This week, work, Movable Type, The Destructives and the V&A.
Work… This week was finishing adding the new Django-powered features on the previous project with Hactar.
And then I dipped back in to rebuilding my own site, which is happening very slowly. Very, very slowly. Simon Willison got his blog back up and running and I have definitely fallen down the rabbit hole he avoided. That rabbit hole lead into a secret underworld of caverns and catacombs and here I am several years on, still tinkering with an unfinished site in the dark. But I’m enjoying doing so.
Friday was spent writing a script to pull blog posts out of a Movable Type database and transform it all into my shiny new Django objects. I’d forgotten about Trackbacks. Although I’m not expecting the new site to implement Trackbacks, I still want to save that old data so I can display it with the old blog posts. (In doing this I noticed that a decade ago I received 46,000 spam Trackbacks a week. Crazy days.) There’s one little bug still to fix but that importing all seems to work well. Onwards. Sporadically.
In other personal-site news I realised that one of the small-pieces-loosely-joined that still somehow makes this current version of the site function, stopped functioning six months ago. All my links on Pinboard stopped appearing where they should on this site and in my combined RSS feeds. Now it works again and I’ve backfilled the missing links.
This week in media consumption I finished Matthew De Abaitua’s The Destructives. I enjoyed his first in this loose series, The Red Men, and I liked the start of the second, If Then, but got bogged down by the second half or so and it became a chore. This time I really loved it at the start. The first third I found really interesting and just the right amount of, and kind of, science-fictionness for me. The second third wasn’t as good but was still alright, and felt more like a William Gibson macguffin-led SF thriller. But by the final third I didn’t care what happened any more. The focus had dissipated. It all felt too spread out and distant and unlikely, and I skimmed the remainder to the end.
I did like the frequent mentions of the “meta-meeting” that goes on while people have a meeting. The underlying power plays that are happening while the surface events progress. Here’s a bit:
“So you came to us with a half-fulfilled contract and a begging bowl?” Procurement was incredulous, and she looked at Lawyer and Security to see if they shared her grim astonishment.
Patricia responded with Pretend Concern, one of the seven types of silence available to the modern executive. Procurement would have expected Pretend Annoyance or even Pretend Contempt in reaction to her own miserly pantomime. Patricia left Pretend Concern in place for an uncomfortable half minute, and then uttered bland and noncommital boilerplate: “This project was always going to require flexibility on your part. The scope is unprecedented, the methods required untested.” …
The meta-meeting played bait-and-switch with mood and emotion, alternating exaggerated statements of commitment — I will flay my family to put more skin into this game — with sudden shifts into indifference. There was always a danger that if one participant in a meta-meeing adopted tactical boredom, then the others would follow suit, competing in displays of stupefaction to the point that personal assistants would be deployed to carry the participants from the room. As with any ritual, the meta-meeting was exhausting, and success was a matter of stamina: when Patricia’s face moved through expressions of Pretend Concern, Pretend Interest, Pretend Engagement, these feigned expressions were skilfully askew, enough to to sow disquiet in the heart of the other player without making her appear too mad.
Great stuff, and that kind of thing is much more immediate and interesting to me than the events of the final section.
I went to the V&A at the weekend and had a wander round with a friend. I liked the modern ceramics galleries more than I expected. It seems amazing that people can make such perfect, distinctive, and repeatable objects from a lump of mud. It was also nice to see step-by-step examples of how Walter Keeler constructs some of his pieces from several parts (things like this teapot). I also liked an Edmund de Waal piece — possibly the collector (for Paul) — solely for the idea of trying to represent the fallibility of a memory of something.
It is now nearly 11am on Monday and I’m borrowing from this week to write up last week. Tsk.