Read How and why to tell your story online, revisited (Jon Udell)
I wrote this essay in 2006 as part of a series of Internet explainers I did for New Hampshire Public Radio. It never aired for reasons lost to history, so I’m publishing this 15-year-old time…

Thomas Mahon is a Savile Row tailor. His shop in London caters to people who can spend two thousand pounds on a classic handmade suit. I’ll never be in the market for one of those, but if I were I’d be fascinated by Mahon’s blog, EnglishCut.com, which tells you everything you might want to know about Savile Row past and present, about how Mahan practices the craft of bespoke tailoring, and about how to buy and care for the garments he makes. 

I went down a rabbit hole just the other day on this topic. Bookmarking this for for some future journeys.
Annotated on February 06, 2021 at 12:38AM

We’ve always used the term ‘social networking’ to refer to the process of finding and connecting with those people. And that process has always depended on a fabric of trust woven most easily in the context of local communities and face-to-face interaction. 

Too much of modern social networking suffers from this fabric of trust and rampant context collapse. How can we improve on these looking forward?
Annotated on February 06, 2021 at 12:40AM

Liked Goodbye @macgenie, hello @jean by Jean MacDonaldJean MacDonald (micro.welltempered.net)
I’ve been using “macgenie” as my internet name since I first signed up for Digg (Wikipedia article) in March 2007. A friend asked me to “digg” his news story, and I said I would try to do it quickly, but that I often suffered from decision paralysis when it came to choosing a user name. He...

I resemble this remark!

Read That’s Yikes…Chillian J. Yikes! by Jillian C. York (jilliancyork.com)
In possibly the funniest thing that’s ever happened to me on the Internet (and please remember that I’ve been called a fattie by the daughter of the Uzbek dictator and crowdfunded my ticket to troll a Thomas Friedman event), the New York Times, that paper of record, has today issued a correction that’s been called “the best thing on the Internet this week.”
I know this Twitter Halloween name phenomenon has been going on for several years. This is one of the earliest examples I’ve seen. Interesting that it caused a correction in the New York Times.
Read A White Male Professor Reportedly Faked Being a Woman of Color, This Time to Troll Scientists on Twitter (Jezebel)
Somehow, beyond all reason and understanding, another person has been caught pretending to be a woman of color. At least this time around, the story has an extra fucked-up layer. Anonymous internet sleuths uncovered Professor Craig Chapman, who teaches chemistry at the University of New Hampshire, posing as a woman of color on Twitter under the name The Science Femme. According to The New Hampshire, Chapman was brought down by his own hubris when he tweeted about his brother’s brewery from both his fake account and his real account. The Science Femme and Chapman’s personal account have both been deleted, but unluckily for him, screenshots exist.
A good reminder that I really should unsubscribe to “people” I don’t know personally or have an exceptionally high expectation of who they really are and what content I’m actually consuming.
Read Jessica Krug (Wikipedia)
Krug was an associate professor of history at George Washington University (GWU) (2012–2020) until becoming the focus of controversy after she disclosed in an essay that she had lived for years under assumed racial and ethnic identities (including that of being half-Algerian-American and half-German-American and of being a Bronx-bred Afro-"boricua" (Afro-Puerto Rican) who went by the self-described "salsa" name of "La Bombalera"). In a September 3 2020 blog post, Krug confessed that: "I have eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness."
Read The Layered Deceptions of Jessica Krug, the Black-Studies Professor Who Hid That She Is White by Lauren Michele JacksonLauren Michele Jackson (The New Yorker)
During her scholastic career, Krug’s advisers, editors, and colleagues failed to recognize the gap between something thrown-on and something lived-in. That inattentiveness was her escape hatch.

Consider, for instance, the footage that has been circulating from a New York City Council hearing, held over Zoom in June, which shows Krug in her Afro-Latinx pose. She introduces herself as Jess La Bombalera, a nickname apparently of her own making, adapted from Bomba, an Afro-Puerto Rican genre of music and dance. Broadcasting live from “El Barrio,” and wearing purple-tinted shades and a hoop in her nose, she lambasts gentrifiers, shouts out her “black and brown siblings,” and twice calls out “white New Yorkers” for not yielding their speaking time. What stands out, though, is the way Krug speaks, in a patchy accent that begins with thickly rolled “R”s and transitions into what can best be described as B-movie gangster. This is where desire outruns expertise. The Times, in a piece on Krug’s exposure, last week, nonetheless called this a “Latina accent,” lending credence to Krug’s performance. (The phrase was later deleted.) The offhand notation is a tiny example of the buy-in Krug has been afforded her entire scholastic career, by advisers and committee members and editors and colleagues. They failed to recognize the gap not between real and faux, so much, as between something thrown-on and something lived-in. That inattentiveness was Krug’s escape hatch. 

If nothing else, this is indicative of human cognitive bias. We’ll tend to take at face value what is presented to us, but then once we “know” our confirmation bias will kick in on the other direction.

I’m curious if there were examples of anyone calling out her accent contemporaneously? We’re also stuck with the bias of wanting to go with the majority view. When you’re the lone voice, you’re less likely to speak up. This is also evinced in the story of her previous colleagues who had “gut feelings” that something was wrong, but didn’t say anything or do any research at the time.
Annotated on September 19, 2020 at 09:14AM

She introduces herself as Jess La Bombalera, a nickname apparently of her own making, adapted from Bomba, an Afro-Puerto Rican genre of music and dance. Broadcasting live from “El Barrio,” and wearing purple-tinted shades and a hoop in her nose, she lambasts gentrifiers, shouts out her “black and brown siblings,” and twice calls out “white New Yorkers” for not yielding their speaking time. 

I hear this name and immediately think “Bamboléo“! Gipsy Kings! and then this:


Annotated on September 19, 2020 at 09:30AM

Lauren Michele Jackson is a contributing writer at The New Yorker and an assistant professor of English at Northwestern University. 

This is an excellent article on its own without the context, but it is more interesting with the context on the click-thru that Jackson’s first book, the essay collection “White Negroes,” was published in 2019.

I’m curious about the editorial decision to not mention it in the mini-bio here, particularly when the piece is so pointedly about identity and authenticity.
Annotated on September 19, 2020 at 09:57AM

Read What's Next? Scots, Scottish Gaelic, and the Scottish Identity by Melissa Puthenmadom (eucenterillinois-language.blogspot.com)
With the Scottish independence referendum looming over the horizon—scheduled to take place on September 18, 2014—the presence of Scotland’s regional and minority languages has become more relevant than ever. Today, the only official language in Scotland is English, while Scottish Gaelic and Scots are recognized as regional languages. You might ask: what’s the difference?
Read Madonna to Co-Write, Direct Her Own Biopic by Borys Kit ( Hollywood Reporter)
Diablo Cody is co-writing the "untold true story" that will be produced by Amy Pascal.

There are so many untold and inspiring stories and who better to tell it than me. 

Of course there will be a huge amount of bias from her perspective.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 12:18PM

Madonna being front and center to guide her own biopic should not be a surprise from anyone who has followed her career. But it is noteworthy since most biopics, when based on people or musical acts, tend to have their subjects as consultants and executive producers, involved mainly from rights points of view. This has been the case with recent hits Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody. 

And I think she’s learned from Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody that if you’re heavily involved in making and producing your own biopic, it’s unlikely anyone else will do one anytime soon and you’ll be able to control not only the immediate narrative, but also the long term narrative (at least within popular culture).
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 12:23PM

Indicating Introversion / Extroversion at Conferences and Public Meeting Spaces

While I was at Innovate Pasadena’s Friday Morning Coffee Meetup on the topic of design this morning, I saw a woman wearing a large decorative flower in her hair. It reminded me of the social custom of Hawaiian women wearing flowers in their hair and what that indicates socially in terms of their wanting to be approached or not.

This made me begin wondering about the less gregarious or introverted people at meetings or conferences who can become overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, and interactions that it becomes so burdensome that they need to take a break and get away for a bit. What if there were a way to easily indicate at conferences that one wanted to be approached, pitched, or engaged in conversation? While some are sure to still need quiet spaces or breaks, perhaps there’s a way to leverage external indicators to generally diminish the additional social, mental, and emotional burdens of interacting in large crowds of strangers?

I might suggest using the position of one’s name tag as the indicator, but in the United States, generally etiquette has been to wear the name tag on the right hand side and at many conferences it’s almost more common that one wears a lanyard which prevents explicit positioning of a name tag in any case. I might also suggest using different sides of a name tag or lanyard, but experience with the physics and design of these indicates they would be poorly suited for this.

The second method that comes to mind is to use the placement on the right/left of other conference paraphernalia? Perhaps pronoun badges might serve this secondary function? It’s a bit Western-oriented to suggest, but perhaps following the existing pattern of wedding rings on the left hand (or flowers above the left ear in Hawaiian culture) to indicate that one is “unavailable” or would prefer not to be bothered, pitched, or interacted with at the moment? Wearing them on the right indicates I’m open for conversation, pitches, or interaction. Using this also has the potential side benefit of encouraging more conferences to explicitly advertise pronouns and normalize these sorts of behaviors and cultural conventions.

Multi-colored pronoun buttons for she (orange), he (yellow), they (green), and ask (red) as well as an IndieWebCamp button
Image courtesy of the IndieWeb.org wiki via Aaron Parecki (with a CC0 license)

Have other event organizers considered this sort of system before? Are there other examples of it occurring in the wild? What other external indicators could one use and simultaneously be easy for both organizers and participants?

Read Why the media is so polarized — and how it polarizes us by Ezra Klein (Vox)
The following is an excerpt from Ezra Klein’s new book, Why We’re Polarized, published by Simon & Schuster and available January 28. We talk a lot about the left/right divide in political media.
Okay, I’m in. Ordering the book. 

Originally bookmarked on January 29, 2020 at 06:42AM

Added annotations


This is a damning result: The more political media you absorb, the more warped your perspective of the other side becomes.

Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 01:51PM


Chris Hayes, who anchors MSNBC’s 8 pm newscast and is among the most thoughtful, civic-minded journalists in the industry, referenced a Will Ferrell joke from Anchorman 2 on his podcast, saying, “What if instead of telling people the things they need to know, we tell them what they want to know?” That is, he says, “the creation story of cable news.”

Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 01:57PM


But we don’t just want people to read our work. We want people to spread our work — to be so moved by what we wrote or said that they log on to Facebook and share it with their friends or head over to Reddit and try to tell the world. That’s how you get those dots to multiply. But people don’t share quiet voices. They share loud voices. They share work that moves them, that helps them express to their friends who they are and how they feel. Social platforms are about curating and expressing a public-facing identity. They’re about saying, “I’m a person who cares about this, likes that, and loathes this other thing.” They are about signaling the groups you belong to and, just as important, the groups you don’t belong to.

Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 01:59PM


When we talk about political media, we tend to cut a sharp line between the political elites who create the media and the audience that consumes it. But that’s a mistake. No one consumes more political, and politicized, media than political elites. This is part of the reason political media has an enormous effect on politics, even though only a small fraction of the country regularly consumes it.

Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 02:08PM


Politics is, first and foremost, driven by the people who pay the most attention and wield the most power — and those people opt in to extraordinarily politicized media. They then create the political system they perceive.

How can we push it back so that the power stems from the people? How could we up-end the current system?
Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 02:10PM

Read Leaked Documents Expose the Secretive Market for Your Web Browsing Data by Joseph Cox (Vice)
An Avast antivirus subsidiary sells 'Every search. Every click. Every buy. On every site.' Its clients have included Home Depot, Google, Microsoft, Pepsi, and McKinsey.
Bookmarked on January 29, 2020 at 06:41AM
Replied to a post by SerenaSerena (supine-owl.com)
Does anybody else have this problem: I can’t decide on a domain name or constantly wanting to change my domain name…
For my primary domain I’m generally happy, though I do sometimes wish I was using a domain with my name in it. I do often have a problem of collecting other domain names and wanting to build quirky and interesting things on them. Some I’ve had for ages and just haven’t had the time to do the things I bought them for. I wonder if there’s a 12-step program for domain hoarders? 
Read a Twitter thread by  Mx. Aria Stewart Mx. Aria Stewart (Twitter)
It just crystallized for me what I think has been mistaken about thinking of unwanted interaction on social networks as a "privacy" problem. It's not.

A privacy problem is things becoming known more widely than they should, subject to surveillance and contextless scrutiny. 
The onslaught of sexual harassment on platforms like early Twitter (and later twitter for people of notability), @KeybaseIO, every naive social network is an attack on the right to exist in public. It is the inverse of a privacy problem. 
But the conceiving of this as a privacy problem brings the wrong solutions. It means we are offered tools to remove ourselves from public view, to restrict our public personas, to retreat from public life. It means women are again confined to private sphere, denied civic life. 
 It's so endemic, so entrenched, and so normal that women should have to retreat to protect ourselves that we think of this as part of femininity. A strong civic life is seen as unfeminine, forward. It poisons us politically, socially, and personally. 
It is, at its core, an attack on democracy as well. 
The only way to undo this is to reconceive of this, not as a privacy problem but as an attack on public life. There will be new problems with this but at least they will be new. 
There has been work done on this, but I've never seen it connected to civic life, and this connects with my thoughts and work on community. The unit that social networks must focus on cannot be the individual. We do not exist as individuals first but as members of our communities 
When a new user joins a social network, their connection must be to their peers, their existing social relationships. A new user can only be onboarded in the context of relationships already on the network. 
Early adopters form such a community, but extrapolating from the joining of those initial members to how to scale the network misses the critical transition: from no community to the first, not from the first users to the next. 
New communities can only be onboarded by connections from individuals that span communities. New communities must be onboarded collectively, or the network falls to the army of randos. 
The irony is that surveillance capitalism has the information to do this but not the will, because as objects of marketing, we are individuals, statistics and demographics, not communities. The reality lies in plain sight. 
There have been attempts at social networks, sadly none dense enough to succeed, but that treat people as part of a web, and that their peers can shield and protect them. The idea is solid. 
The other alternative is to stop trying to give people a solitary identity, a profile and onboarding to a flat network, but instead only provide them with community connections. Dreamwidth is this to a large degree, if too sparse for most people to connect. 
Our social networks must connect us, not to our "friends" but to our communities. The ones that succeed do this by intent or by accident.

Facebook has a narrow view of community, but for those it matches, it works. With major flaws, but it does. 
Twitter, its community of early adopters, its creepy onboarding by uploading your contacts and mining data to connect you works. If I were to join and follow a few people I know, it would rapidly suggest many more people in my queer and trans community. It works. 
And this is why Ello failed. This is why Diaspora failed. This is why Mastodon succeeded, if only by scraping by the bare minimum. This is why gnu social failed. This is why a random vbulletin forum can succeed. The ones that succeed connect a dense community. 
Note that gnu social and mastodon are the same protocol! But they are different social networks. The difference in their affordances and the community structures they encourage are vastly different, despite interoperating. 
I'd say I don't know how apparent this problem is to white men — the ones largely designing these networks — but I do know. I know because of the predictable failures we see.

Part of this, I think boils down to how invisible community is when you are the default user. 
At no time am I unaware that I am trans, that I am a woman, that the people I follow and who follow me are distinct from the background. I can spot my people in a crowd on the internet with precision, just like a KNN clustering can. 
Trans culture in particular is Extremely Online. We are exceptionally easy to onboard to a new platform. But the solution can scale if we focus on solving it. And by knowing who is in the community (likely) and who is not, we can understand what is and is not harassment. 
We don't need to even know what the communities are — Twitter does not — and yet it knows how we cluster, and that suffices.

If we stop thinking of this as a privacy problem — letting us hide from the connections that are our solution — we can enlarge public life. 
That exceptional article — — about how bots sow division shows us another facet of this problem and way of thinking. Conceiving of this as a privacy problem fundamentally reacts with division when solidarity is needed. 
We can only fight this with a new, loose solidarity and an awareness of community boundaries. We can build technology that makes space for us to be safe online by being present with those that support us, and react together, rather than as individuals and separating us for safety 
This thread has meandered a bit, but I'm dancing around something important. We fundamentally need to stop organizing online activity the way we do. Follow and be followed is not where it's at.

It's join, manage attention, build connection. 
Stop sorting things topically and trying to find connections in content.

Start looking for clusters of relationships between people.

The question should not be "what is this about?" but "who is this for?"
Some interesting ideas on social hiding in here.