Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia from American Nations by Colin Woodard

I should have posted these almost a year ago when I read Woodard’s awesome book, but here they are now. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It is guaranteed to reframe how you look at the country and help you to better understand what is going on with our current political situation.

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

Guide to highlight colors

Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Blue–Interesting Quote
Gray–Typography Problem
Red–Example to work through

Highlights: 82; Notes: 5


By the middle of the eighteenth century, eight discrete Euro-American cultures had been established on the southern and eastern rims of North America.

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Added on July 29, 2019 2:46 PM

These eleven nations have been hiding in plain sight throughout our history. You see them outlined on linguists’ dialect maps, cultural anthropologists’ maps of material culture regions, cultural geographers’ maps of religious regions, campaign strategists’ maps of political geography, and historians’ maps of the pattern of settlement across the continent.

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Added on July 29, 2019 8:48 PM

Kevin Phillips, a Republican Party campaign strategist, identified the distinct boundaries and values of several of these nations in 1969, and used them to accurately prophesy the Reagan Revolution in his Emerging Republican Majority, a politico cult classic.

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Added on July 29, 2019 8:53 PM

In 1981 Washington Post editor Joel Garreau wrote The Nine Nations of North America, a best seller that observed that the continent was divided into rival power blocs that corresponded to few national, state, or provincial boundaries. His regional paradigm argued the future would be shaped by the competing, conflicting aspirations of these North American nations. But because his book was ahistorical—a snapshot in time, not an exploration of the past—Garreau couldn’t accurately identify the nations, how they formed, or what their respective aspirations were.

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Albion’s Seed

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Champlain’s Dream

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Russell Shorto described the salient characteristics of New Netherland in The Island at the Center of the World in 2004

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Cultural geographers came to similar conclusions decades ago. Wilbur Zelinsky of Pennsylvania State University formulated the key theory in 1973, which he called the Doctrine of First Effective Settlement. “Whenever an empty territory undergoes settlement, or an earlier population is dislodged by invaders, the specific characteristics of the first group able to effect a viable, self-perpetuating society are of crucial significance for the later social and cultural geography of the area, no matter how tiny the initial band of settlers may have been,” Zelinsky wrote. “Thus, in terms of lasting impact, the activities of a few hundred, or even a few score, initial colonizers can mean much more for the cultural geography of a place than the contributions of tens of thousands of new immigrants a few generations later.”

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Important thing to consider in combination with Machiavelli
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CHAPTER 1 – Founding El Norte

In 1610 they built Santa Fe’s Palace of the Governors, now the oldest public building in the United States.

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CHAPTER 2 – Founding New France

On the island of Montréal, settlers hunted and fished on the seigniors’ reserves, damaged their fences, and threatened their overseers. The obstinacy of the Acadian farmers infuriated an eighteenth-century colonial official. “I really think the Acadians are mad. Do they imagine we wish to make seigniors of them?” he asked. “They seem offended by the fact that we wish to treat them like our peasants.”

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CHAPTER 3 – Founding Tidewater

It was, in essence, a corporate-owned military base, complete with fortifications, martial law, a small elite of officers, and a large contingent of rank-and-file soldiers.2 But the Virginia Company’s plan was based on the faulty assumption that the Indians would be intimidated by English technology, believe their employers were gods, and submit, Aztec-like, to their rule. The Indians, in fact, did none of these things.

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To a great extent this seems to be the modern case worth our military incursions into places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Tidewater’s leaders recruited their workforce from the masses of desperate, malnourished laborers who’d been crowding London and other English cities. They offered prospective laborers transportation to Virginia or Maryland and a fifty-acre plot of land free of charge, in exchange for three years’ service as a “white slave” or indentured servant. Most of those who responded were single men aged fifteen to twenty-four. They quickly came to represent the majority of Tidewater’s European population. Scholars estimate indentured servants comprised between 80 and 90 percent of the 150,000 Europeans who emigrated to Tidewater in the seventeenth century. Few survived their period of servitude: the mortality rate was as high as 30 percent a year. Those who did had a reasonable chance of becoming independent farmers, and a few became very rich.

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the threat of violence.16 One might ask how such a tyrannical society could have produced some of the greatest champions of republicanism, such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and James Madison. The answer is that Tidewater’s gentry embraced classical republicanism, meaning a republic modeled after those of ancient Greece and Rome. They emulated the learned, slaveholding elite of ancient Athens, basing their enlightened political philosophies around the ancient Latin concept of libertas, or liberty. This was a fundamentally different notion from the Germanic concept of Freiheit, or freedom, which informed the political thought of Yankeedom and the Midlands. Understanding the distinction is essential to comprehending the fundamental disagreements that still plague relations between Tidewater, the Deep South, and New Spain on one hand and Yankeedom and the Midlands on the other.

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CHAPTER 4 – Founding Yankeedom

Founding Yankeedom

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According to a central myth of American history, the founders of Yankeedom were champions of religious freedom fleeing persecution at home. While there is some truth to this in regard to the Pilgrims—a few hundred English Calvinists who settled Cape Cod in 1620—it is entirely false in regard to the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay, who would soon bring Plymouth and the other colonies of New England under their control. The Puritans left England en masse in the 1630s—25,000 in just twelve short years—because of their unwillingness to compromise on matters of religious policy. While other colonies welcomed all comers, the Puritans forbade anyone to settle in their colony who failed to pass a test of religious conformity. Dissenters were banished.

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But in other respects, the Puritans created a genuinely revolutionary society. Having secured, through deception, a royal charter for their colony, they were not beholden to feudal nobles (as were early Maryland and New France) or distant corporations (as were Virginia and, later, the Carolinas). New Englanders intended to rule themselves.

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Here were the kernels of the twin political ideologies of America’s imperial age: American Exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny. The first held that Americans were God’s chosen people, the second that He wished Americans to rule the continent from sea to sea. Both ideas had their origins in Yankee Puritan thought and would be developed and championed by the sons of New England.

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hundreds of Puritans returned home to fight in Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army, a military force founded on the radical notion that promotions should be based on proficiency rather than social status.

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CHAPTER 5 – Founding New Netherland

The main road, Breede weg (Broadway), passed through a gate in the wall and continued on past farms, fields, and forests to the village of Haarlem, on the north end of the island. Ferrymen rowed goods and people across the East River to Lange Eylandt and the villages of Breukelen (Brooklyn), Vlissingen (Flushing), Vlacke Bos (Flatbush) and New Utrecht (now a Brooklyn neighborhood) or across the harbor to Hoboken and Staaten Eylandt.

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These characteristics—diversity, tolerance, upward mobility, and an overwhelming emphasis on private enterprise—have come to be identified with the United States, but they were really the legacy of the United Provinces of the Netherlands. Indeed, many of the historic achievements of the American Revolution were accomplished by the Dutch nearly two centuries before the Battle of Lexington: a successful war of independence against an enormous monarchical empire (the kingdom of Spain), the declaration of an inborn human right to rebel against an oppressive government (the 1581 Act of Abjuration), and the creation of a kingless republic.

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CHAPTER 6 – The Colonies’ First Revolt

In court, Puritans faced Anglican juries and were forced to kiss the Bible when swearing their oaths (an “idolatrous” Anglican practice) instead of raising their right hand, as was Puritan custom

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CHAPTER 7 – Founding the Deep South

Deep Southern society was not only militarized, caste-structured, and deferential to authority, it was also aggressively expansionist.

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The philanthropists banned slavery from Georgia, as the presence of slaves was thought to discourage poor whites from hard work, and they limited farms to a maximum size of fifty acres in an attempt to prevent plantations from forming. Georgia’s benefactors even forbade liquor and lawyers, as they thought both eroded moral character.

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CHAPTER 8 – Founding the Midlands

The most prototypically American of the nations was one of the last to be founded. From its inception in the 1680s, the Midlands was a tolerant, multicultural, multilingual civilization populated by families of modest means—many of them religious—who desired mostly that their government and leaders leave them in peace.

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Quakers spurned the social conventions of the day, refusing to bow or doff their hats to social superiors or to take part in formal religious services of any sort. They rejected the authority of church hierarchies, held women to be spiritually equal to men, and questioned the legitimacy of slavery. Their leaders strode naked on city streets or, daubed with excrement, into Anglican churches in efforts to provide models of humility;

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Many wealthy Quakers, Penn included, had come to Pennsylvania with slaves, but within a decade, Friends were advising one another that slaveholding violated the Golden Rule. In 1712, the Quaker-run legislature even imposed a prohibitive duty on the import of slaves, but it was overturned by a royal court.

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The Dutch, Swedes, and Finns of the “lower counties” became so desperate for proper government that they broke away to form one of their own, founding the tiny colony of Delaware in 1704

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CHAPTER 9 – Founding Greater Appalachia

But Greater Appalachia started as a civilization without a government. The Borderlanders weren’t really colonists, brought to the New World to provide some lord or shareholding company with the manpower for a specific colonial project. They were immigrants seeking sanctuary from a devastated homeland, refugees who generally arrived without the encouragement or direction of officials, and often against their wishes. Having no desire to bow to “foreign” rule or to give up their ways, the Borderlanders rushed straight to the isolation of the eighteenth-century frontier to found a society that was, for a time, literally beyond the reach of the law, and modeled on the anarchical world they had left behind.

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Living amid constant upheaval, many Borderlanders embraced a Calvinist religious tradition—Presbyterianism—that held that they were God’s chosen people, members of a biblical nation sanctified in blood and watched over by a wrathful Old Testament deity. Suspicious of outside authority of any kind, the Borderlanders valued individual liberty and personal honor above all else, and were happy to take up arms to defend either.

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The Borderlanders arrived in five increasingly massive waves between 1717 and 1776, each a response to a disaster back in the British Isles.

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Rather than trying to produce cash crops for export, the Borderlanders embraced a woodland subsistence economy. They hunted, fished, and practiced slash-and-burn agriculture, moving every few years as the soil became depleted. Life in Britain had taught them not to invest too much time and wealth in fixed property, which was easily destroyed in time of war. Instead, they stored their wealth in a very mobile form: herds of pigs, cattle, and sheep. When they did need cash, they distilled corn into a more portable, storable, and valuable product: whiskey, which would remain the de facto currency of Appalachia for the next two centuries

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Indeed, the Borderlanders’ top priority rarely seemed to be increasing their wealth; rather, it was maximizing their freedom, especially from outside forces.7

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The lucky tenth were usually the heads of “good families,” charismatic figures who commanded loyalty that was more a function of their personalities, character, and horizontal genealogical connections than of any particular policies they supported. They earned social standing from their individual deeds and accomplishments, rather than any sort of inherited station. Borderlanders recognized as “family” individuals out four generations in either direction, effectively creating enormous clans. Intermarriage between first cousins was commonplace, reinforcing the bonds of kinship

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But the Paxton Boys’ actions had revealed fault lines across Pennsylvania and other colonies that would break open during the American Revolution.13

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This crime wave discouraged settlers from accumulating wealth, reinforcing the old Borderlander pattern. “The person who by his honest labour has earned £50 and lays it up for his future occasions

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The cultural divide was even more disruptive in North Carolina, where Tidewater gentry, who effectively controlled the colony’s government, tried to assert jurisdiction over the Borderlanders in the 1760s. The legislature—which gave ten times more representation per capita to the coastal lowlands—imposed a property tax system based on acreage, not property values, effectively shifting the burden from wealthy plantation owners to impoverished Borderlanders. The new royal governor, Sir William Tryon, increased the burden in 1765 in order to build himself a lavish £15,000 palace. Again the backcountry responded with a vigilante movement of “Regulators” who violently seized control of the Appalachian portion of the colony for three years starting in 1768. Beating lawyers, sacking courthouses, and expelling tax collectors, the Regulators remained in power until their army of 2,000 was defeated in a pitched battle with Tidewater militia at Alamance Creek in 1771. Many Regulator leaders took refuge in the deep backcountry of what would one day be called Tennessee

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larger-scale experiment took place farther south in what is now the eastern part of Tennessee and central Kentucky, where several thousand Borderlanders insituted an improvised government deep inside Indian territory. Their new nation, Transylvania, was created in direct violation of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 (which prohibited settlement west of the Appalachians), the legal jurisdictions of North Carolina and Virginia (which then claimed the territory), and His Majesty’s property rights (as the Crown legally controlled all undeeded land on the continent).

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CHAPTER 10 – A Common Struggle

Some of the taxes were designed to effect social change; new fees for the issuance of university diplomas and licenses to practice law were higher than those in Great Britain “to keep mean [lowborn] persons out of those institutions in life which they disgrace.”

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We do much the same thing to African Americans now…
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But the British military commander, Baron Jeffrey Amherst, canceled all gift-giving and made it clear the savages were to obey or be slaughtered. The result was a massive, coordinated 1763 uprising of a dozen major tribes under the Ottawa tribal leader Pontiac aimed at hurting the British and restoring French control of New France. This war—the one that led the Paxton Boys to march on Philadelphia—resulted in Indians killing or capturing 2,000 colonists in the Appalachian sections of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Baron Amherst, seeking to “Extirpate this Execrable Race,” instructed his troops to distribute smallpox-infested blankets to the Indians. Ultimately even biological warfare was unable to bring them to heel, and Amherst was recalled in disgrace

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Holy crap, this is the same Amherst as the college!
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The fifty-six delegates all knew that forging colonial collaboration wasn’t going to be easy, not least because of negative stereotypes associated with one another’s regional cultures.

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Most revealing, the sixth nation was not represented at the Congress at all, though it held perhaps a majority of the population of Pennsylvania and both Carolinas. The colonial assemblies refused to allow Appalachia to participate, depriving the enormous region of any voice at the proceedings.

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CHAPTER 11 – Six Wars of Liberation

What we call the American Revolution did indeed play out very differently in the various nations of the Atlantic seaboard. But there weren’t four neat struggles, one unfolding as the previous one concluded; rather, there were six very different liberation wars, one for each affected nation. Some occurred simultaneously and two involved invasions by one American nation into another.

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For the duration of the war, the tolerance and pluralism of the Midlands was suppressed by occupation forces from neighboring nations.8

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Greater Appalachia—poor, isolated, and not in control of a single colonial government—had the most complicated involvement in the wars of liberation. The Borderlanders seized on the pretext of the “revolution” to assert their independence from outside control, but, as previously mentioned, this took different forms in each region, sometimes in each community

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Though confronted by a common threat, the nations had not been united in the conflict. Each fought its own war of liberation, but most in New Netherland, the Midlands, and southern Appalachia fought on the losing side and were vanquished in 1781. The victors—Yankeedom, Tidewater, the Deep South, and northern Appalachia—would fight over the spoils, including the terms under which they would try to cement their wartime alliance.

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CHAPTER 12 – Independence or Revolution?

But the effort to preserve their separate cultures had produced two unexpected side effects: a loose political alliance with some characteristics of statehood, and a popular movement demanding “democracy,” a prospect the national leaders found quite alarming.

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Between August 1777 and May 1787, Yankee New England faced off against the four Southern states represented by delegates from Tidewater and the Deep South. Over this decade-long time period, not a single delegate from either of these blocs ever voted consistently with a colleague from the other. Delegates from “the middle states” served as the kingmakers, allying with one bloc or the other; traditional scholars have described these middle delegates as acting like swing voters, but a closer examination shows that delegates from New Netherland, the Midlands, and Appalachia tended to stick with their own. In New Jersey, for instance, voting habits in both Congress and the new state assembly were split into a northern New Netherlander bloc and a southern Midlander bloc, each of which had more in common with its cultural kin in New York City or southwestern Pennsylvania than with its “fellow” New Jerseyians. Similarly, even during the war, two parties struggled for control in Pennsylvania, one (the Constitutionalists) supported by the Scots-Irish of Appalachia, the other (the Republicans) by the Quakers and Anglicans in and around Philadelphia; the Appalachian bloc sided without exception with the Yankees, while the Midlands bloc often sided with the Southerners.3

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Regional divisions were so profound that in 1778 British secret agent Paul Wentworth reported there appeared to be not one American republic but three: an “eastern republic of Independents in church and state” (i.e., Yankeedom), a “middle republic of toleration in church and state” (New Netherland and the Midlands), and a “southern . . . mixed government copied nearly from Great Britain” (Tidewater and the Deep South); the differences among them, he argued, were greater than those among the nations of Europe.

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The same families appeared in the colonial assemblies and senior positions generation after generation, particularly in Tidewater and the Deep South, where they openly called themselves aristocrats. In any case, in almost every colony people got to vote only for legislators in the lower house. Governors, councilors, and other high officials were selected by the legislators or the king, to ensure the rabble didn’t put the “wrong sort” into office.6

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Much the same system can still be seen in the electoral college as well as in Alabama for the Governors office.
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As usual, Appalachia was all but closed out of the discussion, with only one representative at the convention (James Wilson of Pennsylvania); that region’s exclusion from the proceedings would prove a curse to the young United States.10

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New Netherlanders refused to vote on it at all until Congress agreed to add thirteen amendments modeled on the civil liberties enumerated in the Articles of Capitulation on the Reduction of New Netherland, which the Dutch had brokered before turning the colony over to England in 1664. The people of New Netherland had lived under the arbitrary rule of distant powers for a very long time and wanted assurances their tolerant approach to religion and freedom of inquiry would not be trampled on by a new empire. Had the Congress not agreed to these demands by passing the Bill of Rights, the United States would probably not have lived to see its tenth birthday

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CHAPTER 13 – Nations in the North

Early Midland emigrants wrote their friends at home that in Ontario “they will find a second edition of Pennsylvania, as it was before the American War.” Tolerant, diverse, and apathetic about the wider world, Ontario’s founding settlers were happy to let imperial officials bother

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CHAPTER 14 – First Secessionists

Outside Tidewater and the Deep South, many were alarmed by a document they regarded as counterrevolutionary, intentionally designed to suppress democracy and to keep power in the hands of regional elites and an emerging class of bankers, financial speculators, and land barons who had little or no allegiance to the continent’s ethnocultural nations. Indeed, the much-celebrated Founding Fathers had made no secret of this having been one of their goals. They praised the unelected Senate because it would “check the impudence of democracy” (Alexander Hamilton), and stop the “turbulence and follies of democracy” (Edmund Randolph), and applauded the enormous federal electoral districts because they would “divide the community,” providing “defense against the inconveniences of democracy” (James Madison).1

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In 1789 Appalachian people were dead set against the creation of a strong, elite-controlled federal government. Many of them feel the same way today.2

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In the dark hours of the wars of liberation, the Continental Congress had no money to pay salaries to their soldiers or to compensate farmers for requisitioned food and livestock. Instead Congress gave all these people government IOUs. This practice continued for years until, under the financial administration of the notoriously unethical banker Robert Morris, the state of Pennsylvania announced it would no longer accept the congressional IOUs as payment for taxes. With no other form of money in circulation in much of the countryside, many poor families had no choice but to sell the notes for whatever they could get, and wealthy speculators purchased them for one-sixth to one-fortieth of their face value. Soon just over 400 individuals held over 96 percent of Pennsylvania’s war debt, and nearly half was controlled by just twenty-eight men, most of whom were Robert Morris’s friends and business partners. Shortly thereafter, Morris and his protégé Alexander Hamilton took control of federal financial policy, rigging it so as to literally turn their friends’ worthless paper into silver and gold. Under Morris and Hamilton, the federal government would buy back the bonds for face value, plus 6 percent interest, paid in precious metals raised by assessing new federal excise taxes designed to fall most heavily on the poor people who’d been forced to take the worthless congressional scrip in the first place

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New Englanders believed that freedom belonged primarily not to the individual but to the community. Unfettered individual pursuit of absolute freedom and property accumulation, they feared, would destroy community ties, create an aristocracy, and enslave the masses, resulting in a tyranny along the lines of the British or the Deep South

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Yankees defended the acts, which were in accord with their concept of communal liberty. All citizens had the right to elect their own representatives, the thinking went, but once they did, they owed them their absolute deference—not just to the laws they passed but to everything they said or did while in office

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CHAPTER 15 – Yankeedom Spreads West

After the revolution, four of the American nations hurdled the Appa lachians and began spreading west across the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. There was very little mixing in their settlement streams, as politics, religion, ethnic prejudice, geography, and agricultural practices kept colonists almost entirely apart in four distinct tiers. Their respective cultural imprints can be seen to this day on maps created by linguists to trace American dialects, by anthropologists codifying material culture, and by political scientists tracking voting behaviors from the early nineteenth century straight through to the early twenty-first. With the exception of the New French enclave in southern Louisiana, the middle third of the continent was divided up among these four rival cultures.

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Connecticut and Vermont sent soldiers to help the settlers repel the attack, resulting in a final “Yankee-Pennamite War” in 1782. In the end Pennsylvania kept jurisdiction, but the settlers retained their land titles.

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On the Yankee frontier, God apparently handed out conflicting instructions. William Miller, a farmer born in Massachusetts and raised on the Vermont frontier, announced that Christ was to return, cleanse, and purify the Earth in 1843. When this failed to occur, he recalculated the date to October 22, 1844, setting his tens of thousands of followers up for an event known as the Great Disappointment. The movement’s adherents still await the second coming, worshipping on Saturdays and emphasizing a diet featuring cold grains and cereals. (They’re now known as the Seventh-Day Adventists and number over a million members.)

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CHAPTER 17 – Appalachia Spreads West

“Hoosier”—a Southern slang term for a frontier hick—was adopted as a badge of honor by the Appalachian people of Indiana.2

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Another described the Butternut as a “long, lank, lean, ignorant animal . . . little in advance of the savage state [and] content to squat in a log-cabin with a large family of ill-fed and illclothed, idle, ignorant children.” One Illinois newspaper deplored “the intellectual, moral, and political darkness which covers the land” in Appalachian-settled areas.4

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CHAPTER 18 – The Deep South Spreads West

They found allies among Appalachian Presbyterians like the influential northern Alabama minister, the Reverend Fred A. Ross. “Man south of the Equator—in Asia, Australia, Oceanica, America, especially Africa—is inferior to his Northern brother,” Ross wrote in his 1857 opus, Slavery Ordained of God. “Slavery is of God, and [should] continue for the good of the slave, the good of the master, the good of the whole American family.”

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CHAPTER 19 – Conquering El Norte

El Norte’s border had become porous to more than goods, however. In the 1820s Mexican authorities were helpless to defend their frontier from waves of illegal immigrants pouring across from the north and east in search of economic opportunity. Texas bore the brunt of this flood of immigration due to its long borders with increasingly populated Louisiana and Arkansas. Under Mexican law, Anglo-Americans were unwelcome, but Texas officials were desperate enough for settlers to look the other way. “I cannot help seeing advantages which . . . would result if we admitted honest, hard working people, regardless of what country they come from . . . even Hell itself,” said San Antonio politico Francisco Ruiz.3

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The Nacogdoches area had been granted to a hotheaded Appalachia-born slave planter, Haden Edwards, who’d tried to rid the area of norteños and squatters alike, to make way for “respectable” Deep Southern planters. When his illegal expropriations led authorities to withdraw his grant in 1826, Edwards declared independence, appointing himself the head of the “Republic of Fredonia.”

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CHAPTER 20 – Founding the Left Coast

In what was one of the largest spontaneous migrations in human history to that point, 300,000 arrived in California in just five years, increasing the new American territory’s non-Indian population twentyfold. Within twenty-four months San Francisco grew from a village of 800 to a city of 20,000.

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While the Yankees failed in their broad mission, they did have a lasting effect on coastal California from Monterey north. The coast blended the moral, intellectual, and utopian impulses of a Yankee elite with the self-sufficient individualism of its Appalachian and immigrant majority. The culture that formed—idealistic but individualistic—was unlike that of the gold-digging lands in the interior but very similar to those in western Oregon and Washington. It would take nearly a century for its people to recognize it, but it was a new regional culture, one that would ally with Yankeedom to change the federation

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Added on August 10, 2019 4:47 PM

CHAPTER 21 – War for the West

“There will be no compromise with Secession if war is forced upon the north,” Confederate secretary of state Richard Lathers warned President Davis. “The first armed demonstration against the integrity of the Union or the dignity of the flag will find these antagonistic partisans enrolled in the same patriotic ranks for the defense of both [and] bring every man at the North, irrespective of his party or sectional affiliations, to the support of the government and the flag of his country.” Davis, confident that the three aforementioned nations would side with the Confederacy in time of war, ignored Lathers’s advice. It would prove one of the worst miscalculations in North American history.9

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 21 – War for the West

Added on August 10, 2019 5:12 PM

CHAPTER 22 – Founding the Far West

The corporate takeover of Nevada’s mines and political system followed a pattern that would continue in the Far West for nearly a century. By early 1864 the Comstock’s surface deposits had run out. When delegates gathered that summer to write Nevada’s first constitution, mining interests introduced a bill that effectively exempted mines from taxation, even though they represented most of the territory’s economic activity. Delegates linked with the mining industry claimed taxes would prompt the corporations to leave the region, imperiling the jobs of their hired miners and, by extension, demand for farm goods, cattle, lumber, and other supplies and services provided by locals. The frightened delegates passed the bill, effectively transferring the tax burden to everyone else in Nevada. It was a ruse that would be repeated again and again across the Far West.3

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 22 – Founding the Far West

Added on August 11, 2019 8:49 AM

As late as the twentieth century one could ship goods from Chicago to Seattle via Helena cheaper than from Chicago to Helena on the very same train. Raw goods could be shipped out of the Far West more cheaply than finished goods, in an intentional scheme concocted by the railroads to prevent manufacturing industries from taking hold in the region and to keep it dependent on the cities of the Left Coast, Yankeedom, the Midlands, and New Netherland.10

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 22 – Founding the Far West

Added on August 11, 2019 9:00 AM

Indeed, the Far West’s hostility to federal power has been the glue that’s held this authority-averse region in an otherwise unlikely alliance with the continent’s most authoritarian nation, with lasting repercussions for North America and the world.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 22 – Founding the Far West

Added on August 11, 2019 12:17 PM

CHAPTER 23 – Immigration and Identity

A few words on this era of mass immigration. Between 1830 and 1924 some 36 million people emigrated to the United States. They arrived in three distinct waves.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 23 – Immigration and Identity

Added on August 13, 2019 1:45 PM

The third wave, from 1890 to 1924, was the largest of all, with some 18 million new arrivals, mostly from southern and eastern Europe (particularly Italy, Greece, and Poland), three-quarters of whom were either Catholic or Jewish; this wave also included many Chinese and caused some alarm among native-born North Americans who feared these new foreigners would be unable to assimilate to local ways. This third wave was cut short in 1924, when the U.S. Congress imposed quotas designed to protect the federation from the taint of “inferior races,” including Italians, Jews, and immigrants from the Balkans and East Europe. Immigration remained restricted—and heavily biased toward northern Europeans—until the early 1950s.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 23 – Immigration and Identity

Added on August 13, 2019 4:53 PM

Another key point to note is that these “great wave” immigrants didn’t spread out evenly across the federation but rather concentrated in a few locations. Throughout the period, the majority of immigrants lived in New Netherland, the Midlands, and Yankeedom and most of the rest on the Left Coast. They settled in a handful of gateway cities, especially New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. Virtually none of them came to Tidewater, Appalachia, the Deep South, or El Norte. (The Far West, which was still being colonized, attracted only small numbers of immigrants, but they accounted for a significant share of the region’s population—about a quarter in 1870, and almost a fifth in 1910.) New York City alone had more foreign-born residents in 1870 than the entirety of Tidewater, Appalachia, and the Deep South combined.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 23 – Immigration and Identity

Added on August 13, 2019 4:56 PM

It is fruitless to search for the characteristics of an “American” identity, because each nation has its own notion of what being American should mean.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 23 – Immigration and Identity

Added on August 13, 2019 5:18 PM

CHAPTER 24 – Gods and Missions

The southern clergy helped foster a new civil religion in the former Confederacy, a myth scholars have come to call the Lost Cause. Following its credo, whites in the Deep South, Tidewater, and, ultimately, Appalachia came to believe that God had allowed the Confederacy to be bathed in blood, its cities destroyed, and its enemies ruling over it in order to test and sanctify His favored people.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 24 – Gods and Missions8

Added on August 13, 2019 6:27 PM

The response was the creation of a secret society of homicidal vigilantes called the Ku Klux Klan. The original Reconstruction-era Klan was founded in Pulaski, Tennessee, and remained almost entirely an Appalachian phenomenon, a warrior order committed to crushing that nation’s enemies.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 24 – Gods and Missions

Added on August 13, 2019 6:35 PM

As other parts of the United States expanded and developed through the late nineteenth century, Appalachia fell backward, its people caught in a life not much removed from that of their immigrant ancestors in the colonial era.5

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 24 – Gods and Missions

Added on August 13, 2019 6:38 PM

Much of the Yankee elite turned to Unitarianism, an offshoot of the New England church that embraced scientific inquiry and the pursuit of social justice. Under Unitarian president Charles Eliot, Harvard was secularized in the 1870s, while the Yankee-run American Secular Union fought to ban religion from public schools. Midlanders and New Netherlanders—whose societies were founded on religious and cultural pluralism—tended to support such efforts, knowing that if church and state were fused, dissenters would face discrimination.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 24 – Gods and Missions

Added on August 13, 2019 10:27 PM

Christian fundamentalism appeared in North America in reaction to the liberal theologies that were becoming dominant in the northern nations. It took its name from The Fundamentals, a twelve-volume attack on liberal theology, evolution, atheism, socialism, Mormons, Catholics, Christian Scientists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses written by Appalachian Baptist preacher A. C. Dixon. Fundamentalism’s early organizers gathered around the World Christian Fundamentals Association, founded by another Baptist preacher, William Bell Riley, who was born in Appalachian Indiana, raised in Boone County, Kentucky, and exposed to Yankee heresy while the pastor of a Minnesota church. Inspired also by William Jennings Bryan—a Scots-Irish presidential candidate from the (very Appalachian) Egypt District of Illinois—fundamentalist-minded Private Protestants went to war against science and its corrosive theory of evolution.13

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 24 – Gods and Missions

Added on August 13, 2019 10:39 PM

CHAPTER 26 – War, Empire, and the Military

The rise of Adolf Hitler put the Dixie bloc in a potentially awkward position. The Nazis had praised the Deep South’s caste system, which they used as a model for their own race laws. Nazi publications approved of lynching as a natural response to the threat of racial mixing.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 26 – War, Empire, and the Military

Added on August 16, 2019 4:34 PM

U.S. foreign policy has shown a clear national pattern for the past two centuries. Since 1812, the anti-interventionist, anti-imperial Yankees have squared off against the bellicose, unilateralist hawks in the Deep South and Tidewater. Appalachia, while providing the warriors, is often divided on the wisdom of going to war when there is neither the prospect of territorial aggrandizement nor revenge. The Yankees—idealistic, intellectual, and guided by the Public Protestant mission—have sought foreign policies that would civilize the world and, thus, has often dominated the Foreign Affairs Committees on Capitol Hill. The Dixie-bloc—martial and honor-bound—has generally aimed to dominate the world and has traditionally controlled the federation’s Armed Services Committee.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 26 – War, Empire, and the Military

Added on August 16, 2019 4:52 PM

CHAPTER 28 – The Struggle for Power II: The Red and the Purple

The goal of the Deep Southern oligarchy has been consistent for over four centuries: to control and maintain a one-party state with a colonialstyle economy based on large-scale agriculture and the extraction of primary resources by a compliant, poorly educated, low-wage workforce with as few labor, workplace safety, health care, and environmental regulations as possible. On being compelled by force of arms to give up their slave workforce, Deep Southerners developed caste and sharecropper systems to meet their labor needs, as well as a system of poll taxes and literacy tests to keep former slaves and white rabble out of the political process. When these systems were challenged by African Americans and the federal government, they rallied poor whites in their nation, in Tidewater, and in Appalachia to their cause through fearmongering: The races would mix. Daughters would be defiled. Yankees would take away their guns and Bibles and convert their children to secular humanism, environmentalism, communism, and homosexuality

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 28 – The Struggle for Power II: The Red and the Purple

Added on August 17, 2019 8:56 AM

It’s much the same dynamic that Thomas Frank described in What’s the Matter with Kansas? which revealed how the oligarchs of his native state used social and “moral” issues to rally ordinary people to support the architects of their economic destruction. “The trick never ages; the illusion never wears off,” Frank writes: Vote to stop abortion, receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to make our country strong again; receive deindustrialization. Vote to screw those politically correct college professors; receive electricity deregulation. Vote to get government off our backs; receive conglomeration and monopoly everywhere from media to meatpacking. Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization. Vote to strike a blow against elitism; receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining.4

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 28 – The Struggle for Power II: The Red and the Purple

Added on August 17, 2019 9:04 AM


Sean Wilkinson of Portland, Maine (for creating the maps and patiently revising them);

Highlight (yellow) – Acknowledgements

Added on August 10, 2019 10:41 AM


E. Digby Baltzell, Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia, New York: Free Press, 1979, pp. 94–106.

Highlight (green) – NOTES

Added on August 20, 2019 7:35 PM

12 Noah Feldman, Divided by God: America’s Church-State Problem and What We Should Do About It, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005, pp. 52, 115–117, 127–132, 138.

Highlight (green) – NOTES

Added on August 13, 2019 10:31 PM

📑 The Soothing Promise of Our Own Artisanal Internet | WIRED

Annotated The Soothing Promise of Our Own Artisanal Internet by Nitasha TikuNitasha Tiku (WIRED)
To put our toxic relationship with Big Tech into perspective, critics have compared social media to a lot of bad things. Tobacco. Crystal meth. Pollution. Cars before seat belts. Chemicals before Superfund sites. But the most enduring metaphor is junk food: convenient but empty; engineered to be addictive; makes humans unhealthy and corporations rich.  

👓 Bob Gallager on Shannon’s tips for research | An Ergodic Walk

Annotated Bob Gallager on Shannon’s tips for research (An Ergodic Walk)

Gallager gave a nice concise summary of what he learned from Shannon about how to do good theory work:

  1. Simplify the problem
  2. Relate it to other problems
  3. Restate the problem in as many ways as possible
  4. Break the problem into pieces
  5. Avoid getting locked into thinking ruts
  6. Generalize

As he said, “it’s a process of doing research… each one [step] gives you a little insight.” It’s tempting, as a theorist, to claim that at the end of this process you’ve solved the “fundamental” problem, but Gallager admonished us to remember that the first step is to simplify, often dramatically. As Alfred North Whitehead said, we should “seek simplicity and distrust it.”

I know I’ve read this before, but it deserves a re-read/review every now and then.

👓 Three things about Readers during IndieWebCamp Nürnberg | Seblog

Read Three things about Readers during IndieWebCamp Nürnberg by Sebastiaan AndewegSebastiaan Andeweg (seblog.nl)

This year is marked as the ‘Year of the Reader’, and indeed, there was a lot of Reader talk last weekend. I really like the progress we are making with Microsub and apps like Indigenous, but I also noticed we’re not there yet for me. But that’s not a discouragement, quite the opposite!

This blogpost has three parts: first I describe the painpoints I feel at the moment, then I describe what I have been hacking on yesterday, and in the last part I share some other ideas we talked about over dinner in Nürnberg, that where not recorded in any form other than short notes on some phones.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

this is another single point of Aaron in our stack.  

As opposed to another single point of Ryan….
November 08, 2018 at 08:59AM

I have discovered new interesting posts by looking at the likes my friends post.  

November 08, 2018 at 09:07AM

More ways to combat feed overwhelm
Before IndieWebCamp, we had a discussion about Readers in a traditional Nürnberger restaurant. Here also, people came up with some ideas to deal with accruing unread-counts.
One idea came from how Aperture deletes posts after 7 days. This actually prevents the overload. It would be nice if you can tell your reader that, for example your Twitter feed, is ephemeral and that the posts can be discarded if you did not read them in time.
One other idea that came up was to keep track of the average time between posts of a certain feed. This way a Reader could boost posts when they are from a feed that is not regularly updated. These kind of posts are usually lost in piles of more posts from more frequently updates feeds.
Yet a last idea was to tell your reader to leave out posts with certain words for a small period of time. This can come in handy when you haven’t watched the newest episode of Game of Thrones yet, but want to stay connected to your feeds without spoilers.  

Some good ideas here to deal with feeds.
November 08, 2018 at 09:10AM

👓 How Students Engage with News: Five Takeaways for Educators, Journalists, and Librarians | Project Information Literacy Research Institute

Read How Students Engage with News: Five Takeaways for Educators, Journalists, and Librarians [.pdf] by Alison J. Head, John Wihbey, P. Takis Metaxas, Margy MacMillan, and Dan Cohen (Project Information Literacy Research Institute)
Abstract: The News Study research report presents findings about how a sample of U.S. college students gather information and engage with news in the digital age. Results are included from an online survey of 5,844 respondents and telephone interviews with 37 participants from 11 U.S. colleges and universities selected for their regional, demographic, and red/blue state diversity. A computational analysis was conducted using Twitter data associated with the survey respondents and a Twitter panel of 135,891 college-age people. Six recommendations are included for educators, journalists, and librarians working to make students effective news consumers. To explore the implications of this study’s findings, concise commentaries from leading thinkers in education, libraries, media research, and journalism are included.
A great little paper about how teens and college students are finding, reading, sharing, and generally interacting with news. There’s some nice overlap here on both the topics of journalism and education which I find completely fascinating. In general, however, I think in a few places students are mis-reporting their general uses, so I’m glad a portion of the paper actually looks at data from Twitter in the wild to see what real world use cases actually are.

Perhaps there are some interesting segments and even references relevant to the topics of education and IndieWeb for Greg McVerry‘s recent project?

As I read this, I can’t help but think of some things I’ve seen Michael Caulfield writing about news and social media over the past several months. As I look, I notice that he’s already read and written a bit about a press release for this particular paper. I’ll have to take a look at his take on it tomorrow. I’m particularly interested in any insights he’s got on lateral reading and fake news above and beyond his prior thoughts.

Perhaps I missed it hiding in there reading so late at night, but another potentially good source for this paper’s recommended section would be Caulfield’s book Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

The purpose of this study was to better understand the preferences, practices, and motivations of young news consumers, while focusing on what students actually do, rather than what they do not do.  

October 22, 2018 at 08:28PM

YouTube (54%), Instagram (51%) or Snapchat (55%)  

I’m curious to know which sources in particular they’re using on these platforms. Snapchat was growing news sources a year ago, but I’ve heard those sources are declining. What is the general quality of these sources?

For example, getting news from television can range from PBS News Hour and cable news networks (more traditional sources) to comedy shows like Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah which have some underlying news in the comedy, but are far from traditional sources.
October 22, 2018 at 08:35PM

Some students (28%) received news from podcasts in the preceding week.  

October 22, 2018 at 08:38PM

news is stressful and has little impact on the day-to-day routines —use it for class assignments, avoid it otherwise.” While a few students like this one practiced news abstinence, such students were rare.  

This sounds a bit like my college experience, though I didn’t avoid it because of stressful news (and there wasn’t social media yet). I generally missed it because I didn’t subscribe directly to publications or watch much television. Most of my news consumption was the local college newspaper.
October 22, 2018 at 08:46PM

But on the Web, stories of all kinds can show up anywhere and information and news are all mixed together. Light features rotate through prominent spots on the “page” with the same weight as breaking news, sports coverage, and investigative pieces, even on mainstream news sites. Advertorial “features” and opinion pieces are not always clearly identified in digitalspaces.  

This difference is one of the things I miss about reading a particular newspaper and experiencing the outlet’s particular curation of their own stories. Perhaps I should spend more time looking at the “front page” of various news sites?
October 22, 2018 at 08:57PM

Some (36%) said they agreed that the threat of “‘fake news’ had made them distrust the credibility of any news.” Almost half (45%) lacked confidence with discerning “real news” from “fake news,” and only 14% said they were “very confident” that they could detect “fake news.”  

These numbers are insane!
October 22, 2018 at 09:04PM

As a matter of recourse, some students in the study “read the news laterally,” meaning they used sources elsewhere on the Internet to compare versions of a story in an attempt to verify its facts, bias, and ultimately, its credibility.25  

This reminds me how much I miss the old daily analysis that Slate use to do for the day’s top news stories in various outlets in their Today’s Papers segment.
October 22, 2018 at 09:15PM

Some respondents, though not all, did evaluate the veracity of news they shared on social media. More (62%) said they checked to see how current an item was, while 59% read the complete story before sharing and 57% checked the URL to see where a story originated (Figure 7). Fewer read comments about a post (55%) or looked to see how many times an item was tweeted or shared (39%).  

I’m not sure I believe these self-reported numbers at all. 59% read the complete story before sharing?! 57% checked the URL? I’ll bet that not that many could probably define what a URL is.
October 22, 2018 at 10:00PM

information diet  

October 22, 2018 at 11:02PM

At the tactical level, there are likely many small things that could be tested with younger audiences to help them better orient themselves to the crowded news landscape. For example, some news organizations are more clearly identifying different types of content such as editorials, features, and backgrounders/news analysis.57More consistent and more obvious use of these typological tags would help all news consumers, not just youth, and could also travel with content as itis posted and shared in social media. News organizations should engage more actively with younger audiences to see what might be helpful.  

October 22, 2018 at 11:37PM

When news began moving into the first digital spaces in the early 1990s, pro-Web journalists touted the possibilities of hypertext links that would give news consumers the context they needed. Within a couple of years, hypertext links slowly began to disappear from many news stories. Today, hypertext links are all but gone from most mainstream news stories.  

October 22, 2018 at 11:38PM

“Solutions journalism’ is another promising trend that answers some of the respondents’ sense of helplessness in the face of the barrage of crisis coverage.62  

October 22, 2018 at 11:40PM

Reply to Dogfood by Rick Wysocki

Replied to Dogfood by Rick WysockiRick Wysocki (Rick Wysocki)

[...] I’ve been reading a bit about the IndieWeb movement, and am becoming increasingly interested in the possibility of a more decentralized model for distributing web content.


To make a greater effort to create or at least have some hand in designing digital tools for my own work work. To this end, I’ve begun developing a (very small scale) Jekyll template for creating and disseminating oral history archives (called Oryll Hystory). With my scholarly background in both new media and archival theory, I’m hoping to use this as a prototype for thinking through questions regarding digital archives, circulation, and public humanities work. If that doesn’t work out, it will at least be practice for a bigger and better project. Feel free to follow the Github repository for the project if you’re interested. But don’t judge me–I’m at the early stages of the project and its currently extremely basic (and doesn’t look particularly good yet either).

Welcome to the IndieWeb Rick!

I particularly love your idea of using some of your digital knowledge and tools for research and education related work. In case you haven’t found it yet there are a growing number of educators, researchers, and practitioners applying IndieWeb philosophies and principles to the education space not only for ourselves, but for the benefit of our students and others. I hope you’ll take a moment to add yourself and some of your work to the list. If there’s anything any of us can do to help out, please don’t hesitate to touch base with us via our websites or in chat.

👓 Adaptable lizards illustrate key evolutionary process proposed a century ago | Science Daily

Read Adaptable lizards illustrate key evolutionary process proposed a century ago (ScienceDaily)
The 'Baldwin effect' has now been demonstrated at the genetic level in a population of dark-colored lizards adapted to live on a lava flow in the desert.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

One explanation has been that many of an animal’s traits are not fixed, but can change during its lifetime. This “phenotypic plasticity” enables individual animals to alter their appearance or behavior enough to survive in a new environment. Eventually, new adaptations promoting survival arise in the population through genetic changes and natural selection, which acts on the population over generations. This is known as the “Baldwin effect” after the psychologist James Mark Baldwin, who presented the idea in a landmark paper published in 1896.  

September 11, 2018 at 08:57AM

Journal article available at: https://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdfExtended/S0960-9822(18)30899-6

👓 The End of History? | Francis Fukuyama

Read The End of History? by Francis FukuyamaFrancis Fukuyama (The National Interest | No. 16 (Summer 1989), pp. 3-18)

IN WATCHING the flow of events over the past decade or so, it is hard to avoid the feeling that something very fundamental has happened in world history. The past year has seen a flood of articles commemorating the end of the Cold War, and the fact that "peace" seems to be breaking out in many regions of the world. Most of these analyses lack any larger conceptual framework for distinguishing between what is essential and what is contingent or accidental in world history, and are predictably superficial. If Mr. Gorbachev were ousted from the Kremlin or a new Ayatollah proclaimed the millennium from a desolate Middle Eastern capital, these same commentators would scramble to announce the rebirth of a new era of conflict.

And yet, all of these people sense dimly that there is some larger process at work, a process that gives coherence and order to the daily headlines. The twentieth century saw the developed world descend into a paroxysm of ideological violence, as liberalism contended first with the remnants of absolutism, then bolshevism and fascism, and finally an updated Marxism that threatened to lead to the ultimate apocalypse of nuclear war. But the century that began full of self-confidence in the ultimate triumph of Western liberal democracy seems at its close to be returning full circle to where it started: not to an "end of ideology" or a convergence between capitalism and socialism, as earlier predicted, but to an unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism.

In general, while I’ve been reading Stuart Kauffmann’s At Home in the Universe, I can’t help but thinking about the cascading extinctions he describes and wonder if political extinctions of ideas like Communism or other forms of government or even economies might follow the same types of outcomes described there?   
August 29, 2018 at 09:37AM

Building on this, could we create a list of governments and empires and rank them in order of the length of their spans? There may be subtleties in changes of regimes in some eras, but generally things are probably reasonably well laid out. I wonder if the length of life of particular governments follows a power law? One would suspect it might.   
August 29, 2018 at 09:43AM

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism.  

Total exhaustion?
August 29, 2018 at 08:53AM

What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.  

What if, in fact, we’ve only just found a local maximum? What if in the changing landscape there are other places we could potentially get to competitively that supply greater maxima? And possibly worse, what if we need to lose value to get from here to unlock even more value there?
August 29, 2018 at 08:56AM

Hegel believed that history culminated in an absolute moment – a moment in which a final, rational form of society and state became victorious.  

and probably not a bad outcome in an earlier era that thought of things in terms of clockwork and lacked the ideas of quantum theory and its attendant uncertainties.
August 29, 2018 at 08:59AM

Believing that there was no more work for philosophers as well, since Hegel (correctly understood) had already achieved absolute knowledge, Kojève left teaching after the war and spent the remainder of his life working as a bureaucrat in the European Economic Community, until his death in 1968.  

This is depressing on so many levels.
August 29, 2018 at 09:05AM

Paul Kennedy’s hugely successful “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers”, which ascribes the decline of great powers to simple economic overextension.  

Curious how this may relate to the more recent “The End of Power” by Moisés Naím. It doesn’t escape one that the title of the book somewhat echoes the title of this particular essay.
August 29, 2018 at 09:18AM

But whether a highly productive modern industrial society chooses to spend 3 or 7 percent of its GNP on defense rather than consumption is entirely a matter of that society’s political priorities, which are in turn determined in the realm of consciousness.  

It’s not so much the percentage on produced defense goods, but how quickly could a society ramp up production of goods, services, and people to defend itself compared to the militaries of its potential aggressors.

In particular, most of the effort should go to the innovation side of war materiel. The innovation of the atomic bomb is a particularly nice example in that as a result of conceptualizing and then executing on it it allowed the US to win the war in the Pacific and hasten the end of war in Europe. Even if we otherwise had massive stockpiles of people or other weapons, our enemies could potentially have equaled them and dragged the war on interminably. It was the unknown unknown via innovation that unseated Japan and could potentially do the same to us based on innovation coming out of almost any country in the modern age.
August 29, 2018 at 09:24AM

Weber notes that according to any economic theory that posited man as a rational profit-maximizer, raising the piece-work rate should increase labor productivity. But in fact, in many traditional peasant communities, raising the piece-work rate actually had the opposite effect of lowering labor productivity: at the higher rate, a peasant accustomed to earning two and one-half marks per day found he could earn the same amount by working less, and did so because he valued leisure more than income. The choices of leisure over income, or of the militaristic life of the Spartan hoplite over the wealth of the Athenian trader, or even the ascetic life of the early capitalist entrepreneur over that of a traditional leisured aristocrat, cannot possibly be explained by the impersonal working of material forces,  

Science could learn something from this. Science is too far focused on the idealized positive outcomes that it isn’t paying attention to the negative outcomes and using that to better define its outline or overall shape. We need to define a scientific opportunity cost and apply it to the negative side of research to better understand and define what we’re searching for.

Of course, how can we define a new scientific method (or amend/extend it) to better take into account negative results–particularly in an age when so many results aren’t even reproducible?
August 29, 2018 at 09:32AM

FAILURE to understand that the roots of economic behavior lie in the realm of consciousness and culture leads to the common mistake of attributing material causes to phenomena that are essentially ideal in nature.  

August 29, 2018 at 09:44AM

“Protestant” life of wealth and risk over the “Catholic” path of poverty and security.[8]   

Is this simply a restatement of the idea that most of “the interesting things” happen at the border or edge of chaos? The Catholic ethic is firmly inside the stable arena while that of the Protestant ethic is pushing the boundaries.
August 29, 2018 at 09:47AM

Hence it did not matter to Kojève that the consciousness of the postwar generation of Europeans had not been universalized throughout the world; if ideological development had in fact ended, the homogenous state would eventually become victorious throughout the material world.  

This presupposes that homeostasis could ever be achieved.

One thinks of phrases like “The future is here, it just isn’t evenly distributed.” But everything we know about systems and evolving systems often indicates that homeostasis isn’t necessarily a good thing. In many cases, it means eventual “death” instead of evolving towards a longer term lifespan. Again, here Kauffmann’s ideas about co-evolving systems and evolving landscapes may provide some guidance. What if we’re just at a temporary local maximum, but changes in the landscape modify that fact? What then? Shouldn’t we be looking for other potential distant maxima as well?
August 29, 2018 at 09:52AM

But that state of consciousness that permits the growth of liberalism seems to stabilize in the way one would expect at the end of history if it is underwritten by the abundance of a modern free market economy.  

Writers spend an awful lot of time focused too carefully on the free market economy, but don’t acknowledge a lot of the major benefits of the non-free market parts which are undertaken and executed often by governments and regulatory environments. (Hacker & Pierson, 2016)
\August 29, 2018 at 10:02AM

Are there, in other words, any fundamental “contradictions” in human life that cannot be resolved in the context of modern liberalism, that would be resolvable by an alternative political-economic structure?  

Churchill famously said “…democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time…”

Even within this quote it is implicit that there are many others. In some sense he’s admitting that we might possibly be at a local maximum but we’ve just not explored the spaces beyond the adjacent possible.
August 29, 2018 at 10:08AM

For our purposes, it matters very little what strange thoughts occur to people in Albania or Burkina Faso, for we are interested in what one could in some sense call the common ideological heritage of mankind.  

While this seems solid on it’s face, we don’t know what the future landscape will look like. What if climate change brings about massive destruction of homo sapiens? We need to be careful about how and why we explore both the adjacent possible as well as the distant possible. One day we may need them and our current local maximum may not serve us well.
August 29, 2018 at 10:10AM


I feel like this word captures very well the exact era of Trumpian Republicanism in which we find ourselves living.
August 29, 2018 at 10:37AM

After the war, it seemed to most people that German fascism as well as its other European and Asian variants were bound to self-destruct. There was no material reason why new fascist movements could not have sprung up again after the war in other locales, but for the fact that expansionist ultranationalism, with its promise of unending conflict leading to disastrous military defeat, had completely lost its appeal. The ruins of the Reich chancellery as well as the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed this ideology on the level of consciousness as well as materially, and all of the pro-fascist movements spawned by the German and Japanese examples like the Peronist movement in Argentina or Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army withered after the war.  

And yet somehow we see these movements anew in America and around the world. What is the difference between then and now?
August 29, 2018 at 11:46AM

This is not to say that there are not rich people and poor people in the United States, or that the gap between them has not grown in recent years. But the root causes of economic inequality do not have to do with the underlying legal and social structure of our society, which remains fundamentally egalitarian and moderately redistributionist, so much as with the cultural and social characteristics of the groups that make it up, which are in turn the historical legacy of premodern conditions.  

August 29, 2018 at 11:47AM

But those who believe that the future must inevitably be socialist tend to be very old, or very marginal to the real political discourse of their societies.  

and then there are the millennials…
August 29, 2018 at 11:51AM

Beginning with the famous third plenum of the Tenth Central Committee in 1978, the Chinese Communist party set about decollectivizing agriculture for the 800 million Chinese who still lived in the countryside. The role of the state in agriculture was reduced to that of a tax collector, while production of consumer goods was sharply increased in order to give peasants a taste of the universal homogenous state and thereby an incentive to work. The reform doubled Chinese grain output in only five years, and in the process created for Deng Xiaoping a solid political base from which he was able to extend the reform to other parts of the economy. Economic Statistics do not begin to describe the dynamism, initiative, and openness evident in China since the reform began.  

August 29, 2018 at 11:58AM

At present, no more than 20 percent of its economy has been marketized, and most importantly it continues to be ruled by a self-appointed Communist party which has given no hint of wanting to devolve power.  

If Facebook were to continue to evolve at it’s current rate and with it’s potential power as well as political influence, I could see it attempting to work the way China does in a new political regime.
August 29, 2018 at 12:04PM

IF WE ADMIT for the moment that the fascist and communist challenges to liberalism are dead, are there any other ideological competitors left? Or put another way, are there contradictions in liberal society beyond that of class that are not resolvable? Two possibilities suggest themselves, those of religion and nationalism.  

August 29, 2018 at 12:19PM

This school in effect applies a Hobbesian view of politics to international relations, and assumes that aggression and insecurity are universal characteristics of human societies rather than the product of specific historical circumstances.  

August 29, 2018 at 12:30PM

But whatever the particular ideological basis, every “developed” country believed in the acceptability of higher civilizations ruling lower ones  

August 29, 2018 at 12:37PM

Perhaps this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history will serve to get history started once again.  

Has it started again with nationalism, racism, and Trump?
August 29, 2018 at 12:48PM

👓 My Open Textbook: Pedagogy and Practice | Robin DeRosa

Read My Open Textbook: Pedagogy and Practice by Robin DeRosaRobin DeRosa (actualham)
I’ve spent some time talking about open pedagogy at several universities this Spring, and in each of those presentations and workshops, I have usually mentioned The Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature, an OER anthology that my students and I produced last year for an American literature survey course I taught.  When I talk about the anthology, it’s usually to make a point about open pedagogy.  I began the project with the simple desire to save my students about $85 US, which is how much they were (ostensibly) paying for the Heath Anthology of American Literature Volume A.  Most of the actual texts in the Heath were public domain texts, freely available and not under any copyright restrictions.  As the Heath produced new editions (of literature from roughly 1400-1800!), forcing students to buy new textbooks or be irritatingly out of sync with page numbers, and as students turned to rental markets that necessitated them giving their books back at the end of the semester, I began to look in earnest for an alternative.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

Most of the actual texts in the Heath were public domain texts, freely available and not under any copyright restrictions.  As the Heath produced new editions (of literature from roughly 1400-1800!), forcing students to buy new textbooks or be irritatingly out of sync with page numbers, and as students turned to rental markets that necessitated them giving their books back at the end of the semester, I began to look in earnest for an alternative.  

Repackaging public domain texts and charging a steep markup too much above and beyond the cost of the paper is just highway robbery. Unless a publisher is adding some actual annotative or analytical value, they shouldn’t be charging outrageous prices for textbooks of this nature.
August 13, 2018 at 12:14PM

If OER is free, what hidden costs exist in its production? Making these textbooks is taking me a chunk of time in the off-season.  Thanks to my salaried position, I feel ok about putting in the overtime, but it’s a privilege my colleagues who teach under year-to-year part-time non-contracts can’t afford. Who should be funding OER creation? Institutions? Students? For-profit start-ups? How will you invest time in this project without obscuring the true costs of academic labor? Right now, we pass the corruptly high cost of academic publishing onto the backs of academia’s most vulnerable members: students. But as OER gains steam, we need to come up with funding models that don’t land us back in the same quagmire of exploitation that we were trying to get out of.  

This is a nearly perfect question and something to watch in the coming years.
August 13, 2018 at 12:35PM

working in public, and asking students to work in public, is fraught with dangers and challenges.  

August 13, 2018 at 12:36PM

What David told me was his energy, enthusiasm in the class was at a much higher level with the OER approach. Sure we choose the polished “professional” textbook because of its assumed high standards, quality etc, but then its a more passive relationship a teacher has with it. I make the comparison to growing and/or making your own food versus having it prepared or taking it out of a package. Having produced our own food means we know everything about it from top to bottom, and the pride in doing that has to make the whole experience much more energized.  

As I read both this post and this comment from Alan, I can’t help but think again about scholars in the 14th century who taught students. It was more typical of the time that students were “forced” to chose their own textbooks–typically there were fewer, and at the advent of the printing press they were significantly higher in price. As a result students had to spend more time and attention, as Robin indicates here, to come up with useful things.

Even in this period students often annotated their books, which often got passed on to other students and even professors which helped future generations. So really, we’re not reinventing the wheel here, we’re just doing it anew with new technology that makes doing it all the easier.

As a reference, I’ll suggest folks interested in this area read Owen Gingerich’s The Book Nobody Read which I recall as being one of the texts I’ve read that references early teaching and textbook practices during that time period.
August 13, 2018 at 12:44PM

📗 Started reading It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyd

Read It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyddanah boyd (Yale University Press)
What is new about how teenagers communicate through services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Do social media affect the quality of teens’ lives? In this eye-opening book, youth culture and technology expert danah boyd uncovers some of the major myths regarding teens' use of social media. She explores tropes about identity, privacy, safety, danger, and bullying. Ultimately, boyd argues that society fails young people when paternalism and protectionism hinder teenagers’ ability to become informed, thoughtful, and engaged citizens through their online interactions. Yet despite an environment of rampant fear-mongering, boyd finds that teens often find ways to engage and to develop a sense of identity. Boyd’s conclusions are essential reading not only for parents, teachers, and others who work with teens but also for anyone interested in the impact of emerging technologies on society, culture, and commerce in years to come. Offering insights gleaned from more than a decade of original fieldwork interviewing teenagers across the United States, boyd concludes reassuringly that the kids are all right. At the same time, she acknowledges that coming to terms with life in a networked era is not easy or obvious. In a technologically mediated world, life is bound to be complicated.
Read introduction through page 20 of 296


Ultimately I think I was bored after reading the table of contents. Not seeing any indication there that I might encounter any interesting new ground given my experience I may have to give up.

A short distance in seemed to confirm my initial bias, so I’ve ultimately decided to press on to something else which seems a bit more fruitful.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

1 identity why do teens seem strange online? 29
2 privacy why do youth share so publicly? 54
3 addiction what makes teens obsessed with social media? 77
4 danger are sexual predators lurking everywhere? 100
5 bullying is social media amplifying meanness and cruelty? 128
6 inequality can social media resolve social divisions? 153
7 literacy are today’s youth digital natives? 176
8 searching for a public of their own 199 

Just reading this table of contents reminds me that this “analysis of teens” seems a lot like the perennial contemplations of adults who think that the generations of teenagers coming behind them is different, weird, or even deviant.

A typical case in point is that of the greatest generation looking at the long-haired 60’s hippy teens who came after them. “Why do they like rock and roll? They do too many drugs. There’s no hope for the future.” “Damn kids. Get off of my lawn!”

Is the way that current teens and millennials react to social just another incarnation of this general idea?

As I began to get a feel for the passions and frustrations of teens and to speak to broader audiences, I recognized that teens’ voices rarely shaped the public discourse surrounding their networked lives.  

Again, putting this into historical context, is this sentence different for any prior period if we remove the word “networked”?

It’s been a while, but the old saw “A child should be seen and not heard” comes quickly to mind for me.

the kids are all right  

Given danah’s age, I would suspect that with a copyright date of 2014, she’s likely referencing the 2010 feature film The Kids are Alright.

However that film’s title is a cultural reference to a prior generation’s anthem in an eponymous song by The Who which appeared on the album My Generation. Interestingly the lyrics of the song of the same name on that album is one of their best known and is applicable to the ideas behind this piece as well.

given that I was in Nashville to talk with teens about how technology had changed their lives.  

I have to wonder who the sociologists were from the 60’s that interviewed teens about how the telephone changed their lives. Or perhaps the 70’s sociologist who interviewed kids about how cars changed their lives? Certainly it wasn’t George Lucas’ American Graffiti that informed everyone of the issues?

the internet?  

What if we replaced the words “the internet” in this piece with “the telephone” in the 1960-1970’s? I wonder how much of the following analysis would ring true to that time period? Are we just rehashing old ideas in new settings?

the more things had changed, the more they seemed the same.  

When they did look at their phones, they were often sharing the screen with the person sitting next to them, reading or viewing something together.  

Over history, most “teen technology” is about being able to communicate with their peers. From the handwritten letter via post, to the telephone, to the car, to the pager, and now the cell phone.

But many adults were staring into their devices intently, barely looking up  

Socially adults have created their longer term bonds and aren’t as socially attached, so while their teens are paying attention to others, they’re often doing something else: books, newspapers, and now cell phones.

few of my friends in the early 1990s were interested in computers at all.  

I would suspect for the time period they were all sending text messages via pager.

Unlike me and the other early adopters who avoided our local community by hanging out in chat-rooms and bulletin boards, most teenagers now go online to connect to the people in their community. Their online participation is not eccentric; it is entirely normal, even expected.  

There’s a broad disconnect between her personal experiences and those of the teens she’s studying. Based on my understanding, she was a teen on the fringes of her local community and eschewed the cultural norms–thus her perspective is somewhat skewed here. She sounds like she was at the bleeding edge of the internet while most of her more average peers were likely relying on old standbys like telephones, cars, and pagers. Thus not much has changed. I suspect that most teens have always been more interested in their local communities and peers. It’s danah boyd who was three standard deviations away from the norm who sought out ways to communicate with others like herself that felt marginalized. The internet made doing that far easier for her and future generations compared to those prior who had little, if any outlet to social interactions outside of the pale of their communities.

“If you’re not on MySpace, you don’t exist.”  

In prior generations, if you couldn’t borrow dad’s car, you didn’t exist…

Cross reference the 1955 cultural touchstone film Rebel Without a Cause. While the common perception is that James Dean, portraying Jim Stark, was the rebel (as seen in the IMDB.com description of the film “A rebellious young man with a troubled past comes to a new town, finding friends and enemies.”), it is in fact Plato, portrayed by Sal Mineo, who is the true rebel. Plato is the one who is the disruptive and rebellious youth who is always disrupting the lives of those around him. (As an aside, should we note Plato’s namesake was also a rebel philosopher in his time?!?)

Plato’s first disruption in the film is the firing of the cannon at school. While unstated directly, due to the cultural mores of Hollywood at the time, Plato is a closeted homosexual who’s looking to befriend someone, anyone. His best shot is the new kid before the new kid manages to find his place in the pecking order. Again Jim Stark does nothing in the film but attempt to fit into the social fabric around him, his only problem is that he’s the new guy. Most telling here about their social structures is that Jim has ready access to an automobile (a literal rolling social club–notice multiple scenes in the film with cars full of teenagers) while Plato is relegated to an old scooter (a mode of transport focused on the singleton–the transport of the outcast, the rebel).

The Rebel Plato, with his scooter--and a gun, no less!
Plato as portrayed by Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause (1955). Notice that as the rebel, he’s pictured in the middleground with a gun while his scooter protects him in the foreground. In the background is the automobile, the teens’ coveted source of freedom at the time.

The spaces may change, but the organizing principles aren’t different.  

👓 Learning to Love the Stable Link | Uncommon Sense

Replied to Learning to Love the Stable Link by Karen WulfKaren Wulf (Uncommon Sense — The Blog | Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture)
When you’re striving to make your students’ lives just a click easier by embedding an article in your syllabus or posting it to Blackboard (or another online learning environment), however, it’s important to embed the link to the article rather than the PDF of the article itself. It’s easy to do; you simply paste the link from JSTOR or MUSE into the same field you would paste a document or PDF. It’s no more difficult for the students, and it makes a big difference to the journals whose articles you’re teaching.
I can’t help but read this and think that there’s a good use case for the Webmention spec here. Similar to my thinking in IndieWeb and Academic Research and Publishing, it seems relatively obvious that professors could be referencing the DOIs or other permalink URLs for journals and articles they’re assigning and sending webmentions so that the journal itself could receive webmentions of those facts. This in turn would help those journals have a better understanding of the number of incoming links as well as referrer traffic and potential readers they’ve got.

I’ve outlined a bit of how read posts on the web can send notifications to journal articles to allow them to better track traffic. Similar to use cases I’ve outlined for podcasts which have some large aggregate download data, but absolutely no actual “I listened to this particular episode” data, explicit read webmentions for journal articles could be a boon to these journals as well as to the greater research enterprise.

Separately but similarly, it would be nice if journals could take advantage of annotation platforms like Hypothes.is (especially if they sent webmentions to the canonical links or DOIs for .pdfs) to get a better idea of how closely, or not, academics are reading and annotating their works.

👓 The New York Times Fired My Doppelgänger | Quinn Norton | The Atlantic

Read The New York Times Fired My Doppelgänger by Quinn Norton (The Atlantic)
I saw the internet create and destroy a bizarro version of myself.
I’ve been reading some pieces from my archive on context collapse and people losing jobs/opportunities as the result of online bullies digging up old social media posts which has become a bigger issue as of late. Many people have been wanting to leave social media platforms for their toxic cultures, and this seems to be a subset of that in that it has people going back and deleting old social posts for fear of implications in the present.

Quinn Norton has some relatively sage advice about the internet in this piece. Of course it’s no coincidence that The New York Times editorial board wanted to hire her.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

History doesn’t ask you if you want to be born in a time of upheaval, it just tells you when you are.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:00AM

I have a teenage daughter, and I have told her all her life that all the grown-ups are making it up as they go along. I have also waggled my eyebrows suggestively while saying it, to make it clear to her that I mean me, too.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:00AM

This taught me that not everyone worthy of love is worthy of emulation. It also taught me that being given terrible ideas is not a destiny, and that intervention can change lives.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:02AM

Not everyone believes loving engagement is the best way to fight evil beliefs, but it has a good track record. Not everyone is in a position to engage safely with racists, sexists, anti-Semites, and homophobes, but for those who are, it’s a powerful tool. Engagement is not the one true answer to the societal problems destabilizing America today, but there is no one true answer. The way forward is as multifarious and diverse as America is, and a method of nonviolent confrontation and accountability, arising from my pacifism, is what I can bring to helping my society.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:03AM

I am not immune from these mistakes, for mistaking a limited snapshot of something for what it is in its entirety. I have been on the other side.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:04AM

I had been a victim of something the sociologists Alice Marwick and danah boyd call context collapse, where people create online culture meant for one in-group, but exposed to any number of out-groups without its original context by social-media platforms, where it can be recontextualized easily and accidentally.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:05AM

I had even written about context collapse myself, but that hadn’t saved me from falling into it, and then hurting other people I didn’t mean to hurt.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:06AM

It helped me learn a lesson: Be damn sure when you make angry statements.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:07AM

Don’t internet angry. If you’re angry, internet later.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:07AM

Context collapse is our constant companion online.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:07AM

I used to think that showing someone how wrong they were on the internet could fix the world. I said a lot of stupid things when I believed that.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:08AM

I am not, and will never be, a simple writer. I have sought to convict, accuse, comfort, and plead with my readers. I’m leaving the majority of my flaws online: Go for it, you can find them if you want. It’s a choice I made long ago.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:09AM

If you look long enough you can find my early terrible writing. You can find blog posts in which I am an idiot. I’ve had a lot of uninformed and passionate opinions on geopolitical issues from Ireland to Israel. You can find tweets I thought were witty, but think are stupid now. You can find opinions I still hold that you disagree with. I’m going to leave most of that stuff up. In doing so, I’m telling you that you have to look for context if you are seeking to understand me. You don’t have to try, I’m not particularly important, but I am complicated. When I die, I’m going to instruct my executors to burn nothing. Leave the crap there, because it’s part of my journey, and that journey has a value. People who came from where I did, and who were given the thoughts I was given, should know that the future can be different from the past.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:13AM

👓 Digital Literacy, Identity and a Domain of One’s Own | Connected Learning Alliance

Read Digital Literacy, Identity and a Domain of One’s Own by Doug BelshawDoug Belshaw (Connected Learning Alliance)
Ten years ago, if I knew someone primarily through online means, you could guarantee they had their own domain name. It was just before the big explosion in social media use which meant that if you wanted a space online, you had to create it. This provided a barrier to entry in terms of the digital literacy skills required to register a domain, set up the necessary software and, of course, design, build and upload a website. The upside was that your digital identity was yours. That domain name could be your gamer tag, it could be your real name, it could be a heteronym — it was up to you!

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

Ten years ago, if I knew someone primarily through online means, you could guarantee they had their own domain name. It was just before the big explosion in social media use which meant that if you wanted a space online, you had to create it. This provided a barrier to entry in terms of the digital literacy skills required to register a domain, set up the necessary software and, of course, design, build and upload a website. The upside was that your digital identity was yours.  

Why have we gotten away from this? In short, I think it’s because it was easier for big companies with massive resources to do the initial heavy lifting.

If we look at history, Gutenberg created the first printing press and guarded it heavily for years. Eventually others figured out how to do it and printing presses spread like wildfire. Now, with some modest means and some time, almost anyone can publish.

With simple standards and accessible hosting people can now broadly own their own domain name and create their own websites using a variety of content management systems. In a few years, this will be even more ubiquitous. Facebook is going to be just like Gutenberg attempting to hold onto his monopoly, but failing miserably.

The best part, I think, is that the speed of digital technology means that the Facebook edifice is going to crumble faster than Gutenberg’s.

Twitter and Facebook are publicly-traded companies and beholden to shareholders looking to make a profit. Google, which owns YouTube and processes over 70% of the world’s search traffic, is likewise legally obliged to return a profit.  

legally obligated? they’re definitely supposed to try or shareholders may move their money elsewhere, but why can’t they create things for the common good as well?

A world where one’s primary identity is found through the social people-farms of existing social networks is a problematic one. Educators and parents are in the privileged position of being able to help create a better future, but we need to start modeling to future generations what that might look like.  

This is exactly what I’ve been attempting to do with my own website. Naturally I use it selfishly for my own purposes, but I’m also using it to model potential behaviours for friends, family and colleagues.

I’m sometimes tempted to change the tagline on my website to “A digital canary in the coalmine”.

👓 Connections | Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Replied to Connections by Kathleen Fitzpatrick (kfitz.info)

There are still some wrinkles to be ironed out in getting the various platforms we use today to play well with Webmentions, but it’s a real step toward the goal of that decentralized, distributed, interconnected future for scholarly communication.  

...the upshot is that this relatively new web standard allows for round-tripped connections among discrete domains, enabling the conversation about an individual post to be represented on that post, wherever it might actually take place.  

The fun, secret part is that Kathleen hasn’t (yet?) discovered IndieAuth so that she can authenticate/authorize micropub clients like Quill to publish content to her own site from various clients by means of a potential micropub endpoint. ​

I’ll suspect she’ll be even more impressed when she realizes that there’s a forthcoming wave of feed readers1,2 that will allow her to read others’ content in a reader which has an integrated micropub client in it so that she can reply to posts directly in her feed reader, then the responses get posted directly to her own website which then, in turn, send webmentions to the sites she’s responding to so that the conversational loop can be completely closed.

She and Lee will also be glad to know that work has already started on private posts and conversations and posting to limited audiences as well. Eventually there will be no functionality that a social web site/silo can do that a distributed set of independent sites can’t. There’s certainly work to be done to round off the edges, but we’re getting closer and closer every day.

I know how it all works, but even I’m (still) impressed at the apparent magic that allows round-trip conversations between her website and Twitter and Micro.blog. And she hasn’t really delved into website to website conversations yet. I suppose we’ll have to help IndieWebify some of her colleague’s web presences to make that portion easier. Suddenly “academic Twitter” will be the “academic blogosphere” she misses from not too many years ago.  🙂

If there are academics out thee who are interested in what Kathleen has done, but may need a little technical help, I’m happy to set up some tools for them to get them started. (We’re also hosing occasional Homebrew Website Clubs, including a virtual one this coming week, which people are welcome to join.)


Aldrich C. Feed reader revolution: it’s time to embrace open & disrupt social media. BoffoSocko. https://boffosocko.com/2017/06/09/how-feed-readers-can-grow-market-share-and-take-over-social-media/. Published June 9, 2017. Accessed July 20, 2018.
Parecki A. Building an IndieWeb Reader. Aaron Parecki. https://aaronparecki.com/2018/03/12/17/building-an-indieweb-reader. Published March 21, 2018. Accessed July 20, 2018.

👓 The Billionaire’s Typewriter | Butterick’s Practical Typography

Read The billionaire’s typewriter by Matthew But­t­er­ick (Butterick’s Practical Typography)
A friend pointed me to a story on Medium called “Death to Type­writ­ers,” by Medium de­signer Marcin Wichary. The story is about the in­flu­ence of the type­writer on dig­i­tal type­set­ting. It ref­er­ences my “ex­cel­lent list” of type­writer habits.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

Min­i­mal­ism doesn’t fore­close ei­ther ex­pres­sive breadth or con­cep­tual depth. On the con­trary, the min­i­mal­ist pro­gram—as it ini­tially emerged in fine art of the 20th cen­tury—has been about di­vert­ing the viewer’s at­ten­tion from overt signs of au­thor­ship to the deeper pu­rity of the ingredients.  

This also sounds like a great way to cook!

Like all non­sense, it’s in­tended to be easy to swal­low.  

You’re giv­ing up far more than de­sign choice. Mr. Williams de­scribes Medium’s key ben­e­fit as res­cu­ing writ­ers from the “ter­ri­ble dis­trac­tion” of for­mat­ting chores. But con­sider the cost. Though he’s bait­ing the hook with de­sign, he’s also ask­ing you, the writer, to let him con­trol how you of­fer your work to read­ers. Mean­ing, to get the full ben­e­fit of Medium’s de­sign, you have to let your story live on Medium, send all your read­ers to Medium, have your work per­ma­nently en­tan­gled with other sto­ries on Medium, and so on—a sig­nif­i­cant concession.  

You’re definitely not owning your own data.

Boiled down, Medium is sim­ply mar­ket­ing in the ser­vice of more mar­ket­ing. It is not a “place for ideas.” It is a place for ad­ver­tis­ers. It is, there­fore, ut­terly superfluous.