Easy Pieces

I read this right after this and this, and I wonder a little, you know?
Not that I’m sure that Bb’s idea is one that will be workable, but crikey, Anil’s little shave-and-a-haircut there looks like some semi-deft spinnage to me. ‘course, I’m a great lover of conspiracy theories.

Ghost in the Machine

Is BurningBird back? Sorta, kinda, and this makes me happy all out of proportion to what I might have expected. There’s been a disconcerting Shelley-shaped hole in the neighbourhood of late. She asks “Just how real is all of this?” and I haven’t really got an answer for that. The first thing that pops into my mind (the first thing being what I usually go with, as you’re probably aware if you’ve been reading my crap for any length of time) : “f–k art, let’s dance!”
(I don’t know if Shelley is still working on ThreadNeedle, but if she is, here are some very cool blogthread visualization ideas that someone geekier and smarter than myself might like to investigate.
I’ve been thinking about and researching this a bit today after following David’s pointer to Jon.
Have a look at PeopleGarden and WebFan. I find WebFan in particular very intuitive.
The projects at the MIT Social Media Group site are also interesting.
And Warren Sack’s Conversation Map Interface for Very Large Scale Conversations is working again on the sample Usenet data, since the last time I checked. Amazing work. )

We've Got Blog

I got my comp copy of ‘We’ve Got Blog: How Weblogs Are Changing Our Culture’ in the mail today, and have had a quick look through it. It’s the first actual book I’ve ever held in my hands that talks about web sh-t, other than HTML textbooks and such.
It terrifies me, the physical presence of the damn thing. And seeing my comments at Metafilter in a serif font, in black on a white background? Disorienting to say the least.
The last thing in the book is a reprint of this conversation, initiated by dogmatic (who memorably described the thread as a ‘stumbling, chortling abortion of a discussion’), in which I played a fairly pivotal part, in tried-and-true wonderchicken style : seriously addressing the question posed, while simultaneously setting up a straight man to aid the inevitable descent into silliness and self-referential tomfoolery.
My take on the conversation is a little more philosophical, perhaps. As I mentioned in dogmatic’s comments : ‘it really did encapsulate in a single thread so many things that MeFi is, or was at that point : self-absorbed MetaTalking, self-referentiality, high-seriousness, utter silliness, a sense of community, an appearance from the admin (Matt), some cross-cultural banter courtesy of Miguel… and more. Taken as an artifact of sorts, removed from its context, I think it’s a fascinating little document.’
rodii, who has since departed from the MetaPlayground, perhaps forever, ably played my straight man. He was also one of the people who did not give permission for their comments in that thread to be used in the book. These people have now annoyed the piss out of me (well, a little), as the publishers decided to include the thread anyway, with the parts of the conversation contributed by those who opted not to play along simply excised.
The result of this is that I come off looking a bit goofy, I think, and even though that’s nothing new, I prefer when I look dumb to do it deliberately. But I’m enough of an attention-whore (and that’s in large part what this blogging thing often is, if we are to be honest — attention-whoring) not to care too much, pleased as I am to see my Meta-Antics captured in print.
The tenor and taste of the words change so completely, for me at least, when they are between hard covers, though.
I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of the book so far – I plan to dip into it in small measures. It is, however, spurring some thoughts of rebuilding and refocussing this wee site here into something different. What, I’m not quite sure. Certainly another monument to my towering ego (or salve for my deep feelings of inadequacy – Fork! Spoon!), of course (see also : whoring, attention-). That goes without saying.
It strikes me as amusing (and predictable, if you know me at all) that the first book I’ve read praising and proselytizing the weblog has led almost immediately to thoughts of getting the hell out of weblogging.


In my wanderings today, I noticed some things that were said recently and that I found interesting, and may well be worth your time, from Jeff :

This delineation of introspection as constitutive of feeling and more significantly, that the feelings which come from memory are the most powerful ones of all, has colored Western society— feeling is taken as a private rather than public, reflective rather than reactive, individual rather than collectively consitituted response. This is deeply at odds with human appetites. Humanity is far more social than that. Coleridge, no matter how much he agreed with Wordsworth in theory, subverted it in practice. He was loquacious, providing a great deal of his introspection in public. Thinking of the contradictions of publicly generated privacy gave me a headache, and I really needed to soak my head.

and from Steve :

Blogging, then, is like my mental scratch pad made visible: it’s much more stream-of-conscious, though still composed and relatively controlled. I think about what I’m going to post for a few minutes or a few hours, then pretty much just write it as I type. Along the way, ideas I hadn’t expected pop up and make themselves known, screaming for attention, and often they turn into other ideas, other posts, or even other projects. I actually, ideally, become more productive in my offline writing because of blogging—in effect, the impermanent work, the scratch pad, feeds what is intended as ‘finished’, lasting work.
[more… (and more from Jeff on this too.)]

Just thought I’d point, and nod.

You reckon?

“How weblogs straddle personal and social spaces and the potential implications for developing new communities.”
Tom from Plasticbag.org says some pretty cool stuff about some things. Powerpoint, 2.8 Mb. (That’s funny, isn’t it? I wonder who the presentees were…)
Anyway, a quote :

The best, the strongest, the most creative communities can emerge out of the interconnected nature of individual spaces.
Making great communities is about celebrating the individuals within them – giving them spaces that they can use to show off their creativity and passions…
And in return these individuals will themselves build a vibrant, creative and passionate community…

No argument here.

It Just Feels Right, Baby

Cheesily riffing on the erudititudinosity and linkeriffomafication of Tom’s recent post, I give you this darn-near equally-recent popular image (which I did not make) found at the Site Which Must Not Be Named.
Bush Help.jpg
Edit : I have discovered that this image originally came from the SomethingAwful forums. SA rocks. Or is that San Dimas Football? sh-t, I dunno. But the bad, bad man who posted it to Filepile didn’t credit it. Apologies.

Metafilter : Bigger Than Jesus?

Anil notes some interesting figures of his own : Metafilter, a place I very much enjoy, and one that’s run by just one guy (with a little help from his friends), gets more traffic than the Wall Street Journal, Etrade, ABC TV, or universities like Harvard, at least according to Alexa.
This is kind of staggering, and Anil rightly notes how important the implications may be of such a thing : “..what I’m pointing out is the dynamic… there is momentum behind a future where a Google search on a particular piece of legislation will yield a discussion by ordinary folks on the web ahead of the sponsor’s official platitudes about the bill. ”
Edit : This comes with a few grains of salt, discussed here (of course).

Just in case…

Just in case you weren’t quite certain how harrowingly well Chris Locke can write, I direct your attention to the last few EGR dispatches. That is all.
(Edit : Well, that’s not quite all. I’ll point, as does BB this morning, to Mike’s latest as well, and encourage you to enjoy more phenomenally affecting writing from around the virtual neighbourhood.)

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel

Still…(edit : umm, imagine a rising inflection here which would indicate my susceptability to the patriotism virus, even though yadda yadda….)

Canada is every bit as querulously alert to the achievements of its sons and daughters as the rest of the world is completely unaware of them. The Canadians proudly say of themselves — and are unheard by anyone else — that 1% of the world’s population has provided 10% of the world’s peacekeeping forces. Canadian soldiers in the past half century have been the greatest peacekeepers on Earth — in 39 missions on UN mandates, and six on non-UN peacekeeping duties, from Vietnam to East Timor, from Sinai to Bosnia.
Yet the only foreign engagement that has entered the popular non-Canadian imagination was the sorry affair in Somalia, in which out-of-control paratroopers murdered two Somali infiltrators. Their regiment was then disbanded in disgrace — a uniquely Canadian act of self-abasement for which, naturally, the Canadians received no international credit.


“We are so close. We are on the verge of something very dangerous and irreversible. You can hear Dick Cheney breathing hard, just aching to press The Button. The human animal is capable of staggering atrocities and deadly choices and the thick-necked frat boys in charge right now are the most darkly capable we’ve suffered in decades.
No one is preaching peace. No one striving for genuine camaraderie or balance or compromise. And too few of us seem willing to believe that 9/11 has mutated into a brutish hollow excuse for the Bush administration to perpetuate a war for oil and to proclaim new enemies and to chip away at the Constitution and your civil liberties in the name of increased federal control and fewer dissenting voices.”
– Mark Morford, SFGate.

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch

Almost 70 per cent of Canadians believe their federal and provincial political systems are corrupt, suggests a recent opinion poll.
Sixty-nine per cent of the 1,500 respondents in the Leger Marketing survey said the federal system was highly or somewhat corrupt, compared with 26 per cent who thought it was not very corrupt or not at all corrupt.
”The Canadian public have become over the last 20 years or so, so bovine. They just see this and shrug. They expect it. They expect to be screwed,” said Morrison, who left Parliament because he felt he was wasting his time, and because he didn’t like the fact some people assumed he was corrupt simply because he was in politics.
”Even politicians who are straight and believe in representing their constituents, they give up after awhile. Because nobody seems to care,” Morrison said.

This is the sort of thing that makes me wonder what the hell the bastards who ‘run’ the country are doing to my homeland. I haven’t been back there in more than 4 years now, and although I do sometimes entertain fantasies of going back permanently and hiding in a nice little cabin near a stream, nestled amongst fragrant pines, it’s probably not going to happen anytime soon, if at all, unless you folks buy a lot of Cafe Press crap.
But that doesn’t stop me feeling a wave of despair when I hear the latest statistic, or the newest piece of bad news about how Canada is coming more with each passing year to resemble the Cesspool to the South. I pray that it’s not true, but I suspect that it’s too late.


I’m not going to bother talking about the terrorist attacks in the states. I commented briefly over on the blogversation and my thoughts can be dredged up from Metafilter pretty easily.
Nope, what I’m gonna talk about is the puddles, literally great palm-sized puddles of spit all over the floor in the men’s toilet at the English center at the Uni. Bad enough that these guys sit in a stall and smoke whilst pinching a loaf, but they seem to find it necessary to gob huge f–king quantities of saliva all over the floor. I make it a point not to get irate about ‘different’ stuff like this, and I must acknowledge that there was also some mutant bastard in Sydney who felt it necessary to extract snot and stick it all over the cubicle walls in the Level 20 can, but damn it! I actually wiped up two huge pools of the stuff in my favorite stall in the morning, and three hours later, there were 6 more to take their place.
Mr Bill says “You put a rice farmer in a suit, but he’s still a rice farmer” to which I tend to reply “You can put a racist…” etc, but honestly, some days I tend to agree with him.
Terrorists? Thousands dead? Me, I’m irate about spit puddles. For the moment, anyway.