Cool Technology The Internet Websites

A website devoted to NYC internet infrastructure

Liked Seeing Networks in New York City by Ingrid Burrington (

New York’s network infrastructure is a lot like the city itself: messy, sprawling, and at times near-incomprehensible. However, the city’s tendency toward flux is a strange blessing for the infrastructure sightseer: markings and remnants of the network are almost everywhere, once you know how to look for them.

And book!

It’s fun to stumble on dedicated little web projects like this. It’s such a niche project that only someone who really cared would bother making it.

Makes me think of a tweet I saw recently that the world is basically made of people’s random passion projects.

Future Building Political Commentary

I would like some infrastructure please

See also: Traditional urbanism

Future Building Political Commentary Society

Public spending needs context

Replied to

It’s easy to scoff at big projects and think they’re wasting tons of money, but there are valid reasons public projects cost a lot.

People are not good at thinking at scale. Even small roads through neighborhoods are like 25 feet wide, yeah it’s going to cost a bit to maintain an entire city’s roads. It’s also overwhelming how many people live near you who are sharing those costs — my city doesn’t feel that big, but 90,000 people live here, over 40,000 households.

I saw an article recently complaining that it takes way longer to build things now than in the past. Some of that is staffing limitations causing permitting delays, yes. *cough* I don’t hear the same people calling for higher development fees to cover increased staffing *cough* But some delays come from public process requirements. It’s important to give people a chance to hear about and comment on projects that will affect them — as much as I hate NIMBYs, in the past a lack of public process has allowed racist development decisions, so public process is important for equity. There are also environmental permitting requirements — so many impacts are externalities that the community will bear the costs of rather than the developer, so it seems fair to ask developers to evaluate and limit those impacts upfront. Inspections and plan review are also needed, because whatever gets built now, people will have to use for decades to come, and shortcuts can have bad long-term impacts, and cost-cutting can increase a building’s carbon footprint for its lifespan.

Government is concerned with protecting the public good, whereas developers are focused on the bottom line. Yes, if we let developers do whatever they wanted they’d make more money — and we’d get a city with no trees, mostly paved so rain runoff is terrible and streams become unlivable for fish, built using the cheapest (and likely most carbon-intensive) materials.

The bigger issue is that people seem to have lost touch with doing things for the common good — back to our society’s toxic individualism. The same attitude that makes people reluctant to pay for programs they don’t use also makes them reluctant to do things that benefit others at little cost to themselves, like wearing masks on public transportation.

The Internet

Went to Homebrew Website Club

RSVPed Attending Homebrew Website Club – The Americas

One big HWC, for anyone in the Americas(or who is just available) who wants to dial in. Let’s talk about what we would like to do in 2021 now that it is here. What’s Homebrew Website Club?
Homebrew Website Club is a meetup for anyone interested in personal websites and a distributed web. Whether you…

We chatted about ways to visualize and represent threaded conversations, as well as some technical stuff about how to make threaded conversations work across IndieWeb websites where people comment from their own site.

This comes from May-Li Khoe’s 2000 dissertation.

Ironically, this is quite similar to what I had been imagining as a way to display posts on this mind garden!

I still don’t know how to accomplish it technically though 😉 It would be really cool to be able to visually see connections between topics. Of course, I’m not that good about internal linking, so it probably wouldn’t be that exciting without enriching the data manually first.

We also discussed consolidating our self-quantified data, like songs listened, books read, exercise done, steps taken, hours worked, mood, etc, and owning it all ourselves in a cross-referenced database that could be analyzed, potentially even using algorithms you could “buy from an app store”.

Another idea from this chat: publicly-run website hosting at the community level. Locally-owned and maintained server space so you don’t have to rely on Amazon or Microsoft for cloud, free or low-cost web hosting for community members. Some local internal network and communication space or tool maybe that you can only access if you’re a member? Community social. If I ever pursued my vision of a creative shared community space, this might be something I would want to incorporate.

Future Building Personal Growth

The Value of Normal

Liked In Defense of Normal by Yancey Strickler (The Ideaspace)

We often underrate the value of normal.

We think normal means dull, average, or mediocre. Normal is unimaginative. Normal is being like everybody else…

But a strange thing happens in life: the farther we go, the more welcome normal becomes…

Normal means safety. Normal means others have been here before. Normal means we’re not the only one.

–Yancey Strickler

I think we all are missing normalcy right now, if not in ourselves, then in our lives. And to some extent that normal life *is* us, as what we do is what we are.

Learning that a challenge is normal is liberating. It goes from a personal shame to a badge of honor. This is what people (or companies, parents, couples, bands, etc) like me go through. They got through it. So can I.

Knowing what’s normal gives us a target to work towards, and lets us know when we get there…

We can’t define what’s normal on our own. We need our own experience plus an external reference point to know what’s normal. Our individual sample size is too small.

–Yancey Strickler

This defense of normal is, however, a celebration of similarity. We live in an age where what’s desirable is what’s different. But there’s more value in our non-individuality than we admit.

–Yancey Strickler

Another thought I had reading this, but not totally connected to what he’s saying, is that he is really trying to build the world he wants to live in by co-founding Kickstarter. He gave creatives and entrepreneurs a means to go directly to people and raise money or sell their products, cutting out the middle men and angel investors and democratizing the process of making by enabling anyone to directly support the projects they like.

What other infrastructure like this is missing, that would help build the future I dream of?


Post Offices in the Middle of Nowhere

Bookmarked America’s postal service is a rural lifeline—and it’s in jeopardy (National Geographic)

Rural post offices and mail carriers connect our smallest towns to the world and provide a sense of community. But a burdensome financial structure, and lack of federal aid amid a pandemic, threaten their future.

Wood building with blue trim
The Ophir post office in Colorado is the second smallest in the U.S., but the most photographed
Future Building

We Need Public Spaces Online

Replied to To Mend a Broken Internet, Create Online Parks by Eli Pariser (WIRED)
We need public spaces, built in the spirit of Walt Whitman, that allow us to gather, communicate, and share in something bigger than ourselves.

To Mend a Broken Internet, Create Online Parks in Wired by Eli Pariser

What would an online park look like?

I could see an online space with different rooms you can interact with in different ways, like chat rooms and message boards you can join in conversation.

You could let users indicate when they join that they’re open to connecting and could have like a double opt in (hot or not style swiping on profiles, and ability to rate or flag other users who are problematic).

There could also be some geographic limitations, whether the whole “park” or just certain areas that might be IP based (yeah you can spoof it but most people wouldn’t). Reminds me of that decentralized social network Scuttlebutt that only syncs when you come in physical proximity to other users.

I think there’s also a value to public spaces of sharing art and political speech temporarily, like hanging up a poster. Could have a fun community angle where all the art is only up for a week to start but people who want to keep it around could pitch in a buck or two a day to license it, with the money going to the artist (or donated to charity or paying for server upkeep).

I feel like space itself, interacting with it and moving through it, is a valuable aspect of parks and public spaces that could be interesting to replicate in a virtual format. A lot of public spaces are designed spaces, and I think there could be some cool partnerships with designers and artists and creative people to create spaces that prompt a certain type of interaction or thinking (prompts or visuals). I’m reminded of Meow Wolf.

To keep it a safe space you can either have verified users or paid users. Paying even a dollar for membership would deter a lot of bad actors. You could let the community pay it forward by covering memberships for students and those who can’t afford it for greater inclusivity but those members not paying their own way would have a one strike and you’re out policy for bad action to prevent abuse.

Hmm, did I just reinvent Minecraft?