despair and hope
and updates on the digital pluriverse, packs, poems (software and analog)
the world feels insane right now. It seems like every time we get a breath of hope, we're crushed by something more awful—omnicron surge after a sigh of relief, now an invasion and missiles hitting capital cities. I must confess that I've been trying to avoid consuming news and doom scrolling for my own mental health. It sounds and feels terrible but also feels like the only way for me to continue operating amidst the chaos that is ever-evolving and that I feel helpless to stop (of course amplifying and supporting aid, but it feels powerless to really change the Geopolitical forces that have been set into motion). And of course, I have the privilege to do this, living in America as safe as I probably can be from the danger and not having any direct family in affected areas. I feel conflicted between this being something that should make me not operate normally and that the pit of despair and powerless angst is something precious to hold close to my heart—a permanent, visceral reminder of the cruelty of the world. But this sort of all-consuming melancholy feels so wrong compared to my normal state of optimism and hope.
I want to hold both together, like two opposing magnets of innumerable strength, circling each other. A simultaneous solemnness of the gravity of the situation and the real normal lives it is displacing and a seed of hope, a gasp for air, a bird perched in the soul crying out for a better world. How do you think about balancing giving deserved weight and serious consideration to events while also maintaining hope for the future?
This is not a Take on the situation as I am nowhere near informed enough to have one given all the nuance and complexity happening and constantly evolving. This is simply my raw, evolving thoughts wrestling how much space there is for both beauty and Goodness along with the grotesque and senseless tragedy. I've been thinking a lot about the normal people caught in the chess of artificial nations and Ilya Kaminsky's poem for our (the privileged unaffected) role in all of this.
I wanted to share some exciting things that I've been expending energy on in my life lately—things that give me hope about the future if we have the space to craft it free of war and strife.
The past month and a half I've poured my heart and soul into the creation of this artifact, an interactive, co-created, living essay that proposes the pluriverse as a banner for the community to rally around as we talk about what a new web might look like. Grounded in history, we leverage the past and how autonomous groups have fought against monopoly and oppressive control by championing plurality without disconnection. Through this artifact we hope to plant the seeds for language that the community can leverage for imagining what a better cyberspace looks like—a place where many worlds can fit and where we decide what is important rather than large single entities.
Also, it's a beautiful site and it's been so rewarding to see this come to life. Engage with the artifact below:
Or read more in my twitter thread.
Coda made a big announcement recently around Coda 3.0. One thing that I'm really excited about that I've been working on for the past half year is the Packs Platform. In short, I'm hopeful that it is a significant contribution to normalizing the belief that everyone deserves agency over how their software behaves and the access to leverage the digital data they produce.
My favorite pack so far that I created and have been using is the Twitter Pack to search my liked tweets for that project or idea on the tip of my tongue that I know I saw on Twitter and twitter's best interface for navigating your liked tweets is... scrolling chronologically through your profile. (See my template for how you would use this pack to do that)
I've been on a big poetry kick lately and have set an intention to try to write a poem a day, in the same vein of my 100 mini-essays project. I've been a little more hesitant about sharing these because poems feel so much more raw and intimate and I want to try to collect some for submissions... I'm sharing some recent public ones I wrote, but if you're interested in more, let me know and I can send it to you over email :)
I've been fascinated with the idea of "software poetry" lately. By software poetry, I do mean literally poetry rendered digitally, but also software creations that feel poetic, in that they feel rhythmic and weighty and like they communicate at some deeper, subconscious layer of intimacy.
One experiment in this has been open sourcing a package around creating telescopic text. Telescopic text is the concept of digital text that expands on click. In this way, you can capture a nugget of an idea while giving users the agency to dive deeper into the underlying story.
I created a telescopic poem to try this out:
Try out creating your own in the test bed! I would love to see what you come up with.
Thank you as always for engaging with my thought experiments and following along with these updates.
With everything going on, I hope you keep precious that core of tragedy and try to feel for the normal people like us who are going through terrors and strife never imagined. At the same time, I hope you hold on to a kernel of hope and optimism and have a renewed commitment to creating pockets of brightness, beauty, and compassion in the world to serve as a reminder of what we’re fighting for when we confront tragedy.