Listened to Howard Rheingold on Tools for Thought | Episode 94 • August 14, 2022 by Jorge Arango from The Informed Life
“We’re extremely powerful when it comes to making sense and finding connections, doing it visually instead of with a page.” Howard Rheingold is an eminent author, maker, and educator. His work has explored and defined key aspects of digital culture, including the use of computers as tools for mind augmentation, virtual communities, and social media literacy. In this conversation, we discuss computers as extensions for our minds, Douglas Engelbart’s unfinished revolution, basic literacies for interacting in information environments, and the resurgence of Tools for Thought.

Interesting and some useful base material here on literacies, but one can’t get very deep in 30 minutes with Rheingold on this topic. I would have rather this been 6 hours long and then multiple times that.
Listened to Mark Bernstein on Tinderbox by Jorge ArangoJorge Arango from The Informed Life

Mark Bernstein is chief scientist of Eastgate Systems, Inc. He’s been writing hypertexts and developing hypertext authoring software since the late 1980s. Mark is the creator of Tinderbox and other tools for thinking that “harness the power of the link.” In this conversation, we discuss thinking through connected notes.

Some subtle insights here.

representational talkback; the design of taking notes in the present when you’re not sure how they’ll connect to ideas in the (imagined) future; The Tinderbox Way; by force, all research is bottom up.

Read Thinking about starting an open zettelkasten by Andy Sylvester (andysylvester.com)
In yesterday’s post on Chris Aldrich’s overview of zettelkasten techniques, I asked about seeing the zettelkasten itself. He replied saying most of the content was in his Hypothesis account, and sent me a pointer to an entry. I read through a bunch of pages on zettelkasten stuff yesterday, ...
Building a Zettelkasten on the web with an OPML structure is intriguing. I’ve heard about outliners in the space before, but I don’t think I’ve heard anyone using OPML for this specific use case before.
Listened to Key Takeaways from the Trump's Affidavit Release from The Brian Lehrer Show | WNYC
Katie Benner, Justice Department reporter at The New York Times, joins with takeaways and the latest news from the release of the affidavit in the FBI search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

Some interesting and useful depth here beyond a lot of the usual political rhetoric.
Read The Quest for a Memex 2022-07-31 by Kevin MarksKevin Marks (kevinmarks.com)
This week John Borthwick put out a call for Tools for Thinking: People want better tools for thinking — ones that take the mass of notes that you have and organize them, that help extend your second brain into a knowledge or interest graph and that enable open sharing and ownership of the “knowl...
I got stuck over the weekend, so I totally missed Kevin Marks’ memex demo at IndieWebCamp’s Create Day, but it is an interesting little UI experiment.

I’ll always maintain that Vannevar Bush really harmed the first few generations of web development by not mentioning the word commonplace book in his conceptualization. Marks heals some of this wound by explicitly tying the idea of memex to that of the zettelkasten however. John Borthwick even mentions the idea of “networked commonplace books”. [I suspect a little birdie may have nudged this perspective as catnip to grab my attention—a ruse which is highly effective.]

Some of Kevin’s conceptualization reminds me a bit of Jerry Michalski’s use of The Brain which provides a specific visual branching of ideas based on the links and their positions on the page: the main idea in the center, parent ideas above it, sibling ideas to the right/left and child ideas below it. I don’t think it’s got the idea of incoming or outgoing links, but having a visual location on the page for incoming links (my own site has incoming ones at the bottom as comments or responses) can be valuable.

I’m also reminded a bit of Kartik Prabhu’s experiments with marginalia and webmention on his website which plays around with these ideas as well as their visual placement on the page in different methods.

MIT MediaLab’s Fold site (details) was also an interesting sort of UI experiment in this space.

It also seems a bit reminiscent of Kevin Mark’s experiments with hovercards in the past as well, which might be an interesting way to do the outgoing links part.

Next up, I’d love to see larger branching visualizations of these sorts of things across multiple sites… Who will show us those “associative trails”?

Another potential framing for what we’re all really doing is building digital versions of Indigenous Australian’s songlines across the web. Perhaps this may help realize Margo Neale and Lynne Kelly’s dream for a “third archive”?

Read CAA Closes $750M Deal for ICM Partners, Consolidating Major Agency Landscape by Alex Weprin (The Hollywood Reporter)
Some 425 ICM employees will join CAA, with 105 expected to be laid off as the Department of Justice allows the acquisition after an antitrust review.
Read Matt Mullenweg Identifies GoDaddy as a “Parasitic Company” and an “Existential Threat to WordPress’ Future” by Sarah Gooding (WP Tavern)
On Thursday Matt Mullenweg responded to an inquiry on Twitter from Jeff Matson, a Pagely employee, about whether Automattic’s Newspack platform had all open open source components or some pro…
WordPress open source or WordPress.com? Recall that Automattic is a VC backed company now and Matt has a big dog in the hunt.
Listened to How Indigenous elders read the stars by Sarah Kanowski from Conversations (ABC)
Working over many years with several Indigenous Elders, Duane has published The First Astronomers, a complete overview of traditional First Nations star knowledge.

A great introduction to the book The First Astronomers.
Listened to Historian Uncovers The Racist Roots Of The 2nd Amendment by Dave Davies from Fresh Air | NPR

In her new book, The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America, Anderson traces racial distinctions in Americans’ treatment of gun ownership back to the founding of the country and the Second Amendment, which states:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

The language of the amendment, Anderson says, was crafted to ensure that slave owners could quickly crush any rebellion or resistance from those whom they’d enslaved. And she says the right to bear arms, presumably guaranteed to all citizens, has been repeatedly denied to Black people.

This is the sort of history that should be more commonplace in our schools. Why was I not taught this? What an excellent little interview. Going to buy Carol Anderson’s book in triplicate. 
Listened to Grain and transport As wheat travelled, it created the modern world by Jeremy Cherfas from eatthispodcast.com

Cereals provide their offspring with a long-lived supply of energy to power the first growth spurt of the seed. Thousands of years ago, people discovered that they could steal some of the seeds to power their own growth, taking advantage of the storability of seeds to move the food from where it grew to where it might be eaten. Wheat, the pre-eminent cereal, moved along routes that were ancient before the Greek empire, carried, probably, by ox-drawn carts and guided along these black paths by people remembered in Ukraine today as chumaki.

In this episode, Scott Nelson, author of Oceans of Grain, tells me about the various ways in which the ability to move wheat more efficiently changed world history, geography and economics, for starters.

Notes

  1. Scott Reynolds Nelson’s book Oceans of Grain is published by Basic Books.
  2. Listen to Persephone’s Secret, if you haven’t already, and I promise no vengeful gods will render you dumb.
  3. Banner photo of a grain elevator and train in Wichita Falls, Texas by Carol M. Highsmith. Image of a 19th century Chumak by Jan Nepomucen Lewicki; Public Domain.
  4. Transcript coming soon.

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In the trailer for this short series, I presumed some context about the relationship of the topic to the Ukraine, but missed the true mark with the additional context provided here.

Even better, I suspect that some of the history here is right up my alley in relation to work I’ve been doing on oral cultures. Some of it “sounds” like early oral Ukrainian culture is eerily reminiscent to Milman Parry’s work on orality among the guslars of Yugoslavia and reading I’ve been doing on Indigenous astronomy! What a great find. I’ve immediately ordered a copy of the book.

I wouldn’t expect these sorts of information and insight in a typical podcast about food, but Jeremy Cherfas always delivers the goods.

Listened to Persephone’s secret: The Eleusinian Mysteries and the making of the modern economy by Jeremy Cherfas from eatthispodcast.com

Many people take the myth of Demeter — Ceres in Latin — and her daughter Persephone to be just a metaphor for the annual cycle of planting and harvesting. It is, but there may be more to it than that. Why else would it be worth scaring participants in the Eleusinian Mysteries into saying absolutely nothing about what went on during these initiation rites into the cult of Demeter and Persephone?

Maybe the story hides a secret so valuable that it was worth protecting.

Elucidating the Eleusinian Mysteries is one small element in Scott Reynolds Nelson’s new book, Oceans of Grain. It looks at the many, many ways in which wheat and human history intertwine, which he’s been working on for years. It was finally published on 22 February this year.

Two days later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

Today, what the story of Persephone is really about. And over the next three weeks, Scott Nelson and I will be talking about how wheat has influenced human affairs, as it is still doing today.

Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More
Support this podcast: on Patreon

I’ve fallen way behind on making my listen posts public and hope to remedy the issue, particularly for the better podcasts I listen to. What better way to start than a new short series in Jeremy Cherfas’ excellent Eat This Podcast?
Read The Other Invisible Hand (NOEMA)
Economics and evolution are basically in the same business: Both are all about productivity selection, though one has been at it for billions of years longer than the other. Both involve “invisible hand” magic — intricate, unplanned, “self-or...
Folks who have been reading David Wengrow and David Graeber’s The Dawn of Everything are sure to appreciate the sentiment here which pulls in the ideas of biology and evolution to expand on their account and makes it a much more big history sort of thesis.
 
I’m reminded of Kate Raworth’s excellent Donut Economics as a potential remedy.
 

Raw capitalism mimics the logic of cancer within our body politic.

Read Digg users are dumber than goldfish by markpilgrimmarkpilgrim (Dive Into Mark)
So what happened was, I was talking with Joe about the fact that Dive Into Python appeared on the
Users of some aggregation sites collectively forget prior articles and news and resubmit them at intervals. This may give rise to the colloquialism “goldfish effect”.
Read - Want to Read: Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States by James C. Scott (Yale University Press)
Why did humans abandon hunting and gathering for sedentary communities dependent on livestock and cereal grains, and governed by precursors of today’s states? Most people believe that plant and animal domestication allowed humans, finally, to settle down and form agricultural villages, towns, and states, which made possible civilization, law, public order, and a presumably secure way of living. But archaeological and historical evidence challenges this narrative. The first agrarian states, says James C. Scott, were born of accumulations of domestications: first fire, then plants, livestock, subjects of the state, captives, and finally women in the patriarchal family—all of which can be viewed as a way of gaining control over reproduction. Scott explores why we avoided sedentism and plow agriculture, the advantages of mobile subsistence, the unforeseeable disease epidemics arising from crowding plants, animals, and grain, and why all early states are based on millets and cereal grains and unfree labor. He also discusses the “barbarians” who long evaded state control, as a way of understanding continuing tension between states and nonsubject peoples.
Recommended by Dan Allosso while we were reading The Dawn of Everything.