Thoughts about Robin Sloan’s Spring ’83 Experiment

I’ve been thinking about Robin Sloan‘s Spring ’83 Experiment on and off for a bit.

I too almost immediately thought of Fraidyc.at and its nudge at shifting the importance of content based on time and recency. I’d love to have a social reader with additional affordances for both this time shifting and Ton’s idea of reading based on social distance.

I’m struck by the seemingly related idea of Peter Hagen’s LindyLearn platform and annotations which focuses on taking some of the longer term interesting ideas as the basis for browsing and chewing on. Though even here, one needs some of the odd, the cutting edge, and the avant garde in their balanced internet diet. Would Spring ’83 provide some of this?

I’m also struck by some similarities this has with the idea of Derek Siver’s /now page movement. I see some updating regularly while others have let it slip by the wayside. Still the “board” of users exists, though one must click through a sea of mostly smiling and welcoming faces to get to it the individual pieces of content. (The smiling faces are more inviting and personal than the cacophony of yelling and chaos I see in models for Spring ’83.) This reminds me of Stanley Meyers’ frequent assertion that he attempted to design a certain “sense of quiet” into the early television show Dragnet to balance the seeming loudness of the everyday as well as the noise of other contemporaneous television programming.

The form reminds me a bit of the signature pages of one’s high school year book. But here, instead of the goal being timeless scribbles, one has the opportunity to change the message over time. Does the potential commercialization of the form (you know it will happen in a VC world crazed with surveillance capitalism) follow the same trajectory of the old college paper facebook? Next up, Yearbook.com!

Beyond the thing as a standard, I wondered what the actual form of Spring ’83 adds to a broader conversation? What does it add to the diversity of voices that we don’t already see in other spaces. How might it be abused? Would people come back to it regularly? What might be its emergent properties? This last is hard to know without experimenting at larger scales.

It definitely seems quirky and fun in and old school web sort of way, but it also stresses me out looking at the zany busyness of some of the examples of magazine stands. The general form reminds me of the bargain bins at book stores which have the promise of finding valuable hidden gems and at an excellent price, but often the ideas and quality of what I find usually isn’t worth the discounted price and the return on investment is rarely worth the effort. How might this get beyond these forms?

It also brings up the idea of what other online forms we may have had with this same sort of raw experimentation? How might the internet have looked if there had been a bigger rise of the wiki before that of the blog? What would the world be like if Webmention had existed before social media rose to prominence? Did we somehow miss some interesting digital animals because the web rose so quickly to prominence without more early experimentation before its “Cambrian explosion”?

I’ve been thinking about distilled note taking forms recently and what a network of atomic ideas on index cards look like and what emerges from them. What if the standard were digital index cards that linked and cross linked to each other, particularly in a world without adherence to time based orders and streams? What does a new story look like if I can pull out a card either at random or based on a single topic and only see it or perhaps some short linked chain of ideas (mine or others) which come along with it? Does the choice of a random “Markov monkey” change my thinking or perspective? What comes out of this jar of Pandora? Is it just a new form of cadavre exquis?

This standard has been out for a bit and presumably folks are experimenting with it. What do the early results look like? How are they using it? Do they like it? Does it need more scale? What do small changes make to the overall form?


For more on these related ideas and the experiment, see some of these threads of conversation I’m aware of:

Know of others? I’m happy to aggregate them here.

Featured image: Collection of 1990s 88×31 buttons by https://anlucas.neocities.org/88x31Buttons.html

Am I wrong in thinking that the reason they’re calling it Web3 instead of Web 3.0 for parallelism with Web 2.0 is that hashtagging it on Twitter just doesn’t work with the period in there? (i.e. #⁠Web3.0 doesn’t link properly on Twitter the way it does on my website.) And if I’m right, is this a problem that we can expect the blockchain to fix? #⁠HistoricalLinguistics
Read Podcasting, RSS, Openness, and Choice by Michael MignanoMichael Mignano (Medium)
In the coming months and years, we’ll be working to further enable choice for creators, including giving them the power to choose not only how someone wants to create or monetize audio, but also where specific content is able to be consumed, ensuring creators have an opportunity to decide if they are aligned with the platforms distributing their content.

The open RSS standard has provided immense value to the growth of the podcasting ecosystem over the past few decades. 

Why do I get the sinking feeling that the remainder of this article will be maniacally saying, “and all of that ends today!”
Annotated on April 19, 2021 at 09:34AM

We also believe that in order to democratize audio and achieve Spotify’s mission of enabling a million creators to live off of their art, we must work to enable greater choice for creators. This choice becomes increasingly important as audio becomes even easier to create and share. 

Dear Anchor/Spotify, please remember that “democratize” DOES NOT equal surveillance capitalism. In fact, Facebook and others have shown that doing what you’re probably currently planning for the podcasting space will most likely work against democracy.
Annotated on April 19, 2021 at 09:13AM

In the coming months and years, we’ll be working to further enable choice for creators, including giving them the power to choose not only how someone wants to create or monetize audio, but also where specific content is able to be consumed, ensuring creators have an opportunity to decide if they are aligned with the platforms distributing their content. 

So this means you’re going to use simple, open standards and tooling so that not only Anchor and Spotify will benefit?

Or are you going to build closed systems that require the use of proprietary software and thus force subscriptions?

Are you going to Balkanize the audio space to force consumers into your product and only your product? Or will producers be able to have a broad selection of platforms to which they could easily export and distribute their content?
Annotated on April 19, 2021 at 08:57AM

Thus, the creative freedom of creators is limited. 

And thus draconian methods for making the distribution unnecessarily complicated, siloed, surveillance capitalized, and over-monitized beyond all comprehension are beyond the reach of one or two for profit companies who want to own the entire market like monopolistic giants are similarly limited. (But let’s just stick with the creators we’re pretending to champion, shall we?)
Annotated on April 19, 2021 at 09:07AM

tl;dr: Anchor: We’re doing this not so much because creators say they want it, but because we really, really want it. P.S.: We don’t care at all what our listeners think, and so have nothing to say about their freedom.

Replied to a tweet by @mrled (Twitter)
Discord. Ha!

What we really need is a planet of posts tagged with RSS that has its own RSS feed! I’ll start by offering my feed about RSS: https://boffosocko.com/tag/RSS/feed/

Or maybe if you’re daring, we need a shareable OPML file of feeds? Send me your feed about RSS, and I’ll add it to my list.

But seriously what is really new in RSS land?

RSS 2.0 will celebrate it’s 12th birthday at the end of the month on March 30th. It hasn’t changed or evolved since that time.

While many say it’s dead, it’s still thriving all around the web as a serious form of glue that’s supported by almost every major platform out there.

People are still adding these sidefiles to their sites all these years later. In fact, I just read a colleague’s article about moving from ATOM to RSS the other day. And it wasn’t that long ago that the Knight First Amendment Institute fixed their RSS feed.

But who is still iterating on doing new and interesting things with RSS?

One of the more interesting things I’ve seen is Julien Genestoux‘s work with SubToMe, which iterates significantly on making RSS easier to use and subscribe to sites.

There’s also Dave Winer‘s work with OPML and FeedBase which are intriguing.

Last year I saw some ideas out of Matt Webb who also made https://aboutfeeds.com/.

Ryan Barrett has some great RSS translation tools in Granary.

I’m using RSS and OPML to power a blogroll on steroids.

What are your favorite RSS tools and experiments?

Read microformats include pattern idea by Brian Tremblay (btrem.github.io)
The current microformats include pattern offers two methods — using <object> or <a> — to include in a microformat element parts of a document that are outside of that microformats element's DOM tree. Both patterns have problems, and have not been widely adopted. Also, the include pattern has not been updated for microformats 2. This page is a proposal for a new include pattern using a custom element without any semantics.
btrem in #microformats 2020-12-14 ()
If you’re interested in microformats (in general) or web pages, data, and design relating to creating menus for restaurant web pages, there’s been some great conversation brewing in the microformats community over the past two weeks.

It’s a reasonably good example of how web standards are evolved for those who might like to see how the sausage is made (pun intended.) 

Read Next.js and Google Best Practices for Images: How It Relates to Web Standards by Richard MacManus (The New Stack)
Author’s note, Nov. 11, 2020: This is a reworking of the article published Nov. 9, 2020, originally entitled “Next.js and Google ‘Best Practices’ = Bad News for Web Standards”. Based on the feedback I received after publication, I realized that the premise of my original article was incorr...
Read Aggrieved ad tech types decry Google dominance in W3C standards – who writes the rules and for whom? by Thomas Claburn (The Register)
World Wide Web Consortium urged to get its governance act together
Earlier this week, 20 web advertising companies wrote to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)'s Advisory Board to ask that the standards organization revise its governance process to prevent ad tech giants like Google from running roughshod over the concerns of others with an interest in the web.
Bookmarked Groups Activity Dashboard (w3c.github.io)
The table below summarizes the level of activity from current Community Groups over the previous 12 months as of 2020-07-22. The bar under the names of the groups represent the duration since the creation of the group. The information on related groups / funnel entries is manually managed and likely not exhaustive.
A cool looking little dashboard for a huge number of groups working on the web.
Read Micropub (Chapter of a forthcoming longer book) by Manton ReeceManton Reece (GitHub)
Micropub is one of several important IndieWeb building blocks, answering the question: what would a posting API look like if we started over, stripping away everything except the most basic requirement of sending post text to a server, and then build on top of that foundation when clients and servers in the real world need more?

Forget about blackout poetry, Google enables highlight poetry in your browser!

Kevin Marks literally and figuratively highlighted a bit of interesting found poetry on Google’s Ten things we know to be true article. (Click the link to see the highlight poetry on Google’s page for yourself.)

A screenshot appears below:

Screenshot of a Google Page with the words "Doing evil is a business. take advantage of all our users" disaggregated, but highlighted so as to reveal a message.
Found poetry:
“Doing evil
is a business
take advantage of
all our users”

Here’s a shortened URL for it that you can share with others: bit.ly/D-ntB-Evil

It’s a creative inverse of blackout poetry where instead of blacking out extraneous words, one can just highlight them instead. This comes courtesy of some new browser based functionality that Google announced earlier this week relating to some of their search and page snippets functionality.

You can find some code and descriptions for how to accomplish this in the WISC Scroll to Text Github repository.

What kind of poetry will you find online this week?

Read Google now highlights search results directly on webpages (The Verge)
It doesn’t seem to be available everywhere just yet.

SearchEngineLand notes that this could have an impact on the ad market, since a website’s visitors may be automatically scrolled down past its ads to the relevant content. The publication notes that sites may need to change the location of their ads in light of Google’s latest feature. 

And of course there will be crazy implications for the adtech space.

Annotated on June 04, 2020 at 09:30AM

Clicking the snippet still takes you to the webpage that it pulled the information from, but now the text from the snippet will be highlighted in yellow, and the browser will automatically scroll down to the section in question. 

This is a feature that’s been implemented in most browsers for a while as fragmentions.

Hypothes.is has supported this sort of functionality for a few years now as well.

I’m curious how these different implementations differ?

Annotated on June 04, 2020 at 09:36AM

and started testing the functionality on HTML pages last year 

According to Kevin Marks, this is the GitHub Repo they’ve been using for creating this work: https://github.com/WICG/scroll-to-text-fragment#:~:text=the%20worst&text=a%20Google&text=serious%20breakage&text=behavior
Annotated on June 04, 2020 at 12:08PM

THREE

In the intervening years since the blogosphere and the rise of corporate social media, enthusiasts, technologists and open source advocates have continued iterating on web standards and open protocols, so that now there are a handful of web standards that work across a variety of domains, servers, platforms, allowing educators to use smaller building blocks to build and enable the functionalities we need for building, maintaining, and most importantly owning our online courseware.