Revisiting “The Manfred Macx Media Diet”

Just like books or movies, I also have a list of blog posts which I regularly reread and think about it. I think Warren Ellis’ “The Manfred Macx Media Diet” is at the top of my list. Not sure how many times I’ve read that post.

One thing that makes this post special for me is the fact that every time I read it, it gives me a new perspective about how I’m dealing with the information I’m taking in and what I can do better or different. I also have to admit that since my first read of Accelerando, I secretly aspired to be like Manfred Macx. Of course Spider Jerusalem is “the idol” but for me Manfred and especially his relationship with information was something to be admired. Yes, I know, it’s very problematic and probably tells a lot but I’m not gonna deny it.

Plus comparing what Warren and Charles said years ago to the day I’m reading it also a fun experiment. I have to remind you that Accelerando was written between 1999-2004 and Warren Ellis’ post was written in 2012.

Let’s read it together this time.

He glances up and grabs a pigeon, crops the shot, and squirts it at his weblog to show he’s arrived.

He’s doing that with, essentially, Google Glasses and some wearable computers to beef up their utility.  It’s what I’d do today with a smartphone.  In fact, I last did it on Thursday.  Macx’s kit is based around the glasses.

(Italicized quotes are from the book, rest is from the post.)

I know even reading the words “Google Glasses” made some of you nostalgic. Remember the time when we were talking about the possible privacy issues around the glasses? Now we have mics open and connected 7/24 and doorbells which can make video recordings and give it to the police.

But think about this quote with the stories we use on social media. Snapchat started it and Facebook stole from them and put it everywhere. (Seriously, you can even post stories in WhatsApp.) What we’re doing with stories are basically the same thing what Macx does, except we have more filters to have fun with.

Being a pronoiac meme-broker is a constant burn of future shock – he has to assimilate more than a megabyte of text and several gigs of AV content every day just to stay current.

Do you think is there a way to count how much information we’re dealing with everyday in sense of gigabytes? Plus, does advertisements we see in almost everywhere counts in it?

his glasses remind him that he’s six hours behind the moment and urgently needs to catch up.

Do you ever feel like that upon waking?  Six hours behind the moment.  Sleeping took you off the road to the future.

This is one of the parts that gets me thinking a lot. Being behind the moment and feeling the urgency of catching up. Call it FOMO if you will. Our glasses may not remind us like Manfred but isn’t the piled notifications in our phones plays a similar role? Every notification you’re leaving behind is basically adding more minutes between yourself and the moment.

But this urgency is self-imposed in Manfred’s case through what he’s doing, or at least how I’m reading it. Just like the way most freelance writers and journalists like me having it. But not sure how much of it self-imposed and how much is forced to us through other means. And especially if you’re always acting info-hungry like me, it can easily turn into a downward spiral.

He speed reads a new pop-philosophy tome while he brushes his teeth, then blogs his web throughput to a public annotation server; he’s still too enervated to finish his pre-breakfast routine by posting a morning rant on his storyboard site.

Kick that one around.  It contains the point that he’s not just taking in information, but processing it and excreting more information.  Also, extruding it out on to a public space where people can fiddle with it.

This can be the one of the parts which started the admiration. Being able to take in and put out information like this and make a living out of it. No wonder I have a strange career plans for myself. This is what happens when you make career plans based on your favorite cyberpunk characters.

The point is crucial.  If we’re not doing something with the information we’re taking in, then we’re just pigs at the media trough.

What is also happening here, of course, is that he’s doing the work of a public intellectual.  “Critical creativity,” as I think Umberto Eco once put it.  Only without the requirement of space in a newspaper or magazine, of course, which is what the internet brought us.  And, as the net trends towards microblogs and status updates, it is also what we’re taking away from the internet now.

“Critical creativity.” I think we need to use this phrase more often. Warren said it in 2012 but now it’s obvious that we gave up something really important on the internet with microblogging and other types of social media sharing. Instead of putting out something more in depth, doesn’t matter if it’s not fully baked, we decided to spitting out short rants would be better. And look at where we are now.

But I think we’re learning our lesson. Isles of Blogging and Republic of Newsletters are still here and more people are returning to this. Especially the people who can really do this critical creativity job well. This is a good sign for me and something to be encouraged more. I really want to add more feeds from smart people to my RSS reader. (Feel free to drop yours below.)

Lying on a bench seat staring up at bridges, he’s got it together enough to file for a couple of new patents, write a diary rant, and digestify chunks of the permanent floating slashdot party for his public site. Fragments of his weblog go to a private subscriber list – the people, corporates, collectives, and bots he currently favors.

I’m reminded of Bruce again, here, and the fact that his Twitter account is locked.  20,000 people are allowed to follow his account – in actual fact, the people, corporates, collectives, and bots he currently favours.

Since then, filters and being able to control who do you want to connect with was an important part of how we use internet. But social media somehow managed to turn it upside down. Not being public or having locked accounts was seen unusual. People thought “Why are you here if you don’t want everyone else’s attention?” But being able to control who can see what is something we should be more comfortable. We don’t need to go viral or use social media to make ourselves open to everyone else’s gaze. Bruce allowed 15,000 more people to follow his Twitter account but still keeps it locked down. And every time I see his tweets, he seems okay with the experience he has.

I saw how having that control makes things better from my Instagram experience. Since I locked my account over there, I’m having a much better experience. Unlike Twitter, I’m not dealing with the voice at the back of my head saying “if you share this, some random dude with no idea can start some shit.” Nope, it’s just me and people I favour.

Interesting enough, I think blogs and newsletters are creating a similar filter. You don’t need it to be locked down but instead, people have to actively want to receive those words you’re putting out. This makes it harder to go viral but easier to reach people who you really want to reach.

He sits in a chair, gin and tonic at hand, absorbing the latest market news and grazing his multichannel feeds in parallel. His reputation is up two percent for no obvious reason today, he notices: Odd, that.

Aah, when we thought there’d be a trackable reputation economy.  Cory, what damage you wrought on the poor innocent heads of the socially optimistic.  Charlie himself ended up taking down Klout last year.

In other senses, of course, this does exist.  Checking Likes, Instagram and Tumblr hearts and even +1s.  Your reputation’s only as good as the last piece of content you gave to a social network.  How much time do we spend assimilating content and spitting the tastiest bits back out into the world in order to gain reputation as a gifted regurgitator?  Where we’re adding no more to each piece of information than the identifying DNA in the smear of saliva we leave on it?

Don’t have anything to add here. Just wanted to remind us how it was in 2012 and how we have it right now.

The metacortex – a distributed cloud of software agents that surrounds him in netspace, borrowing CPU cycles from convenient processors (such as his robot pet) – is as much a part of Manfred as the society of mind that occupies his skull; his thoughts migrate into it, spawning new agents to research new experiences, and at night, they return to roost and share their knowledge.

I kind of want to mention Weavrs here – I still have to find the time to train the one I spawned last year, but (with all respect to the developers) I doubt I’ll ever be able to make it do what I want.  Intelligent Agents are going to be a pipedream for a while longer, I suspect.  Which makes me sad.  But there’s something here – Weavrs and other software instances like Google Alerts can enact discovery, and bring us information we wouldn’t necessarily have the time or awareness to grab manually.

Seeing Weavrs always makes me feel a bit nostalgic. Intelligent agents was the idea that we can train our special algorithms to walk through the net and find something interesting for us. Really personalized algorithms. It was the dream for me. Letting loose couple of IAs and check what they’ve brought to you every now and then.

Instead we’re stuck with the personalization algorithms that either recommends you conspiracy theories or fills your timeline with the stuff you definitely don’t want instead of the posts you explicitly wanted to see (I’m looking at you, Twitter).

I still have couple of active Google Alerts on my RSS reader but thanks to all that SEO experts, it’s usually filled with junk. Unless it’s for a term that none of those experts heard of.

I don’t want to put all blame to them but it’s obvious that digital advertising killed something I really wanted back in the day. Now when I hear “personalized” online, all I can think of is the bots stalking me online to sell me stuff I don’t want.


Reading and analyzing this post and writing it was quite different than just reading and thinking about it. Writing down my half-baked thoughts also helped me think about some stuff I haven’t before. And writing a blog post this long was definitely an experience I’ve missed. Not having any limits or deadlines, or no need to cut down sentences to fit into a Twitter thread was nice. I should probably do this more often.

Letting the half-baked thoughts and ideas free in a place you can control but at the same time open to everyone who wants to engage with is something I (and we) should do more often. Social media doesn’t want that kind of stuff, so we’re left with spaces like here to do this.

Men. Abuse. Trauma. | Philosophy Tube

Olly from PhilosophyTube was one of my favorite YouTube channels for a while and especially does brilliant works for a while. This one I think is something really big for him and everyone who’s watching. Talking about trauma through his personal experience and philosophy is something hard to do. It probably gets much harder when you do it on video. But he pulls it out in a brilliant way. It’s a really powerful video in both philosophical and emotional sense.

This video and its power also reminded me something that always bothers me. When people think about doing philosophy or being a philosopher, they have that mental image about a man (it’s always a man) sitting in a room full of books just writing and solving every problem about the world from their desks. And I can tell you that this image is total bullshit. Most of those man, although they made some important contributions to philosophy, don’t know shit about the world they think they solved it.

That’s why when people like Oliver Thorn makes videos like this it gives me joy, even though the topics are really heavy, like this one. Because he takes philosophy out of that bullshit ivory tower and brings where it should be.

This is how philosophy should be done. Philosophy is not something you can do totally isolated and only based on your mindset. You have to bring everything into the equation, every perspective and possibility; not exclusive to the old white guys who thinks they understood the world from their university office. We should be doing philosophy through YouTube, newsletters, science fiction, comics, you name it. I believe this is the way to achieve what philosophy aims to.

Against the Pop Culture Nostalgia

I mean, the stuff that’s going on right now is insane, and we need people to be responding to it. If I can’t hear the present or the future in culture, I feel like we’re doomed to repeat the past forever. We’re not opening up that kind of mental space we need to move forward. It’s like that Mark Fisher idea of capitalism—it’s easier to imagine death than life after capitalism. That’s how I feel when I just see things like Stranger Things on repeat all the time. I get it, that stuff is fun to watch, and I also like ’80s movies, you know what I mean? There’s a time and a place for that. But when all of culture feels like that, it makes me nervous.

Holly Herndon – On collaborating with machines and humans

This from Holly Herndon is on point. Maybe I can’t fully get this because I was out of that loop in sense of both time and geography but similar things happening around here creates the same reactions from me too. Something about all this nostalgic stuff feels problematic to me and I think Holly clearly explains it why.

It feels escapist. Instead of dealing with what we have right now, all of this is an attempt to return so-called better times. Which, if you push it too hard, can easily turn into a mindset which wants to make stuff great again. And we all know nothing was ever great before and it’s just a shortcut for many reactionary stuff. We all know who are the poster boys of this pop culture reactionary movements *ahem Gamergate ahem* and what they actually want. And how far they can go for their desires to recreate those “great times.”

I don’t know. Maybe I’m overthinking this and it’s all just simple fun. But, like Holly says above, when you start to see it everywhere something feels off.

The Average Reader

My standard for verisimilitude is simple and I came to it when I started to write prose narrative: fuck the average reader. I was always told to write for the average reader in my newspaper life. The average reader, as they meant it, was some suburban white subscriber with two-point-whatever kids and three-point-whatever cars and a dog and a cat and lawn furniture. He knows nothing and he needs everything explained to him right away, so that exposition becomes this incredible, story-killing burden. Fuck him. Fuck him to hell.

An Interview with David Simon – Nick Hornby

Warren Ellis shared this quote on his newsletter Orbital Operations, I think, couple weeks ago and it’s on my mind ever since. Wanted to post it here to save it as a reminder for myself.

Alan Moore’s Dodgem Logic

When I read Alan Moore is retiring from comics, first thing that popped into my mind was his experimental magazine Dodgem Logic. I accidentally found the first issue at a comic book store in İstanbul and bought every issue when it’s arrived.

I’m obsessed with magazines and I think Dodgem Logic is one of the main reasons of this, other being the recommendations Warren Ellis shared online through the years. I think magazines has a special potential for creativity. To me, magazines feel like an autonomous zone for the creator which they can do whatever they want. And Dodgem Logic is a great example of it.

Not sure if you can find the issues of it (I checked Amazon and someone was selling the first issue for $223 and another selling #8 for $465 😱) but if you can (within a reasonable price range), grab it without thinking.

Since Moore won’t be doing comics anymore, maybe he’ll restart Dodgem Logic?

Rethinking How I Use Internet: 4

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Rethinking the Internet

Do you ever feel tired just by using internet, mostly the social media platforms?

Not sure when it started but I’m feeling tired every time I check social media in the way they designed. With algorithmic timeline, not filtered, filled with “personalized recommendations” and advertisement. Still not sure which part contributes that tiredness the most but when I check from the lists I’ve created or use my private accounts to see what people are up to, I can stay online more. In the first case, feeling of giving up everything related to internet comes fast.

I guess one of the main reason of this can be seen from this quote by Robin Sloan,

No reasonable human needs more than 10,000 other humans to read their words within twenty minutes of writing them.

Robin Sloan – platforms.fyi

Everything is too much on social media. Because that’s how they make money. You have to be bombarded with information you can’t really control all the time and you have to react to that information quickly. Otherwise no one will see you on these platforms. Algorithm starts to hate you and hides you under more and more ads. It doesn’t matter if your friend wants to hear from you, you have to please the algorithm first.

To please it, you have to be fast. You have to play by its rules and be prepared to react whatever it gives you. Otherwise, you’ll get buried.

And I think I want to be buried by the algorithm for a while. To rest and work slowly, not rushing to react all the stuff. Instead of feeling tired just because I want to hear from people I really want to, I prefer to be buried by it. Will be using those platforms lesser for a while, focusing my energy to the streams which I can control the speed of it. I’ll be watching and stopping by time to time, of course.

But if you really want to hear from me or talk to me, places like here or the secret channels will be your best shot.

Books of 14.06.2019

Most of my readings are happening on my Kindle because it makes easy for me to reach English books and saves me from dealing with the Turkish postal service. Plus English books are expensive in dead-tree, so ebooks helps me save money too, especially on the shipping.

But every once in a while, we need some Turkish books in the house and we buy dead tree books. Today was one of those days.

Rethinking How I Use Internet: 3

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Rethinking the Internet

One thing I think bothers me most about all those social media platforms and its usage is the fact that it turned many people obsessed with numbers and they started to think about almost everything based on those meaningless analytics data.

For example, one of the Turkish musicians which I like recently did something really stupid and called out a random people basically saying “You have only 31 followers. Who cares what you think?” The dude was only saying that he gave another chance to his latest song and actually liked it this time. There wasn’t even anything remotely bad in that tweet or anything.

Another thing I’ve been seeing and still trying to wrap my head around is that some people trying to run their personal accounts like it’s a brand account. They’re checking analytics data, scheduling their most normal tweets based on that and bunch of other stuff. I think I shouldn’t be surprised about this considering years of online talks about “personal brand”. But this doesn’t change the fact that even thinking about it makes me sick.

I also see that people are also trying to do all that analytics, timing and other things on podcasting too. Like, it’s basically an RSS feed for sound files. People gets subscribed and listen whenever they want. But no, they have to put analytics and numbers into that too. And then find bunch of meaningless data.

Like I’m writing this post around 22 in Tuesday night and will post it when it’s done. Because it’s a blog and I’m doing this just because I wanted to. I shouldn’t be thinking about when I should publish this. But according to an important number of people only, I’m being stupid by doing this.


I’m really not sure about what to do in all of this. Like I said on the previous post, there are many people I like and care about what they’re sharing is in those places but other than that, it’s hard to find enough justification to stay in there with this madness. I’m not even talking about the toxicity part (at least not in this post).

I believe there will be many more in this series.

Rethinking How I Use Internet: 2

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Rethinking the Internet

There are many things that drives me away from social media, especially from Twitter. One of those is the fact that, from my perspective, social media kills conversation and replaces it with stats (likes, RTs…). This tweet from Jay (her account is one of my favorites on Twitter btw) made me think about this more.

(Conversations happening under this one is quite informative, you should read those too.)

One thing that made internet special for me was the fact that I was having conversations with people all over the world, from the beginning. Most of my real life friendships, most of the people who influenced my work and my perspective were and are from internet. Hell, most of my friends are still from here. And seeing more people thinking in a similar way makes me think that I’m not crazy.

(You should read the whole thread btw.)

More and more, whenever I look at Twitter or any other social media platform, I feel like I’m missing this part. And this is the part actually matters to me the most. I think that’s why I’m thinking about retreating to places like my blog or the newsletter, because those still gives me the feeling of conversation. A more intimate way to connect with people online. Yet, I see tweets like the ones above and receive a mention from a friend and start to think that there’s still hope.

Or maybe I’m just a guy who thinks way too emotional about a simple communication tool and gives too much importance to it. If that’s the case, I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.

Rethinking How I Use Internet: 1

This entry is part of 4 in the series Rethinking the Internet

This is not one of those “I hate social media” stuff. I actually owe a lot to social media and will continue using it. But not in a way that will consume all my energy and turn me into an angry beast, which means my old way of using it. Don’t know why but I’ve always been quite invested in stuff happening online. (Actually I know why but I really don’t want to explain it right now, so please go along with it. We’ll talk about it later.) But for a while, this attitude of mine was making things worse for me. I know because things got really bad, at least in a personal and psychological sense. So I had to do something about it.

And this is me, doing something about it. From now on, I’ll not be as active as I used to be on my public social media profiles. At least for a while. Of course I’m going to share stuff about me or things I’ve created and my blog posts will go there too but other than that I won’t be following it like I used to do. Even though that means I’ll be missing some stuff from people who shares really good stuff but I really need this. I really need to re-align my focus and energy.

But this also means that I’ll be more online in the places where I can share more half baked thoughts — as Warren Ellis put it. Because more and more, I feel like the way people sharing stuff or having conversations on Twitter is not the way I’m enjoying it. Shouting matches, political snark and burns gets quite boring and exhausting quickly. And my brain really doesn’t want more of these things. Instead, I want to write more of my half baked thoughts, have a conversation with people about those and use this tool called internet in a way which works better for me.

So that’s why I’m starting this experiment. Starting from today, I’ll be working on re-adjusting my internet usage, probably analyzing every bit of it and deciding what works for me and what doesn’t. Right now my plan is to focus on places where I can write longer and share the stuff I want to share the way I want. Like my blog, my newsletter and Patreon. Instead of ranting on Twitter, I’m going to put it on my blog, if it’s worth putting here. Because whenever I want to write something here, I think about it more than I think about a tweet. And this makes a good personal filter.

I’m going to keep using Twitter, Instagram etc. too. But Twitter will be much more limited and I’ll probably read only the stuff I put on my private lists. Instagram still gets a pass because I’m using only a private account which is highly curated and instead of giving me anxiety, it does the exact opposite. Maybe I need something similar on Twitter too.

So, that’s pretty much it. Starting today, this place (alongside with newsletter) will be my main places online, alongside with the secret channels. If you want to get in touch with me, I’ll be still online but less. Most of the people who’s going to read this knows how to reach me in those channels, if you don’t drop me a line.

Let’s see how this one is going to play out.

(The title is numbered because I’m going to experiment with something called “blogchain”. If you never heard of it, this is a good start.)