Robin Sloan on New Ideas

All along, from the frothy 1990s to the percolating 2000s to the frozen 2010s to today, the web has been the sure thing. All along, it’s been growing and maturing, sprouting new capabilities. From my vantage point, that growth has seemed to accelerate in the past five years...

For people who care about creating worlds together, rather than getting rich, the web is the past and the web is the future. What luck, that this decentralized, permissionless system claimed a position at the heart of the internet, and stuck there. It’s limited, of course; frustrating; sometimes maddening. But that’s every creative medium. That’s life.

--"A Year of New Avenues" - Robin Sloan

And also:

Back in the 2000s, a lot of blogs were about blogs, about blogging. If that sounds exhaustingly meta, well, yes — but it was also SUPER generative. When the thing can describe itself, when it provides the best place to talk about itself, I am telling you, some internal flywheel gets spinning, and powerful things start to happen.

I expressed frustration about this a couple of weeks ago (i.e., wanting to see more blogs that weren't about blogs but blogs about other things... homesteading or anthropology or design or whatever). But maybe Robin has a point here... the meta-ness of blogging about blogging is generative.

As a side note, this is sending me down another hole. Three things I've been rolling around in my head:

  1. I like e-ink, but damn do the companies that produce these products not make it easy to develop for their readers. Especially Kindle. I'm an avid Paperwhite user, but I have essentially zero ability to make anything for the Kindle. (I had an idea this morning for building an RSS service that automatically sends to Kindle... worth exploring).
  2. This site is served on a VPS with a Digital Ocean droplet. But of course, that sent me down the rabbit hole of homebrewed servers. So I'm thinking about getting a Raspberry Pi or something, hooking it up to a small portable hard drive and setting up my own little server at home.
  3. Found this via RSS this morning: Ryan Cordell is a professor that teaches about digital humanities. His teaching page is here. Somewhere along the way, I guess he mentioned that he's moving all of his course stuff to Canvas (his school's LMS), but before that, he was building personal sites that contained his course material... which I LOVE. I get why you wouldn't do this (school policy, requiring students to use another platform, etc.), but the feel of independence and playfulness here is really fun. That's not even the point I'm trying to make though. I have also been thinking about what it means to teach digital literacy to middle and high schoolers. Everything from learning very basic coding, owning your own domain, how the web works, and how to identify and interact with good and bad information. Almost a "philosophy of the web" course/s informed by indie web stuff and Neil Postman.

Tagged: open web, blogging,