Another week another weeknotes!
It’s been a weird week, space weather is now a race against time to leave an old life behind. But judging from the backchannel chat it’s been a strange week for other people to. On the bright side: I was out along the river really early the other morning and the wood smoke from one of the house boats was sitting on top of the cold air that was foggy. You can’t really see the fog, but you can clearly see the woodsmoke in the photo. It was really weird to walk underneath it.
Introducing a new section to the weeknotes this week: Correspondence Culture. Responding/replying/adding to thoughts from other folks in the Isles of Blogging
Back in November I spoke about Rooms As UX Metaphor. I was thinking about applicability of the metaphor as borrowed from Interactive fiction re-applied to real-time chat systems. I was really cool to see Jason McIntosh over at fogknife.com post a thoughtful response/reply.
Jason seems to be experimenting behind the scenes with what I was gesturing towards as potential area of exploration for chat UX.
In September – which I missed at the time – McIntosh posted about the development of homebrew app/program “Scaredy-chat” .
I hate the typical chat-app interaction of having several windows, each dedicated to one chat network, and each filled with tabs with their “unread messages here!” lights on. What could the messages be? Won’t know until you click them! Each and every lit-up tab asking for my attention, and by extension asking me to spend much of my day just clicking around my windows, always wondering if any of the conversation will be interesting, or anyway more interesting than the current tab’s content.
Because if I don’t, then why do I bother at all, right? And so, tired of walking in tab-chasing circles through my chat-window stack, I end up reading nothing at all and feeling lonely and miserable — despite being literally surrounded by all my friends having brilliant conversations about every topic, hidden away in their own alcoves.
As I wrote in 2017:
I wanted a flow, letting me monitor the tone and tenor as much as the content of online conversations, and from various trusted sources, whenever I felt like dipping in with just a little background attention. I would otherwise feel free to it let drift on by, with no sense of missing something. This is what Bayamo angles at. For a prototype, I think I works okay, especially when allowed to babble away on a secondary display.
From reading Jasons older blogs and writing, the desire for a ‘braided’ chat-stream viewer has been rattling around in their brain for a long while. Braided is a fantastic term/metaphor in my opinion. It conjures in my mind further synonyms: Interwoven, decretive and interconnected.
another name I have considered for the program (which, embarrassingly, I have yet to release, two months after that brag-post) is “Wallflower”. This stems from, yes, a metaphor I began to hold in mind while I contiued to work on the project. I imagined listening to several conversations going on around you at a party, but keeping one’s distance while doing so. Monitoring the gist of each, without presenting as a participant—until one does feel moved to step in to a particular chat. (Indeed, when the program sees you participating in a certain conversation, it stops tracking it for a while.)
The siloing of our communication platforms since the invention of the smartphone has been a disaster. Whilst not perfect: XMPP / Jabber was infinitely better than the mess of separate monopoly communication platforms we use now. Back in 2008, it was possible to use a single chat client and connect to *everything* and everyone regardless of their endpoint – IRC, MSN messenger or whatever.
So far today I have received messages via: Signal, Telegram, GHangouts, Keybase, Slack, Discord, Twitter DM. This is even before the passive group channels I participate in. I don’t mind, unlike many people I’m totally happy to community outside of 1 or 2 apps. As I’m not on Whatsapp, it means that I have an entire group of very close friends to whom I basically don’t exist. I’m really in to the ‘Flow’ idea for monitoring group communications. There has to be a better UX than red dots in every channel inside every discord.
I don’t know where my interests are going with this tbh. But I do think it’s an important area of exploration as we move in to the 2nd decade of the smart phone era and ever increasing web communication. I’m really into following the development of all the video chat+ spacial environments I noted in the Roblox IPO post.
It seems to me that the development of ‘useful’ web technologies stalled for a decade whilst social media platforms swallowed everything. I’ve spent quite some time this week reading old proposals from a decade ago about the future of RSS 3.0. A new RSS like protocol that is compatible with Dweb technologies is urgent.
Could a novelist release unfinished chapters out into the world, or perhaps even snippets of ideas, or perhaps books with entire sections condensed to a small note (“chase scene here”) with the “chase scene” sent out at some later date. Or how about this: a novel that is written publicly every day. Revised, too. Added onto. Like this blog. Perhaps I will start doing that.
The question becomes: how important is it to a reader that an author hands them a set-in-stone offering, a static and final thing? Is that some of the appeal of reading an author in the first place?
This sort of writing and form appeals to me a lot. Not that it’s *new*. As a teenager I followed all sorts of posting weird and wacky parts of their work online and straight out into the world. I think these opportunities come in cycles, there are times/moments in culture where experimentation is the norm.
For example this recent article on TikTok Rappers A/B testing and workshopping their material is exactly the sort of artistic practice I was referring to in the Early Access Artists post.
Championxiii, who grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts but now lives in Houston, tests all his demos with his 2.4 million TikTok followers before he even thinks about finishing an entire song. “There’s so much that goes into making music, writing, recording, mastering,” he explains. “I don’t like to waste resources. I don’t need to take chances. Before I put any more effort into a freestyle, I’m gonna make sure it’s what [my audience] want[s].”
This is one of the latest ways that TikTok is shaking up the creative process.
The rapper relies on his own internal metrics to determine which freestyles should be transformed into actual tracks. The key, of course, is seeing a lot of his followers feel compelled to respond rapturously — maybe leaving a comment along the lines of, “I’ve been listening to this on loop, I need to hear the rest.” If TikTok users take Championxiii’s freestyle and use it as a soundtrack to their own videos, that also serves as a strong predictor of future streaming success.
“That’s when the second part of the process starts happening, when I get some studio time, cook up a rough draft” of a full song, the rapper continues. “I have a way of doing things that I wish I could patent.”
This whole articles is wild. I do hope JDO tries something with writing, it could be really exciting.
I’m also reminded of Max’s recent thoughts on digital gardens and ‘living notebooks’
Living notebook sounds like something a wizard would have: a book of arcane knowledge and experimental spells, a book that is forever changing and upgrading itself; a notebook that lives. But also a living notebook, analogous to a “living room”: a notebook that I live in. A place where I spend my time. And, too, a notebook On Living. Notes from someone who lives.
A rundown of some of the episodes and topics of 301 Permanently Moved that could have, but didn’t get made in 2020
The Ministry Of My Own Labour
It’s really cool that things I’ve done this year are now showing up in the wild. This week was the publication of the the Multispecies paper in the journal Global Sustainability.
I had some really interesting calls this week with people who are working in the world of AR/VR and Metaverse interfaces. On one call I came up with the idea of ‘Playable brands’ to explain what it would be like to participate in a permissive IP/headless brand.
This also happened this week which is super cool. Never would I have thought when I first signed up to Goodreads in its pre-amazon days over a decade ago when I was still working as a bookseller that I’d be able to claim an author tag. So cool!
General momentum on writing and working has slowed down a lot as we’ve moved into December. I’m sure its partly that November was super intense, so in comparison it feels different. It’s also probably the weather/time of year and the general levels of ‘brexiety’ happening in the wider UK right now. I think everyone I know just wants a break.
I have lots of things to be getting on with, but progress towards them has slowed right down. I”m not beating myself up about it tho.
Dipping the Stacks
William Tyler is a Nashville guitarist and composer. Here’s the bandcamp blurb: “The concept of “vanitas” in medieval art refers to the juxtaposition of macabre symbols of death with material ephemera in order to illustrate the impermanence of earthly things.”
I’ve listened to this album though a few times in the last few weeks. Tyler presents a deeply personal sonic landscape with this disk. Wonderful.