Because enough people know

there are enough users who understand how it is supposed to work. They expect to be able to listen to any podcast anywhere they want. Most probably don’t understand why they have this ability, about the history and technology design that made it possible, but they understand that they have the ability. And it doesn’t have to be all of them or even most of them, just enough of them, whatever that means. And for right now, at the end of 2021, there are enough. Podcasting has always been and remains an open platform. I can’t say it will be for the future, but so far so good.

~ Dave Winer from, http://scripting.com/2021/12/21/124205.html

I like Winer’s point that the web (websites, web browser, blogs—not asocial media platforms) and podcasting are not dominated by any one large company. He’s pointing out that we’ve two examples of things not centrally controlled—two examples of success (so far, things could always change.) And therefore it’s quite possible that we could build something else, another new media format, which is also free, open, and not centrally controlled.

But I don’t like that Winer has glossed over the fact that podcasting only appears to be open, (in the way that the web is open.) Podcasting appears to be open, and isn’t yet dominated by one large company, because the podcast creators individually go to great lengths to make their shows available everywhere. There are multiple large companies trying to leverage the listeners against the creators. I’ve given up on trying to lead podcasting to be open, the way the web is open; I simply hope that someone else sees what I see and that I live to see podcasting grow to be a first-class, truly open, platform, (the way the web is.)

ɕ

You must choose

Then there was a moment. A short one. Social media was perfect. The bubble popped, and suddenly there were voices from outside the bubble. But it was still small, still manageable, not yet the all-consuming force it is today.

~ Jacob Kaplan-Moss from, https://jacobian.org/2018/apr/2/the-moment/

Today, we have asocial media. I’ve not seen anyone else point out we’re still misspelling it, “social” media. I agree with Kaplan-Moss, and I’ll point out that I am happily still living in that moment. I use the Internet, and I use my phone (and tablet, and computer, and my connection of people, etc.) — none of those things use me any longer. That’s the key. Figuring out what sources of interaction and information you find valuable, and then acting to make them a part of your lived experience. What made asocial media’s moment great was that it showed us that the Internet could be useful. Now it’s up to you to make it so for yourself.

ɕ

It’s the forums

Forums are the dark matter of the web, the B-movies of the Internet. But they matter. To this day I regularly get excellent search results on forum pages for stuff I’m interested in. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t end up on some forum, somewhere, looking for some obscure bit of information. And more often than not, I find it there.

~ Jeff Atwood from, https://blog.codinghorror.com/civilized-discourse-construction-kit/

That’s a wonderful unpack by Atwood of why Discourse, (a piece of software that powers forums,) was created. Along the way there’s also a load of great information about discourse, (the concept.) And this article is now 9 years old.

ɕ

Dopamine

I’ve put forward a physiological hypothesis to explain the psychological Opponent Process theory, which I call the Receptor Control Theory. In essence, our pleasure set point or baseline “happiness” is determined by the density and sensitivity of dopamine receptors in the brain (and elsewhere). In this view, obesity and addiction result from a process of “dopamine resistance”, whereby receptor down-regulation impairs satisfaction and drives cravings. Conversely, high receptor density and sensitivity promote satisfaction and dampen cravings.

~ Todd Becker from, https://gettingstronger.org/2019/10/retraining-the-limbic-brain-to- overcome-obesity-and-addiction/

Phone use might rise to the level of a literal addiction. Its use can certainly cause dopamine release, which is a strong motivator that plays a role in addiction. I used to think that wasn’t true… That my phone didn’t cause dopamine release… That my phone wasn’t causing manipulation of my motivations… then I tried to put my phone down for an entire day.

And then I set about separating using my phone as a tool—which I can do a lot without it being addictive—from my phone’s use of me as a tool.

ɕ

Screens and screen time

I read and hear a lot about how excessive “screen time” is bad. But there’s a distinction that has to be made: Is the “screen time” tool-use to accomplish something meaningful? …because tool-use is not bad for you. We don’t begrudge the time a mechanic spends wielding his tools; we call that “working.”

Today I spent nearly every waking minute in front of one of four different computer screens. For reasons of sanity and physical health, sometimes I was sitting, sometimes standing, sometimes indoors and outdoors for long stretches too. I also take intentional “vision breaks” to allow my eye muscles to relax—literally relax to infinite focusing distance, which they would otherwise never do facing a screen, or anywhere indoors.

What did I do? I did an enormous number of things. Here are a few examples from today: I submitted a presenter application for an in-person event in September. I worked on my presentation notes for a different, in-person event in 2 weeks. I researched and experimented with exporting the contents of a WordPress site, and then read and interpreted the massive data which was output, to verify that I could later write a program to parse it. I then planned out the work needed to disassemble the project, of which that WordPress site is but one piece. I estimate I spent three hours reading text articles I’d previously queued up to read later. I helped a member of a community sort out a problem they were having.

I, truly, don’t know about you. I however, am an excellent mechanic, with the finest tools, and there remain far more things worth doing than I can ever get done. My problem is not, “screen time.”

ɕ

Best practices for textual websites

[…] here’s a non-exhaustive, highly-opinionated list of best practices for websites that focus primarily on text. I don’t expect anybody to fully agree with the list; nonetheless, the article should have at least some useful information for any web content author or front-end web developer.

~ Rohan Kumar from, https://seirdy.one/2020/11/23/website-best-practices.html

Zoinks! Just reading the few paragraphs in Kumar’s Introduction suddenly renewed my pride at being among the few humans who build web sites. I’ll go so far as to say: Insomuch as it is within my powers, I hereby declare said Introduction to be mandatory ready for anyone who types upon a keyboard anything which subsequently appears on the Internet.

Next I’ll point out—imagine I’m the tour guide with the headset-mic and we’re on the open-air bus touring behind the scenes of How the Internet Really Works—that this enormous article will show you just how complex a modern web site has become. But rather than panic, I take this as heartening. Having danced lightly through this page, each thing which I learned, helps me to do better going forward.

ɕ

File not found

All of our digital platforms and systems, from the social media networks we post on every day, to the storage services we rely on to back up our most important files, to the infrastructures that power our digital world economy, are vulnerable to irretrievable data loss. Over time, file formats, applications, and operating systems go obsolete. Legacy systems become impenetrable. The migration of data to new systems risks breaking the chain of information transmission.

~ Ahmed Kabil from, https://longnow.org/ideas/02020/02/26/the-permanent-legacy-foundation-wants-to-preserve-your-digital-legacy-for-future-generations/

Data loss is a tremendous issue. (I’m setting aside the other problem of data which stays around despite our desire for it to go away.) All forms of data storage “rot” in some fashion or another. (Because, entropy.) It’s not so much about our storing data, as it is about our continuously moving data forward to better—which isn’t always the newer or newest technology at hand—storage. Don’t think “data storage,” but rather think “data movage.”

I’ve absolutely mastered the art of wringing maximum utility for me out of all of the data I create. But in terms of post-mortem— well, it seems a lot harder for me to actually care about that, so I’ve ignored it. While I’ve not gotten behind the Permanent Legacy Foundation myself, it is interesting none the less. I sometimes wonder if my slipbox is worth wondering about preserving? …what about my journals? (They could be a treasure trove of research data on mental illness.) …what about the thousands of pages on this blog? …what about my collection of quotes? …physical (slides, prints) or digital photography?

ɕ

A random proof

Here’s how I do things.

GIVEN…

  • I have a book that has 2,000 pages. (Curiously, it is exactly 2,000 pages.)
  • Life is finite, (and probably also “short.”)
  • It’s unlikely I can get through it front-to-back; I’d like to read as many pages as I can.
  • I’m a systems guy; I want to figure something out once and then never think about that same problem again.
  • I have a personal task management system; It can easily remind me to do things however I’d prefer.

I WISH, that I had an easy way to get a random page number. This strikes me as very easy to build. Therefore, because it is easy, because Internet, and because humans are awesome…

THEN, such a thing must already exist.

THEREFORE, I guessed, “!random”, would exist in my favorite search engine—here, you’re welcome—and quickly found my way to this: https://www.random.org/clients/http/

QED (Quite easily done, yes; But, no.)

All that remains is to skim their simple API docs, and then type this simple URL: https://www.random.org/integers/?num=1&min=1&max=2000&base=10&format=html&col=1

This enables me to create a repeating task which has that URL. I click the link, and flip to that page. You’re thinking, “holy shit no.” And I’m thinking, “tiny building blocks, well placed, get shit done.”

ɕ

Gone already?!

I just want to say that sometimes the things we do online have outsized consequences in the real world. It’s easy to forget that there are real people behind every screen. I forget about that almost every day but better people than me provide some good reminders.

~ Gabriel Weatherhead from, http://www.macdrifter.com/2021/09/thank-you-this-will-be-rough.html

My title refers to the fact that it’s only been four months, and this link has already rotted. In September 2021 I marked this for later reading, (note the /2021/09/ in that URL,) and I only just got around to reading it. I read it as a locally-cached copy in my read-later software, and then realized the link was dead when I tried to write this blog post… :(

I’m so sorry. It was a nice piece about how he had reread some Vonnegut over the pandemic year and… and… it’s already gone?!

ɕ

The Long Tail

Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream.

~ Chris Anderson from, https://www.porchlightbooks.com/blog/changethis/2004/the-long-tail

There are certain pivotal works in any field. If your work, or your business, is online. This is a work you should read. It would be better if you read it when it came out, back in 2004. But, at least you can read it now so you understand where the idea of the “long tail” originated.

ɕ

slip:2lo1.