Existential angst as ennui
Been a few weeks, or a couple of weeks, or a few days.
The past week has been a lot of time looking at the endgame. There’s a bias in design to frame things in the Double Diamond™, but things are definitely converging for me
— wills, teeth, questioned asked of me to deflect an answer in the way I once did, power grabbing to preserve an insecure hold on a position that no one really wants —
A couple decades ago I was waiting for something to happen, now I’m waiting for it to all play out.
In a mood, and not the one intended.
Hit my quota, but will be back later…
There was a prompt on the list about media habits.
I work in media so it’s more than a habit.
But it is also a habit I’m retrying to quit as I know how the sausage gets remade into a hot dog which then becomes the uniquely of the moment corn dog.
Two paths to go from here, so I’ll stay with the original prompt, which I didn’t post to the list because it feels at once gratuitous and hollow, unless it becomes an essay, which frankly, I don’t want to read in an email from someone else, so…
Monocle continues to amaze me how it scratches my The Economist itch without bringing with it the taint of moth balls. The magazine promotes globe-trotting lux lifestyle which I can’t support or condone, but in doing so exposes the globe to me in ways few publications do (i.e., it avoids the cliches and colonial voice). As well, it promotes niche print publications and curious bespoke business experiments in a way that seems natural while it also helps to elevate the very business model necessary to pay its bills. Implicit Influencer.
Also: Succession. It’s embarrassing in how obvious its influences are (Shakespeare better dramas, Adam McKay’s various works, Rupert-era Murdoch…), but, again, that honesty also allows me, as a viewer, to overcome the cliches and places it in a context allowing me to become completely absorbed by the characters’ (and the actors inhabiting those characters) struggles against plot elements more familiar to 1980s night-time soap operas.
Once again, there’s subtext in these tildeland posts that become more obvious to me which each typed character.
Finally (ahem…) brought little place into the 21st century: Styles, markup, the whole lot.
Still, it’s simple.
Browsers a decade ago would have figured most of it out (if inconsistently), and twenty years ago there may have even been a few that could get some of the details right. Markup is modern, but semantic, which seems to have become meaningless once “View Source” disappeared from its default spot in most browser menus.
The “Original” version has been archived, and at some point, this one will get cut into multiple pages, too. But for now, enjoy the scroll.
Woke-up in the middle of the night mind-crafting what was to be a printed cancellation letter to the publisher of Canada’s main newspaper.
The general premise was how they’d failed, not in journalism (a reference to this), but in subscriber services. With a customer service portal designed in the last decade, they made it impossible for subscribers to see what their contribution was, what other products were available, and too even solicite donations from those who’ve already singled value in the brand. As proof of this gap, I cited an international magazine that made a weekly newspaper that recycled its daily newsletter content (Monocle) and a community newspaper that thrives with the patronage of a limited number of its readers (West End Phoenix).
There was more but it got into depressing missed moments that might have the newspaper outflank the business that now drain the industry as a whole.
Guess re-upped Ken Doctor essays can still get me.
Also: After a two week absence, I am one of the Phone People again.
This doesn’t look like I expected it to look like today.
Shouldn’t be a surprise, because tinkering with the semantics of type, I’ve come to believe, is my real hobby.
For a week and one day, I’ve been without a phone. First time I’ve been without a proper smart phone in almost a dozen years. Haven’t missed much.
Also, haven’t read, wrote, or changed the world more.
On day’s like today, though, I do notice how much everthing has gone online. Or rather, I notice how much of the online touchpoints have replaced the human ones.
Strange how this sounds the opposite of how it feels.
Fifteen hours and five minutes later nothing much done here yet.
But ~audiodude explained “â€™” are called ”mojibake,” so there’s that.
Five years ago a lot of this was nostalgia. A lot has changed. There’s a sense these spaces are now necessary and needed. Seems to be more infrastructure to support it.
Then again, 25 years ago I too was listening to 8-tracks sourced at Goodwill.
[starts shifting some unseen things around]
Initially written to introduce the May 1st Reboot, but way, way too earnest. What better place than to drop it here to remind me to not write on deadline before I’ve had time to enjoy at least one cup of coffee. Genuinely think you’re better off avoiding this one, although there is an idea worth salvaging in there somewhere.
There was a time when nothing changed. After a while, everything became comfortable, and then, almost imperceptibly at first, things became stale. The little touches the seemed clever once, became awkwardly dated. The groundbreaking ideas seemed like stiff examples of failed attempt. People used terms like “an institution” and “a classic” to politely acknowledge nothing more than longevity.
Change, from a far enough perseptive, becomes a marker of time, as well. The break from the predictable path shows something has shifted beneath the surface. That new ideas, concepts, and expressions can now longer be contained by the crusty surface. They explore out, raw, new, and immediately attractive because of radical shift they represent. But soon, too, these weather and age, and crumble, leaving behind only the strongest landmarks.
From the new vantage point, it is easier to see what the new landscape now looks like. The world is no longer what it was, nor can it be again. The possibilities are laid bare. Every new thing after this will be building on these changes. Creating new things fueled by ideas born from every past change.
Seeing it as a constant, change reminds you of the advantages of simplicity to be found in focus ones ideas, but allowing enough room to be distracted by new directions emerging from the silohetes on the horizon around you.
So this is that.
Striping things bare, slowly at first. Getting familiar with the initial disorientation so you can learn how to discover things anew again.
…you were warned.
(Listening to Lou Reed on a windy night in Toronto.)
Exactly two months ago, I was riding in a communist’s cab. He’d been imprisoned for his political actions, just after I was born. He was driving us to a neighbourhood far outside the areas of Rome most non-Romans go to. As we approached the edge of the neighbourhood, he warned us to avoid the Nigerians because the police would follow us. And the last thing people like us would want is the police to follow us. We have him all the cash we could and had one of the best Italian meals we’d had in weeks.
You can’t take risks without rewards is so deeply cliched it’s almost impossible to imagine it could still be true.
But it is.
Over and over and over again life reminds me of that.
Sometimes the winds blow in your favour. Sometimes they blow over a fencepost and expose a whole new opportunity to teach yourself masonry. Or something like that.
All this goes to say, the next few months are going to be a refreshing adventure to somewhere I haven’t been for far too long.
(Now it's Ian Curtis urging me to dance to radio I don’t even own anymore)
There's a story I often like to tell. It doesn't have a beginning middle or end, but I can tell from the expressions on the listeners' faces that it's a good one. The quality of the story, or in my telling of it, rather, isn't the important detail. What is most critical to know is that all my websites but this one haven't been themselves for quite some time now.
Been on a tear lately. Making bread, interviewing dozens of people, cleaning my bike, promoting a product that will do more financial harm then good. The usual.
Tonight, though, I finished two epic product positioning documents. One was for public consumption within my company and focused on the design challenges facing a promising new direction for the business. The other, however, outlines in 11 or so steps how to eliminate my job and return the company's fiscal performance into good short-term shape. While it's built on genuine numbers, the piece primarily served as a good venting exercise for my thoughts about my industry.
Of course, if anyone is interested in seeing and discussing it, you know how to reach me.
This has been a strange week. There was a stat I heard a couple of days ago about employee retention: Most of the people leaving the company were there less 5 years, and under the age of 44. After turning 44, it was suggested, the employee was there for life (or until retirement).
Earlier in the week, an old collaegue reached out to me after many years. "If you are ever thinking about leaving your company, let me know first," he said. At the end of the week, today, another group of friends decided very publically to end their careers. Althugh they'd been there for well over 5 years, they were under the 44 threshold. In betweem those moments, I had conversations that reminded of those I had a decade prior; I've seen ideas become more real than I could have imagined; and I've remembered what it's like to watch late night movies and have my mind expand with possibiities.
There may not yet be a rhythm or purpose here in tilde.land, beyond my sporadic navel gazing, but I think I'm okay with that. I'll let the kernel of future thoughts ferment here for a while and someday, maybe, someone will be able to get drunk on them.
So I published that peanut butter piece. If first impressions are all that counts, there will be some very confused Medium readers. (And despite how it seems, 2015 will not just be about the one line tilde.club post.)
Birds are chirping louder than the sounds of my fingers making words. Gotta fix that.
Sometimes you wake-up and you know, even if you don't want to be, that this day you'll be in a bad mood. That's today, although I'm hoping to change that with this cup of coffee.
Warning: This one is very much me struggling to sketch the flow of ideas that already exists intact in mind...somewhere. In other words, it's stream of conscious, and unedited. Therefore, likely more than a little earnest and naive.
Trying to up my game so I can talk to the kidz. Learning the Node and all that that enables. What it reveals is not just the obvious (that web sites are no longer composed of pages, but are instead apps, composed by clever programs and exisitng at one URL but for convention sake) but also some of the deep and profound changes this medium brought on publishing.
Which is where I earn my income.
The fundamental problem for story-tellers for multi-millenia had been how to replicate one's ideas in a way that would enable others to discover them. Oral story-tellers were limited by the range of their voice, scribes by the pace of their writing (and access to vellum). Movable-type helped change that, and the newspaper industry capitalized on its mastery of printing and distribution to rake in a fortune. Now a writer can, of course, distribute an idea to a billion people in an instant, and make it available in any medium for almsot free. With cost reduced to zero, profit for publishers is quickly racing to that same point, too.
Which brings me back to me learning Node.
During the past 20 years, I've taken mental sabaticals. I've devoted my nights to learning a new technology, to master a new technology. With that mastery gained, I've been able to use that to parlay that into a professional success time, and time again.
But I've peaked.
And part of that is okay.
I have no desire to return to the trenches and build things like before (besides, I actually believe -- thanks in part to reading a poorly writtern review of The Grid -- that my niche area of expertise will become as irrelevant as linotype operators found themselves a few decades ago). I reached my peak becuase my professional passion area (publishing journalism) no has longer any value. There is nothing I can conceivably think of that I could devise that would justify the margins needed to sustain any venture. For a few years now, I've played with a number of ideas. I've scaled down the costs by 50%, 83%, by 99.92% and it still doesn't hold.
And this is why I keep coming back to tilde.club. There's something here that suggests a more viable future than Node. Than publishing stories for 3 cents a reader. Than turning billions and billions of pages into a one very polished software application.
And tho I still have no idea what that something is, I have a feeling it's remembering what all attracted us to this world-wide web in the first place. To share experiences with someone else who might be interested in our story.
Probably related. I still haven't published that Medium post.
It's late. But I've now included this place in my public pantheon of places I can be found at.
Most of you are probably watching the U.S. mid-term elections (Go Politics!) but I figured I'd announce to the void that a random search for a peanut patent is resulting in my first every Medium post.
Trust me, I'm as suprised as you are. (It was going to be a simple little blurb here, but you know….)
This weekend I killed my website. Oh, sure, there's still HTML being served from the domain I've owned 17 years. And the content that once drew so many people in from the nether realms can still be found. But the site’s long life as a web publication is over. In many ways, this place is to blame. I remembered it's actually more enjoyable to let things break, to be temporary.
After nearly two decades on the web, I've learend that if something's good, people will embrace it and promote into immortality (or at least as long as it remains useful). Anything and everything else is disposable and that is truly a good thing.
Being away for a bit is when you really notice the change. New buildings go up everyday, and you hardly know the glacial pace of their upward trajectory. Kids loose teeth and get new ones and then zits and then whiskers and then find others like them. You forget that when your soles pad the same pavement everyday.
Seeing what’s happening -- I mean really seeing it -- is such a wonderful experience that re-enforces both the banality and brilliance of life.
(This is being written in vi, in a terminal, so I’m allowed to sound like a second-year university student who, having read everthing by Hesse and Camus, feels he’s discovered the answer to it all.)
All this goes to say that after a couple of weeks, we’ve all growed-up here (even if this is all began just a month ago -- a month that started with a conscious death and a spontaneous birth and it ends with some rye and sugar). I'm proud of what you've all done. We've all done.
I’m going to be here more, but not feel guilty when it’s another couple of weeks before I do.
Long story short: We finally sat down for dinner with our neighbours and friends, and literally a minute after ordering we asked our waiter to pack-up the food. Our neighbour's water had broke while laughing about a story of a 5-pound chocolate alligator from Florida. We finished the meal with them at home, and bid them good night with a gift of fruits and vegetables at their doorstep.
For reasons I'm not yet going to explain, I've been offline here for a bit but have been enthralled by thediscussions of some of the amazing sysadmins on the github channel. But one thing I did miss was the creation of a Usenet here in tilde land. (Anyone here a Northern Pikes fan? Anyone?) This is perhaps the greatest development, because this is where The Internet began for me. Gopher and Telnetting were a close second (or perhaps first, but didn't resonate the same, the first time out).
So, new goal is to stop navel gazing and start writing.
And maybe create a page that breaks out of the self-imposed constraints here.
Stay tuned, and if you're a tilde.club member, email me. Poke me along. It'll be good for the both of us.
By the way, population count is now 637. With exactly 50 people active in the past 24 hours -- and I'm glad to see one of those is my friend, jimray.
Every day is like another year here at the tilde.club. Day one started with HTML 2 and people trying to remember which they liked better, vi or emacs. Day two, we saw the emergence of web rings, strucutre and community defined by ticks and inside jokes only hours old. Day three, today, we see nascent styles, different designs, colours, images and more comfort.
A week from now, will we again be dealing with the mess tables vs. standards?
Two weeks from now will we have factions designing responsive tilde.club pages that emphaiss parallax images.
Three weeks from now, will the tilde.club design the future that the rest of the web will stumble across in the coming years? Not sure, but am eager to see what we do next.
It's also intersting to see our natural population limit right now is 403. (And I hope that doesn't delay a tilde.club Usenet).
Still not sure what to make of all this, but it's good to be tilded at windmills. Wonder if we can start this all over again, knowing what we know now. Head off all the "optimized fors" at the pass. Get back sharing ideas by linking and writing about them. Worth a shot.
Inspired by ~ldodds, I'm cracking open the HTML 2.0 spec, and going about building this all out again in vi while listening to (quite coincidentally) to "Something in the Way." All that's missing is an overly full ashtray of Camels.
Loving the idea that the first of the things being created here, after the homepages are things to track what's been updated on which site. We live in the now now. Already people are creating links from this place to the outside world, JSON feeds track a list of all the tilde.club sites, who's active online, and there's a file updating our population (currently 203) every couple of minutes. Feels a lot more hopeful then the mode at ello. But also a lot more hungry. Ello's for those who don't remember. This is the place for people who do.