Read The master tapes by Robin Sloan (Robin Sloan)
“What do I miss” is the wrong question, because the feeling isn’t an absence, but a presence.

If running your own website is like operating a nuclear reactor, then, yes: let’s give up on that. But what if it’s more like cooking dinner at home? That’s an activity that many people find challenging and/or intimidating, one with all sorts of social and economic ~encumbrances~, but even so, who would argue that it’s inappropriate to hope more people might learn to cook for themselves?
Maybe, after everything, we’ve actually ended up in a healthy place. Maybe the great gluey Katamari ball of technology has served us well. In 2020, you can, using nothing but the free app provided by Instagram, publish something very close to a multimedia magazine. Or, sitting at your laptop, you can produce a lightning-fast website all by yourself, every line of code calibrated just so, and host its files at a domain of your choosing. Or! You can do something in between, using a service like WordPress or Squarespace. This is not a bad range of options! 

There’s something between the lines here that feels like it’s closer to what the idea of IndieWeb Generations should really become. Perhaps it’s the case that when even a small handful of larger competitors like micro.blog exist it will force the larger corporate silos to come into line (they’ll lose out on market share and need to offer better service) and be more IndieWeb-like over time?
Annotated on March 21, 2020 at 11:34PM

Whether their scenario is a historical reenactment (albeit with higher-res images) or a seductive counterfactual, I don’t know. Whether it “matters,” I don’t know. I do know that I am enjoying my fraidy-follows, their slow pulse—people really are blogging, doing the dang thing—and the feeling of an old instinct waking up. 

Annotated on March 21, 2020 at 11:36PM

Watched "Dirty Money" The Wagon Wheel from Netflix
Directed by Dan Krauss. Wells Fargo was long seen as the 'golden child' of banking. But former employees detail the ruthless and fraudulent practices that fueled its growth.
We need better government regulation and oversite to prevent companies from doing exactly this. The fines should have been significantly worse.
Liked a tweet by Jack Wellborn (Twitter)
This is also true of IndieWeb, but the cost right now is one’s time more than it is financial cost. 
Read a tweet (Twitter)
Listened to Two Schools in Marin County by Kai Wright and Marianne McCune from The United States of Anxiety | WNYC Studios

Cover art for The United States of Anxiety Podcast

Last year, the California Attorney General held a tense press conference at a tiny elementary school in the one working class, black neighborhood of the mostly wealthy and white Marin County. His office had concluded that the local district "knowingly and intentionally" maintained a segregated school, violating the 14th amendment. He ordered them to fix it, but for local officials and families, the path forward remains unclear, as is the question: what does "equal protection" mean?

- Eric Foner is author of The Second Founding

Hosted by Kai Wright. Reported by Marianne McCune.

Thank you Kai and Marianne. Hearing stories like this really makes me furious that we haven’t figured out how to do these things better. Having some common stories and history to help bring out our commonness certainly helps in getting us past the uncomfortableness we all must feel. Perhaps once we’re past that we might all be able to come up with solutions?

I’m reminded of endothermic chemical reactions that take a reasonably high activation energy (an input cost), but one that is worth it in the end because it raises the level of all the participants to a better and higher level in the end. When are we going to realize that doing a little bit of hard work today will help us all out in the longer run? I’m hopeful that shows like this can act as a catalyst to lower the amount of energy that gets us all to a better place.

Example of an endothermic reaction. nigerianscholars.com / CC BY-SA

This Marin county example is interesting because it is so small and involves two schools. The real trouble comes in larger communities like Pasadena, where I live, which have much larger populations where the public schools are suffering while the dozens and dozens of private schools do far better. Most people probably don’t realize it, but we’re still suffering from the heavy effects of racism and busing from the early 1970’s.

All this makes me wonder if we could apply some math (topology and statistical mechanics perhaps) to these situations to calculate a measure of equity and equality for individual areas to find a maximum of some sort that would satisfy John Rawls’ veil of ignorance in better designing and planning our communities. Perhaps the difficulty may be in doing so for more broad and dense areas that have been financially gerrymandered for generations by redlining and other problems.

I can only think about how we’re killing ourselves as individuals and as a nation. The problem seems like individual choices for smoking and our long term health care outcomes or for individual consumption and its broader effects on global warming. We’re ignoring the global maximums we could be achieving (where everyone everywhere has improved lives) in the search for personal local maximums. Most of these things are not zero sum games, but sadly we feel like they must be and actively work against both our own and our collective best interests.

Read Thomas Piketty Turns Marx on His Head by Paul Krugman (nytimes.com)
Piketty’s latest book, “Capital and Ideology,” takes a global overview to inequality and other pressing economic issues of our time.

To have, but maybe not to read. Like Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time,” “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” seems to have been an “event” book that many buyers didn’t stick with; an analysis of Kindle highlights suggested that the typical reader got through only around 26 of its 700 pages. Still, Piketty was undaunted. 

Interesting use of digital highlights–determining how “read” a particular book is.
Annotated on March 08, 2020 at 06:02PM


Piketty, however, sees inequality as a social phenomenon, driven by human institutions. Institutional change, in turn, reflects the ideology that dominates society: “Inequality is neither economic nor technological; it is ideological and political.” 

Annotated on March 08, 2020 at 06:06PM


I was struck, for example, by his extensive discussion of the evolution of slavery and serfdom, which made no mention of the classic work of Evsey Domar of M.I.T., who argued that the more or less simultaneous rise of serfdom in Russia and slavery in the New World were driven by the opening of new land, which made labor scarce and would have led to rising wages in the absence of coercion. 

Annotated on March 08, 2020 at 06:10PM


For Piketty, rising inequality is at root a political phenomenon. The social-democratic framework that made Western societies relatively equal for a couple of generations after World War II, he argues, was dismantled, not out of necessity, but because of the rise of a “neo-proprietarian” ideology. Indeed, this is a view shared by many, though not all, economists. These days, attributing inequality mainly to the ineluctable forces of technology and globalization is out of fashion, and there is much more emphasis on factors like the decline of unions, which has a lot to do with political decisions. 

Annotated on March 08, 2020 at 06:11PM

Read Zocurelia - Inspiring Learners to Read and Discuss by Axel DürkopAxel Dürkop (axel-duerkop.de)
With Zocurelia you can increase the fun of reading online literature together. The browser tool shows the activity of a reading community directly in the context of the texts being read and discussed. This way learners can be motivated to participate and join the discussion - hopefully hypothetically. In this article I will explain my motivation, ideas and decisions that led to the development of Zocurelia.

For those interested in online reading groups, journal clubs, OER, open education, marginal syllabus, etc., Axel Dürkop has created quite a lovely little tool that mixes Zotero with Hypothes.is.

Using his online version (though the code is open source and it looks like I could pretty quickly host my own), it only took me a few minutes to mock up a collaborative space using an Econ Extra Credit group I’d tried to encourage. This could be quite cool, particularly if they continued the series past the first recommended textbook.

I could easily see folks like Remi Kalir using this as part of their marginal syllabus project and allowing students to recommend texts/articles for class and aggregating discussions around them.


First of all, I wanted to learn more about how to inspire learners to read. And this means for me as an educator to create a technical and social environment that is welcoming and easy to participate in.

Annotated on March 03, 2020 at 08:01PM

I want to have ways to show learners that I chose the texts for them, as I’m convinced that empathy is motivating.

I quite like this idea as a means of pedagogy.
Annotated on March 03, 2020 at 08:03PM

Read Econ Extra Credit Newsletter (view.connect.americanpublicmedia.org)
You know that $88,000 BMW 8 Series coupe that cut you off in traffic the other day? If you regarded that vehicle as a public menace, you might have been right — economically speaking. Economists regard show-offy luxury items like a high-end Bimmer (or a Maserati, Mercedes or Jag) as a “public bad.” These are items that might produce positive effects for the delighted owner but have negative external effects on the wider world: A fancy car inducing envy in others is an example of a public bad. Compare that to a public good, such as when you shovel the entire sidewalk so that everybody gets to use the path, not just you.
Read Econ Extra Credit Newsletter (view.connect.americanpublicmedia.org)
You’ve probably heard of the “cone of silence.” Borrowed from political philosophy, this week’s econ chapter offers us the “veil of ignorance.” No, the veil won’t make you ignorant. The veil is a thought experiment in the form of an imagined opaque curtain. It’s used to assess whether a proposed law or policy would be fair — without knowing whether you would be a winner or a loser under it.
Listened to The Daily: Can Corporations Stop Climate Change? from New York Times
One letter to executives around the world has prioritized climate change on corporate agendas. But will this make a difference without government regulation?

Listened to S4 E3: The Cotton Empire by John Biewen and Chenjerai Kumanyika from Scene on Radio

In the decades after America’s founding and the establishment of the Constitution, did the nation get better, more just, more democratic? Or did it double down on violent conquest and exploitation?  

Reported, produced, written, and mixed by John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. The series editor is Loretta Williams. Interviews with Robin Alario, Edward Baptist, Kidada Williams, and Keri Leigh Merritt.

Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music. 

Photo: Cotton bale, Old Slater Mill Historic Site, Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Photo by John Biewen.

Listened to The Field: An Anti-Endorsement in Nevada | The Daily from New York Times

The state’s largest labor union has fought hard for health care. And now it’s fighting Bernie Sanders.

Bookmarked Gopher: When Adversarial Interoperability Burrowed Under the Gatekeepers' Fortresses by Cory DoctorowCory Doctorow (Electronic Frontier Foundation)

The Gopher story is a perfect case history for Adversarial Interoperability. The pre-Gopher information landscape was dominated by companies, departments, and individuals who were disinterested in giving users control over their own computing experience and who viewed computing as something that took place in a shared lab space, not in your home or dorm room.

Rather than pursuing an argument with these self-appointed Lords of Computing, the Gopher team simply went around them, interconnecting to their services without asking for permission. They didn't take data they weren't supposed to have—but they did make it much easier for the services' nominal users to actually access them.

Paul Linder‘s retweet of a post by Cory Doctorow ()
Read Gopher: When Adversarial Interoperability Burrowed Under the Gatekeepers' Fortresses by Corey Doctorow (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
When Apple's App Store launched in 2008, it was widely hailed as a breakthrough in computing, a "curated experience" that would transform the chaos of locating and assessing software and replace it with a reliable one-stop-shop where every app would come pre-tested and with a trusted seal of...

The Gopher story is a perfect case history for Adversarial Interoperability. The pre-Gopher information landscape was dominated by companies, departments, and individuals who were disinterested in giving users control over their own computing experience and who viewed computing as something that took place in a shared lab space, not in your home or dorm room.
Rather than pursuing an argument with these self-appointed Lords of Computing, the Gopher team simply went around them, interconnecting to their services without asking for permission. They didn’t take data they weren’t supposed to have—but they did make it much easier for the services’ nominal users to actually access them. 

Annotated on February 23, 2020 at 08:39AM

Today’s Web giants want us to believe that they and they alone are suited to take us to wherever we end up next. Having used Adversarial Interoperability as a ladder to attain their rarefied heights, they now use laws to kick the ladder away and prevent the next Microcomputer Center or Tim Berners-Lee from doing to them what the Web did to Gopher, and what Gopher did to mainframes. 

Annotated on February 23, 2020 at 08:40AM

Legislation to stem the tide of Big Tech companies’ abuses, and laws—such as a national consumer privacy bill, an interoperability bill, or a bill making firms liable for data-breaches—would go a long way toward improving the lives of the Internet users held hostage inside the companies’ walled gardens.
But far more important than fixing Big Tech is fixing the Internet: restoring the kind of dynamism that made tech firms responsive to their users for fear of losing them, restoring the dynamic that let tinkerers, co-ops, and nonprofits give every person the power of technological self-determination. 

Annotated on February 23, 2020 at 08:42AM

Bookmarked The Tragedy of the Commons [.pdf] by Garrett Hardin (The Social Contract | garretthardinsociety.org)
Originally given as an address to the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is copyrighted by the AAAS, and is reprinted with their permission from Science, 13 December 1968, vol. 162, pp. 1243-48.