Sorry. It’s back. It’s for your own good. You can subscribe here, and unsubscribe there which is not recommended if you know what’s good for you. Forwarding to everyone you know is required by law and totally fine with GDPR and the California data thing and all that.
Nothing here will help you lead or live. I can promise not even a hint of a strategy to win. Calm down.
All you really need to know about January is that I crushed it. I mean I really crushed it. I unclogged not one, not two, but three, count ’em three sinks #winning.
In some half-assed nod to spending most of my life in art school avoiding math, I’m making things.
If you’re wondering about the inside joke, it’s based on a long standing fasciation with German and Spanish phrasal verb structures for the English, “to party.” Or something like that.
I’m thinking of making some more risographs of these just like did with the I’m So Tired I Need Chips prints which may or may not be sold out. I need to look on the bookshelf.
Here’s another one which you can tell by the imagery, that was supposed to have been done roughly six months ago. You’ll find it would fit perfect right over your fireplace next to your wedding picture regardless.
I designed a thing.
Keanu is an idea I’ve been kicking around forever that I finally ‘made,’ that is, but I got to Minimum Viable Idea to Show. The gist is simple. Many including myself don’t really get how programming works but want to make programmed things. AI can make code for you and then you can see how programming makes things. All through a delightfully simple interface. You can read all about it here and it’s on Github there.
Rest assured Dear Read, “Awesome logo,” one befitting the name, is on the roadmap. Totally going to happen.
Here is January’s Top 10.
I half think these Top 10’s, which are at this point an art form in and of themselves worthy of Vermeer, ACDC or Frantzen, should just be in this damn newsletter. If you have half an opinion, for or against, let me know.
This newsletter was intended as a vehicle for the blog, but you know people don’t care about blogs anymore, so there you are, links. More screeds and half-considered bitterness and maybe a smidgen of realisation here for you. Basically I sort everything for your busy life, from AI to the metaversenisity.
Three reasons to fear and dislike raccoons
- They can open many things only humans generally can and have an absolutely blatant disregard of said humans’s efforts to dispose of rubbish properly as attested in this episode of 99 Percent Invisible
- They actually look like criminals, like the good old criminals in cartoons who wore masks so you knew they were criminals
- They have a thumb like finger which isn’t exactly opposable, but enough to make them very untrustworthy, because you know, why do they need it right? What are they going to learn how to use weapons? Why do they need it?!?!
Jim’s Short Story Explosion
Wait, a robot can have a hangover?
Read The Robot that Didn’t Want to Die and find out.
Berlin New Years Eve
It might be a bit of a stretch to call Berlin regional, but what the hell, it’s all relative. Also, where I live German used to be the official language for a couple hundred years, and there’s even a German name for it, so close enough maybe. Anyhow, the exception in this case is worth it.
I’ve never been in a war zone and hope to my lucky stars that I will never be, but I swear if there’s some way of it being fun, this was it.
So if you’re wondering what you should do on New Years Eve, assuming we as a species make it that far, I can tell you what you want to do. You want to go to Berlin, find somewhere to stay with a balcony or terrace, and start the tipples as the sun goes down and the low grade ordnance begins. By midnight it looks like a video game and you stand there and giggle for hours in delight.
Design of the Month
If you would have asked someone in, oh, I don’t know, the 1890’s for instance when electricity in homes was barely a thing, what they needed in the kitchen, what thing would be so flagrantly not really necessary yet positively ubiquitous, they would not have said a device to toast bread. We can’t live without these things now. These things that cost money, take up space, and worst of all, no matter what you do, still get crumbs all over the damn place.
As a designer I admire the simple elegance the toaster as a device. I even gave a pretty misguided (in retrospect) talk about it in Milan’s IXDA event a couple years ago with the metaphor of its affordances. The affordances, that is the part of it telling you the user what is going on and what you’re supposed to do, are as blunt and beautiful as a door knob. You press the flat bit down, it’s only direction available by default rest, and the bread goes into the warm embrace of the device. You have a knob or something that modifies the heat or otherwise, how much it will be toasted. Basically it only fits sliced bread. All these things are single purpose and done terribly well. There have been hackneyed, ill-considered and just plain dumb as shit innovations to the toaster but they haven’t lasted. The toaster’s masterfulness is in the fact that it functions the same as it did almost a century again and you could probably still use one from then.
As the platforms of the last decade crumble, we might put “founder” culture back on the shelf. Startup finance works fine if you dream of building a business of a very particular kind […] But for a decade, this very particular kind of business had a lock not only on internet commerce, but internet culture, too, with only ill effect.
I want to insist on an amateur internet; a garage internet; a public library internet; a kitchen table internet. Now, at last, in 2023, I want to tell the tech CEOs and venture capitalists: pipe down. Buzz off. Go fave each other’s tweets.”
Robin Sloan does it yet again with A Year of New Avenues and his too-damn-right-and-too-damn-well-written-points-for-a-human takes on things in technology.
I personally couldn’t agree more and this is perhaps showing my age (Mondo2000 anyone?) but the internet used to not only be a separate place from regular ‘reality’ but it was a fun and comparatively safe space jam-packed with constant, nerdish experimentation without any immediate or strained sense of profit either monetarily, status-related or otherwise.
Super Serious Forwards
This is way too long this month. I don’t know. Reasons.
You can basically stop whatever reading you might have wanted to do after this Super Serious Forward, because lo and behold, the most awesome site in a while, Dinosaur Pictures on Ancient Earth! Oh, you want to type in where you’re at and then see where it would have been when there was only one continent and what dinosaurs lived there? Done. You’re welcome.
There is some bullshit about the eyes being a window to one’s soul. I disagree. Their reviews are. The Strangely Beautiful Experience of Google Reviews explores everything from various reviews of a bridge in Mexico, both on top of and underneath to this endearing review of a remote lake in California, “Recognise that this place is very much alive. Know that for some of us who’ve seen and been through the worst of mankind, the peace found in this place is second to none."
Oh, and as if Robin Sloan, who infuriates me to no end with unending wit and on-point critique, didn’t do enough in this newsletter in the Ponder This section, he went and wrote a lovely little story In the Stacks which of course comes with it’s own synthesiser.
I’m not necessarily in favour of suing AI development into submission necessarily, but I think things like a lawsuit challenging Stable Diffusion, a 21st-century collage tool that violates the rights of artists is at the least a necessary shot across the bow of the wholly unrestrained march to swallow, colonise and commodify creativity. Wow, and it looks like Getty Images is joining the litigation party. Oh, and more shots from the line, finally, there is a nascent movement to build tools to combat AI plagiarism. So maybe the intellectual apocalypse isn’t quite here as imagined.
I don’t know. I just don’t know anymore. Anyhow, thanks for sticking around. Go listen to King Buffalo and Journey as soon as you can, you’ll thank me for it. Barring that, then any Boston will do on whatever you have for playing music that will carry you away to that place of escape, rest and respite. Cake you’re wondering? The answer is yes. You’re worth it damn it. And all I want to know…All I want to know Am I holding on? Am I moving on? What can we do, what can we do? What do we do, what can we do? What can we do, what can we do? What can we do, what can we do? Try.