Categories
The Internet Writing

With a blog, everything is a prompt

Liked Derek Powazek 🐐 (@fraying@xoxo.zone) (XOXO Zone)

The reason why retweet-style post creation is important is because it turns every post into a prompt.

Normal people need prompts. And social tools like Mastodon need normal people participating.

A blog with IndieWeb tools means that everything on the internet becomes a prompt. The entire Internet is my fuel for thought and writing, not just whatever people shared today on the socials. Everything is part of the “conversation” I’m “participating in” — just today, I’ve used a Mastodon post, email newsletters, and blog post as prompts — all from my home base online.

Of course, anyone on social media can pull in content from outside the silo — but that extra step adds friction. There’s a reason so many people are lurkers.

The practice of writing builds and reinforces an engaged, participatory mindset. The more you write commentary on whatever you feel like, the more comfortable you feel doing it: a virtuous cycle of writing and thinking.

In reading others’ debates over QTs in recent months, I’ve realized this is one of my main ways of interacting with content online: the quote as inspiration for another train of thought. “Reply” is not a good description of much of what I write here; I’d class most of my posts more as commentary than direct response. (To that end, I often post writing others might consider a reply as a like instead. My blog isn’t synced into the Fediverse, so this comment won’t feed back there — but that’s fine because I’m treating his post about QTs as a QT 😉)

A blog also feels like a safer place to write than social media; it’s a space I control, I’m not constrained by character count so I can add nuance, and it’s less subject to context collapse given the formats readers consume it (directly or via RSS). Sure, I reach fewer people, but virality is not something I want. Quality over quantity. (I might prefer a little more feedback than I get now, but I love my current approach to blogging too much to quit at this point.)

Categories
Getting Shit Done Meta Technology

Use different tools for creation and consumption

Replied to

I just realized I have mostly  migrated consumption to my phone somewhat unintentionally — but because I read articles on my phone I also tend to compose my commentary on the phone as well, even though typing on my phone sucks 😂 The editor is also hard to use on my phone, and cutting and pasting doesn’t work correctly, so I edit less than I might on desktop. On my phone, I can only see about two sentences at a time, making it harder to write longer form work.

How much does the tool shape what content people produce? Considering many people no longer have desktops and solely use phones for computing, does lacking a PC deter them from writing? How much of the shift to video is because it’s simpler to film than type on phones? How much is the rise of microblogging and descent of blogging tied to smartphones?

Categories
Activism Culture 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?

I imagine there is a balance specific to every tool and platform that should be evaluated — and an argument towards greater or lesser protection depending on the community’s values.

The QT — functionality to natively quote another’s post in a new thread — is currently under debate in the Twitter to Mastodon exodus. It’s interesting to see this case study in how differently people use the internet.

For me, adding context or commentary is nearly universally helpful when sharing information. I add my own notes to almost everything I save here besides basic bookmarks. In my experience on Twitter, RTs (re-sharing without comment), which are allowed) are often obnoxious because they are effortless — QTing to add context or commentary requires more effort. On Twitter, I usually wouldn’t follow people whose feed was filled with RTs instead of QTs, which I read as symptomatic of an uncritical viewpoint or someone with nothing of their own to say. (That was probably too harsh of me, because it can be a kindness to boost attention to some things or people.)

From a discussion on micro.blog, Mike Hall says:

My “keep Twitter useful for me” recipe included a timeline filter in Tweetbot that weeded out RTs. I initially had QTs in the filter, too, but found they were actually useful most of the time. RTs felt like the real poison to me, less from a “this is harmful to one specific person” vantage and more from a “this is just a delivery vehicle for thought-terminating clichés, most extreme examples, and safest way to say ‘yeah, that'” point of view.

So at least n= more than one in my “RTs are worse than QTs” viewpoint 😂

But. I haven’t been attacked online. Maybe taking away as many opportunities for abuse is worthwhile, even if abusers will find another avenue for attack, and it sacrifices a tool that can be used for good.

Annalee Newitz describes the “nonconsensual virality” that removes quotes from context and attacks character:

Let me put a phrase into your mind: nonconsensual virality. It’s why quote-posts on Twitter led to harassment. People’s words stolen, taken out of context, used purely to incite a mob of griefers. The answer is to give #Mastodon users control over whether someone else can quote-post them, with a simple “quote or not” setting that can be set before or after the post goes up. We should be allowed to stop people from taking our posts viral without our consent.

Here’s where I struggle, because personally I have derived a lot of value from others using QTs as a teaching tool, and I also think there is value in having means to critique, but in other areas my stance has been to default to protection.

On a Mastodon thread, Katherine Alejandra Cross makes the point that the harm may exceed the good regardless of the numbers:

There is every possibility that if we were to count up every QT and were able to objectively label them as harassment or neutral or positive in tone, we might find harassing QTs outnumbered. But then we get into quality over quantity.

What if the abusive QTs just matter more? What if they loom larger in the public consciousness? What if they generate more engagement? What if that engagement is itself largely abusive? (And this is the heart of the problem, by the way.)

The other related stance I was discussing with a friend is the “punch Nazis” thing. I’m hardline ‘a tolerant society requires intolerance of the intolerant’ BUT also am not convinced personal violence is the answer here. What does it accomplish besides personal satisfaction?

Is the idea that fascists are so insecure they will be so embarrassed by being punched/ a public repudiation of their views that they will slink away into silence? …but isn’t that how we got here, for decades making it uncouth to express racist views in public, but they still lived on behind closed doors? Does driving the fascists into cloistered circles protect us from them?

I am also scared of this approach because 1) fascists tend to be conservative and pro-gun and all too willing to kill, and 2) police and people in power are often drawn to the continued power and status quo of fascism, and it’s easier for them to apply violence to the marginalized, especially if they have the excuse of “they started it!”, and 3) might =/= right.

If we normalize violence as a form of critique in our society, will that make it easier for protofascists to increase their use of violence without public pushback? Or does it not make a difference what we do because fascists are violent fuckers inherently, and they will always find an excuse for violence, so may as well get a few shots in?

This tension is part of what I love about Batman: he’s positioned in his stories as the hero, yet vigilantism is Not Good. He has “his line” that he will not kill, but seems ok with everything up to it. The horror of the self-ordained savior is why we love Watchmen. The “actually society’s problems can’t all be solved by punching and to what extent does relying on my physical power condone and reinforce our government’s reliance on violence” is what could be interesting about Superman. Because the mob rule of social media is vigilantism — sometimes just, and sometimes not.

The nonviolent protests of the Civil Rights movement turned the oppressors’ use of violence against them, enduring harm when it could be televised and publicized to turn public opinion.

Defending against fascists is America’s biggest problem right now, so it’s valuable to interrogate the methods we use. How do we balance the use of these tools to regulate power and abuse against the certainty those same tactics will be turned back against us?

I suspect the tools are less important than the cultural context of moral righteousness for behavior that is legal but not socially acceptable. Judging others reinforces our view of ourselves as good. Social media is The Lottery, with that day’s Main Character the victim; when we participate in mob justice, we accept it as a tool in our collective arsenal.

Categories
Finances

Financial planning tool

Bookmarked On Trajectory (ontrajectory.com)

Put Yourself on a Path
to Financial Freedom

The plans you make today can move you toward the future you seek—or not. OnTrajectory is a quick and easy way to move yourself forward, and prepare for life’s bumps and detours.

Categories
The Internet Websites

Following people outside of a feed

Replied to Specifying Spring ’83 (Robin Sloan)

What do you want from the internet, anyway?

I want to follow people who are interesting to me, in a way that’s simple, expressive, and predictable.

I want this to work, furthermore, whether those people are sharing a random thought every day, a blog post every week, or an art project every two years.

And I want it to work, of course, across media, so I can follow writers, musicians, programmers, theorists, troublemakers … 

Agreed, these points describe exactly what I want from the internet, yet is almost impossible to achieve. In the IndieWeb we’ve talked a bunch about following people rather than feeds, and wanting to be able to see that in one place rather than going to each service. For two years I checked Instagram, which I don’t use anymore, monthly just so I’d find out if/when one of my favorite artists released a specific image as a print because he doesn’t announce prints on his email list (magically I checked the day after he released it and it wasn’t sold out! Kismet. This is probably not something I should admit? 😅 I really wanted that print.).

So, I am excited to hear ideas for better ways to follow people. I’m not technical so I skipped over those details, but the sample images of ad and comic pages as a virtual poster board / nonlinear feed (with each person only getting one display block) caught my attention.

That visual layout is appealing. As a visual person, I find a lot of the feeds I follow tend to blur together in my reader’s chronological feed, so I can’t remember whose article I’m reading or which feeds I like best and which have mostly duds so I can unsubscribe.

Per the example, boards could be kind of picture-less Insta Stories made with html so they’re accessible (I assume screen readers can’t read the text in a Story?) – or text-only like a microblog post, with html markup (so, better than a tweet).

Categories
Music Resources and Reference

Last.fm data analysis

https://ukuwsk-jonathan-emery.shinyapps.io/listening_behavior/

Fun visualization of how many times you’ve listened to a group of songs by a particular artist over time. Not entirely sure it’s accurate but 🤷‍♀️

https://benjaminbenben.com/lastfm-to-csv/

Export last.fm data as CSV

Categories
Food Shopping

Read (part of) The Food Lab

Read The Food Lab

Ever wondered how to pan-fry a steak with a charred crust and an interior that’s perfectly medium-rare from edge to edge when you cut into it? How to make homemade mac ‘n’ cheese that is as satisfyingly gooey and velvety-smooth as the blue box stuff, but far tastier? How to roast a succulent, moist turkey (forget about brining!)—and use a foolproof method that works every time?

As Serious Eats’s culinary nerd-in-residence, J. Kenji López-Alt has pondered all these questions and more. In The Food Lab, Kenji focuses on the science behind beloved American dishes, delving into the interactions between heat, energy, and molecules that create great food. Kenji shows that often, conventional methods don’t work that well, and home cooks can achieve far better results using new—but simple—techniques. In hundreds of easy-to-make recipes with over 1,000 full-color images, you will find out how to make foolproof Hollandaise sauce in just two minutes, how to transform one simple tomato sauce into a half dozen dishes, how to make the crispiest, creamiest potato casserole ever conceived, and much more.

This is a tome so I only made it through the first 200ish pages in the three weeks I had it from the library: the breakfast chapter and the tools / supplies sections. There were a few more chapters I wanted to read but much of the book is about meat so I don’t need that info. And lbh, right now I’m basically just cooking breakfast anyway so good thing for me to read.

I failed at his poached and soft-boiled eggs but his fried egg technique and biscuit recipe were both great if annoyingly a little more hassle. He includes sour cream in his biscuits…and laminates the dough. Tender and flaky, not overworked at all.

His kitchen recommendations I want to get, assuming I decide I want to start cooking again:

  • 12-15″ carbon steel flat bottomed wok (look for 4-5″ flat area)
  • 2.5-3 quart saucier
  • 7″ Wusthof hollow ground santoku (his rec for small hands) or MAC Superior 6 1/2″ santoku (budget)
  • 1000-1200 grit water stone and fixer
  • rice cooker
  • stainless steel prep bowls
  • spider
  • fridge thermometer (keep coldest part of fridge at minimum 34, keep whole fridge below 39)
Categories
Art and Design Resources and Reference Websites

Web Design Tools

Color

Accessible Palette – Create color systems with consistent lightness and contrast

Accessible Color Generator – Show me the closest variations of COLOR that contrast against BACKGROUND COLOR enough to meet ACCESSIBILITY GUIDELINES

Contrast Grid – Test many foreground and background color combos for compliance with WCAG 2.0 minimum contrast.

Coolers – color palette generator

Optimal Overlay Finder – For Readable Text on a Background Image

Vivid Gradient Generator – we interpolate the gradient in a hue-based color system, such as HCL, HSB, or HCL (not RGB) 🤓. This avoids the line of gray that goes through the center of every color space.

Gradient Easing Generator – Create and preview your own easing gradients in CSS.

Typography

The Good Line-Height – the good line-height calculates the exact number so it always fits the baseline grid!

Graphics

Clippy – The clip-path property allows you to make complex shapes in CSS by clipping an element to a basic shape (circle, ellipse, polygon, or inset), or to an SVG source.

Hero Generator

Layout

Flexbox Patterns – Flexbox is awesome, but it introduces many new concepts that can make it difficult to use. These interactive examples will show you practical ways to use it to build UI components.

Tools

Tiny Helpers – single task tools

Omatsuri – Open source browser tools for everyday use

Reference

Web Skills – reference deck with links to explain a variety of web elements

CSS-only Carousel

Categories
Resources and Reference Writing

Writing and Self Publishing Resources

Updated 1/30/2023

Also see: Self Publishing Guides

General Writing

Reddit Genre Subreddits

Reddit Subreddits for Writers

Writing Subreddits

https://np.reddit.com/r/writing/wiki/generators

Writer Sanctum Forum

Self Publishing

https://www.selfpubworkshop.com/

r/selfpublishing

r/selfpublish

r/PubTips

r/blurb_help

Editing

Book Editing Services

IPEd – Find an Editor

Word Frequency Counter

r/BetaReaders

Romance

r/romanceauthors

r/RomanceWriters/

r/romancebooks/about/

r/romancelandia/

SFR Station

Marketing + Self Promo

[Announcement] — Saturdays are now officially self-promo Saturdays. It has worked out pretty well, so if you have something you want to share, do it on Saturday. from scifi

Basic Social Media Marketing for Authors from RomanceWriters

Marketing SFF (romance tag)

Authors on Social Media: Choosing Platforms & Avoiding Burnout

Starting From Zero • Resources Page

The Very Best Book Promotion Sites in 2023

Distributing ARCs

Booksprout

Booksirens

Hidden Gems ARCs – romance books 6+ months out

Tools

Bookbrush – social media graphics tool

BkLNK – can look up Amazon categories and sales rank for any book by ASIN / ISBN