It's Thursday, 12 October, 2023 in Portland, Oregon.
I didn't write an episode yesterday and you know what? I would normally feel horrible about it, because it would mean I broke my self-imposed streak and requirement to write every weekday.
But I'm practising being flexible. Just because I didn't write yesterday, it doesn't mean I can't or won't today. Anyway: yesterday was busy, what with getting ready for my first Hallway Track event.
Which happens to be the thing that caught my attention for today's episode.
Hallway Track, the accidental Leeroy Jenkins ad hoc event series I appear to have started, now has even more sessions lined up, which is somewhat surprising given it was supposed to be ad hoc:
002 Journalism, News, and Federated Social Networks on Friday 20 October, 1pm Pacific | 4pm East Coast | 9pm London
003 You Deserve a Union on Thursday 26 October 2023, 2:30pm Pacific | 5:30pm Eastern | 10:30pm London
004 The New Luddites Seizing the Means of Computation on Thursday 9 November 2023, 3pm Pacific | 6pm Eastern | 11pm London
I mean, eesh. That's a lot. And there's more I'm working on!
It's hard distilling a stupendously stimulating 90 minute conversation with interesting people. Which, I suppose, is a sign that my experiment has worked so far.
Five things from today's session
Most of the people in this session were early millennial/late GenX, or the Oregon Trail generation1.
How did we know we weren't just being nostalgic?
Aren't younger people creating cosy places of their own to find each other? Isn't Discord a cosy place to gather? Why not?
We talked about a group of friends who've been building and gathering in a Minecraft server for the last ten years.
A group Minecraft is freedom from engagement, freedom from ads, freedom from data being harvested. A closed off, private space. One you have more control over. One you pay for, in exchange for freedom-from.
The ethos behind Little Printer. The idea that hardware brings people together, small groups of people.
The idea that the internet can transmit togetherness.
Without enshittifying it, how would we design to nurture and protect togetherness. Real togetherness, not fake authentic big-tech togetherness.
Stock and flow from systems thinking, applied to phases of the internet.
Early internet behavior and cultural as stock-building, the presumption of retention.
Now, a shift to ephemerality. Which leads to playfulness? And the Right to be Forgotten: a reaction from how societies handle that accretion of text, that stock?
The idea of the cosiconomy. Many small parts instead of, or alongside, big parts.
Why did small disappear? Did the laissez-faire attitude of internet regulation in the 90s/00s work by throwing massive amounts of capital in building the internet, then fail by allowing capture? By allowing the internet to be moulded back to reflect traditional power structures?
Building and selling things for the amount they cost. Not needing to grow bigger and bigger and bigger.
Here's some background and behind the scenes of running my first accidental, Leeroy Jenkins-style event, now-an-event-series.
Here's a chain of events:
I fought with Squarespace, which I hate, because it is the least terrible way of putting a website together, for lots and lots of reasons.
I fought with Calendly, figuring out how to set up the right combination of held times in my calendar, the guests' and co-host's calendar.
In the five minutes before the session started, I decided to futz with OBS to put a DOG/bug2 on my video feed, and hack together a graphic for it in Keynote.
A few things I learned and feedback I got after the event:
People didn't introduce themselves. I had a rule that we wouldn't do introductions to save time, and that if you wanted to introduce yourself, you could do it either when you spoke, or do it in chat. Nobody did either and it was brilliant. It didn't feel like networking, and it felt a lot more casual. I'm either going to not call out how to introduce yourself, or explicitly tell people not to introduce themselves next time.
I didn't record this one. My gut said it wouldn't work, and I straw-polled a few friends and peers beforehand, and we all agreed it would ruin the vibe. I asked attendees after the event, and they all agreed as well.
The backchannel chat was wild. I suspect this is because the kind of people who came to this event are accustomed to backchannels and can do chat and video at the same time. Not a problem. I also made sure to make Zoom turn on chat history beforehand. Everyone got emailed the backchannel chat afterwards.
The other good thing about the backchannel is that it lets people who're more shy, or have more difficulty speaking in a group like this, or might even have imposter syndrome (you do not, you are great, you belong, you have unique perspective to add) take part. If you've been worried about attending because of the other attendees and you'd have to talk... don't worry. You can just hang in the backchannel.
20 attendees is the max. Enough, for me at least, to see everyone, and to notice when someone needs attention or has been waiting.
90 minutes is a good time. The group was really going around the 1 hour mark, so it would've been difficult/frustrating to cut short then. And the conversation started to peter out around the 1:15 mark, so we gently came to a stop at 1:25 before I got to wrap up.
One attendee drew a diagram and was able to share screen to show everyone. That was nice.
Phew! What a day. And it's not even the end of the week yet.
How are you? I'm doing... pretty good.
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