quotes and links. worth the click.

  ...of the moment  
at tubachristmas rehearsal. A. it's a little humbling to be just one of the crowd B. what a noise C. I'm kind of glad my high schools and colleges played sousaphones and not those shoulder-mounted bazooka-like marching tubas

we're playing inside the rotunda aka food court... 130 low brass folk very near an acoustically bouncy dome... this should be interesting


  ...of the moment  
A remake of "The Monster at the end of this Book" where the monster is you, you little first-world self-centered superconsumer.
President Obama jokes before turkey pardoning: "It is hard to believe that this my seventh year of pardoning a turkey. Time flies, even if turkey's don't."
"I know, I'm really sorry... It's just - Southern people are complicated, the two things we're known for are being friendly and slavery..."
"Ok, don't say that"
--The Mindy Project


  ...of the moment  
Happy Thanksgiving, etc. Gratitude is a very useful practice.


  ...of the moment  
Lately I've been thinking about how good Facebook is at what it does, and how it has become a unique cultural venue for people to write and be read and to stay in touch with casual acquaintances across gaps in time and space.

There have always been ways of staying in touch with people you were close to: e-mail and various instant message programs online, regular mail and phone, but those all had terrible "discoverability" (you had to get the address or number though some other channel) and were almost exclusively one-to-one communication.

Online, there have been one-to-many forms of communication: Usenet newsgroups and (God have mercy on your soul) website forums, but these were generally formed around mutual-interest topics and themes, not shared history in the real world.

Much of its strength comes from its ubiquity. Not being on Facebook is more of the exception than the rule.

Its curation algorithms are fantastic. I know some people balk at not seeing everything, but I don't think they realize what a firehose Facebook would become for anyone with a decent number of "friends". Facebook offers some tools to pay more attention to certain people you care about, but unlike some sites they don't force you to sort all your contacts into buckets, the tweaking is there if you need it. For everyone else, the algorithms do a pretty good job of bringing you the posts that other people have found most important. There's a bit of a bandwagon effect, and when you write a cool post that languishes uncommented and un-"liked" it's a bummer, but overall the system works well.

(Other people gripe about how oddly recalcitrant FB is about keeping feeds in strict chronological order... though I think the mix and match ordering based on time AND post activity works better for people who are more casually engaged.)

But Facebook banks on one brilliant idea, one other sites leverage as well: empowering users to assemble a collated page/wall/feed of content from people the user finds interesting. Sites using this trick -- Tumblr, LiveJournal, Twitter, Instagram and FB all had different hooks (visual collectors, diarists, pithy bon mot makers, snapshotters, and people you know, respectively) and of all of those FB's "people you know in real life" seems to be the most compelling in a universal kind of way. (Anecdotally, my high school's 20th, post-FB reunion didn't come together nearly as well as my 10th pre-FB, and while there were other factors involved I wonder how much of that is because the "where are they now?" question is so trivially answered.)

Facebook gets a huge number of UX and UI details so right. I do think the curation algorithms are under appreciated. There's no other site providing the non-geek with such a wide and known-IRL audience. Its photo handling is powerful and easy to use, and its instant messaging is a viable replacement for SMS/iMessage. Sometimes only being able to "Like" something feels limiting in a "Newspeak" kind of way, but it also cuts off a lot of negativity and fighting. Some previous annoyances (like endless game requests) have gone away for me. Other auxiliary features add to the experience: the "real time" event sidebar can lead to interesting discoveries (a kind of happenstance endure around the usual curation) and "what you posted on this date in previous years" is a good implementation of a nostalgic feature I've seen and implemented elsewhere.

My biggest complaint is about how this one site Facebook has sucked the air out of the room for the independent web and blogosphere. In the mid-2000s, my blog (which I still double post to, since it's my canonical archive) was also a small social hub, with a homebrew comments system that eventually got utterly deluged by robospam. (I also had a guest-post sidebar, that was great fun from 2002-2008) These days, only the most interesting and topical blogs can really survive and garner attention and community... Facebook has made things both more and less egalitarian in that regard.

There are other problems with Facebook, like how people put their own self-known private selves up against images of everyone else at their public best, and there's crap like vaguebooking, and privacy concerns with a machine that knows so much about mutual friends and even has face recognition. Or the idea that maybe the barrier to staying in touch should be high, like who wants to be in touch with those bozos from high school anyway, or have your elder folks know if you've been up to mischief, or see idiotic posts from that cousin whose politics you can't stand? But hearing and being heard is a very human desire, as is meaningfully staying in contact and having a support community of people you know, and FB does those things better than anything else I can think of


  ...of the moment  
The other week I had a bit of sleepy genius - a new product idea: Kitten Scented Air! I figure we can just put a little kitten in a air-filter looking box, with fans and stuff. Man, wouldn't people love that, to have their whole space smell like an adorable little kitten?

Of course, it might be considered a little mean to box up a kitten like that. (Heh, reminds me of the old "The Atlantic Puppy-Grinding Company slogan: "it may be cruel, but think of the jobs!") So maybe we could just keep the kittens at a central happy kitten farm, and bottle the air, put it into spray bottles.

I think Melissa pointed out it would be a nightmare for people with allergies, so they would have to be those hypoallergenic cats.

Or if we can't get enough of those, I think we could safely offer a homeopathic product: just the air from some dude who was THINKING about kittens. Brilliant, right?

Who's with me?

...past entries: last 2 weeks / by month
toys and games

gamebutton arcade button gaming
small gif cinema
...tiny animated art

best of
...stuff sorted by category
archive by month
...december 2000 on up
...this day in kirkstory
...previous palm journal
old guestbook / delayed
...previous feedback
rss feed
...kisrael delivered
sidebar of the people
...dylan sarah et al
collected quotes
...bitesize wisdom
desktop backgrounds
...wallpaperable images
...some semi-useful scripts
...the fun of gaming
2600 programming
...atari coding
flap-ping atari 2600 original
virtual bible dip divination
royalty nickname generator
...your kingly title
photobooks pix
wtc 9/11/1999
...exactly two years before
résumé history in work
...a life in lists
pixeltime tribute
...a brilliant defunct site
...a few old pieces