Unfortunately they are incredibly hard to find. You cannot find them on Google or Reddit

      Is this true? I dunno, I think I've found a decent number of cool small websites through Reddit.

    1. For veggies, the Irish relied on cabbages, onions, garlic, and parsnips, with some wild herbs and greens spicing up the plate, and on the fruit front, everyone loved wild berries, like blackberries and rowanberries, but only apples were actually grown on purpose. And, if you lived near the coast, edible seaweed like dulse and sloke made for tasty salads and side dishes.

      Were hazelnuts cultivated or wild?

    2. Which raises the question: What was Irish food like for the 1500 years between Patrick and potatoes?The short answer is: milky. Every account of what Irish people ate, from the pre-Christian Celts up through the 16th-century anti-British freedom fighters, revolves around dairy. The island's green pastures gave rise to a culture that was fiercely proud of its cows (one of the main genres of Ancient Irish epics is entirely about violent cattle rustling), and a cuisine that revolved around banbidh, or "white foods."

      Cf. Satie.

    1. Still

      yo editor

    2. Still, looking across the political landscape, it is unclear who the David is to take on the tech Goliaths. Republicans are cozy with big business, [4] Democrats are cozy with tech interests, and constituents may not rally behind the issue on their own if the flow of information is controlled by the companies under threat.


    3. Hindman’s underlying claim is that if one website has a wide array of content that frequently updates itself and is also tailored to users’ interests, then that website will dominate their attention. But, again, the advantage of bigness holds: the expenditure behind a feature like personalization is only feasible for the largest companies.

      I dunno that I buy this; does personalization have to be that hard/computationally intensive? In addition, Reddit made itself on having very little on-site content at all; it aggregated links.

    4. For instance, in his memoir, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone announces that he has come up with a new “social good”–oriented definition of capitalism (fact check: he is actually just repackaging Andrew Carnegie’s 1889 “The Gospel of Wealth,” a treatise justifying the concentration of wealth as a means of promoting public welfare).

      Maybe it'd be useful for more people to bang the drum more loudly about similarities of the present day to the 1880s/1890s.

    1. Research in 2013 from demographer Richelle Winkler shows that in the U.S., age segregation is often as ingrained as racial segregation. Using census data from 1990 to 2010, Winkler found that in some parts of the country, old (age 60+) and young (age 20–34) are roughly as segregated as Hispanics and whites.

      Bad! That's really bad! It's also bad that "families" are sectioned off from both.

    2. “I think we’re in the midst of a dangerous experiment,” Cornell University professor Karl Pillemer told The Huffington Post. “This is the most age-segregated society that’s ever been. Vast numbers of younger people are likely to live into their 90s without contact with older people. As a result, young people’s view of aging is highly unrealistic and absurd.”

      I wonder to what extent this impacts politics, too. It's a lot easier to deal with social change when it's mediated by personal relationships.

    3. In his book How Old Are You? Brown University historian Howard Chudacoff demonstrates that age was not an important part of everyday life for most of the 19th century. According to Chudacoff, “The country’s institutions were not structured according to age-defined divisions, and its cultural norms did not strongly prescribe age-related behavior.” (Birthdays were rarely celebrated or noticed — and the happy birthday song wasn’t even invented until 1934.) However, during the industrial age in the U.S., an assembly-line mentality led to grouping people by age, in the hopes of standardizing everything from the education of the young to the care for the elderly. And it brought some benefits. But the extreme degree to which we’ve shunted young people into educational institutions, middle-aged adults into workplaces, and older people into retirement communities, senior centers, and nursing homes has come with costs.

      I wonder how this became so dramatically reflected in our free association, as well. You can go to bars and restaurants and see a single age cohort in each. It seems unhealthy.

    1. For all the hype that surrounds them, neural networks can’t reflect or explain anything deeper about cultural or societal phenomena any more than sharing a favorite character from The Office can predict long-term compatibility with a Tinder match. These systems can only instrumentalize taste; they turn any expression of self into a reductive data point meant to generate more data at the same level. They presuppose that “liking” just means more “liking” and that is as deep as our desire can be. As with vibes, these metrics carry no context or narrative; they can tell you nothing about how or why something might be desirable, only that they vaguely seem like they might be desirable because they seem similar to other things that are desirable. This opacity encourages users to disregard the possibility of understanding their desire at a deeper level, of probing it, developing it, attenuating it, or even negating it if need be.

      Well, hold up. A lot of the description of neural networks here is really good, no complaints, no surprise the author's an engineer, but this paragraph has gone in a bad direction.

      I still need to read Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve, but, like, the digital humanities exist. Computer-aided close readings are not new. How are you defining "deeper" that you're so sure it can't even be reflected?

      In addition: everyone working with neural networks knows to probe, develop, attenuate, and sometimes negate their output! Telling people with no technical education that "an AI said X" may lend X an unearned reputation of solidity, but that's just not how the people who build these systems work with them. I'm not saying the author doesn't know that, but...for the metaphor of this piece, it matters exactly who we're saying is parallel to the... vibe-recognizer. Is it the ML engineer? Is it the recommendation algorithm's victim? Are we just saying that pattern-recognition is bad now? Jeebus

    2. While seemingly open-ended and allowing for an infinite recombination of elements, the idea of “vibes” is reductive. It discourages the more difficult work of interpretation and the search for meaning that defines human experience. It diverts attention away from narrative and moral implications in favor of foregrounding the idea of affect as inexplicable, ineffable — a matter of chance correlation of elements rather than something that requires deliberate causal explanation. The vibes framework may hone our abilities to identify settings like “cozy” or “cursed,” but it doesn’t give instructions on how we might build them or avoid them in our lives. As an analytic, vibes don’t connect feelings and consequence; as such, it is symbiotic with passive modes of media consumption.

      Wow, I hate this. How is the work of interpretation discouraged? Giving vague description to something doesn't preclude better description; to encourage people to express the idea that there's something coherent about, well, something is to create the space for further interpretation. A vibe is a term for a fetal stage, something emergent still emerging. If you already had a better name for it you'd use that. Articulating that you think there's a there there is a meaningful step! (this is where I would make a joke about attention mechanisms in deep learning if I were committed to the author's schtick) We can analyze whether cottagecore is fashy because people recognized a vibe and nurtured it into a whole... thing. (A thing that is sometimes fashy)

    3. The vibes are off, but they’re off fundamentally because they focus only on feelings and emotional connections that have already existed. They don’t provide or imagine pathways to new futures; they allow only for an understanding of what feels good or bad based on experiences that have already happened, things that have already been seen.

      This is just the modernist's complaint about postmodern recombination, and it was boring by the year 2000. You can't analyze curatorial intent as artistic intent, yada yada. (and you can't make real music by sampling, kids!!)

    4. Content systems optimized by machine learning amplify the repetitive quality of internet content by identifying and recycling the same topics that generate interest and controversy, and the tendency spreads elsewhere in culture, such as in the continuous, unnecessary reiterations of movie franchises like Star Wars or The Matrix. The vibes are gamed until they become stale, and an increasing facility in vibes makes this trend all the more evident and noticeable.

      This has nothing to do with "vibes", but is nonetheless true.

    5. In other words, “vibes” are similar to the approximations that machine learning systems use, and the two feed off of each other synergistically.


    6. These masked bad vibes are actually pointing toward urgent questions: How do we break out of this loop? How do we escape this cycle of political deadlock, Covid lockdown, and the dread of climate catastrophe? How do we create new art forms that aren’t just remixes or nostalgic revivals of existing ones? PC Music can pose the question but can’t become the answer; it can only manifest the problem in a heightened, intensified form.

      literally what music do you think can become the answer to Covid lockdown

    7. Consider the vibes-based music categories like hyperpop and PC Music, which serve as an avant-garde of the moment, mixing a wide variety of other genres with hyper-specific cultural references and inside jokes.

      Are we supposed to accept that hyperpop is more "vibes-based" than other genres? Because... I don't.

    8. Instead it effectively identifies a “rainy” vibe through correlations of an initially arbitrary set of parameters.

      Forcing a premise for a pitch? This is not the use of "vibe" I'd recognize...

    9. As the salience of vibes as a way of (not) explaining experience has grown, so too have the applications of machine learning and neural networks. This parallel may not be a mere coincidence.

      NARRATOR: ...it was a mere coincidence.

    1. Intuitively, the question seems to me to be this: Can societies without religion reproduce themselves over the long run? 

      Define your terms...

    2. When a civilization stops giving birth to its future, and ceases to understand why it’s important to do so, it’s in trouble. This is a global crisis of the industrialized world, the collapse in fertility

      Yes, that's what the global crisis is. 🙄

    3. Harvard sociologist Carle C. Zimmerman’s classic work Family And Civilization said that the collapse of the Greek and the Roman empires had to do with the collapse of the social forces that formed families.

      I'd genuinely love to read someone's take on this that isn't from 1947.

    4. Wokeness in America as hegemonic left-wing illiberalism is our own Cultural Revolution.


    5. “The real cell of society in the United States is the individual,” he finds. This is so because the cell most foundational (per Aristotle) to society, “the family, has disintegrated.” Meanwhile, in the American system, “everything has a dual nature, and the glamour of high commodification abounds. Human flesh, sex, knowledge, politics, power, and law can all become the target of commodification.” This “commodification, in many ways, corrupts society and leads to a number of serious social problems.” In the end, “the American economic system has created human loneliness” as its foremost product, along with spectacular inequality. As a result, “nihilism has become the American way, which is a fatal shock to cultural development and the American spirit.”

      Look, I'd agree with most of this -- but tell me when the United States ever really valued "the family" in a way that was meaningful to all families?

    6. Who asked for this? Who asked for superheroes to have sex lives, or gay sex lives? What does it mean that the ideological colonization of the superhero genre, the modern mythology of our times, means that transgressive sexual desire is now a definitive characteristic of our pop culture god figures?

      The first two questions are asked by someone who doesn't know "how comics work now". The third -- I mean, can propaganda be propagandized? Does deploying the term "colonization" mean we're pretending there is an ideology to superheroes that we should consider indigenous?

    1. In this respect, I don’t think our meritocracy is all that different from previous aristocracy. The definition of aristocracy is just the rule of the best, and people who have merit are also by definition the best. It’s the same kind of rhetoric. Yes, aristocracy usually relied more on birth, but that’s just a mechanism for identifying the people who are going to be perceived to be the best.

      And an aristocratic upbringing! Cf. the anger of the downwardly-class-mobile, who received it without its "deserved" reward.

    2. I think the underemphasized concern here is the extent to which the other 90 percent end up buying into this value system to some degree. I’ve been in the child-rearing game, and I see a lot of the madness firsthand — parents freaking out when their child takes a sip of soda out of the refrigerator because they somehow imagine this is really going to make it impossible for them to demonstrate enough virtue to get into the right college. They will curate every experience for their kids — every travel experience, every friendship. I mostly see it among members of the upper-middle class who can afford it. But increasingly, the same sets of values and practices are clearly spreading to where people can’t afford it and where it doesn’t make sense. They’re also buying into this idea that kids have to be absolutely optimized, maximized so they can get onto the narrow path that leads to a stable upper-middle-class life, and otherwise it’s Starbucks until the end of time. It basically takes away a potential countervailing mechanism. If society were such that you produce this one noxious class but then that gives rise to a reaction of people angry with this class and then acting out, you might have some conflict. Hopefully, it’s not violent but can be mediated through political institutions, but you have at least a mechanism that might lead to a solution. But when the ideology starts to spread, it effectively removes the basis for that conflict, it neutralizes the opposition in a way, and that’s a problem. It means that the system just continues further down the road toward greater instability.

      A lot of mothers, particularly, driving themselves mad over this.

      The narrative also doesn't allow considering fallback. What kind of world should my child have if he's just "not bright enough" to win the class mobility lottery? You can't ask it if you've internalized the good/bad meritocracy moral coloring. How would I have to work differently to help him have a good life? What do the winners and losers of that lottery owe each other?

      Those are then the questions that can drive progress, even in the absence of sparks of resentment.

    1. The canonical example of a contagious idea would be some kind of evangelical religion, where they would say: "Hey, this is the way the universe is structured. This is how the cosmos exists, but also convert other people to this way of thinking, go out and find people and tell them this as well."But there's a way simpler idea of memes: a contagious song, a catch phrase, a political slogan, or even a symbol that's easy to draw. Wouldn't that be a meme as well? So looking at this I thought that some ideas are more contagious than others and some ideas aren't contagious at all—they just kind of sit there. So what's at the other end of the scale: what kind of ideas resist being spread? What information would you intrinsically not want anyone else to find out about? Or maybe you do want to spread it, but you can't for whatever reason?

      I have QNTM on my blogroll because I think this kind of thinking is really interesting -- not just with the spec fic energy they take to it, but also in looking at social history. I'd recommend their SCP stuff to anyone who doesn't absolutely hate speculative fiction.

    1. And the vine-dressers would sacrifice goats in honor of Dionysus—for the goat is an enemy of the vine; and they would skin them, fill the skin-bags with air and jump on them.

      The goat is an enemy of the vine! Who knew?

    1. If, in their effort to scan the literary field from Amazon’s point of view, the pages that follow try to see things as if this margin of autonomous creativity weren’t so, and as though the whole world were already Amazon, they also watch for signs of the enduring limits of the corporation’s power as the super-author of our time.

      At the end of this I find it more interesting how contentless this all was. The title is the pitch: The Novel in the Age of Amazon. It can be sold without having anything to say.

    2. Our interest in fiction is in part an interest in encountering different degrees of (albeit, properly formatted) otherness, the better to assimilate it to ourselves in the spirit of personal augmentation.

      This is weirdly MFAey.

    3. Fiction in the Age of Amazon is the symbolic provision of more—above all, of more various and interesting “life experience” than can be had by any mortal being, let alone one constrained by the demands of work and family.

      I think there is a quote about someone making this same complaint about a vast library.

    1. I could run my server on my own hardware – e.g. my laptop or a dedicated Raspberry Pi – but that’s unwieldy, subject to downtime, and so on. The alternative is to host a virtual server on a third-party cloud provider. This is unbelievably ironic. The best way for me to participate in Urbit’s decentralized, peer-to-peer universe is… to run a server on AWS.Obviously neither of those two options are desirable for hosting my Urbit server. Hosting on my own hardware is annoying, hosting in the centralized cloud defeats the whole point.This is where Urbit shows its age: it has no ambition for decentralized server ownership. The notion of a user running their own server, having to guarantee its uptime, backup its data, etc., is antiquated. If Urbit were reimagined in 2021, it would be running on Sia or Ethereum: your data is stored on the blockchain, your applications are running as perpetual smart contracts, and you can access it from anywhere in the world with just your private key. That’s compelling. In that world, both uptime of your personal instance and storage of your data are guaranteed as long as the network is healthy.

      Is this a commonly held view? That the Ethereum network is more, idk, resilient and fungible than utility compute as it's been run for decades (host or rent)?

    1. In this timeless land the dialect was richer in words with which to measure time than any other language; beyond the motionless and everlasting crai every day in the future had a name of its own. Crai meant tomorrow and forever; the day after tomorrow was prescrai [sic; should be pescrai — see update] and the day after that pescrille; then came pescruflo, maruflo, maruflone; the seventh day was maruflicchio. But these precise terms had an undertone of irony. They were used less often to indicate this or that day than they were said all together in a string, one after the other; their very sound was grotesque and they were like a reflection of the futility of trying to make anything clear out of the cloudiness of crai. I, too, began to lose hope that anything new might come forth from maruflo or maruflone or maruflicchio.

      I like this. Like the difference in mentality between only using left/right vs. north/south

  7. Sep 2021
    1. Toadying and pusillanimity define much cultural writing — “Please, shoot me last; I will happily denounce myself!” cry the white males; “No, shoot them first,” coldly reply the children of affirmative action who seek to take their places and turn all culture into a question of competing claims of superior victimhood.

      Yes, this is certainly a good-faith description of a phenomenon that definitely happens in the world in which we live.

    1. Indexing flowered at a time when readers saw books as great mosaics of useful tags and examples that they could collect and organise for themselves. The chief tool they used to do this job was not the index but the commonplace book: a notebook, preferably organised by subject headings known as loci communes (common places), which provided both a material space in which to store material and a set of designators to help retrieve it.

      Huh, have I not come across "loci communes" before? Or had I just forgotten?

    2. The crafty and energetic Paris publisher Charlotte Guillard decided to reprint his edition of the Letters of Jerome. The Sorbonne had condemned Erasmus’s works, so Guillard (or a press professional in her shop) drew up an index of the passages in Erasmus’s commentary that most contradicted conventional Catholic wisdom. It took the form of a letter to the pious reader, warning that Erasmus’s paratexts ‘did more to cover the texts with darkness than to shed light on them’. Then it quoted a long series of passages in which Erasmus argued against practices including excessive veneration of the saints, supposedly in order to help the pious reader avoid them – but also, of course, to help the Protestant or critical Catholic reader discover them. A single index, creatively compiled, could make a big book respectable and subversive at the same time.

      Does that qualify as irony?

    3. Konrad Pellikan, who compiled the index for Erasmus’s 1521 edition of the church father Cyprian, explained that he had gathered his lemmas quickly and keyed his references only to full pages, not to smaller segments of each page, ‘to avoid easing the way for gross laziness’. Conrad Gessner, who explained in detail how to compile an index on slips of paper, insisted that indexes were vital: without them, life would be too short to master more than one subject. But he also worried about those ‘who rely only on the indexes ... and who do not read the complete texts of their authors in the proper order and methodically’. The index gave its users formidable power to find and quote adages and examples, narratives and poems, scriptural and patristic texts, whether or not they had actually read the full works they cited. That power in turn inspired anxiety, especially among those who had learned what they knew in the old-fashioned way, or claimed that they had. Would the index kill close reading?

      Obviously, we see digital parallels.

    1. The world surely contains some usurious Jews, gay paedophiles, muslim fanatics, sexually aggressive black men, hysterical women. But if you tell those ‘truths’ without the truth of others, who do not conform to such precise clichés, and without the truth that telling these certain individual truths as constitutive is a technique of oppression, then your ‘truth’ is in the service of a coercive lie. The comedian Wanda Sykes has joked that it is only since Obama that she’s able to buy watermelons: before a black president, the truth of her taste was too costly to indulge. Not because of anything intrinsic to the desire, but because of the gaze under which it fell. ‘Look at all these white people looking at me’, she says. ‘I ain’t buying a whole watermelon for your enjoyment.’

      "Stereotype threat" too glib a characterization.

    2. This is a whole other level at which the search for a ‘progressive’ content in culture can blind us. Underlying the suppleness of the system is the fact that not only does it fundamentally not matter to it which symbolic content you choose from an either-or on offer, nor even does it if you exercise that Boolean literalist rejection of the choice, except if and insofar as you undermine its power – which in capitalist culture means that you refuse its commodity-logic. We beat the system that throws up the art, the culture, not if we hate it or resent it – only, ultimately, if we stop it making money.

      Thereeee we go. Three cheers for Mieville.

    3. It is by this reversibility that such binaries works. The point of the familiar Madonna-Whore syndrome is that you can’t win by choosing one over the other. The deck is stacked, the dice loaded. It is the dyad, not one or other of its terms, that is the problem. That old insight helps show the limitations of the hunt for ‘empowering’, ‘progressive’ depictions, as well as for oppressive stereotypes. Of seeking problem and solution in representation’s content, rather in the range of choices made available.

      Hmm. I'm not sure this rings true. The Madonna is flattened, instrumentalized. Isn't it more important to have your depiction be un-flat than to present a range of flat "choices"? Seems weirdly markety.

    4. As a supplement to paranoid reading, Sedgwick draws from Klein to propose a different kind of analysis. ‘The greatest interest of Klein’s concept [of ‘position’, rather than analytical ‘type’ or ’stage’] lies … in her seeing the paranoid position always in the oscillatory context of a very different possible one: the depressive position. … [This] is an anxiety-mitigating achievement that the infant or adult only sometimes, and often only briefly, succeeds in inhabiting’. From this position, Sedgwick suggests as methodology a drive to pleasure, including aesthetic; amelioration of the everyday; and openness to surprise, both good and bad. She calls this process ‘reparative reading’. ‘The desire of a reparative impulse … is additive and accretive. Its fear, a realistic one, is that the culture surrounding it is inadequate or inimical to its nurture; it wants to assemble and confer plenitude on an object that will then have resources to offer to an inchoate self’. This is perfectly compatible with the paranoid critique of un-nurturing culture. Where it differs – complements – is in what it wants to do with that culture’s objects: [T]o use one’s own resources to assemble or “repair” the murderous part-objects into something like a whole – though … not necessarily like any preexisting whole. Once assembled to one’s own specifications, the more satisfying object is available both to be identified with and to offer one nourishment and comfort in turn. Sedgwick closes with a beautiful aspiration, to ‘extract[…] sustenance from the objects of a culture – even of a culture whose avowed desire has often been not to sustain them’.

      I understand that this is meant to be about readings of the-text-itself, or whatever, but I can't help but think of how the young Maya read queer romantic Harry Potter fanfiction. Its creators responded to a literally additive impulse. The result was more true to the world I'd later inhabit than any of the media I found around me. Banishing all of Harry Potter is therefore fraught to me, even as I realize that, you know, no money of mine should get back to the author.

    5. In an inversion of the fury of those ragefully defending texts from critics, those critics can be invested less in rigour than in the attack itself, going from diagnosis to performative dismissal, policing transgressions with surplus enthusiasm. In the addictive affect-economy of social media, this can come to mean a bleak and border-guarding backslapping.

      This use of "performative" could be used in its real sense, but then it'd be somewhat redundant, so I return to feeling betrayed.

    6. Thus we were granted one of the great political autocritiques in literature, a text that interrogates and subverts its own predecessors.

      I'd read somewhere The Elegance of the Hedgehog only exists because someone pointed out to the author how cliched the concierge who appeared in Gourmet Rhapsody was. There is probably something to be criticized in how fleshing out that cliche then necessitated making her care about the same things our author cares about -- but I love the result too much to find too much weight to it.

    1. Unlike Tokyo, a vast city held together by slippery threads of ramen

      Is Tokyo ramen considered distinctive?

    2. London’s appetites generate a colossal amount of food waste: with better organisation, it could be reduced. bio-bean is a company that collects waste coffee grounds from King’s Cross, Liverpool Street and other big London train stations and converts it to biofuel.

      I'm not sure used coffee grounds are a neat example of "waste".

    3. asparagus (or, in cockneydom, ‘sparrowgrass’)

      An excellent alias

    4. There used to be a common language of food in the city, whereas now we have incoherent Babel of many cuisines, often exciting but hard to decipher

      Food as language in this metaphor is deceiving. Language has to be shared to some extent to be useful. Novelty and unfamiliarity in food isn't disqualifying.

    5. But when it came to seasonal produce, the whole city ate in sync. Sellers put notices in The Times to announce that Jersey pears had just come into season or that East Lothian potatoes had arrived.


    1. n Germany, some doctors still practice Hildegardian medicine. In the town of Allenbach, for example, a clinic focuses exclusively on Hildegardian treatments. Beyond the realm of modern medicine, though, Hildgard’s work is alive and well at monasteries. At St. Hildegard Abbey, founded by Hildegard herself in Eibingen in 1165, nuns carry on her culinary traditions, making and selling “cookies of joy” along with galangal-ginger cookies, wine, and a selection of herbal liqueurs and teas.

      What wonderful tourism that'd be!

    2. she was struck by a mysterious illness after the abbot at Disibodenberg initially refused to let her leave and found her own monastery. (The abbot was reluctant to lose the prophet-nun, who’d attracted a fair share of visitors and revenue.) Hildegard lay in bed for months, unable to do anything until the will of God (i.e., her founding her own abbey) was completed. When the abbot finally relented, she made a miraculous recovery.

      Patron saint of the work stoppage.

    3. Born on the cusp of the prosperous 12th century, she was poised to reap the benefits of a booming era in European history. “It was just this far-out time,” Sweet says, adding that Hildegard was born into an era of scholastic advancement, population growth, and agriculturally beneficial weather. Although she would have lived separate from the men at the coed Disibodenberg monastery, Sweet notes that Hildegard would have likely communicated with educated monks and had access to the library, the medicinal garden, and the infirmary. The result was an education that rivaled those of leading medieval minds. “So Hildegard would have gotten the Latin-age academic tradition … the existing infirmarian tradition, and then, third, this sort of medical-women tradition with the midwives and the healers,” Sweet says. “So what she ends up giving us is a wonderful mixture of all that.”

      I think her education is debated, isn't it?

    4. The Hildegardian pharma-bakery didn’t just prescribe cookies to counter depression, but also recommended licorice-flavored cookies for nausea and ginger varieties for constipation.

      Anise saltines seem handy.

    5. Hildegard’s pharmacopoeia revolved around the kitchen and the garden. In her books Physica and Causes and Cures, she outlines herbal and culinary remedies for a vast array of ailments. For a weak heart, she proposes a daily teaspoon of “wine for the heart,” consisting of boiled parsley, honey, and wine. For stomach pain, a nightcap of wine mixed with powdered ginger, galingale (a ginger relative from Southeast Asia), and zedoary (another ginger cousin, from India). And for matters of melancholy, she offers her “cookies of joy” (or “nerve cookies”), wielding the key ingredients of spelt flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves to “calm all bitterness of the heart and mind, open your heart and impaired senses, and make your mind cheerful.”

      Look, I don't know that ginger wine wouldn't help stomach pain.

    1. The real scandal, if I may, is the fact that so many people who attended one seem to have no idea what it’s for. So let me come out and tell you what a university is for: a university is a place where people help each other access the highest intellectual goods.

      Imagine being able to blithely say people are wrong to think that college is "for" class mobility when it is necessary to experience class mobility. Imagine being able to handwave that away as an extraneous detail.

    2. In the real world, Plato’s view seemed to be that philosophers arise because occasionally a human being—for no reason, following no plan, and certainly not because he was secretly marked out as One of the Special Ones from birth—manages by sheer luck to find his way to the lone worthwhile life. Thus Socrates’s shortcomings with respect to the intellectual “talents” most valued in his era—memory and rhetorical cleverness—are often thematized by Plato. Plato’s explanation for why most people don’t get access to the best things is unsatisfying to those who are expecting either a tale of justice, such as the noble lie of the triumph of the talented, or a tale of injustice, such as the liberal account of how the equal potential in all of us is squandered when the powerful oppress the weak. But you don’t need to oppress people in order to withhold intellectual treasures from them if there is simply no reason they would find them in the first place. The intellectual goods lie hidden in plain view.

      Wow, how cool that we can resort to analyzing this all in terms absolutely devoid of the empirical sociological research that might suggest that there are more factors at play than "sheer luck", that it isn't "for no reason" that "most people don't get access to the best things". I love philosophical thought experiments and I've never understood how some people despise them until now.

    3. A university is a world inside the world, a haven, a bubble, and those who reacted to the college-admissions scandal tried to pop that bubble. My initial impulse was to see this as an act of aggression and hostility: they are trying to blame us for everything! But with hindsight, I have begun to entertain the possibility of a different interpretation. Maybe the sentiment driving the scandalmongering was marked as much by envy as indignation. After all, one reason you might try to pop a bubble is because you want in.

      Whose money funds the bubble's wall? Whose society is shaped by it? Do you imagine it is your abstract interests that fuel the engine? Do you imagine that your sense of satisfaction at sharing the Iliad with students ought to be enough? Do you not see the material structures that hold up what you do?

    4. And it’s totally amazing that human beings can do this

      This is the closest the author comes to justifications. It's "amazing to witness the birth of scientific thought". It's "amazing that human beings" can "form intellectual communities." I'm so glad you get to be amazed.

    5. “It is happening right here—this is what universities are for: reading Aristotle together.” All the arguments about elitism and corporatization and donations were as irrelevant as the ivy growing on the walls.

      My god, my god, my god. How do you think any of this is paid for? How do you think it is that you are bought the time, the freedom, the space, the energy to read Aristotle together? How do you think you owe nothing back?

    6. If I had left the university after college, I believe the intellectual life I occasionally glimpsed as an undergraduate would have faded into a nostalgic memory.

      Why should I care about this? What is the point of you? What is the point of your intellectual life? Why do you think it doesn't need to be justified? Why do you think it ought to be enough for the university's critics? How is a philosopher this careless about leaving a good in-and-of-itself asserted without support?

    7. Our society has many questions and uncertainties about the just and correct manner of distributing wealth, or health care, or honor, or political power; but these difficulties seem insignificant in comparison to the gaping chasm of total cluelessness we have when it comes to the problem of distributing the very highest goods of all—the intellectual ones.

      Jesus. You think that who spends time in your "let's talk about dead Greeks" course is more significant than who is allowed to die without health care.

    1. The same is true for many of my close high-school classmates: If they left for college, most have never returned for longer than a few months at a time. Practically all of them now live in major metro areas scattered across the country, not our hometown. The kinds of jobs they are now qualified for—in corporate or management consulting, nonprofits, media, and finance—don’t really exist in Yakima.

      What the hell kind of social circle were you running in?

    1. Plavchan has considered offering a separate course on directory structure — but he’s not sure it’s worth it.

      Please, I'm begging you, talk to a single librarian at your university. Please talk to a single librarian at your university.

    2. Plavchan agrees that there are limits to how much he can bridge the generational divide. Despite his efforts to tailor his teaching, “some of the tools we use rely on some knowledge that our students just aren’t getting.”

      Sometimes the way that academics interact with computers -- particularly non-CS academics -- is to construct their own peculiar individual mental models of how things should be done, and demand that students absorb them. Maybe you should be figuring out a better standard workflow that your students can "get"!

    3. A cynic could blame generational incompetence. An international 2018 study that measured eighth-graders’ “capacities to use information and computer technologies productively” proclaimed that just 2 percent of Gen Z had achieved the highest “digital native” tier of computer literacy.
    4. It could also have to do with the other software they’re accustomed to — dominant smartphone apps like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube all involve pulling content from a vast online sea rather than locating it within a nested hierarchy.

      This is a weak comparison in my mind, because Instagram and TikTok don't even have the kind of functional search that allows you to really relate to content in that way; you're relying on their algorithms to surface what you must have wanted, not able to filter results, order them by various attributes, etc.

    5. The primary issue is that the code researchers write, run at the command line, needs to be told exactly how to access the files it’s working with — it can’t search for those files on its own. Some programming languages have search functions, but they’re difficult to implement and not commonly used. It’s in the programming lessons where STEM professors, across fields, are encountering problems.

      So... not exactly.

      At work, I have tools that set up my relevant directory structures for me for the different projects I work with. I use tools that have their own directory structures in which they present content. My experience of using these tools is almost always approximately equivalent to navigating an app that presents options on multiple screens. With the native tab-complete, cd src<TAB>/Package<TAB>/lib is a bit like clicking through nested menus. At work, it is exceedingly rare that I ever have to indicate the kind of complicated relative paths that require a mental model of location beyond "you're here, click here, now you're here, click here...".

      This is not true with my personal projects, because I am lazy and I have not set up tooling that would make things neat and straightforward. Relative paths are common, mental models are necessary, and I'll admit that when these fail there's a certain amount of fallback to recursive grep -- the unindexed brute-force search of eras past.

      Academic programming contexts are kind of uniquely unprofessional, and I don't like that this is being presented as "there's nothing we can do, computers are just like this!" when that's not really the case. Standard directory structures enforced by tooling change how you relate to the whole thing.

    6. Guarín-Zapata was taught computer basics in high school — how to save, how to use file folders, how to navigate the terminal

      🎶one of these things is not like the others🎶

    7. Colling’s courses now include a full two-hour lecture to explain directory structure.

      This is nonsense. This is nonsense. I remember despising college courses doing this.

    1. despite the slick approach of several of these businesses, at the heart of it, the broad objective of almost all of them is to protect the Indian cow from slaughter. The profit surpluses generated by many of them are either entirely offered or generously shared with cow shelters. They believe that unlike cows of foreign species, which have undergone many genetic mutations, the Indian cow is special.

      Huh, I didn't know this was an aspect of the high value on cows. Makes sense, I guess. Are foreign species viewed as bad (like how I think French bulldogs shouldn't exist)?

    2. Unadulterated cow urine and dung have always been procured from cow-shelters by the traditional for use at home and in temple pujas. What’s recent is the array of therapeutic and beauty products flooding the market that use these as ingredients. There are face packs, bath scrubbers, mosquito coils and incense sticks that contain cow dung. There are creams, cough syrups, body oils, health tonics, weight-loss tonics, and floor disinfectants that contain distilled cow urine. You name it, they have it. And the names of gau mutra or gau arka (cow urine) or cow dung are not hidden away in long lists of fine print on the packages. It is star-lighted right up front as the chief ingredient in bold letters.

      I suppose the incense makes as much sense as anything else, but I'll confess the body products seem troubling. I wonder if they're pasteurized?

    1. The peaks correspond to the symbols: “a”, “c”, “e”, “i”, “o”, “s” and “y” of the EVA alphabet.

      e, i, s, and y being potentially vowelish consonants (like y in English)


    1. D0 Soil is dry; irrigation delivery begins earlyDryland crop germination is stuntedActive fire season beginsWinter resort visitation is low; snowpack is minimal D1 Dryland pasture growth is stunted; producers give supplemental feed to cattleLandscaping and gardens need irrigation earlier; wildlife patterns begin to changeStock ponds and creeks are lower than usual D2 Grazing land is inadequateProducers increase water efficiency methods and drought-resistant cropsFire season is longer, with high burn intensity, dry fuels, and large fire spatial extent; more fire crews are on staffWine country tourism increases; lake- and river-based tourism declines; boat ramps closeTrees are stressed; plants increase reproductive mechanisms; wildlife diseases increaseWater temperature increases; programs to divert water to protect fish beginRiver flows decrease; reservoir levels are low and banks are exposed D3 Livestock need expensive supplemental feed, cattle and horses are sold; little pasture remains, producers find it difficult to maintain organic meat requirementsFruit trees bud early; producers begin irrigating in the winterFederal water is not adequate to meet irrigation contracts; extracting supplemental groundwater is expensiveDairy operations closeFire season lasts year-round; fires occur in typically wet parts of state; burn bans are implementedSki and rafting business is low, mountain communities sufferOrchard removal and well drilling company business increase; panning for gold increasesLow river levels impede fish migration and cause lower survival ratesWildlife encroach on developed areas; little native food and water is available for bears, which hibernate lessWater sanitation is a concern, reservoir levels drop significantly, surface water is nearly dry, flows are very low; water theft occursWells and aquifer levels decrease; homeowners drill new wellsWater conservation rebate programs increase; water use restrictions are implemented; water transfers increaseWater is inadequate for agriculture, wildlife, and urban needs; reservoirs are extremely low; hydropower is restricted D4 Fields are left fallow; orchards are removed; vegetable yields are low; honey harvest is smallFire season is very costly; number of fires and area burned are extensiveMany recreational activities are affectedFish rescue and relocation begins; pine beetle infestation occurs; forest mortality is high; wetlands dry up; survival of native plants and animals is low; fewer wildflowers bloom; wildlife death is widespread; algae blooms appearPolicy change; agriculture unemployment is high, food aid is neededPoor air quality affects health; greenhouse gas emissions increase as hydropower production decreases; West Nile Virus outbreaks riseWater shortages are widespread; surface water is depleted; federal irrigation water deliveries are extremely low; junior water rights are curtailed; water prices are extremely high; wells are dry, more and deeper wells are drilled; water quality is poo

      A found poem, via Meg Bernhard.

    1. However, he added, “I don’t know of a medical society that doesn’t serve alcohol.” Even the attendees at the Research Society on Alcoholism get two drink chits at the opening reception, he said.


    2. “When you extinguish a learned habit, it doesn’t disappear,” Koob said. “All you’re doing is replacing that habit with a different habit.” Volkow compared my behavior to a binge. “It’s an automatic compulsive behavior,” she said.

      I mean, sure, but when my dad used dumdums to stop smoking, that was still good. Do people imagine there is a life they can lead "clean" of all habits?

    3. Also, as a young father, I was thinking of the positive impact this could make

      What on earth? This is a step beyond the typical "now that I have fathered a daughter, I understand that women are people."

    4. I could manage a meal in a restaurant, but if anyone proposed a toast I felt as if I were inviting bad luck to the table by raising my glass of water.

      At work events, back when we used to have work events, my then-very-Russian org used to toast with juice or lemonade or tea or something. It was a nice equalizing bit of fuss.

    1. But here’s the truth: Annotation is just a comment box you can put anywhere on a web page. Some annotations are great! If you have a coherent community with shared goals and common values, they can be amazing and create something on a Wikipedia scale. But they have all the flaws of the comment box, too — namely, they’re a great place to see people be assholes to one another, and most people don’t much of unique value to add to the discussion.

      Why should I have to have a "coherent community with shared goals and common values" to make annotations valuable? Above, they're being snarky:

      “We could annotate ExxonMobil’s site everywhere they talk about green power! That’ll teach The Man!”

      But genuinely: shouldn't part of the promise of annotations be what they can introduce where people don't share goals and values?

    1. To my surprise, IRC is making a comeback

      Is it though

    2. The small web is for the rest of us. Those of us who don't live in America (or Germany), don't make six-figure salaries and can't even dream of flying to a meetup on another continent. Those of us who struggle to be heard at all.

      Analyzing the exclusivity of altweb movements in material terms divorced from "so can a non-technical person get into this" seems silly to me, given that... well... with the meaningful exception of their insistence on personal domain names, all the IndieWeb stuff is free too.

    3. Over on the IndieWeb wiki, Tantek Çelik claims the small web is just what they've been doing, under another name. Uh, no. Hands off. You already have a community, with a fancy brand name, international events and so on. Leave us alone.

      Both sides of this feel silly. The IndieWeb has way too specific ideologies to encompass what's nice about e.g. Neocities. On the other hand, if you look at the IndieWeb and see "ah, yes, corporatism" because... they have a fairly nice-looking logo... or something... then you are probably not looking in good faith.

    1. In fact, making a leaf-less salad not only expands your concept of what a “salad” could be, it makes you a more creative, more adaptable cook and vegetable-eater by removing a component you may have been leaning on a bit too heavily.

      Leafy salads are terrible! They are unpleasant flavor-wise and texturally and I don't care if they're good for me. I would always rather eat my spinach wilted. Claire Lower is the brave voice we need.

    1. And if you’re wondering about horrisonant, it’s “< stem of Latin horrēre (see horripilation n.) + sonānt-em sounding” and means “Sounding horribly; of terrible sound.”

      Cf. assonant, consonant, etc.

    1. Last Best Hope was inspired, Packer says, by “political pamphlets from other periods of crisis.” In the best tradition of Carlyle and Swift, he spends much of the first half of the book summarizing year-old tweets.

      This is... brutal.

    1. The end goal of both zine and indieweb technologies is ownership of your own identity without a filter. Before proceeding, let me put you in a good vibe with 666 casino where great casino games are placed on a site. Join today to receive awesome welcome rewards! Just as subcultures and those whose experiences are marginalized by mainstream media have flocked to zines to find community and express (possibly unpopular) opinions, the Indie Web has the potential to be a great tool for those who do not find corporate social media to fit their needs.

      I have never seen inline advertising like this. Dear Lord.

    1. That’s how London became a preferred place for Hollywood to record: a large population of well-trained musicians, whose union doesn’t insist on residuals. Several London-based singers I spoke with suggested that the reason Hollywood doesn’t record in, say, Germany as often is that singers in continental Europe have steadier income and are less dependent on session work. And once a producer decides that even London-based musicians are too demanding — well, then there’s always Prague or Budapest. The gorgeous voices you heard in a John Ford Western were the sound of unions and full-time employment; in a Hollywood score today they are monuments to the globalizing power of the gig economy.

      How many luxuries in our lives could be analyzed this way?

    1. Workers get paid when they accept and complete a delivery, and a gamelike system of rewards and penalties keeps them moving: high scores for being on time, low scores and fewer orders for tardiness, and so on. Chavez and others call it the patrón fantasma, the phantom boss — always watching and quick to punish you for being late but nowhere to be found when you need $10 to fix your bike or when you get doored and have to go to the hospital.

      Who is accountable for system behavior?

    1. In March, the researchers said Instagram should reduce exposure to celebrity content about fashion, beauty and relationships, while increasing exposure to content from close friends, according to a slide deck they uploaded to Facebook’s internal message board. A current employee, in comments on the message board, questioned that idea, saying celebrities with perfect lives were key to the app. “Isn’t that what IG is mostly about?” he wrote. Getting a peek at “the (very photogenic) life of the top 0.1%? Isn’t that the reason why teens are on the platform?” A now-former executive questioned the idea of overhauling Instagram to avoid social comparison. “People use Instagram because it’s a competition,” the former executive said. “That’s the fun part.”

      Elsewhere in the article, it says Facebook does not make the data available to outside researchers that they would need to really dig into potentially negative effects. This means public regulation based on public data is not going to be thorough or effective. In the absence of regulation, it's only Facebook's leadership and employees that can act on any findings, public or internal. Because of this, the mindset that tech industry people have on this issues is crucially important and disproportionately influential.

    2. In five presentations over 18 months to this spring, the researchers conducted what they called a “teen mental health deep dive” and follow-up studies. They came to the conclusion that some of the problems were specific to Instagram, and not social media more broadly. That is especially true concerning so-called social comparison, which is when people assess their own value in relation to the attractiveness, wealth and success of others. “Social comparison is worse on Instagram,” states Facebook’s deep dive into teen girl body-image issues in 2020, noting that TikTok, a short-video app, is grounded in performance, while users on Snapchat, a rival photo and video-sharing app, are sheltered by jokey filters that “keep the focus on the face.” In contrast, Instagram focuses heavily on the body and lifestyle. The features that Instagram identifies as most harmful to teens appear to be at the platform’s core. The tendency to share only the best moments, a pressure to look perfect and an addictive product can send teens spiraling toward eating disorders, an unhealthy sense of their own bodies and depression, March 2020 internal research states. It warns that the Explore page, which serves users photos and videos curated by an algorithm, can send users deep into content that can be harmful. “Aspects of Instagram exacerbate each other to create a perfect storm,” the research states.

      These claims are explicitly laid out as being specific to Instagram's design, not "teenage girls being teenage girls" or "social media is harmful".

    3. Among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the desire to kill themselves to Instagram, one presentation showed.

      Even a very small percentage swing in suicidality should be serious and notable. This portion is not very small.

    1. G & O owner Oil notes that the he’s already seeing this populist political effect. “Before electric assist and electric cargo bikes became as reliable as they are now, you’d see a very specific, very homogeneous type of person at city hall to speak up on behalf of cycling,” Oil said. “And they were typically wearing recreational clothing or they were typically retirees and most of them were men. Now those public hearings are always packed with mothers and young children, good people to listen when it comes to safety. The same thing goes for disabled people. Electric-assist makes cycling more accessible to people living with disabilities and mobility challenges.”

      I loved commuting on an e-bike, and I'm not The Type to bike. It's cool to hear that they're opening things up for people.

    1. “Once you teach a man how to shelter himself and feed his own face, then fuck you,” Tommy explains. “You can say that to everybody. It's a powerful thing. They don't want to teach you that. In fourth grade they should put seeds in your hand. They want control. But nobody else is in control—you are.”

      Except of course that each one of us would have perished at birth without our relationships of dependency

    2. The magazine was launched the same year as Gloria Steinem's Ms. and found a similar audience, with its distribution at one point hitting 9,000 copies.

      I gotta ask Mom if she ever subscribed

    3. I'd been thumbing through an issue of the Whole Earth Catalog, a compendium of self-help advice and product reviews, founded and edited by Stewart Brand, that became the bible for back-to-the-landers when it was first published in 1968. (Steve Jobs would later call it “Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along.”) What struck me most was the opening statement: “We are as gods and might as well get used to it. A realm of intimate, personal power is developing—power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested.”

      This says a lot about Google, and is supposed to be inspiring, yet strikes me as bleak...

    4. Berg didn't know it then, but when he joined the commune he became part of the greatest urban exodus in American history. From the late '60s to the mid '70s, nearly a million young people went back to the land. Nowhere was the urge to reconnect with nature more keenly felt than in San Francisco, where droves of young people were suddenly fleeing a city overrun by heroin, speed, and bad vibes. Cops were shooting down Black Panthers in Oakland and the military was tear-gassing students in People's Park in Berkeley. Vietnam veterans were looking for a salve for their PTSD. Faithful Marxists aimed to put their ideals to the test. Some just wanted to get high in the woods.

      There's something disconcerting about the pairing of the fate of the cities and this dramatic form of white flight

    1. a while back for april fools if you clicked the april fools link your icon got a little top hat on the dashboard, which accomplished nothing and literally only showed up on the dash and yet still annoyed enough people that they made userscripts to hide the hatsand i’m not gonna lie, i think there are a lot of people out there who might not pay to give their icon a little hat but who might instead pay one dollar to give another user of their choice a little hat for a day which could at any time and without recourse be overwritten by another user paying a dollar to give that icon a different hat for a day, leading to lucrative hat wars

      $1 for most hats, $2 for especially dumb hats, $5 for hat removal.

    1. Many communities-in-recovery follow some sort of shared rubric for identifying and relinquishing a desire to control or manage one’s own unproductive anger or resentment, not because the ideal state for the sober alcoholic is one of constant imperturbability, but because the delusion that repeated attempts to control one’s circumstances through sheer force of will is a particularly damaging one, and we are often able to live much more sanely and usefully on another basis. The design is not to rid oneself of the experience of anger completely. Anger is often a perfectly appropriate, powerful, necessary, practical, and even restorative state. Rather, the design is to seek out a steadier foundation for living, to distinguish our angers from our fears, our shames, our desires, our delusions, our hopes, our ambitions, our securities, and to seek out appropriate support, counsel, freedom, and possible courses of action (even sometimes possible courses of inaction, as the case may be).

      Anger not as a moral failure to purge, but as an unsteady option for a basis on which to live.

    1. It is “detracting from the enjoyment of the volunteer editors who actually contribute to this encyclopaedia,” he writes.

      Won't someone think of the volunteer Nazi-fans?

    2. The article tells how “the division acquitted itself well” even against “stiffening resistance,” how it “held the line” and earned the “grudging respect” of skeptical commanders. One contributor has used the eyebrow-raising phrase “baptism of fire.” It’s as if the editors don’t see the part lower down the page where a soldier uses the phrase “and then we cleaned a Jew hole.”

      I wonder if it's helpful when no-names like me can flag this kind of thing.

    3. In her neighborhood, she remembers fondly, there was a recycling kiosk that rewarded you with literature. “For this number of kilos of paper you could get these books,” she says. “Classics: Pushkin, Tolstoy. Reading was encouraged.”

      This isn't deeply related to the rest of it but I find it very charming.

    4. Coffman knows the book is legit, because she happens to have a copy on loan from the library. When she goes to the cited page, she finds a paragraph that appears to confirm all the Wikipedia article’s wild claims. But then she reads the first sentence of the next paragraph: “This is, of course, nonsense.”The level of bad faith is eye-opening for Coffman. She is “very appalled.” She sees that her confidence in Wikipedia was “very much misplaced.”

      There is probably a very disconcerting parallel within any "democratized" medium. Is the truth available simply for free the same truths available to those with free time and money?

    1. "No temperature rise is 'safe'," the editorial says. "In the past 20 years, heat-related mortality among people over 65 years of age has increased by more than 50%."

      Wow, what a number! This seems like a really clear figure to wave in people's faces.

    1. When successful, the website shall transmit a feeling of "unknowable depths" to visitors.

      I like this goal, and it's entirely at odds with the contemporary sense that you should present all your Content neatly arranged for your Users

    2. As an accessory to and representation of my person, the website should be continuous with my sense of "self" in a manner equivalent to e.g. my irl clothing.

      I wonder if so many people get nervous about this because they haven't sorted out how they express themselves with their clothing either?

    3. My limitations in making and organizing a website shall be considered acceptable

      Expressions of one's own incapacity are also expressions of self, just as much as showing off what you can do is.

    1. There are just only so many retainers a king can keep a personal relationship with – and so on down the line. Second, those retainers aren’t ‘on retainer’ to serve forever. They are obliged to a certain number of days of military service per year. Specifically, the standard number – which comes out of William the Conqueror’s settlement of his vassals after taking the English throne – was 40 days. The entire point of this system is that the king gives his vassals land and they give him military service so that no one has to pay anyone anything, because medieval kings do not have the kind of revenue to maintain long-term standing armies. It is no accident that the most destructive medieval conflicts were religious wars where the warriors participating were essentially engaged in ‘armed pilgrimage’ and so might stay in the field longer (God having a more unlimited claim on a knight’s time than the king).

      This is really interesting -- a weird limit on the duration of conflicts

    2. In that context – where the Romans are at war with an entire people, then the entire people became valid military targets. And the Romans behaved as such. Polybius describes the Roman process for sacking a city – “When Scipio thought that a sufficient number of troops had entered [the city] he sent most of them, as is the Roman custom, against the inhabitants of the city with order to kill all they encountered, sparing none,

      Insert my usual indignant muttering about how-dare-they-call-what-came-after-"the Dark Ages"

    3. While the Middle Ages was a period of frequent (small) wars, it also saw some of the first efforts to curtail violence in a general sense, arising out of the Catholic Church: the Peace of God and Truce of God movements. The Peace of God (10th-11th cent.) gave religious protection to the peasantry and the clergy (along with women and widows) as non-combatants. The Church encouraged knights and lords to swear oaths to the effect that they would not violate the peace by attacking the peasantry.

      Gotta read more on this!

    1. The mad schemes degrowthers advocate are a fantasy that distracts us from real efforts to save the planet

      Okay, this is the last one that gets me to unfollow this newsletter. "Because we've got these massive inequalities in global wealth and power, any fair approach to fighting climate change would penalize the people with all the wealth and power, and that's not possible, so we don't have to talk about it. Wouldn't you rather hear about how your standard of living can be further augmented? Never mind on whose backs." I don't even read a ton of degrowthy stuff; I could probably be convinced the disruption in the global economy would be bad for even the people the economy clearly now exploits -- but this just seems too blithely callous for me to want to read more of this guy's stuff.

    2. China and India and the rest will be able to take advantage of the efficiency-inducing technologies created by the developed countries, like solar power (indeed, they are already doing so). And they will be able to embrace “dematerialized” goods and services like social networks and video games (sorry, Xi Jinping) very early in their growth path. So these countries’ resource use trajectories won’t look quite like the U.S.’ or Europe’s.

      Sorry, how do video games decrease resource use?

    3. A lot of growth is figuring out how to substitute plentiful resources for rare ones

      Interesting if true, needs citation

    1. Now, normally when you ask what the ancients knew of the gods and how they knew it, the immediate thought – quite intuitively – is to go read Greek and Roman philosophers discussing on the nature of man, the gods, the soul and so on. This is a mistake. Many of our religions work that way: they begin with a doctrine, a theory of how the divine works, and then construct ritual and practice with that doctrine as a foundation.

      For the record, I don't really believe this is how our religions work either, but Protestantism introduced a fashion for saying so.

    1. Before I knew anything at all about the world, I could hear history traduced down through my father’s mother’s Arkansas accent, which distinguished her from the kin and kind of my mother’s mother, which endowed her with a different nature. Everything I have learned since, about the Dustbowl migrations, about class and identity in America, has been an accretion on top of that primary experience of my tabula-rasa consciousness. No knowledge replaces what was heard and seen and felt before anything was known, but only ever adds topsoil to the bedrock of those primary sensations.

      Some things my mother carefully kept me ignorant of, in order that I might learn other things. That ignorance was primary too, and constructed, not natural. The order in which you encounter truths is never insignificant.

    2. while the internet will probably tell you this was an instance of “appropriation”,

      This is not the only contrarian pick-me-ism in the piece, which is a shame

    1. Lihotzky, with all her research into pantry placement, didn’t seem very concerned when peasants' pantries were made fatally empty.

      This seems like a very bad-faith sentence.

    1. In doing so, DeviantArt created templates for later social sites, rolling out the ability to create avatars and write on each other’s profiles, the latter of which would eventually be adopted by Myspace and Facebook. In addition, “[DeviantArt] had the ability to follow people long before that ever became an idea,” Jarkoff explained.

      [citation needed], my friend. Those features felt pretty standard, at least by the time I was aware.

    2. When “Deliciously Deviant Deviant Art!” went live in August 2000, it focused on wallpapers and webskins

      Huh! I spent long enough on that website I ought to have known this.

    3. Broskoski, of are.na, who was involved in net art communities in the 1990s, remembered making a site called “Welcometohell.com,” which listed links to other websites—a common practice at the time. “You were sort of making or creating who you were by pointing at the other things that you liked,” he explained.

      This is one of the biggest motivations for me for how I approach the internet. "Blogging is pointing at things and falling in love."

    1. deliberately and carefully think about what is absent.

      Negative space is cited. "Who isn't in the room." What would a person never think about in this context?