Either my cognitive capacity just is too low today, or much of Venkatesh Rao’s piece on “the extended internet universe” is beyond my capacity outright, but I’m stuck on one snippet.

social media, dated to the invention of RSS, is 20 years old

I am trying to figure out how Rao gets to this idea, that we should date social media to the invention of RSS. Are we defining social media simply as “a feed of stuff from people you follow”?

That would seem weird to me, as there’s literally no social in that. What am I missing?

(For what it’s worth, I landed on the Rao piece because a Nadia Eghbal newsletter led me to a Maggie Appleton tweet.)

Those artillery barrages last night must have shot my nervous system even more than I thought, as I’ve been unable to keep myself from falling back to sleep this morning and now it’s afternoon.

Through the Gretchen McCulloch blog I didn’t know existed I am introduced to Tanadrin’s “one hundred percent true and correct etymology” of blagosphera.

Blogosphera is naturally 1st declension (the medieval form form of blogosphaera, from the Greek βλωγοσφαῖρα), blagosphera is actually the neuter plural of the rarely-attested blagospherum, itself derived from the earlier blagospes, “to check a blog in the hopes it has updated in the last five minutes, even though it almost certainly has not.”

Yi-Fu Tuan:

Place is a special kind of object. It is a concretion of value, though not a valued thing that can be handled or carried about easily; it is an object in which one can dwell. Space, we have noted, is given by the ability to move. Movements are often directed toward, or repulsed by, objects and places. Hence space can be variously experienced as the relative location of objects or places, as the distances and expanses that separate or link places, and—more abstractly—as the area defined by a network of places.

‪I’m trying to sit outside and read but every time a local firework goes off the sound ricochets off the door in front of which I am sitting and every single time I think someone is coming out from my apartment and so the heart-jolt of the firework immediately is followed by the heart-jolt of someone who can’t exist nonetheless surprising me from behind and now I feel like I am a perpetual startle response.

“I’m beginning to think of myself as the most unreliable narrator of all,” muses Rebecca Toh. Having just today finished up Your Brain Is a Time Machine and been reminded of the degree to which our unconscious mind is mediating — editing, really — our sensory experiences before passing them along to our conscious mind, I’d think it’s safe to say that each of us is the most unreliable narrator of all, but we’re all we’ve got.

Longish-time readers will know that I’ve talked a lot about the differences between space and place online, and have wondered about what lessons can be learned from spaces and places offline. This is why I’m very much looking forward finally to having started Space and Place by Yi-Fu Tuan. It’s already dropping gold nuggets such as, “Place is security, space is freedom: we are attached to the one and long for the other.” Also this bit: “[I]f we think of space as that which allows movement, then place is pause; each pause in movement makes it possible for location to be transformed into place.”

The thing that I don’t understand about this Jacob Anbinder piece about urban planning post-pandemic (via Aaron Michael Brown) is that he criticizes both planners for self-importance and the destruction of neighborhoods and public participation processes and things like “environmental review requirements” for blocking progress, yet says that planners should reassert their authority. What am I missing here? Was there some golden age of urban planning that didn’t also destroy neighborhoods, and usually Black ones? There doesn’t seem to be any illustration of how to reassert planning authority minus the abuses. He derides urban planners for thinking of themselves as “medicine men” but then exhibits nothing so much as his own magical thinking that planners reasserting themselves somehow will just be different this time.

“We owe you a great debt,” says Yumyan Hammerpaw. “Should you ever need us, just open this can of tuna and help will come.” This is what you’re missing if you’re not watching Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts.

I think it’s important to distinguish between standards and conventions. Having a /now page or a /uses page or a /feeds page is a convention for the sake of convenience. It’s not a “standard”, per se. As the conversation on Micro.blog about this establishes, the posited /feeds page also solves a problem that doesn’t really exist. Manton Reece notes, “The actually hard part is what to do with the feed URL when someone discovers it.” Jason Becker adds, “Every feed reader I’ve ever used has had no problem finding the RSS/JSON feed from the URL.” The issue isn’t so much finding feeds on a webpage as getting feed readers into the hands of people who would use them. Which isn’t to say I think the /feeds page is a bad idea; just that first people need to be reminded that feeds exist at all.

Jay Springett shares an astonishing clip from a British show called Database which aired in the 1980s.

In the clip they demonstrate plugging in a modem, connecting to a network online, looking at a ‘magazine’ like home page with all the comings and goings on the network. Mrs Pat Green explains that she keeps records like ‘whats in the freezer, and names and addresses’ etc, extolls the virtues of word processing, sends an email to the show live on air, then they print it out on a Dot matrix printer, and finally the show distributes some free software to the nation.

If you don’t click through and watch all the way to the end, what you missed is the host explaining that once she’s done, the show will broadcast tones you can record to “download” software for various computer platforms.