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w/e 2019-10-27

Hello. It’s dark winter time now.

§   This week’s satisfying morsel of personal coding was adding automatically-generated section markers next to each part of a long blog post, such as this one. You can hopefully see them! Over there 👈🏻 somewhere. Given these posts are such a jumble of things it was hard for someone to point directly at something way down there 👇🏻. Now it’s possible.

(For some reason that post, by Tom Coates, ‘The Age of Point-at-Things,’ isn’t indexed by Google, so it’s hard to, er, point at it. Which is a shame because it’s a phrase, and post, that still comes to mind frequently.)

§   I’ve been catching up on a backlog of posts by Venkatesh Rao since I started following Ribbonfarm a while back. I’ve already linked to the post Elderblog Sutra: 8 in my links but there wasn’t much room for a good quote from it, so…

In this post, which is part of Rao’s series about “writing on a blog with a significant history” he writes about “why creative work gets harder over time”. It’s all good but it’s this bit that jumped out at me:

I will turn 45 this year. I’ve neither succeeded spectacularly enough at what I do that I can afford to “make bad movies for the rest of my life” as George Lucas once described his own Act 2 Elder Game, nor have I failed so miserably that it’s an easy call (or even a practicable one) to just toss it all as worthless sunk cost, and start afresh with whatever resources and talents I have left.

[…] over time, as the complexity (both internal and external) of the life you’ve created for yourself grows (I just described it as a junkyard media empire on twitter), and nothing is clearly and obviously a brain-dead-obvious double-down bet OR an obvious candidate for cutting, you tend to just let it all just keep living with whatever drip-irrigation of attention you can allocate to it, each activity living or dying as best it can. This is decay.

Thinking, as I too frequently do, about making stuff on the web – which is my main thing – and what I could/should do with the rest of my life, this was… interesting.

§   As every year, I’m enjoying my slightly guilty pleasure of watching American Football, via the BBC’s two weekly highlights shows. I even enjoy the [grimace] “banter”, which I’d probably hate in any other sport programme. Anyway, while they showed this 102-yard touchdown run I was thinking what a great, computer-game-like shot it was:

(There are better quality versions on Twitter or on YouTube but they can’t be embedded. Stupid NFL.)

Here’s a video about how the Skycam works, which is interesting if you can bear the weird way that American TV presenters talk!

§   This week I finished reading Permutation City by Greg Egan which I think was a recommendation from Matt Webb. At least, he mentions it in ‘What Blade Runner is about, and the Narcissist Creator Razor’ from a couple of years ago. Thumbs up. It’s always good to come away from a novel with a new thing in one’s head, in this case wondering what it would mean to completely replicate a human being in a virtual world, both for the “original” human and the copy. Or copies.

Photo of my jeans pocket with the worn outline of an iPhone SE
iPhone SE 4 Lyfe on Flickr

§   My phone is an iPhone SE. My sister uses an iPhone SE. My two oldest friends both use iPhone SEs. Other friends of mine also use iPhone SEs* or have recently, and reluctantly, bought a new, but larger, phone. Recently there have been three questions on AskMetafilter related to iPhone SEs, with many respondents keen on the SE’s small size and reluctant to upgrade, which is nice in an “I’m glad it’s not just me” kind of way. I’m aware this isn’t enough people in itself to be a valid market segment for Apple but it’s a shame there’s no choice of smaller phone at the moment.

(* Alright, Attorneys General, maybe Tim Apple says it should be pluralised “iPhones SE” but I talk like a normal person.)

§   Today I went to Tate Britain to see some art before my membership expires at the end of the month.

First was O’ Magic Power of Bleakness by Mark Leckey, which is a life-size recreation of a motorway underpass and a couple of video art pieces. I don’t know. It’s the kind of art that I come away from feeling a bit stupid because I can’t even tell if I think it’s good or bad. The underpass bit was big but not very convincing — immaculate, and it was planted on the Tate’s smooth wooden floor rather than an imitation of the real ground. It didn’t sound, feel or smell like an underpass. As is usually the case with video art, I’m not sure what that was about, but probably because I can’t face staring at a TV while standing in a gallery for long. Ah well. It did all remind me of my friend Rob at university who spent a lot of time making an etching of one of his many photos of Bristol motorway underpasses, so that was nice.

Then I saw the William Blake exhibition which was probably good. I mean, it had lots and lots of his work so if you like that you’ll like the exhibition. The little prints from The Book of Urizen, for example, were lovely little things. But the exhibition was very busy so I didn’t spend as long there as it would require to learn more about his beliefs and ideas, which I assume the signs and labels made clearer. I came out thinking I should read something about him, or watch a good TV documentary about him.

I’m pretty sure I like art galleries but after writing that I have to wonder.

§   Alright, that’s it, let’s roll. Hey! Let’s be careful out there.

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