Read Spatial Software by John Palmer (darkblueheaven.com)

Virtual worlds.

Spatial software is the idea of bringing spatial interfaces into software. So far it’s most commonly been in games, but you can see it spilling out into more things lately, particular social stuff.

Like a remake of AIM, where each user gets a house that friends can stop by to visit.

This is kind of what I was thinking with wikis and collaborative memory palaces.

In fact, you can put a world inside of almost any interface. Even a blog post.

Or a wiki perhaps. What would that look like? Antistatic gardens are maybe a hint at that. A throwback to HyperCard perhaps.

Read How to take smart notes (Ness Labs)

While there are hundreds of thousands of books on the generic topic of writing, very few concerns themselves with note-taking—perhaps because it’s not considered an intellectually challenging task by many, or perhaps because many people don’t realise how bad they are at taking notes.

Nice short article on note-taking, referencing Sönke Ahrens‘ book and Dr Niklas Luhmann‘s techniques.

Helpful for a bit more detail on fleeting notes, literature notes, and permanent notes.

My fleeting notes I take with either org-capture or orgzly, depending where I am. With my literature notes I write in org-mode and try to do the progressive summarisation approach. Permanent notes I use org-roam.

Read It’s Time to Tax Big Tech’s Data (tribunemag.co.uk)

Big Tech is the big winner from the coronavirus crisis, raking in record profits. But their revenue comes from data we create collectively – and we should tax it for the public good.

This article argues that the data that we create should be treated as a commons, and that we should tax the firms harvesting it. Especially at a time when the firms are making even bigger profits from it, and we are most likely going to endure more austerity measures as a result of the pandemic.

I agree with the redistribution of the wealth that big tech is hoovering up, but I’d say we should be working against the enclosure of the data commons, not just letting it happen and then taxing it, no? Counter surveillance capitalism through open protocols and supporting the building of an open web.

Read Big Tech Won’t Save Us: The Case for Social Transformation over Coronavirus Surveillance by Movement for Anti-Oppressive Computing Practices

Surveillance technology such as contact tracing is being rolled out to track coronavirus, by delightful companies such as Palantir.

Rather than contracting profiteering disaster capitalists to roll out technologies of dubious efficacy and inherent racial biases, it would be better to invest in reforms that build social safety nets and reduce structural inequality.

Pouring funding into technology that can detect COVID infection from vocal signatures, doesn’t provide the social safety nets that allow people to take time off from work when they are ill.

Read Can Blogs and Wiki Be Merged? (Hapgood)

I’ve been thinking lately about the architecture underlying blogs and wiki, how different these architectural choices are (RSS, revision histories, title-as-slug, etc), and whether it’s…

Nice article from Mike Caulfield on blogs, wikis, and whether we could/should try to merge them into one thing.

Wiki and blogs have two different cultures, two different idioms, two different sets of values.

Interestingly, Mike thinks they should be kept distinct. However, it does feel like his analysis of wikis is not thinking of them as personal wikis. Some of the values Mike mentions for wikis (like minimization of personal voice) maybe applied to the original wiki concept, but do not apply to personal wikis.

Read From Blog to Blocks (CJ Eller)

Crossposting augments my writing to not only exist as something else (blocks) but to interact with more types of media (not just other words but images and video) in a different way (connecting blocks to other blocks).

This is really interesting from CJ Eller on the potential of crossposting. Interesting to think about how it fits in with the IndieWeb ideas of owning your own content and POSSEing (publishing on your own site, syndicating elsewhere).

I’ve thought of POSSE before more as a means of transitioning away from the big platforms (the bit tyrants) while they still have the network effects. But this is more about your stuff existing in various locations as a means to enable new creative uses of it.

Read Mannequins

I turned in my book manuscript a few weeks ago. It took 18 months to complete, if I start counting from the moment when the idea first wormed into my brain. It’s by far the biggest writing project I’ve ever tackled.

Nadia Eghbal, someone who obviously loves writing, writes about writing a book. It sounds less… enjoyable than you might think.

What I hated most about this past year was feeling unable to seriously think about anything besides this one thing. Everything I read or talked about was in service to the thing. There was nothing but the thing.

Afterwards, I expected to feel a satisfying sense of completion, but mostly I just felt relieved. I didn’t think of it as having finished a manuscript so much as having expelled a virus from my body.

Read Your Website Is Your Castle by Desmond RivetDesmond Rivet

In which I zoom in slightly on the #indieweb

Some nice quotes on what the IndieWeb is about, from Desmond’s article Your Website Is Your Castle.

In a nutshell:

At the heart of the IndieWeb is an attempt to unify the ideas behind personal websites, blogs and social networks, but in a manner consistent with how the world wide web operates.

Your website acts much like your wall on Facebook or your timeline on Twitter – it’s your personal soapbox, your castle on the web.

[…]one recreates, in a decentralized manner, the kinds of online interactions one has come to expect from private social networks.

Read Your Website Is Your Passport by Desmond RivetDesmond Rivet

Your personal website as a form of identification #indieweb

I found this a very helpful discussion of IndieAuth from Desmond, touching on web sign-in, RelMeAuth, OAuth and OIDC along the way. It’s one of those things that I know exists, and just works for me (e.g. everytime I use a Micropub client), but it’s nice to get a bit of a handle on how it works.

In a nutshell the purpose is this:

your domain should function as a kind of universal online passport, allowing you to sign in to various services and applications simply by entering your personal URL

Desmond does a great job of explaining the nitty-gritty of how it works, too. The two bits I bolded below jumped out at me – a decentralised authentication mechanism leveraging DNS as a user registration system. It’s very elegant.

The process of using your domain to log in to sites and services is called web sign-in and is implemented via a protocol called IndieAuth, an extension of OAuth used for decentralized authentication.

If your goal is to make a social network out of the world wide web, there is a certain elegance to the idea of leveraging DNS as a user registration system.

Read Frantz Fanon Against Facebook: How to Decolonize Your Digital-Mind (Versobooks.com)

From the Algeria to algorithms, Lizzie O’Shea argues that Frantz Fanon’s ideas have much to offer us as we seek to understand, and resist, some of the most profound challenges of living in the digital age.

Lizzie O’Shea discusses digital self-determination as a means to understand and resist some of the problems with big tech, using the rubric of Fanon’s work on self-determination. How can we have agency and create our own identity under the thumb of the big surveilling platforms?

Digital self-determination will involve:

  • making use of the technical tools available to communicate freely
  • designing information infrastructure in ways that favour de-centralisation
  • designing online spaces and devices that are welcoming

I definitely like all the conclusions. At first blush, any comparison between colonialism and racism and the problems of digital platforms feels like it could be a little crass… but O’Shea explains her thinking and says she feels Fanon’s ideas are so strong that they can be applied to different times and situations.

Even in a technologically-saturated world, in which human beings are categorised, surveilled and discriminated against, it is possible for us to carve out space for our own identity and shape our destiny.

Frantz Fanon Against Facebook: How to Decolonize Your Digital-Mind