Art and Design Featured Future Building

What do Places give us?

Replied to The Importance of Magical Places by Coby Lefkowitz (Our Built Environment)

In most communities, we have a box that we sleep in, a box we drive to the office or school in, and then, once we’re there, a box to work or study in… These places are often devoid of any ornamentation, idiosyncratic details, or contextual elements that would ground them in a specific community.

Our buildings and places symbolize what we value. They tell the story of who we are.

But what about when we don’t know who we are?

I suspect there’s a connection between the loss of Place-making and the dissolution of community ties.

Activism Culture Featured Future Building The Internet

Defending against abuse, violence, and viewpoints of hatred

(I’m still working through this. There are good arguments on both sides.)

Tools and social norms shape the conversations and interactions people have online and on different platforms. But those inclined towards abusive behavior are less likely to either follow the rules of social norms or to allow themselves to be limited by tools; those motivated towards abuse will find ways to do harm. By limiting tools that can be used for good in hopes of quelling harmful behavior, is the damper put on positive uses greater than the reduction of harmful behavior? How much does depriving fascists of tools for virality also impact our ability to fight fascism?

Culture The Internet

Which online bar do you want to hang out at?

Liked A community isn’t a garden, it’s a bar. by Derek Powazek (

It’s almost 2023. The world is different, the online world is very different, and I’m pushing 50. So I think it’s time we all start talking about online gathering places with a more apt metaphor: bars.

Activism The Internet

Asserting the right to exist in public online spaces

I appreciate these arguments. The right to exist in a public space hits home with me personally as I have struggled with taking up space in the world, and have worked to feel more comfortable existing in public and asserting my needs. Ceding a platform to the racists and fascists and sexists amplifies their voices while diminishing mine, and skews the perception that there are more of them than there are.

Seeing Elon take an axe to Twitter has made me think more about what I want out of online spaces and my online experience, and grapple with the good in Twitter.

I’m still not sure *I* want to spend time on Twitter given its impact on my brain, considering I had already pulled back from using it several years ago. I also am reading The Shallows and it’s prompting a rethinking of how I read online. I’m still mulling over what serves me best: feeding my curiosity and delight with a wide array of topics that nevertheless hold little practical value and are fed to me by others, or prioritizing being more active in seeking out what to read with an emphasis on longform material that supports development of patience and deeper thought?

The Internet

Transformation and opportunity after Twitter

Liked After Twitter (

The internet’s town square should never have been one specific website with its own specific rules and incentives. It should have been, and should be, the web itself.

“Twitter was the island in the middle of the kitchen where we hung out, and now it’s a junk drawer of brands and nazis.”



[The web is] at its best when there’s a sense of community, and a community can benefit from diversity. Take risks and build something different.

(The Vaporwave)

Future Building Places

Traditional urbanism


  • Walkable — keep the whole area small enough to not need to drive — confined with a wall to limit sprawl!
  • Human scale blocks — should be quick to walk
  • Variety, visual interest, curving streets rather than immensely long straight boulevards
  • Use locally sourced, sustainable / renewable materials (wood, stone, rammed earth) that last a long time
  • Build at the front of lots, close together, fill in gaps, expand on existing buildings
  • Lay street surfaces with interesting, varied, beautiful materials like stepping stones
Future Building

An Anchor for Community

Replied to On knowing when to slow down (

Playground Coffee Shop owner and community organizer Zenat Begum discusses what she learned from her parents and applied to her business, prioritizing downtime, and including your community in what you do.

This coffee shop is a good example of what I envision for a community space: focused on giving back and solidarity but also self supporting. They’ve anchored their business with a coffee shop and mini store to cover the costs – you have to find some monetizable core to build the rest around, or you have to go the nonprofit route and beg for donations or endowments.

What I would love to have as part of a community center:

  • Free to use: no purchase necessary (could have suggested donation)
  • Comfortable tables to hang out with a group
  • Powered workspaces where you can get things done on your own or with a friend
  • Shared tables
  • Local art on the walls
  • Local zine library
  • Added 6/21: Risograph or letterpress small run printing service / rentable for use
  • Locally grown vegetarian food (fusion?) for sale, and a deal with nearby restaurants for delivery
  • Open late to hang out after shows let out and restaurants close – with taps serving local beer
  • A shop selling locally made goods
  • Tool and craft library (potentially could charge a nominal membership)
  • Rentable meeting room / reservable space
  • Furnished with secondhand items
  • Built with salvaged materials
  • Community fridge or food pantry
  • Bike racks out front and food discounts for biking or walking
  • Water bottle filling station
  • Dog friendly

What I envision as the paid anchor is a member-only co-working space in the back or upstairs.

I need to stop daydreaming about it – I’m never going to risk my retirement to build a space like this. (Plus, I have no retail experience.)

But stuff like this is why we can’t rely on the private market to provide community spaces – their motive is profit, with community a secondary benefit, so the add-ons are just that: extras, not the core of what they want to achieve. And why rent is a huge part of the problem: my community lacks a gathering space like this for adults (we have a senior center and teen center) and could greatly benefit from one, but rent is really expensive.

Society The Internet

Virtual Gathering Space in Real Time

Bookmarked Gather (

Gather is a video-calling space that lets multiple people hold separate conversations in parallel, walking in and out of those conversations just as easily as they would in real life.

I came across Gather which seems very much like what I described thinking about online parks.

Featured Future Building The Internet

Tools for a Post-Capitalist World

I was thinking earlier, what is a missing tool for helping our society get past our current form of capitalism, to a more connected, less corporate, more local, more human-focused, more sustainable future.

Kickstarter and Patreon and Medium and Substack are all key tools for empowering independent creators to create without corporate sponsorship. Twitch does too. In contrast, YouTube “empowers” creators but is very tied to an advertising platform, and Kindle Unlimited locks creators into Amazon’s system.

Future Building

Discord, the Internet’s Third Place

Liked How Discord (somewhat accidentally) invented the future of the internet by David Pierce (Protocol)

Discord’s founders just wanted to create a way to talk to their gamer friends. They created something much bigger.

I’ve started using Discord during the pandemic and it’s been an incredible tool to stay in touch with friends. We set up a text channel where we’d regularly hang out on weekend mornings when we used to hit the coffee shop together, then added weekly video hangouts on the nights we used to meet up in person. We started using video chat to accompany DnD on Roll20, since we tend to play theater of the mind and character focused games. And now we’re using a Discord video channel to do NaNoWriMo together this month. It has become our virtual Third Place to get together in real time.

Funny how I didn’t make that connection earlier this year thinking about what online public spaces look like. On top of hanging out with my friends, I also attended a Discord conference, with each track bring held in a different channel. I’m also using it for one to one connections like old school AIM. If this is the future of the internet, so far it’s working out pretty well for me.