Categories
In English Not Defteri | Notebook

Pens, Scissors, and The Systemic Discrimination by Design

One of the questions I think that isn’t asked enough is “who is missing?” If you’re not asking this question when you’re designing or building something, there’s a good chance your work will exclude some people —whether you want it or not. Of course this question works in many other places too, but I wanted to share three recent examples I’ve personally experienced that all revolve around tools. I think these small stories are the symptoms of something we should be dealing now.

Task Manager Hell

For years, I’ve tried maybe dozens of task and time management app and never managed to settle on one. Until 2020, I always blamed myself for that, and after March 2020, I blamed my ADHD. But for some time, I was thinking about why it’s happening, and Clive Thompson’s article made it all come together.

All these apps have strong opinions about how one should live and work. And it all comes from the personal experiences of the founders and designers and their experiences. They think they’ve found the perfect method for themselves to achieve “peak productivity” and decides to sell that to everyone as the magical solution. The problem: I don’t live like them, at all.

Since my life doesn’t look like theirs and my need for a task manager doesn’t come from my goal to achieve “peak productivity” none of them really works for me. I need a tool that will help me to minimize the negative effects of how my brain works, not one that’ll help me better adjust to the late capitalist work ethics. But since the people who make those apps doesn’t think about who will need these tools and why, their marketing pitches fall flat for me every time.

Left Handed Scissors and Ballpoint Pens

One thing that caused me a lot of headache since my childhood is being left-handed. I still remember the traumatic period during the sixth grade when the teacher who taught Religion class told doing anything with left hand is haram. (That event also made me read religious texts more closely, which turned me into an atheist.)

Although my parents never forced me to change hands, I never had any kind of help to better understand what being left-handed means or what kind of issues that might cause. For example, I kind of knew that some tools were designed mainly for right-handed people and doesn’t work well on the left, but no one told me what those are, or I’ve never really seen the left-handed versions of them.

That’s why a couple of weeks ago, I impulse bought left-handed scissors. For a long time, I always thought I’m not good at things like cutting because I just didn’t have the skills. But when that scissor arrived, it all changed. Forcing myself to use something that isn’t for me was the problem all along.

I had a similar revelation about pens, too. Until recently, most of the pens I’ve tried —especially the ballpoint ones— were always acting out. Never writing correctly, their tips not working, it had ink but wasn’t dispensing… I always thought I’ve wasted my money on a broken pen. Recently, I was only using Uniball Jetstream pens because those never caused any problems to me.

When I was reading about pens and notebooks (which is something I do regularly) I’ve come across a sentence about how Jetstream pens were a left-handed favorite. Then I decided to dig around to find the reason, and I did: it was about how the pen’s mechanism designed.

I’ve learned that most ballpoint pens has a mechanism and ink that favors right-handed people. When you’re writing with your right hand, you pull the pen and the ink flows smoothly. But left-handed people push the pen, and most ballpoint pens are not designed to work well with that. So, you get pens that are not disposing ink properly, got stuck or act like they’re out of ink. Since Jetstream had a different design, it didn’t have any issues with left-handed people and works as expected.

Who is Missing?

These are all small examples compared to systemic problems that results from the same short-sightedness. What we all see as systemic discrimination is most of the time comes from how those systems designed. When people who has the power to decide how things are going to work doesn’t bother asking “who is missing in this scenario”, we’re left with a system that excludes so many people. It doesn’t matter if it’s publishing, media, technology, architecture, city planning or policymaking; the result is always the same.

If you think what I’m saying is an overreach, just think about the parts of your daily life for a moment and how it could turn into a problem if you’re someone else. An example if you’re not sure where to start: does your city accessible for someone blind or on a wheelchair? Can they go anywhere they want just like everyone else?

We face with another problem when we decide to talk about these issues. People who has the power —or the privilege to live in a system that’s designed for people like them— tries to convince everyone these are not critical issues. They say there are more urgent problems that needs their time and attention and people should just “stop making it a big deal”. Since it’s not their problem, it’s not critical enough. This is how we end up normalizing all kinds of discrimination: sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, racism, xenophobia, and the rest becomes the norms of the system because it’s not a big deal for the ideal peoples of the system.

(Also, this has a lot to do with the market logic that runs the world: taking only the people that has enough money/vote/influence seriously. But we’ll talk about it later.)

This problem is not that hard to solve, you just need to listen. People who are left out by design already does everything to make their voices heard, offer solutions to these problems, and make the available solutions more visible and accessible. All people need to do is start asking “who is missing”, start listening and including them in the process. I know this means some people will have to give up the power they have, but that’s precisely the point.

Categories
In English Kritikler | Critics Not Defteri | Notebook

A Weird Summer Zine

One of the things I’m obsessed with is the magazines and the bigger universe of mags, zines, and niche publications in general. I’m always trying to keep up with what kind of new and experimental things are happening and try to get them whenever possible.

My interest goes back to my teen punk years because photocopy zines were the first places I published my writing (alongside the blogs). I even published a zine all by myself, not sure if anyone else still has their copies around. Since then, zines and magazines become something special for me. Reading them always gives me a different kind of joy.

I’m mentioning all of this because recently, I had a chance to get my hands on an excellent zine called “A Weird Summer”; which is written, designed, and published by Johannes Klingebiel. It’s a limited print of 250 and a great example of what people call a passion project. You can see how much Johannes cared about this zine in every detail, and reading it is a joy. Plus, the zine has a playlist to accompany your reading.

One thing that really makes A Weird Summer special for me is the way Johannes designed and printed it. Like I said, I’m coming from the photocopy times, but seeing you can use the zine format for a beautifully designed and printed publication shows the possibilities of the format. It reminds me why I love this format.

This is why I wanted to mention A Weird Summer and let you know that there are still some copies left over at Johannes’s Gumroad. Moreover, because of Johannes, now I’m thinking about publishing a zine myself. Not sure if it’s going to happen anytime soon, but I really want to do it.

Categories
In English İnternet Notları | Notes From Internet Rethinking the Internet

Adventures in Building a Library Catalog

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series Rethinking the Internet

Introduction

Some time ago, I wrote about the problems with Goodreads and how StoryGraph can be a good alternative for many. This is something I’m really interested because most of what I do is about books and because of my ADHD brain, not being able to track the books I have causes quite unique problems such as having multiple copies of the same book, sometimes in different languages.

This is why one of my major quests in life is having a personal library catalog in which I can track what I have. But this is not an easy task.

Chapter One: Storygraph

Although Storygraph seemed like a good alternative with many promising options, there were many problems which made it really hard to use. The most important one was the issues with finding and adding Turkish books. Most of them were not available and some were only returning the results for English editions. Which is a huge problem because if I’m going to keep track of my books and my library, I have to make sure the correct editions are logged. 

Another important issue was the limits of its social aspect. There’s no way to know if someone I know is on the platform unless they tell you. There’s no easy way to find people, no way of communicating, etc. Since I was also trying it as a Goodreads alternative, this was an important issue for me. Because I really like seeing which books other people are reading and what they think about it. 

Missing the social side plus not being able to track books in Turkish simply made Storygraph a bad choice for me. I had to move on.

Chapter Two: LibraryThing

Then I tried to give LibraryThing a shot. It seems old school and not really sure how many people actively uses it, but it seemed like a better place to keep a library catalog because of the power tools such as scanning book barcodes with the iOS app. 

At first, LibraryThing was working just fine, until I’ve decided to start adding my library at home to have a catalog I can easily search. Although LibraryThing can search the university libraries in Turkey, most of the data was either incorrect or totally missing. Yes, it was finding most of the books, but occasionally the names were wrong, sometimes the authors. Some books had Turkish character issues in their names, some showed the translator as the main author, some had completely unrelated information.

This is why I’ve returned to using Goodreads for the online and social part of the book tracking adventure. But Goodreads also has issues about Turkish book data, even though much less than the other options. Those issues mainly caused by volunteer librarians on the platform, and although I’m one of them, I don’t have the time to track every issue and fix it.

This means I still need a solution for building my library catalog. That’s when I decided to give an old friend a chance.

Chapter Three: Calibre, The Old Reliable

For those who don’t know, Calibre is a digital library software that’s mainly used for organizing your e-book library. It also has so many power tools and plugins inside, which makes it a crazy powerful software. I’ve been using it to organize my e-books for years, but it never occurred to me that I can use it for more. Until now.

You can simply use Calibre as it is, and it’ll probably work just fine but if you want to make sure that it can find anything, you can go to add-ons and search for these extensions too:

List of Calibre plugins I've installed.
The list: Amazon.com Multiple Countries, DNB_DE, Goodreads, Wikidata, Find Duplicates.

After this, all you have to do is expand the Add Books menu and select “Add Books by ISBN”. This screen will open, and you can add as many ISBNs as you want and let Calibre do its thing. If you need an easy way to separate e-books from paper ones, you can simply add a tag like I did and all the books will have this tag automatically added.

Calibre menu screen for adding ISBNs for import.

Now I can keep track of my library in one place and easily add more books whenever I buy new ones. All I have to do, write the ISBNs on my phone and then paste them inside the Calibre. While other solutions had dozens of missing books or books with incorrect information, Calibre only had two missing ones: one of them published a couple of weeks ago and one published by a small publisher. All I had to do, copy and paste book info from the publisher websites, and it was done.

Conclusion

So, this is where I ended up:

Calibre will be the tool to keep track of our household library for everything, e-books and dead-tree ones. I wish I could find a way to simply turn that into a one-person book blog, but until I have enough time to give it a shot, it’s a dream project waiting in my notes. 

For a more public facing book tracking, I’ll keep using Goodreads. But I’m thinking about other alternatives too. Maybe creating a special category on my blog and write small posts every time I finish one. I’m not sure about it yet.


This experience taught me a lot about platforms, books, ISBNs and many other things. But one common thread I’ve been facing in many online tools is how Western —and sometimes simply US— centric those tools and projects were. I can easily use many tools as long as I keep everything limited with English and/or US-based. When you step outside English, you’re on your own. Nothing fully works and most of the time you have to figure out the problems you face by yourself because most of those were never occurred to the developers or not seemed urgent. 

We always talk about how internet is global and open for everyone in the world, as long as you live in English. And it will seem mostly true if you’re in the US, UK, or some other Western country (although the same problems may be faced by Europeans or people in the US who doesn’t speak English). But when you try to work with another language, even if you’re using a global standart like ISBN, things change quickly. 

If the global internet starts throwing bugs at your face when you’re trying to work with a global standart, think about what kind of problems people are facing regularly when it comes to more serious issues such as content moderation.

Categories
In English İnternet Notları | Notes From Internet Not Defteri | Notebook Rethinking the Internet

Why I Keep Coming Back to Blogging

This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Rethinking the Internet

This is part of one of the blog chains here, titled “Rethinking the Internet” but instead of using numbered titles, I have decided to continue with unique ones.

If you’re someone who writes or reads online, you know that newsletters are the hot trend for a while. While I totally understand why it’s so popular and fits better for different ideas and projects (like the one I do with NewsLabTurkey and Tuhaf Gelecek), I never managed to write my personal one regularly. I could explain why with many different reasons —not being able to plan, can’t find new things to write regularly, being over-critical of my writing, having too much work in my hand— but after reading Cory Doctorow’s recent piece “Memex Method” I know why I couldn’t write a regular newsletter: because what I actually want to do is blogging.

Since I started using internet regularly, I always had blogs. It’s my natural state of being online —even though I spend way too much time on Twitter. I feel comfortable writing for my blog and enjoy the experience in general. I can work on my half-baked ideas without much pressure, because now everyone expects newsletters to be fully finished ideas and articles. Although it’s an understandable expectation, not really what I want to do.

Quoting from Cory, this is what I prefer doing:

“Blogging isn’t just a way to organize your research — it’s a way to do research for a book or essay or story or speech you don’t even know you want to write yet. It’s a way to discover what your future books and essays and stories and speeches will be about.”

This is especially important if you consider the fact that almost all of the work I do can be summed up as “reading, researching, taking notes and writing stuff”. I know some people prefer to call what Cory describes as blogging “digital gardens” but I’m having a hard time to understand why it’s not just called blogging. For my personal practice people usually describe as digital garden are either blogging but more linked together or how I use my private Roam Research graph for. There’s a good chance I might be missing something too.

Returning back to newsletter and blog thing, Dan Hon wrote about Cory’s piece on his newsletter and said something important: “But a blog post would be different. Medium posts are different. The setting is different. The place is different. The context is different.” This is quite important because what I couldn’t manage that newsletter keep going is mainly because I wasn’t doing something unique for that setting but instead trying to blog with a newsletter. That’s why I felt limited, not really fitting.


And of course there’s the thing about making an income out of your online writing. Right now creating a paid newsletter is the easiest way to almost anyone online but because I can’t create a Stripe account that’s not an option for me. I have a Patreon that’s been going on for a really long time but because I couldn’t figure out how to use that and a newsletter together, it never really took off. But if I decide to go with a blogging focused writing, I can make more use out of it and make sure people supporting me can have something more visible in their hands. For example, I can simply turn any post here patron-only and people supporting my work can read it with one click.

What I’m trying to say —both to you and myself— is that blogging is my real home online and I’m going to be using here more actively from now on. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with the newsletter but I’m thinking about turning that into a semi-regular announcement channel about the work and blogging I’m doing. Or maybe I will come up with an exciting experiment in the future.

Let’s end this with another quote from Cory about why blogging is important for anyone who’s job is similar to mine and his:

“There’s another way that blogging makes my writing better: writing every day makes it easier to write every day.”

PS. I’ve recently updated my RSS Reader page here if anyone is interested in that.

Categories
In English Not Defteri | Notebook

Storytelling with Games and AI Suffering

AI and philosophy of mind in general is one of my topics of interest, even though I’m not writing about in public much. Before I dropped out of my MA in Philosophy, I was working on a thesis based on this issue. Now I just read and think about it in a much less academic setting.

This is why when I was listening to Ted Chiang’s conversation with Ezra Klein, I was quite taken by his perspective on AI and suffering. In many ways, it was really close to my perspective on the ethical side of the problem. I want to write more about my ideas on this, but today I want to talk about something else.

Even though I know and follow a lot about video games, I’m quite picky when it comes to devoting my time. Most of the time, the thing I look at first is storytelling and world building. I want games I play to tell me a story, a good one. In a sense, I think about video games similar to literature

This is why Destiny 2 is one of my favorite games and devoted hundreds of hours to it in the last 2 years or so. It’s fun to play, but also it has a really deep story and a complex world, which many games simply lacks. Their writers team consider so many complex relationships, serious issues and adds that into the game in a really elegant way.

One of those stories arrived with their Beyond Light extension in November. This extension added a lot of depth and new characters to the story but also a beautiful story about the AI in the game’s world. I’ll try to summarize with minimum spoilers, but you can probably find videos and more online, if you don’t have time to play.

In the game, there are entities called Exos, which are simply conscious robots with human memories, created by someone called Clovis Bray —mad scientist of the Destiny world. One of the main storylines was about learning more about the creation of Exos and Clovis Bray’s story. In the quest about this story, your character travels around Jupiter’s moon Europa and finds discarded Exos from old experiments and takes their memories and listen those recordings. In those recordings you listen what those Exos were going through in that experiment period and what kind of issues they were dealing with. If we return to our starting point, listen how they were suffering.

Every recording tells you about a different issue they deal with. Like the one you listen an Exo who —because of the memories uploaded— craves about specific food but can’t taste because of his mechanical body and this drives him crazy. He suffers because he wants something that’s not possible for him. And it’s told in a really moving way. Not gonna lie, some of them really hit me hard.

Things like this makes me love Destiny 2 because they really know how to use the tools video games have to tell a beautiful story. And this is why I always look for the story in a video game I play because I know there are many possibilities in the technology to tell deep and important stories. You can talk about AI all you want but the experience of listening a memory of an AI while you’re right next to their corpse is something much more effective.

Categories
In English İnternet Notları | Notes From Internet

RSS is not dead?

It looks like people are finally waking up to the fact that RSS was never dead. I don’t know why people claimed that just because a tech overlord decided something is not profitable for them. People are still using it and it’s as good and alive as it’s always been.

At the end of 2019, Jay Springett told people they should start a blog. This year Matt Webb created a really good website to introduce people to RSS and Tom Critchlow put out a really good idea about how to use RSS in creative ways, which I talked about it earlier. Plus, Substack started a beta for their RSS reader —which is mainly for their newsletters, I know it’s confusing— and Sara M. Watson declared the return of RSS readers.

I think calling it “people are returning to RSS” is more accurate but that probably won’t make people click on a link. But that’s what actually is happening and I think that’s heavily related to something I talked about earlier.

After all this chatter and seeing how Matt decided to put out his OPML file online, I thought maybe I should do something like that too. Especially because there are more and more people wants to start using RSS readers again but don’t know where to start. If you enjoy the kind of stuff I talk about, my list can help you to start filling your reader.

There are some notes about the list at the page but I also recommend checking Jay’s blog post about how he uses his reader.

And finally, if you want to share feed recommendations you think I —or people visiting here— might enjoy following, comments are open.

Categories
Blogchains In English Passwords

Passwords: 1

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Passwords

If you ever need an example to explain why we need to be careful about the concepts and words we’re using, postmodernism is the one you’re looking for. Not sure if it’s just because of my academic background or the type of people consciously misusing the term but every time I see someone using postmodernism without even knowing what it really means causes some serious emotional reactions.

There are two sides of this bastardization of postmodernism and blaming everything they deemed wrong to it. Both comes from the similar “not even trying to understand what it means” attitude —and aims for a similar goal— but comes from totally different groups.

First one is quite famous, the new generation of right-wing figures all over the world claiming postmodernism —or cultural marxism, or postmodern neomarxism or critical theory or reified postmodernism…— first corrupted the academy and now they’re corrupting the society. Everything would be much better if postmodernism was gone.

I don’t think I have to go too deep into this side of the argument because it’s already discussed way too much. And there’s nothing useful in any of those people’s arguments —only the good old right finding a new way to blame the left.

Another side is somewhat new and usually comes from more “centrist, liberal” types. This group either focuses on “cancel culture” discourse and blames critical theory for it or comes from post-truth literature, blaming postmodernist academics for causing all of it.

This side, especially the post-truth ones, more problematic because not just they’re practically taking the same side with the above group but doing that while distancing themselves from everything and claiming postmodernist woke culture and radical right-wing groups and openly lying politicians into the same basket. They only do that because they’re willfully ignorant about the concept and the literature behind it and it’s also the easiest way to solve all of their problems. For example:

Yet the authors summarize their analysis of Social Justice scholarship by proclaiming it treats the principle that “objective truth does not exist and knowledge is socially constructed and a product of culture” as “The Truth, tolerates no dissent, and expects everyone to agree or be ‘cancelled.’” For those of us who have carefully read the literature, Pluckrose and Lindsay’s discussion of reified postmodernism in academic philosophy looks much more like incendiary fan fiction than scholarly analysis.

Books and articles like this —which turns postmodernism into a boogeyman they’ve imagined— are popping up more and more. Another example can be Lee McIntyre’s book ”Post-Truth” and its chapter on postmodernism. 

The Chapter goes into great lengths to find proofs to blame post-truth to postmodernism but meanwhile shows how the author doesn’t even understand what Foucault or Derrida actually says or how it actually makes the connection. McIntyre proudly claims that “postmodernism is the father of post-truth” because Mike Cernovic said he studied postmodernist theory in college and there are signs of influence in the works of an intelligent design defender Phillip Johnson. 

The chapter, just like the similar chapter in Ralph Keyes’ book Post-Truth Era, doesn’t really explain what postmodernism is or who those postmodernists are. Most of the time random names put into the category, even Heidegger can be a postmodernist according to McIntyre. They just cherry-pick people and quotes to make sure the evil postmodernism they imagined fits into the narrative. It’s especially sad because the rest of the books criticize people for doing the same thing.

(Just to make it clear, the whole Sokal affair or its copycat version is not even worth spending time here. One is an article sent to a journal without a peer review process and other published in a pay-to-publish scam. If those “burns” shows anything, it’s the academic publishing ecosystem is a trash fire.)


At this point, I think it’s time to explain what postmodernism actually is and how it should be understood. 

If I have to make it simple, postmodern is not an ideology or a philosophical position but a concept to define the current conditions. Basically, postmodernism is dealing with the philosophical problems and issues with the modern era and what it brought. You’re not defending a position but defining and explaining a problem. What this means is basically when “postmodernist philosophers” talk about a condition or make an observation, they’re not taking sides with it but basically saying that “this is something that’s already here, I’m helping you to see it”. 

I think the main cause of the intentional misrepresentation comes from here. Both groups I’ve talked above are fully aware of the fact that these theorists and philosophers making these problems crystal clear and creating holes in their political narratives. Both fascists, conservatives and neoliberals actually benefit from these problems and fully aware that once people start to see it, their stories will fall apart.

This is why they choose to blame people who point out those problems, instead of accepting there are problems. It’s especially easy because ideas and thinkers they return are the ones claiming everything is perfect, or they have the perfect theory to explain everything. If you say that “they’re wrong”, congratulations you just become a postmodernist.

Let’s make it even more clear with an example. Think of someone who lives in a house with worn out and poorly made roof and windows. They watch the weather report in the evening, meteorologist warns about a heavy rain tomorrow. They’re overconfident about themselves and their house, so they don’t think that’s a problem. Next day, rain starts and the house is flooded. But instead of finding the source of the problem and fixing it, they blame the “rainist” for saying that it’s going to rain tomorrow.

This is basically how we should understand the people who blame “postmodernists” for the problems we’re seeing everywhere. They don’t actually understand what those philosophers are saying but only using them to absolve themselves from any responsibility. 

This also means that talking about a position called postmodernism or being a postmodernist doesn’t even make sense. Just like you can’t call a meteorologist a “rainist”, you can’t call a philosopher working on postmodern a postmodernist. It’s a concept to analyze and understand the current conditions we’re in and the problems we face. You can’t be someone siding with a problem, especially if your main goal is to solve that problem.

Categories
Books In English Not Defteri | Notebook

From the Mail – 27.10.2020

I was not expecting a book pre-order turn into an almost two month adventure but life in Turkey is full of surprises.

I’ve been not pre-ordering dead-tree books from abroad for a while, mostly because I have trust issues with Turkish postal service. So many bad memories I don’t want to remember. But for some reason I’ve thought getting a paperback copy of this book is a good idea.

It’s published in September 10th and the publisher sent it the same day. After about one month without any book, decided to reach out to the postal service. But instead of an apology or any type of help, they just recited the Wikipedia definition of how postal services work. Not even the already getting old “sorry, it’s the pandemic” excuse. So I turned to the publisher and their customer services was way too nice. They apologized for something they have no control over it and offered another copy sent via UPS courier. I was surprised but happy.

And finally, the book arrived yesterday. UPS was quick to get the package out of customs and deliver it to me. Now I’m waiting for the weekend to dive into it. If that looks like something you’d like to read, here’s the book’s website.

(Sidetone, I’ve learned that iOS and macOS recognizes their tracking numbers and directs me to the tracking page with one click. Sadly, none of the Turkish companies are included in their list.)


Why I’ve told you all of this? Mostly because it’s the perfect example to explain my love for ebooks. One click and I have the book. And since most of the publishers I buy from regularly sell their ebooks without DRM, I don’t have to deal with anything extra too.

So, if you ever consider sending me ARCs —which is something I’d love to receive more but looks like I should be a member of a secret club for that to happen— or gift me books, either make sure the publisher sends those via a courier company or just go for the ebook version. I’m totally fine with ebooks.

Categories
In English Passwords

Passwords: 0

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Passwords

One of the things I enjoy doing most is think about the terms we’re using. Not sure if that’s because how my brain makes sense of the world around me or something that comes with my philosopher side but thinking and writing about the words, ideas and systems feels like a game to me.

That’s why, time to time, I wrote about the terms that seemed worth writing it down in the blog. But the more I went deeper thinking about the world we’re in and what’s going on, some words or concepts started to appear more and stronger. So I’ve decided to collect my ideas about these, collecting the words in the meantime.


I’ve started this blogchain with 0, because I wanted to talk about the term “passwords” first. The term I’m stealing from Baudrillard. He defines it like this:

Passwords – the expression seems to me to describe quite well a quasi-initiatory way of getting inside things, without, however, drawing up a list. For words are bearers and generators of ideas – perhaps even more than the reverse. As weavers of spells and magic, not only do they transmit those ideas and things, but they themselves metaphorize and metabolize into one another by a kind of spiral evolution. It is in this way that they are ‘passers’ or vehicles of ideas.

Passwords – Jean Baudrillard, p. IX

What I do —or want to do— with the words and concepts in this series (or experiment?) is quite similar to what Baudrillard does in the book Passwords

We think we advance by way of ideas – that is doubtless the fantasy of every theorist, every philosopher – but it is also words themselves which generate or regenerate ideas, which act as ‘shifters’.

Passwords – Jean Baudrillard, p. X

Like he says, words we use to think and generate ideas shapes those ideas and change how it can evolve. This is why we’re seeing more and more examples of discussions based on definitions or how should we define what we’re going through. Because the words we use to define our ideas and experiences plays an important role, most of the time without us noticing it.

The words we’re using, how we’re using and who defines what it can or should mean is an important power. Letting the words defined for us to shape our ideas also means giving up our imagination.

This is especially important today. No one can deny that we’re going through some paradigm shift globally. Whether it’s the jackpot or something more positive, there’s a radical change going on. This change requires new words and concepts to think about it and discuss the meaning of the old ones. 

Because words pass, then; because they pass away, metamorphose, become ‘passers’ or vehicles of ideas along unforeseen channels not calculated in advance, the expression ‘passwords’ seems to me to enable us to reapprehend things, both by crystallizing them and by situating them in an open, panoramic perspective.

Passwords – Jean Baudrillard, p. X

That’s why I feel the need for passwords. Passwords for the weird and deadly interesting times.

Categories
Blogchains In English İnternet Notları | Notes From Internet Rethinking the Internet

Rethinking How I Use Internet: 8

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series Rethinking the Internet

Goodreads today looks and works much as it did when it was launched. The design is like a teenager’s 2005 Myspace page: cluttered, random and unintuitive. Books fail to appear when searched for, messages fail to send, and users are flooded with updates in their timelines that have nothing to do with the books they want to read or have read. Many now use it purely to track their reading, rather than get recommendations or build a community. “It should be my favourite platform,” one user told me, “but it’s completely useless.”

Why Goodreads is Bad for Books

Goodreads is one of those platforms people really hate but feel like there’s no other option. Especially with Amazon buying it years ago and only adding Kindle integration and not dealing with anything else (such as their major spam account issue and not even being able to report them) it’s turning more and more into a website which is used by Amazon for selling more stuff.

There has been some discussions I’m following about what could be done about it. Tom Critchlow‘s “Library JSON“. Decentralized projects always gets me excited but at the same time I know that it’s practically impossible to turn it into something adoptable by everyone. Mostly because decentralized projects generally think about people who are technically more capable.

This doesn’t mean that I’m not going to test it when Tom makes a more robust version of Library JSON. I’m sure I will. But right now I have a new possible favorite called TheStoryGraph. There are many things I like about it and it really solves a lot of the personal problems I have with Goodreads.

From there, The StoryGraph recommends books, marked by thematic tags and length and accompanied by well-researched synopses. But beyond the design and descriptive tags, there is one major difference Goodreads users will notice: ratings are almost unnoticeable, deprioritised to the bottom of the page.

Why Goodreads is Bad for Books

TheStoryGraph is definitely more social but not like Facebook or Twitter, which are focused on playing you with their algorithms and not actually caring about what you want from these platforms. They’re actually focused on helping people to find new books.

Of course there are things TheStoryGraph has to be careful about while growing up. Tom’s quote on this summarizes it beautifully:

But Tom Critchlow argues that a “better Goodreads”, with functionality such as The StoryGraph offers, must avoid falling for the “seductive and imaginary ideas about social networks” that doomed a long list of previous competitors, including his own. “So many people dream of disrupting Goodreads,” he says, “[but] focus on the wrong things, myself included.”

Why Goodreads is Bad for Books

So far it seems like they’re not going to fall into it and I hope I’m not wrong.

Right now I moved all my Goodreads data to TheStoryGraph and will be using it actively. You can check my profile and see how it works and looks like, you can do it from here.