February 8, 2024

Podcasting and the open web

Two of the many things that interest me: podcasts and the open web.

I subscribe to about fifty podcasts (I don’t listen to every episode of each one, but like to stay on top of what’s coming in the feed) and have long been awed by an amazing thing: podcasting doesn’t belong to anyone. Anyone can start a podcast, anyone can share a podcast, anyone can subscribe to a podcast. Companies like Spotify have tried to gatekeep podcasts recently, but even that hasn’t been working out too well for them. Podcasts are for everyone, without consideration of platform or application.

This openness of podcasting is, as Anil Dash says it, a radical notion:

But here’s the thing: being able to say, wherever you get your podcasts” is a radical statement. Because what it represents is the triumph of exactly the kind of technology that’s supposed to be impossible: open, empowering tech that’s not owned by any one company, that can’t be controlled by any one company, and that allows people to have ownership over their work and their relationship with their audience.

I started making websites and writing on the web almost thirty years ago, when I was in high school. The thing that attracted me most to the web was its openness: that anyone could make their mark and reach people in their own way. The open web was made me love the internet, and it’s still what invigorates me now. And that’s part of why podcasting is such an important model to relish.

Anil puts it clearly:

What podcasting holds in the promise of its open format is the proof that an open web can still thrive and be relevant, that it can inspire new systems that are similarly open to take root and grow. Even the biggest companies in the world can’t displace these kinds of systems once they find their audiences. And that’s not to say that there aren’t shortcomings or problems with these systems, too. But, for example, when someone makes a podcast that’s about encouraging hate, there’s no one centralized system that can automatically suggest it to an audience and push them down a path of further radicalization.

Keeping things open and not locked into a particular ecosystem is why I make this blog’s contents available by RSS—anyone can read it in the way they want to access it. It’s the reason I’m bullish on ActivityPub as a standard. And it’s why I’m excited for the web to come: it’s time for us to break free of corporate silos and let the internet become weird, again.

I know I share links to basically everything Mandy Brown writes, but this one is especially important so I’m giving it a section of its own.

Spend your fucks on the right things and people and you’ll have more to give. This is exactly the right ethos to have in life:

If you give your fucks to the unliving—if you plant those fucks in institutions or systems or platforms or, gods forbid, interest rates—you will run out of fucks. One day you will reach into that bag and your hand will meet nothing but air and you will be bereft. You will realize the loss of something you did not know you ever had. But if you give a fuck about the living, about all your living kin in all the kingdoms, they will give a fuck right back. Maybe not every one of them; maybe not every time. Some people’s bags have been empty for a long while, and they may feel the need to ration whatever they have; some people have been taught that to give a fuck is to lose something, not realizing that to withhold is what it means to lose. But I believe—I know from having given and received, from having lost and been renewed—that enough of them will come back that you can keep on giving, for a while at least, for as long as any of us has time to give.

A beautiful response to the above by Jack Cheng:

All work is care work. Not a statement of fact, more an outlook, a mindset. What if you asked, of your tasks and projects, For whom am I caring?”

A poem

In Grade Three
Eve Joseph

In Grade Three, Miss Gladstone showed us how to press leaves between wax paper with a hot iron. She taught us about photosynthesis and we lifted our spindly arms and swayed like trees. Some of us were maples, some poplars. When the breeze picked up, our crimson leaves twirled on their stems and fell at our feet. Branches held high, we breathed out what the world breathed in. We didn’t know this was praise. Our faces, perfectly preserved, decorated the classroom windows. Press down, the late poet said, press down over and over again. This was the lesson. This was what we took away.

Related to my goal of remembering this year: tickets are for remembering.

Somewhere between the late 2000’s aggregator sites and the contemporary For You Page, we lost our ability to curate the web.” A big reason why I post these roundups of links is because I enjoy curation; I like finding great things on the web through the filter of people I trust and admire—and then sharing those with all of you.

To worship at the altar of mega-scale and to convince yourself that you should be the one making world-historic decisions on behalf of a global citizenry that did not elect you and may not share your values or lack thereof, you have to dispense with numerous inconveniences–humility and nuance among them.” From The Rise of Techno-Authorianism.

I always tell people I live in the most average city in the world. Marketers and big companies agree with me:

Companies love London because it is deeply, beautifully average. It’s a medium-sized city, just under half a million, not too big, not too small. Larger cities of over a million people tend to skew results and pose logistical problems. Smaller ones don’t have big enough pools to get an accurate reading. London is nestled between two larger centres, Detroit and Toronto, which are about equidistant in either direction along the 401. The city’s employment breakdown is a healthy mix of different occupations, industries and incomes. It’s home to two major post-secondary institutions, a large manufacturing sector, and plenty of service jobs. London has an even spread of ethnicities, too. About one hundred languages are spoken there; immigrants make up about a quarter of the population.

How is it possible to be loved and yet to feel deeply lonely?:

As time passes, it often happens that friends and family who used to understand us quite well eventually fail to understand us as they once did, failing to really see us as they used to before. This, too, will tend to lead to feelings of loneliness — though the loneliness may creep in more gradually, more surreptitiously. Loneliness, it seems, is an existential hazard, something to which human beings are always vulnerable — and not just when they are alone.

I’m all for smaller, more manageable menus, but the shrinking font trend doesn’t jibe with my declining eyesight as I age: Restaurant Menu Trends

Extremely relevant to my (literal) tastes: the world’s best cheeses of 2023. Don’t think I’ll get around to trying every one of these, but I sure will try.

My brother is a bit of a shoe collector so I thought of him when I read this piece on the deflating brand that is Air Jordan.

With the rise of on-demand delivery apps, we’re losing an important thing: the relationship many of us had with our regular pizza delivery driver

AI is eroding our sense of trust:

We will come to see that our default of trust first and check later” was only a short temporary anomaly in our long history. We are back to the state we have been in for most of our time as humans, where we check first and trust later.”

Albums I listen to regularly with no skips because they are perfect.

2002-VE68, fondly called Zoozve, is the first discovered quasi-moon in the solar system, orbiting both the sun and Venus—a star and a planet all at once.

A trove of Basquiat paintings were the talk of the town, but now are being considered impressive fakes.

This resonates with me when I read about all the talk (and legislation) around gender and trans kids:

The basic problem with the conservative discourse around parents’ rights” is that it frames children as chattel—that is, as parents’ property.

But—and I can’t believe I even have to say this—children aren’t property. They’re people. And as people, they enjoy the same fundamental human rights as anyone else.

Love these photos of ice huts sitting atop frozen lakes in Canada by Richard Johnson.

Ice Village in Péribonka, Lac Saint-Jean, Québec

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