Tag: Nostalgia

I’ve managed to get an “on this day” feature working, although because I like to be difficult mine is called Posted Today. It’s powered by a plugin by Alan Levine which I slightly hacked, and which I found from this Chris Aldrich post. I think the fix I added to prevent the current “sticky” post on my front page from inappropriately appearing also will prevent a “sticky” post that happens to actually be from the current day from appearing, so it’s not quite yet a settled matter, but it will do for now.

Back in February, I threatened to do a re-read of some books that were formative of my experience of the early web, but then didn’t get around to it, in part because I didn’t get to move quickly enough when several of them for some reason were on sale. Today, though, I noticed that the ebook of We’ve Got Blog had dropped to $3.99, so expect some thoughts on beginning to look back at these early books, once I’m done with Future Histories.

Addenda

  1. I ended up going ahead and grabbing The Weblog Handbook now as well, as it’s only $8.99.
  2. While getting the latter book, I stumbled into The Personal Weblog: A Linguistic History, a $90 textbook from 2016 which I will not be rushing out to get, although I might try to learn a bit more about it.

‘Crude, Ugly, But Heartfelt’

Setting aside that the “early internet” had no hyperlinks (this is the problem with everyone having grown to conflate “internet” and “web”, and I’m always really picky about linguistic specificity), Rebeccah Toh has a nice look back at the early days of the web and its “feeling of childish excitement and this sense that really interesting things were waiting to be discovered just around the corner, a hyperlink or two away” — back before play gave way to monetization.

I know we can never time travel back to the days before we lost our internet innocence, but we can remind ourselves that we always have the permission to be hobbyists and amateurs, whether on the internet or not, and that we never need to feel guilty spending ungodly amounts of time playing and tinkering and being immersed in whatever we’re interested in. In fact I cannot think of a better way to live, to be always curious and having fun.

Alias has landed on Prime Video — in case like me you were just this February lamenting not being able to do a rewatch and just this March promising to get Disney+ if they’d just add Alias.

One Unsuccessful Blog

I’m hesitant to link to this TTTThis post due to their position on hate speech which unlike them I will not put in scare-quotes (link, again, via Colin Walker), but for better or worse they said this really interesting thing about blogging.

When you search for blogs now on you see things like ‘Top 100 Blogs.’ ‘How to Make a Successful Blog.’ ‘Most Powerful 50 Blogs.’ But what you really want is 10,000 unsuccessful blogs. Web search now suggests ideas for your blogs to get views, shares, indexed, but what you really want is no ideas. It’s almost impossible now to find a blog that’s not on a focused theme because that’s what search engines focus on and how websites profit. But you want the opposite, a blog that never tried to focus or even thought about it.

Emphasis mine, because hello: it me.

Unsupported Use Case

During my own personal heyday of WordPress usage, I’d always wanted two particular features: a way to add updates or addenda to posts such that they automatically had their own timestamps and were their own database items, but attached, so to speak, to the posts they are on; and an easy way for old posts to list new posts which link to them, without having to open up to external trackbacks or pingbacks (or, now, webmentions). It always had seemed to me that these were pretty damned close to being no-brainers, and that they’d be features used widely if implemented, whether in the WordPress core or through plugins. I’m honestly surprised that in the decade or more since, these features still do not exist. My entire life, sometimes, seems defined by being an unsupported use case.

Unbeknownst to me, over a decade ago there apparently was a short-lived school of web design thinking called, per CJ Chilvers, HTMinimaLism, the idea that web design should “embrace the simplicity, utility and beauty of the web’s most basic elements”. For all intents and purposes, this is what in the early 2000s I was referring to as spartaneity, the idea “that web design should simply serve the content”.

Twenty Minutes Back Into The Future

Charlie Jane Anders wonders what well-known franchises people would reboot. It reminds me that at least a decade ago I’d mapped the basic premise for a Max Headroom reimagining.

Edison Carter as a washed-up has-been who used to be a preeminent journalist with an Edward R. Murrow sort of reputation; it’s anyone’s guess which came first: the public giving up on him or her (I’d played with the gender of several characters, I think) or him giving up on the public.

Max Headroom as an upstart Jon Stewart-style personality whose scathing, no-bullshit approach might not be recognized by the industry as “journalism” but is doing more to inform people than most journalism. I’d given some consideration to Max possibly not being the same gender as Carter despite being recognizable as having been generated from Carter’s mind.

Blank Reg more or less would be just like the original, except he’d be played by Mark Sheppard as a nod to the original, played by his father.

No pun intended but at the moment I’m blanking on my plans for the Theora and Bryce characters.

Rather than trying to re-envision what media would be like “twenty minutes into the future” from now, the design of the world’s technology would be the same as the original series, because I thought keeping it at an alt-future-history distance would help the storytelling rather than getting bogged down in trying to design something based on today’s world.

Maybe Carter’s video camera would be more handheld than shoulder-mounted, but that’s about as far as it would deviate. That said, Max would be motion-capture rather than, you know, a plastic jacket and hair.

They’ll reboot Max Headroom someday, and I’ll probably hate it because I’ve lived with this basic idea for ten years or more.

Fuck Blogs?

Warren Ellis, citing Justin Tadlock, is right that a personal website doesn’t have to be a blog (especially true given that personal websites pre-date blogging), and while initially I was going to circle back to something I wrote before about people trying to redefine what a blog is (e.g. doing something not reverse-chronological but still for some reason wanting to call it a blog), I got to reading Tadlock’s post and instead I have a whole other tantrum to throw.

“The idea of a ‘blog’ needs to get over itself,” wrote Joel Hooks in a post titled Stop Giving af and Start Writing More. “Everybody is treating writing as a ‘content marketing strategy’ and using it to ‘build a personal brand’ which leads to the fundamental flawed idea that everything you post has to be polished to perfection and ready to be consumed.”

What I hate here, and I think I’ve hated on it here before, is that you can’t blame “the blog” for this — you have to blame the bloggers who malformed blogging into “content marketing strategy”. That’s not the blog’s fault; you can’t blame the form. You only can blame its practitioners.

(It turns out that, yes, I’ve brushed up against these sorts of issues before here.)

If anyone needs to get over themselves it’s the people who are flailing about what blogging became (especially if they do so as if they themselves weren’t part of how it became that; I don’t know Joel Hooks, so I can’t claim that of him) and trying to impress people anew by going, “Hey, look, what I’m doing now isn’t blogging; I’ve left that plebeian shit behind me.”

It makes perfect sense to describe why your approach works for you, especially if it might let someone else break themselves out of whatever limitations they’ve trapped themselves in — and Hooks does this — but we can do it without walking up to the line of chiding other people for just, you know, blogging.

(I feel like I’m sweeping Tadlock up into this particular criticism, which is not my intent. In fact, his observations about how WordPress itself, as a platform, in many ways is responsible for leading people to try to jam anything and everything superficially into the form and format of a blog, which only contributed to the content-marketization of blogging, is a point worth taking.)

For what it’s worth, I’ve had both long and short bouts of blogging, going back to the early days, I think because I just can’t cognitively organize information in any other way, and I like the idea that the (reverse-) chronological flow of things tells a story about what I’ve thought and felt over time, and how some things stayed steady while other things changed and evolved (or, potentially, devolved).

Me, I could never tend a digital garden, and I think something is lost when you organize information that way. But, that’s okay, because other things probably are gained.

Absolutely none of which is to argue against defining new ways to personal web, or rediscover old ones. It’s just to say that there probably are less rankling ways to go about it.

On the overall premise — personal websites should take myriad forms, and maybe there should even be tools to foster and enable this — I’d think most people agree. I just think we can do better by way of explication than, “Fuck blogs.”

Nostalgia-Fueled Blog Migration?

I’ll leave it to someone else to psychoanalyze the process to determine whether or not it was sparked by all the flashbacks and throwbacks in which I’ve been swimming since social distancing began two months back, but I’ve migrated my blog from Micro.blog to self-hosted WordPress, an environment that was very familiar to me over a decade ago. There’ll probably be some bumps, but it’s, I think, mostly squared away?

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw wants, once they are safe to re-open, theaters to screen old movies. Setting aside the odd-couple phrase “older films like The Sound of Music or Fight Club”, what would you want shown to fill gaps in the release schedule?

Marian Call suggested “lying on the floor or wherever and listening to an album straight thru, beginning to end, with your whole attention” so as part of my ongoing pandemic musical regression retrospective, I listened to all of The Helio Sequence’s Love and Distance while sitting on the couch. Their earlier stuff, before this one, perplexingly is available neither on Apple Music nor Bandcamp, but fortunately before I was smart enough to rescue my copies from my old MacBook Pro before I wiped bricked it, and so now as I sit and blog I’ve rewound back to Accelerated Slow-Motion Cinema and am working my way forward. If I recall, my first experience of The Helio Sequence was when they played a High Violets show and what I remember is that two guys sure managed to envelop every inch of space into which their sound could travel.

It’s the 30th anniversary of Twin Peaks so here’s the first thing I ever contributed to the internet, in the fall of 1993. (It’s just a plain text file but because there’s no .txt file extension it might try to download instead of display.) The entirety of my one-time obsessive research into potential symbology, intermixed with theory and head-canon.

Elapsed time from the point of my return to Internet Relay Chat for the first time in two decades or more to witnessing my first netsplit: three weeks.