Tag: Writing

Through a Tom Critchlow post that appeared in my RSS reader but doesn’t appear to exist anymore, I learn of Ponder – “a fresh approach to group journaling” — which I feel like some people I know might find interesting. My own interest isn’t so much because I feel I have a use for it in mind but because I have a passing interest in people developing more closed-but-shared places on the web.

Dan Hon, briefly discussing a novel he’s writing, says, “[O]ne phrase I had to write down in conversation with a friend figuring out part of, well, the fundamental conceit of the novel, was ‘edit wars for infrastructure’ in a world where software has eaten, well, the world” — and honestly all I could think of was that I’d once described Annalee Newitz’s The Future of Another Timeline as “SJWs vs. MRAs across the wiki of Time”.

The Granular Control Of Novels On Sticky Notes

It’s no secret that I generally dislike Twitter threads and tend to wish more people would just blog, and then selectively quote it in a couple choice tweets. Most of the time, like Alan Jacobs, I find threads to be “choppy, imprecise, abstract, syntactically naïve or incompetent, lacking in appropriate transitions” — as Robert of Frosted Echoes said it’s like “reading a novel written on sticky notes”.

(In some ways even worse still, threads open the door to people retweeting every tweet in a thread, which: I mean, come on.)

That said, Jacobs’ post reminded me of a terrific defense of threads by Jessica Price in which she notes the unique degree of control threading gives her over how thoughts are conveyed and constructed.

I can’t necessarily control which tweets people will read or not read, but people rarely read only part of a tweet. It’s almost impossible to only read part of it, given the length and how it’s displayed.

So if I can fit a complete thought into a single tweet, I can at least guarantee that people will see that thought as a unit.

Moreover, people almost never quote part of a tweet. They retweet or embed it as a whole. So if I can fit that complete thought into a single tweet, I can almost guarantee that a single phrase in it won’t be quoted out of context.

Price also notes the “granularity” threads offer in terms of being able to pick and choose what conversations to have based upon to which tweets people respond.

I’m always going to vigorously nod whenever someone hates on Twitter threads, but ever since Price’s thoughts on why she threads I’m never going to nod without also thinking about her take, which I kept forgetting to blog about — if only so I could find it again, because I didn’t bookmark it. If nothing else, Jacob’s post finally gave me the excuse.

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.

“Now that we’re in the midst of a world-wide pandemic, there’s a new urgency,” blogs Chris Foley about blogs (via Colin Walker). “We need a way forward […] from people […] who can show us what survival and growth might look like […].” Or, you can just read me having a existential breakdown in slow motion but in real time.

Every single Am I the Asshole? story reads to me like fanfiction. Like, I totally believe someone would behave this way, I just never believe the person posting has behaved that way.

I admit that I’m confused that Geoff Manaugh looks around at an internet landscape of “nothing but reaction GIFs and Donald Trump” and finds “it’s enough to make anyone quit blogging”. (This links comes via Warren Ellis.) If anything, that landscape makes it even more important that people keep blogging, or return to blogging, or start blogging. Or, if not blogging, per se, tending a so-called “digital garden” would be fine, too. Which is not to say that Bruce Sterling (whose ending of his Wired blog was what prompted Manaugh) or anyone else has some sort of obligation to the blogging commons. The state of today’s internet can be exhausting, and lord knows there are plenty of times I exhaust even myself.

Delia Cai offers a quote from a Zach Baron piece on interviewing during a time of social distancing, and I’m going to reproduce the quote in question in full because I have questions, and thoughts.

One thing you learn through interviewing people is how fundamentally kind we tend to be to each other, and how drawn we are to the ritual. Our default mode is to seek agreement, to find common experience. Maybe we don’t communicate our thoughts well, but another person still nods like they understand. Our urge is to come together, to smooth out our differences, to find a way to be on the same side […] Being together almost always involves an actual effort to be together. It’s one of the most beautiful things people do for each other without even knowing they’re doing it.

Is this really a sufficient or accurate description of what’s happening during the ritual of the interview? Or, at least, is this really generally applicable?

I question to what degree it’s our default mode “to seek agreement, to find common experience”. Could our default mode instead not be “to avoid in-person conflict”, or even “to each get what we need out of this very transactional conversation”?

Right, so: episode ten of season two of Prison Break appears to be the episode after I stopped watching when it was on the air. I’m tapping out again. I’d thought maybe this would be a decent background binge but it’s fucking unwatchable.


  1. This appears to be partially incorrect, as I’ve been skimming Wikipedia and I’ve definitely seen some episodes beyond that one. I might have had it on now and then just because?

The Good Dale Is In The Lodge And Can’t Leave

I’ve managed over three days to do a complete rewatch of Twin Peaks: The Return, and all I can do is state again why I dislike the last one and a half hours of it.

The original series ended with Cooper having failed the fundamental existential test of being a live human being inside the Black Lodge: he ran from his shadow-self, the Dweller on the Threshold. He refused to face his failings and his failures; that’s how Bob is able to take him and leave the Lodge in his place.

The Return ignores all of this in its resolution to the doppelgänger’s 25-year reign of terror in favor of just shooting him with a gun and then some random guy we’ve never met before with a “piledriver” for a fist punches out Bob.

Cooper’s fall was all internal struggle made “flesh” inside the Lodge; his return was all goofy plot mechanics.

In the end, I don’t even especially care about what’s happening in the final episode of The Return because the penultimate one didn’t seem to care about what originally made Cooper’s fall resonate from a character perspective. Cooper in effect is allowed to cheat his way out of his self-made prison in the Lodge, which I’ll never be able to see as anything other than cheating him, and me, out of a resolution that actually mattered.

This Is Not An Ex-Parrot

“But aren’t blogs dead?” asks Tim Bray on behalf of skeptical readers. Contrast how he looks at blogging as he answers in the negative with how various other people have been “boldly” pronouncing that not only is blogging dead but that it killed the web: the latter are talking about content marketers who swarmed and slimed all over the form. Bray, instead, is talking about “economists or physicists or oil analysts or Internet geeks”.

Travelers, as promised, is finally completed, and leaves me wondering if I can recall a time travel series that felt ultimately satisfying. Continuum was okay, and at least didn’t betray the inevitably-bittersweet implications of what success would look like. I couldn’t even finish 12 Monkeys, having grown so increasingly frustrated in season three I can’t even remember if I finished that season. I don’t really count Doctor Who, per se, as odd as that is. Timeless I watched for awhile but ultimately bored me so I have no idea where that story even went. I don’t really count Quantum Leap here, either, because the time travel really was only there as the hook upon which to hang the mission-of-the-week. What else even is there?

I’m not sure if it’s something about the storytelling this season or the cheap-video look to it, but there’s a Killing Eve waiting for me from Sunday that I’ve just not been rushing to watch.

Link Log Roundup for May 11, 2020

In this edition: labor surveillance, viral surfaces, blurb writing, knowing the risks, testing questions, child vaccinations, engineering ventilators, actuarial science, Cannon Beach, bunk beds, institutional discrimination, public pharma, money for Western states, virtual reality, false balance, the social safety net, salon workers, opening up the streets, and public opinion.