Another year, another wrap up post! I’ve opened some of them in previous years with words like ‘Terrible’. This year I’ll open with ‘Mixed‘.
On the train back from The Chalk after Christmas I read back through the 6 year end posts linked above. The main thing that jumped out at me is that I’m a lot happier now at the end of 2023 than I have been at the end of years previous.
Although this is not to say that the language I’m using in them doesn’t find some resonance at the end of this one too: stuck, uncertain, stagnancy, resistance, prevarication, procrastination. All words that could be in their third year of use. If I was writing that sort of year end wrap up I would reframe them all under the subheading of ‘Consolidation’. But I’m not – so consider yourself spared.
I also finished up my annual Year Compass exercise this week, and one of the key framing words for 2024 is Ambition over Goals. “I have the ambition to do xyz” rather than “My goals are xyz”.
During the course of my year review two major things showed up in my notes. One personal, one cultural.
Whilst I blog about things happening in my life all the time I don’t often share a lot of personal ‘goings on’. One of those unshared ‘goings on’ is that for the entire time since I came back to blogging – for the last 5 years – I’ve been suffering from anxiety.
Chronic/acute/debilitating anxiety, whatever you want to call it. I’ve had anxiety attacks, sweating, trembling, nausea, rushing warmth up in my torso, pins and needles, panic! I’ve had irrational anxiety about – leaving the house, travelling, seeing friends, answering emails, you name it, I’ve been anxious about it.
At its worst during 2021 was having these anxiety attacks multiple times a day. Over really stupid shit too: The doorbell going, a letter in an unmarked white envelope, withheld numbers ringing my phone during the day. One time I was stood in the supermarket aisle so anxious about the overwhelming selection of soy sauce in front of me that it took every ounce of willpower to not try and scream myself invisible.
I was quite frankly, living in hell.
As I type, I wonder now if I should not have sought out some help. But honestly this is Brexit Britain. What was my GP going to do? Put me on Benzos? 25 year old me also made a promise to himself that he would refuse to ever take SSRI’s again too. So suffering in hell seemed like the best possible option.
For 5 years I’ve tried oh so very hard to not let my anxiety get the better of me. To not let it stop me from saying yes to things. I’ve done so much, been to lots of places, and attended lots of events. But please believe me when I say that every-single-one of those experiences was a struggle.
In 2018 I wrote about my anxiety and that I felt like I was experiencing PTSD. This seemingly permanent condition of anxiety arrived into my life after the hell year at the start up I was last working at. The one that (looking back) gave me a nervous breakdown.
Little did I know back then that my anxiety would continue for years. When a long and deep period of depression lifted in early 2020, it was a real shock to realise during lockdown that I was still an anxious mess underneath. If anything it only got worse, the ash of existence during the protracted depressive period had covered and smothered it.
But last year my anxiety went away. It’s gone. Completely.
I started taking Inositol.
I first heard about taking Inositol for anxiety via a Slack community I’m in and decided I had nothing to loose.
Formally known as Vitamin B8, Inositol is a type of alcohol sugar that has several important functions in the body. It influences the action of insulin and plays an important role in neurotransmitter and hormone regulation. When taken orally it has been shown to transform the microbiome and gut flora cultures too. I’m not going to litigate all the science about how it works. If you want to read about it you can do your own deep dive. But be aware that every few years ‘the science‘ goes backwards and forwards about Inositol’s efficacy as a treatment for anxiety. Some studies say it does, some say it doesn’t – in my experience… it does.
My diary tells me that I started taking Inositol on March 10th 2023 ”My inositol has just arrived! I’m looking forward to taking it”. March 13th “actually feel better, I’m going to keep taking Inositol and see where I end up.” On March 27th I was preparing to fly to Berlin and wrote the following: “Todays #anxiety about travelling is only a little physical. I can feel it in my arms. But I haven’t had any overwhelming sensations and rising panic etc – not yet any way. Packing has been a breeze.”
April 3rd “It’s interesting. I really do feel like it’s solved my anxiety problems.” By April 14th I was already planning on proselytising it to a friend: “You know what I’m going to tell her about Inositol. I’m going to tell her that it’s changed my life and that she should buy some and get some”. On April 20th I wrote the following: “Its just really nice not to have any fucking anxiety. This Inositol business has really changed my life.”
A week later on the April 27th 2023, I wrote this in my Journal:
So I’ve been taking Inositol for well over a month now. Between 1-2gs a day. It has changed my life. My anxiety has gone away, well the physical symptoms of anxiety. That hot rushing from the pit of one’s stomach, up the chest, into the neck, and down the arms. I still think about things that in the past would have caused these anxiety rushes, but now I just clock them, and either write them down to address later or just move on.
The lack of physical fretting, feeling sick about meaningless fucking pointless stuff has transformed my mental health. More space and time to address long term projects and push them forward, as well as doing the things that need doing right now.
I honestly can’t believe it. I am honestly shocked what a massive difference this has made to my life, simply from an over the counter supplement. A magic cure from a literal sugar pill – lol.
Years of dealing with all this fucking shit has just… gone away. I’m wondering now if the feedback loop of thinking something, feeling anxious, thinking more anxious thoughts because I’m anxious is now broken. Maybe it’s giving other parts of my nervous/endocrine system a chance to relax.
I was in Berlin for 30 hours for work last month and I left my bag in a restaurant (I was very very tired). At my worst I would have been a total wreck about this and found it difficult to address the situation. But post-inositol, I practically followed the steps a normal person would take. I called the restaurant, got someone in reception at my hotel to speak to the lady in German and then jumped in a taxi and went back to get it. No problems.
Obviously I was relieved to have my bag, headphones, kindle, switch etc back in my hands. But the peak levels of anxiety and worry etc I went though were far far below the baseline I’ve been dealing with these past years. I’ve had worse anxiety over soy sauce than I did leaving my bag across Berlin.
I’m still not ‘super chill’ about stuff by any means. But I just feel like I’m now reacting to things in a more reasonable manner.
Wow, writing it out like that sounds crazy. It’s been like 6 weeks. Wild.
Nine months of taking daily Inositol later and I haven’t had a single anxiety attack. I even stopped taking it for a month in October – to see what would happen – and I felt fine.
So that’s my story about how taking Inositol – a literal sugar pill – changed my life in 2023.
It was probably the most important thing that happened to me 2023. I’ve told lots of people about how it’s changed my life and for some it’s changed theirs too. Now I’m telling you.
One of the main topics of discussion on the blog since 2018 has been social media and my relationship to it. I put ‘Your Attention is Sovereign’ online way back in 2019 and I still get emails about it.
Four years on and I only now feel like I’m at the other side of what ‘taking responsibility for where one puts their attention’ means in practice. It took paying for freedom.to to finally get me there.
A brief glance over the 135k+ words I wrote in 2023 reveals I wrote a lot about the other side of my relationship to social media. The social stacks and their changing relationship to me.
Nobody Clicks Links Anymore, Audience not Algorithm, Threads, Carnival and the Bazaar, Make the Best Work Possible, Slowly Starting To Happen, It’s Just a Hobby. All leading up to my recent 9k word mega post on the history of Web2 and The Alms Race.
The collapse of social media has of course been on the horizon for a while, but when it finally arrived I was still buffeted by the choppy waters of the social seas.
It’s quite clear that what I was trying to do in 2023 in writing about social media was (re?)convince myself of the basic thesis that sparked The Alms Race. If you make stuff and put it on the Internet, people will find it, and some of them will stick around. An even smaller percentage might even choose to pay you to make more.
I was 10 years into a chronic Twitter addiction when I re-started writing here. Not that I thought I’d want anyone to pay me at the time. I just knew that expending energy on social media was a waste of time. So I started blogging and things grew. Two podcasts, a zine, an essay collection, and an aborted youtube show later, it all exists because some of you have chosen to pay. And I am forever grateful for your support. 🙏
I used to talk about my stats in these year end posts, but who cares? The only thing worth mentioning is that in 2020 Twitter made up 10% of my referral traffic. In 2023 it was 4%. Despite the collapse in referral traffic from social media and the rise of Arc and Brave browsers that leave no footprint, the fact the blog was only just 200 views shy of matching the previous year feels like ‘Consolidation‘.
The collapse of social media this year has been a good thing for the Internet IMO. As the post social web settles into new configurations more and more people will be joining these Isles of Blogging. More importantly I think, people will remember that this archipelago exists and come visit.
I’m incredibly bullish on any Internet that isn’t short form text or video this year. I think there’s going to be an explosion of creativity, writing, film making, podcasting / the making of great radio.
I made the traditional EOY episode recapping the year, so I’ll direct you there.
Last year I got the making 301 ‘on Lock’. But in the process of doing so, the show lost some of sense of challenge that it once had.
Making 4 blocks of 10 episodes of 301 Permanently Moved and releasing video, audio and text versions as part of an efficient workflow is .. fine?
But it’s starting to feel formulaic: I think about what I want to say, I sit down and write it down, do an editing pass on, do a second pass to the final word count, then I turn on my camera and microphone and record it, edit it and publish it. The process of making the show probably takes a day of my week when you add it all up. 6/7 hours work all for just 5 mins of audio.
Do you think it’s worth all that effort?
I’ve found myself going backwards and forwards on that question all year. I’m very proud of the show and the body of work I’ve produced.
But is it worth the effort?
Some of the posts I linked above about ‘the changing landscape of social media’ were at times flying a little too close to whining about lack of audience growth for comfort. I don’t want to come across as complaining, I really don’t. 301 is a top 10 – 20% show depending on which comparisons you make. It frequently charts into the top 50 on iTunes around the world.
However, Permanently Moved is currently stuck in the steep climb up the long tail hockey stick curve. At times it all feels like a bit of a slog, compounded by the show feeling a bit stale in its making. I think it may have reached a local audience maxima, and I’m at a loss of how to level up.
The obvious answer is to follow the number one rule of online ‘content’ creation and show growth. Niche the show down to a single subject, worlds maybe. But I’m not going to do that. 301 is a personal podcast and always will be. Permanently Moved will always be about, whatever it is about, from week to week.
5 years and 250+ episodes, 301/Permanently Moved remains my most important creative endeavour and social outlet. But after all this time I’m a bit surprised that there aren’t more short little podcasts out there. The trend over the last few years has gone in the other direction – shows have got longer and longer. People unplugged from social media and plugged in their headphones I guess?
I’ve been listening to a great new show this year called Podcast Graveyard. An interview show with hosts who’s shows have ended. The single most important takeaway from this show has been ‘Know when you are done’.
We won’t get there until sometime in 2025. It feels a long way off right now but I know it’s going to come around quickly. So next year the show is going to get a little more experimental. I’d like to experiment with making the show directly to camera/audio. Skipping the scripting step – which would result in getting *hours* of my life back a week. But we’ll see about that.
Also, what sort of show would I want to make on Permanently Moved if I don’t have a 301 second long container? A big question.
First I need to figure out how to make it clear to the show’s audience that 301 is ‘a type of show’. Permanently Moved is the umbrella project / brand.
The first step might be a re-brand?
I want to make SSRZ a more core/central part of the thejaymo.net extended universe this year.
The mailing list / print run has doubled in the past year. Which made inking and printing the linocut for issue #008 last week feel like a real underground press like operation.
Sadly, the mailing list is still quite far away from making 6 issues a year instead of 4 financially viable. But the good news is, if the mailing list continues to grow in 2024 at a similar rate to 2023 then I’m going to need to invest in an address label printer! Doubling the list this year would also make my the effort I put into my creative life make more financial sense. Anyways, I’ve been making zines since I was 10 years old and the fact I’m making one 4 times a year in 2024 is quite frankly RAD.
I also overprint each zine issue. Partly so new people who sign up to the mailing list can get a back issue when they subscribe. But also to give out to friends and acquaintances who I haven’t seen in a long time when we meet for coffee and a catch up. They are nice objects, and are far more interesting than sending more e-mail to supporters.
Just as I’m bullish on cool internet stuff I also suspect that more people will start to make/create more ‘real’ things this year too. Self published long form zines, experimenting with newspaper club, small scale booklet printing, and more physical things sent to paid supporters etc.
I know that’s what I want to do – watch this space.
Sign up below to get on the mailing list, I’ll post issue 008 to you in Feb.
The reception to my new interview show has been amazing. Thank you to everyone who has listened/subscribed already! A big thank you again!
People have been saying “301 is so good, you should do a long form interview show!” for years now. But this sort of encouragement is also a kind of creative harassment. It forces you to think: “If I were to do an interview show what would it be? What would I want to talk about? How would it sound?”.
Experience.Computer is my answer to that question.
Asking people about their inner life, inner mental worlds and imaginative styles is exactly the sort of show that I want to listen to. Which in turn results in it being exactly the sort of show that I want to make. The interview style and subject matter is novel and – in my opinion – makes for a fascinating listening. I’ve very proud of it.
I say to my guests before we hit record that what we are about to do together is actually some kind of a ‘performance’ rather than an interview. I feel that this framing actually comes across in the vibe of show.
I claimed in last year’s wrap up post that E.C would be out in Q1 of 2023. But it actually took until December to get it out.
For two reasons:
1. Kairos – it came out when it was the right time for it to come out.
2. Season 1 as I’m releasing it has basically been ready for months. The original plan was for E.C to be a weekly show with 10 episode seasons (just like 301). But this was just way too much effort/work to stomach. Even if i front loaded all the work and got myself ‘ahead’ in terms on interviews and production I just *knew* that I would get behind.
Putting the show out monthly suits me, and represents a realistic amount of effort it’s going to take to make the show sustainable into the future.
My ambitions for the show in the long term are for it to be a cult hit. Listened to by creative people curious about others’ creative minds.
I have some vague plans for a video version of the show too. Which also aligns with how any theoretical ‘live’ version of the show would work. Which is something I’d really like to do in 2024. For 301 or E.C. Event organisers get in touch!
As more download numbers come in and the show finds its audience, I’m going to seek advertisers for season 2. I’m going to turn on monetisation in S2 also.
Episode 3, my interview with philosopher Reza Negarestani is scheduled to be released on Jan 15th.
Sign up on Substack to be notified or search Experience.Computer where ever you get your podcasts.
Earlier this year I realised that I could fold all the posts and essays I’ve written about worlds on thejaymo.net over the years into one location. As of the time of writing worldrunning.guide contains 22 essays totalling over 21k words.
Collecting all this writing into one place was the single best idea I had in 2023.
The document has generated freelance leads/work on worlds. I have had emails from some very cool people. It’s opened doors and been a jumping off point many great conversations. “I read your Worlds PDF” has been the opening line from strangers multiple times this year. How often do people read 21,000 words of writing before meeting their author for a coffee? I feel very blessed.
When I’m back from Thailand one of the first things I’m planning on doing is a reverse outline on the document. I want restructure it. And move all the essays around into new locations, under new headings and subheadings etc. This will bring the document up to version 2. I might do a small print run to celebrate – at least 10 people have said they would buy one so it might be worth it?
I will of course continue to write about worlds here on the blog and have things to say about them on the podcast. The nature of Worlds is a subject I am deeply immersed and versed in. Worldrunning.guide will continue to grow in size in 2024. I still have so much more to say on the subject.
Worldrunning.guide is a parallel project to the main quest – the book project: ‘The Web Was a Side Quest’. Which is slowly taking shape, but more on that in the next section.
The Ministry Of My Own Labour
I did some good work this year. Getting to consult on theoretical lore mechanics inside of large organisations after my ‘Lore as Lens’ podcast was super fun. I was involved in an in depth research project on live streaming platforms and their API’s. I wrote a bunch of 2 page trend/opinion/insight reports this year too. But this bread and butter – bill paying – work has unfortunately slowed down alongside the wider economy. Which means I need to find a new regular form of freelance income in 2024 … or you could subscribe.
I was an expert interviewee for the BBC, and also did a big piece of strategy work with some pals that took me to Berlin several times this year. I guest lectured at Imperial and the University of Michigan this year, and taught / guested at several tutorials at other Uni’s. I have no further commitments at UAL, so I did received my P45 from them. Losing my email address has been annoying. I also taught on the Writing the Impossible Object Course at The New Centre this year. And of course I got to speak about Worlds and Autonomous Worlds in Lisbon and in Istanbul!
I didn’t do much writing for print in 2023, something I’d like to change in 2024. How do I get on the commissioned writer website circuit? Although that said, my essay ‘Movement between Models’ with Ross McElwain was finally published in the Incredible Machines anthology from &&& last month.
Wassim Alsindi and I began hosting the writing group ‘Writers Bloc’ in the summer last year. It was a great experience to be writing alongside, and receiving support from so many other talented people. Checking in every other week. Season 2 will kick off next year – If you have a writing project you ‘want to get done’ and need accountability for it and want to join, get in touch!
There’s a lot more world-related work and opportunities out there in 2024 I think. When I’m back in February I’ll start exploring them. I feel like I need to write a brief text as to ‘why’ people should take techno-social systems as Worlds seriously, and why it’s important for culture at large.
Lastly on the work front, I have two big writing ambitions for this year.
One is to submit a book proposal for a short book on the concept of Cultural Fracking. The second larger one is to get the mass of notes, research, ideas and arguments I have for ‘The Web Was A Side Quest’ into some coherent form and also finally pitch that. Now that I know what it’s *actually* about.
Played a bunch of shows with the band this year – and our EP came out.
You can order our EP on bandcamp and we still have some sweet totebags left!
Hopefully we’ll be recording it for a 2 track in the spring. Although Paul – the singer – was ambitiously pitching recording an album to me on NYE. 🤔
I did post some live footage from our recent gig in Sydenham on the blog previously, but here’s a video of one of our newest songs
As you all know by now, I’m a big advocate for regular and consistent creative practice. Last year I wrote that taking a photo-a-day was one of the ‘most creatively rewarding things I’ve ever done‘. In 2023 that morphed into ‘just a thing I do’. It’s way less bother to take a photo everyday for a second year running than it was during the first.
I think I took a far higher percentage of good photos in 2023 – compared to 2022 anyway. Looking for something to take a photo of every single day develops taste. It dials in one’s ‘eye’.
Dec 31st was #730 in my uninterrupted photo-a-day streak. And since I’m going to Thailand and going to be taking loads of photos anyway, I might as well keep going? If I can do 2 years in a row, why not 3? How cool will it be when I get to day #1000. How many people do anything 1000 days in a row? Not I.
This year I’ve also really enjoyed spending time on Flickr. I’ve been uploading my photos there as well as on the blog and I’ve had some wonderful interactions with people in the comments. Who knew that there’d be ‘photography enjoyers’ on a social network built around photos?