Episode One Hundred and Seventy Three: Names; The Condition 

by danhon

0.0 Sitrep

8:29pm on a Monday night, and it’s inexplicably 77 degrees fahrenheit, 24 degrees celsius nearly two hours since the sun went down. I’m writing this on the new work laptop, newly named Insurrection – yes, I name my computers – which I had wanted to call Narcissus (it’s an 11in Macbook Air, the escape pod companion to my otherwise workhouse 13in Retina Macbook Pro called… Nostromo). I might still change the name. It’s not like you can’t change the names of things.

1.0 Names

I’m getting the hang of this working-remotely thing, slowly carving out a space downstairs in the basement (American houses!), working out how to do Hangouts (and wondering why, exactly, it is that this Comcast internet connection doesn’t seem to be performing, and looking for an answer other than “because it’s a Comcast internet connection”), doing things like assembling standing desks (standing is weird after sitting for so long) and staring at spreadsheets and skeletal Keynote presentations.

One thing was this: spending what was probably two hours today thinking about *one* word, trying to figure out what a better word might be. To try and understand the shape around everything that the first word represented and where it was going to be used and the context it was used in and all the different people who might hear it and what they might think it means, and to try and come up with something that’s at least a little bit more clear, a little bit more understandable.

And then, trying to hold all of that in my head and to construct some sort of structure that can explain all of those *other things*, that’s going to make sense, and all the words that are going to be used for those things.

2.0 The Condition

This bit is just a list of stuff that is literally just on my mind. Nothing more than that, just things that are lodged somewhere in an unfathomable neural network:
Other things that are in my head: that there was something different between Diaspora and Ello, not just the function of time (Facebook has done so many more things in the time that’s passed between Diaspora attempting to be an alternative and Ello attempting to be an alternative), the idea that people didn’t want an *indie* web that meant that they had literal control over the data they were feeding into the maw of the network, because that would mean work and until running your own web server is an “app” that you just one-click fire-and-forget, then perhaps that wasn’t going to work.

But that said: the p2p music servers and era of Gnutella and Napster and Torrenting seem to work, at least they seem to work in the sense that people will fire up a server *to do a thing* and then they might not leave it up all the time because, thank you very much telcos, you fucked us over very nicely when you invented asymmetrical network services you bastards, just make it feel like TV won’t you – but anyway, maybe that’s something for sometime else – the idea of the ephemeral network service, that distributes content and hosting and that you can run a server for a little bit but not permanently.

Anyway, the idea of Ello, just the *idea* of a network that might treat you more equitably, even if a lot of the promises are hand wavy right now, even if the implementation leaves a lot to be desired – some sort of an example of a minimum viable *idea*, not even a minimum viable product, one that taps into a different kind of user need. The user need here? Not to communicate, but a need to *not be on Facebook*, or a need to show unhappiness. A protest vote, but the kind of protest vote that can attract other protest votes and then suddenly snowball in its own way.

Of course, the pessimist in me takes a look at all the content being put into Ello right now and wonders: when it all falls down, is Jason Scott and the Archive going to have to rush into the burning server farm and rescue our photographs and rants and raves and, well, pornography-that-is-allowed?

But anyway, this is 2014, and networks are everywhere and we still don’t know what most of them look like, we still erect them all over the place, and they just beget one another. On the one hand, social media is a fantastic weapon in fighting the spread of ebola, on the other, frontline staff didn’t have enough surgical gloves and high-level video conferences didn’t help anyone. Lots of talking and hardly any doing.

Figuring out how to write this newsletter again.

Dan