This Old-School Blog Is Still a Beacon for My Weirdos

Cory Doctorow says in “So You’ve Decided to Unfollow Me”:

“…Instead of trying to figure out what some “demographic” wanted to read about, we wrote what we wanted to read, and then waited for people who share our interests to show up and read and comment and write their own blogs and newsletters and whatnot… In the golden years of internet publishing, the point was to find the weirdos who liked the same stuff as you. Freed from commercial imperatives, the focus of the blogosphere was primarily on using your work as a beacon to locate Your People, who were so diffuse and disorganized that there was no other way to find them.”

This blog started in 2012. That was the twilight of “the golden years of internet publishing.”

I keep that ethos. This blog makes friends, not money.

Doctorow says that dream is dead. Me? I don’t think so.

The blogosphere doesn’t socialize like it did a decade ago, but newcomers still pop in here. Most leave, once in a while someone stays. Maybe I’m too set in my ways to notice the withering of the blogosphere, but if so, other dreamers wander with me.

I’ve avoided the social media platforms which ‘curate’ what I see through algorithms (except Medium, in moderation, ironically that’s where I read Doctorow’s essay). I still follow some old-fashioned link blogs which curate the internet by hand.

My weirdos are welcome here, always. If someone doesn’t like this blog, they are welcome to bounce.

I don’t depend on this blog for financial support. If I did, I’d have to chase subscribers or readers who can draw advertising money, or use this blog to sell products. My freedom to do the heck I want with this blog rests on not commercializing it.

As long as some people keep non-commercial blogs running, these beacons will shine to draw our tribes.

If more people become interested, the choose-your-tribe blogosphere will rise again. If not, that’s cool too—as Doctorow says, we’re fine with unfollows. As long as the basic systems needed for old-school blogging exist, old-school bloggers will stick around. We don’t need to be commercially viable.

Have My Civic Ideals Faded?

Now I’m reading Boundless by Jack Campbell. It’s a military science-fiction novel. The story begins in a multi-planet democracy which verges on collapse. Some characters—reasonably—believe their democracy is doomed.

Why? A faction diverted military resources to building a secret fleet of AI-controlled spaceships which only they control to ensure nobody else—including a majority of elected representatives—can take power away from them. Most of these AI-controlled spaceships were destroyed in the previous book, but a few still exist, and the people who built them still haven’t been held accountable (yet, I haven’t finished the book).

Many characters fear that the admiral who defeated the rogue AI spaceship fleet is so popular he can—and will—install himself as a dictator. Heck, some characters want that to happen.

On top of all that, they’ve contacted several alien species. The alien species are interested in humans, yet their goals are unclear. This is rocket fuel for conspiracy theories—which already motivated two assassination attempts.

This democracy is in trouble. And yet… most of the senators give a damn what their voters think. They care enough that they will piss off other senators to meet their voters’ demands.

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To Keep an Open Mind, Refuse to Comment

A book (maybe Refuse to Split the Difference? Maybe Cues?) said that when you see nonverbal cues that someone is thinking something negative, that’s the time to intervene before they verbalize their negative thought. Once someone has something in public, our desire to appear consistent pushes us to stick with it—even if it’s wrong.

(By the way, here’s the anti-paywall link to my review of Cues by Vanessa Van Edwards.)

I’ve given ‘hot takes’ on current issues which I would’ve reconsidered in light of new information—except I wanted to stand by what I already stated. Now, before commenting on the hot topic-du-jour, I ask myself a) how much did I think about this before? and b) what good comes from me speaking instead of listening in silence?

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My Stomach Returned to Taiwan

One irony of the pandemic is that my lungs are healthier than ever. As far as I know, I haven’t had a single respiratory infection for over two years. That’s unprecedented.

By paying more attention to my nose than before, I figured out that I have low-level chronic hay fever. Xylitol-saline nasal spray is cheap and increases airflow. Wearing masks which screen out nasal irritants might help too.

Then there’s my stomach.

When I lived in Taiwan, I had stomach bugs about twice a year. I accepted them as an unpleasant fact of life. After I returned to the United States, stomach trouble happened much less often. Since the covid-19 pandemic started, I’ve been catching stomach bugs about as often as I did in Taiwan.

I wonder why.

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