We can define two competing modes within groups and cultures of all sizes: an implosive mode, built on mimesis, and an explosive mode, built on rejection. Both are subject to drift, and both have certain failure modes and risks.

In an implosive (or conservative) cultural mode, individuals behave in the same way as they believe their peers behave. In an explosive (or expansive) cultural mode, individuals behave in ways that they believe their peers do not behave.

The implosive mode may be justified on a rational basis — chesterson’s fence and the precautionary principle describe elements of an implosive mode…

Recently, the US military sent out a press release containing years- (and sometimes decades-) old, previously released UFO footage and admitting to be totally stumped by the phenomena. This made greater waves in the press than in previous years, when the British and Canadian governments did the same. It shouldn’t have.

The problem with this press release is obvious, to those of us who have even a passing familiarity with the history of the UFO phenomenon. Project Sign, the US Air Force project to investigate UFOs, ran from the Kenneth Arnold sighting in 1947 to the beginning of Project Grudge…

Terrorism has been defined in several ways, but the general consensus is that terrorist tactics are violent acts performed either by or against non-combatants whose symbolic significance is greater than their death toll.

Terrorism is a modern bogey-man — a term that can be applied to any crime in order to make its consequences multiply (even beyond the realm where ‘civil liberties’ apply) without popular push-back — and we have even begun to see the term “terrorist states” applied unironically. …

“Our competitor has released a new update,” the vice president said, “with thirty new features.”

“We should have new features too,” said the other vice president. “What do users want?”

“Presumably, because our competitor is second in market share, they want some of the features our competitor has produced.”

So they chose one at random from the list, and passed it along to the project architects.

“Why do we need this feature,” said the project architect, “when we already have another feature that does the same thing? …

you can kind of break the history of hypertext into three lineages, with different lenses:

  • the engineer (Doug Engelbart’s lineage)
  • the scholar (Ted Nelson’s lineage) and, starting in the 80s, and
  • the publisher (which ate the other two)

Ted & Doug were very concerned with hypertext as an evolving thing — with creating hypertext iteratively, and using the affordances of hypertext as a tool for thought. Hypertext as marginal notes, correspondence tables, new indexes, common-place books, revision history.

This is how the social dimension was expected to play in some of these systems. For Doug, NLS/Augment was this collaboration platform…

Idea for a novel interface:

Start with our planned document editing mechanism for Xanadu, wherein any text typed gets appended to a (visible) permascroll — however, autocomplete/search based on the corpus of all resident text, showing matches with some context below.

Click moves cursor, drag on unselected text selects it, drag from selected text to selected text creates a link (and brings up link options with some reasonable defaults), drag from selected text to unselected text inserts the transclusion. All xanadu editing logic so far.

Middle click on selected text treats it as a command (like plan9 & oberon) —…

  1. If you come off as desperate for approval, no one will give you any.
  2. People think of their time, attention, and emotional engagement as finite and valuable. They will not lend much of it to you unless they know and trust you.
  3. Emailing and DMing strangers without solicitation is treated as an attempt to take their attention by force. If you do it, most people will treat you the way they’d treat someone who tried to steal their wallet.
  4. People feel more comfortable with a situation if they know they can easily leave it. …

A response to “The Lost Apps of the 80s”, originally published on Secure Scuttlebutt at %rweoPItwNqwpL6yM7NNph6nljjTUAWXdUkvosSJJ/o8=.sha256

Sometimes Dave Winer says smart things, though there are often strange gaps (maybe he is like Kevin Kelly, who says smart things because he has surrounded himself with smart people but generally can’t reconstruct the reasoning behind those things).

In this case, the difference between the 80s and today with regard to writing tools is sort of clear: in the 80s, most available tools for home computers either were small-computing products or (as in the case of Lotus) began as small-computing products and grew due to popularity. …

If more writing advice was focused on people who wanted to learn how to write better, and less was focused on people who want to “become a writer”, we would have better writing and better writers.

I write constantly, and I’m always on the lookout for advice on how to improve my craft — not out of fear that I’m insufficiently capable, but out of a desire to do better. Every time I crack open a book on the craft of writing, though, I have to wade through at least a chapter (only a chapter, if I’m lucky) that describes this dysfunctional codependent relationship with writing. Nobody actually likes to write, they say (in the same way as they might say no women actually like sex), and they continue, and we hate the rare people who…

It has been a little over two years since Manna for our Malices was launched to paying audiences on Steam and Itch. (Incomplete/demo versions had been available for free on itch during much of development.) Shortly before the official launch, I wrote the MfoM pre-postmortem.

I can’t give any intelligent update on almost anything covered in the pre-postmortem, which focused on themes and the kind of commentary on the genre I was trying to make. I’ve gotten a fair number of reviews, but none have mentioned these themes; if people are “getting the message” then they are keeping it to…

John Ohno

Resident hypertext crank. Author of Big and Small Computing: Trajectories for the Future of Software. http://www.lord-enki.net

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