Replied to Eerste emacs gedachten by Frank Meeuwsen

Zoals ik eerder deze week al schreef, ik probeer me weer te verdiepen in de wondere wereld van emacs. Ik vind het een interessant idee dat er software is die al zo lang bestaat, die ogenschijnlijk alles kan, van programmeren tot taakmanagement, email en nieuws lezen, en die zeer uitbreidbaar is. Ema…

In at the deep end!  Reading your posts has made me realise (remember?) how poor the emacs onboarding experience is.  I wish I’d blogged about it when I started up with it again – I can’t remember what I thought about it at the time.  The terminology certainly doesn’t help – a lot of it comes from before other terminology became common (copy/paste, window/tab, etc), and there seems to be some resistance to change emacs to match.

I think one very helpful thing to do would be to display the GUI menu – if you press SPC T m (space then  T then m) it will toggle the menu bar on and off.  That is a fault of Spacemacs – they disable it by default as they say they are keyboard-focused.  (I don’t know if spacemacs is the best beginning experience, I just went with it for the vim bindings!).  But with the menu bar you should be able to find easily many of the things you want to do, along with their keybindings for future reference.

The main config file is the .spacemacs hidden file in your home directory.  You can get to quickly from within Spacemacs by pressing SPC f e d.  If you set the value of dotspacemacs-startup-banner to nil, it will hide the big logo on the splash screen.  (You can press SPC f e R to reload it without restarting Spacemacs).  Also if you just click on [Release Notes] it will hide that.  There’s a list of Recent files and Projects below those two things.

The config file is written in Emacs Lisp.  I found this pretty confusing for a while!  But now, I also like that too, and am teaching myself Lisp.  Perhaps I have brainwashed myself 😀

It’s good to read your posts about your experience, Frank.  There’s no denying it, Emacs is not easy to start with, and it is good to document why.  For me it has been worth persevering. But I haven’t used Sublime Text, VSCode, Atom for any long period of time, however, so I can’t compare and contrast.

I think I would like some kind of virtual experience where I have my own Memory Palace, the method of loci, the visual virtual space in your head where you walk through as you recall things. But not just for recall, for construction too. I would invite other people in and they help me build it and I help on theirs too, we build them together.

Some kind of mashup at the intersection of hypermedia systems like HyperCard, MOOs like LambdaMOO, commonplace books, blogs, microblogs, personal wikis.

I wonder if this is some terrain where Spritely is going? That would be rad.

I saw David Thomas Broughton play in Lancaster tonight, supported by Bell Lungs. They were both great.

It was the 15 year anniversary of Broughton’s album The Complete Guide to Insufficiency. I saw him play 15 years ago in Leeds when I was at university.

I wondered where those 15 years had gone.

Anyway, it was a good show.

Replied to A trip back to the future of HyperCard by Panda Mery (doubleloop)

Back to the future. 30+ years ago there was HyperCard.

Thanks Panda.  That looks great.  I am feeling an urge to play Cosmic Osmo now.

The more I learn about it, the more it seems like I would like Nelsonian-style hypertext and hypermedia.

Also: according to Wikipedia, “HyperCard was created by Bill Atkinson following an LSD trip”.  😀

What would be ideal, I think, is if all information could be represented as “cards”, and all cards could be easily threaded. Every book, every blogpost, every video, even songs, etc – all could be represented as “threaded cards”. Some cards more valuable than others.

twitter threads solve the fragmentation problem – @visakanv’s blog

I like this idea. It’s a bit like what TiddlyWiki goes for I think. Or FedWiki. Little cards joined together. I’m not getting that so much with my current wiki setup – the finest grain is a page, which I’m thinking is a bit too big. I have quotes, but they’re kind of stuck in a page – not really reference-able outside of that. My thoughts themselves are just a mash.

To some extent however I would like to push back against everything becoming bite-sized. Is every paragraph a self-contained digestible thought? Let’s not lose sight of the long-form idea, the slow-burner. An album is not just 12 singles. But, if cards are a means to forming threads, then that’s OK I think.

(h/t to Kicks for sharing that link)

Replied to a post by Frank Meeuwsen

Ik weet weer niet exact waarom, maar ik heb vanmiddag weer een paar uur stukgeslagen aan het leren van emacs. Zoveel auteurs, programmeurs, hackers en productiviteit-knutselaars zweren er bij, dus er moet wel iets goeds in zitten. Ik vrees echter dat ik moeilijk ga wennen aan de conventies voor de s…

It took me a lot of perseverance to get into emacs. I love it now though. The reason I got into it again (I’d dabbled a long time ago, before subsequently using vim instead) was I was looking for a libre alternative to Workflowy. This brought me to org-mode and then I also came across spacemacs, which combines emacs with the vi-like keybindings that I was very used to. It also has a very nice default look and feel and plenty of useful features configured out of the box. So I gave emacs another shot.

I persevered this time because I really want to use libre software wherever possible. Emacs must be one of the longest running free software projects out there, and I feel it will exist for a long time after other editors have come and gone.  It is really hackable and has a great community of people hacking on it.

I would never make the claim that Emacs is better than any other editor, there are many good ones out there, and I think it really depends on what you want and why. But I can quite definitely say that after using emacs regularly for a few years, I absolutely love it, and can’t imagine myself using anything else anytime soon.

I can’t recommend a good tutorial as I never really did one end-to-end, just dipped into different things here and there.

Bit I think series of short videos can be better than text tutorials for this, sometimes.

I haven’t watched this series, Using Emacs, but I see it linked a lot, so it might be useful:

This one is quite good for org-mode, not least because he sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger:

"Relatedly, contemporary fediverse interfaces borrow from surveillance-capitalism based popular social networks by focusing on breadth of relationships rather than depth. […] What if instead of focusing on how many people we can connect to we instead focused on the depth of our relationships?"

— (

yes amen

DisCOs looks really interesting:

‘DisCOs are a P2P/Commons, cooperative and Feminist Economic alternative to Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (or DAOs).’


‘…a set of organisational tools and practices for groups of people who want to work together in a cooperative, commons-oriented, and feminist economic form.’


Replied to Notes: We’ve Got Blog (2002) by Kicks Condor (Kicks Condor)

What are blogs for? A trip to the beginning. The halcyon days of dot-com idealism and sheer shit-talking.

This is a great retrospective, thanks! I enjoyed reading it and your notes. (Lol’ed at linkslut).

I’m kind of OK with the sentiment of the p.14 quote from Rebecca Blood – hypertexting helping me find my voice – although yeah it is worded a little like something from a Victorian self-help guide. But I have found blogging and wiki-ing sort of does the things she says. Though I think I would perhaps just describe it as learning, rather than self-growth. The blog/wiki combo is both helping me think more about what I learn *and* learn more about what I think, I’m really digging it.

“h0p3 has a home page entry point that is carefully curated and groomed, but which is several layers up from a complete chaos of link dumps, raw drafts and random introspections […] These layers run a spectrum of accessibility—there is always a learning curve before you hit the bottom. You start with a doorway before entering a maze.”

I’ve noticed my own wiki/commonplace book thingy slowly taking that rough form recently, too, I wonder if it’s a common pattern? I’ve just started making the doorframe.

We need to do more to ensure open government data is used for purposes with social value. Data sets related to society are digital public assets that should be contribute to common wealth.

It has been misused in the past as a means to legitimate the privatisation of public services.

I need a few read throughs of this report to take it all in… but it has a lot of good food for thought.

Providing free and fast broadband to all households and businesses is great. I’m not so sure about one state-owned organisation running the entire network though. I wonder if state assistance to local, publicly-owned local initiatives might be better.

Groups like B4RN (Broadband for the Rural North) have done a great job setting up local, rural broadband, building community in the process.

Replied to Vendor Lock In Through Your Domain Name by Ton Zijlstra

This is a somewhat worrying development: the entire .org registry of domain names has been sold to a private equity investor. That basically spells out just one way forward, extraction and rent-seeking. As this step immediately follows from ICANN lifting price increase caps in place earlier this yea…

It is a pernicious system of rent extraction, the domain registration system. I feel like after 16.5 years you should be entitled to true ownership, not subject to the whims of the entities that were privy to the original land grab.

Our non-profit has an org domain name, so we’ll have to evaluate the options. As you say, we have to decide whether we can let it go, even if we wanted to, as someone else might pick it up and leech off our reputation.

Replied to Inoreader introduceert Sort by Magic en Article Popularity Indicators – Inoreader blog by an author

Inoreader is een online leesapp voor je favoriete websites. Klinkt toch een stuk beter dan RSS-reader niet? Ik ben een fan van de app en betaal er jaarlijks graag voor. Vandaag komen ze met een nieuwe manier om je artikelen te sorteren voor je gaat lezen, Sort by Magic.
De sorteermethode is een comb…

That’s very interesting. I have been thinking recently about personal curation algorithms. The ‘purely chronological’ paradigm is overhyped I think, as a reaction to the big silos’ abuse of curation algorithms. If you control the algorithms, and have choice whether you use them or not, they’re a net positive I think. Sounds like inoreader gives you some flexibility, which is good. (Although calling it sort by ‘magic’ is a bad call I think. Algorithms should be transparent).
Sometimes feel powerless from the other side of the world. But solidarity is always needed for those in struggle.

‘On his way to exile, he wrote that he is “very grateful to the solidarity of the people, brothers from Bolivia and the world who reach out with recommendations, suggestions and expressions of recognition that give us encouragement, strength and energy. They moved me to tears. They never abandoned me; I will never abandon them.”’

Liked It’s back! by Jonas VossJonas Voss

At IWC in Dusseldorf in May, I managed to break my old website. I broke it, while I was trying to fix it, so that I could export all my old posts, and import them into Known that runs this site. Turns out updating a site with code written in 2003-6 from PHP 5.x to 7.2 can result in a number of thi…

Replied to a post by Ton Zijlstra
That looked very intriguing – I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts about it.

Using speculative fiction as a means for exploring alternative economies, and then engaging economists with it as a reality check, would make for some great conversations.

I enjoyed Four Futures by Peter Frase as something that looked at the overlap of sci-fi and possible economic futures.

Replied to

Really enjoyed this episode, thanks both.  Loads of great talking points.
"For we knew only too well:
Even the hatred of squalor
Makes the brow grow stern.
Even anger against injustice
Makes the voice grow harsh. Alas, we
Who wished to lay the foundations of kindness
Could not ourselves be kind."

To Posterity, Bertolt Brecht