On Traveling: 1

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series On Traveling

I think a lot about traveling, being able to go somewhere else for any reason and the action itself. There are many reasons behind this.

I think the first one is related to how I grew up. Being almost exclusively in one city for 18 years, while being connected with rest of the world through other means probably put leaving that city and going as many places as possible on top of my priorities. Even so that when I was making plans for university, my main target was going İstanbul, not a specific university.

A lot changed since then. Now I’m traveling a lot and to many different places. Even writing this one in an airport, waiting for a flight. And honestly, sometimes I think about how I ended up in this place. Just some guy who saw lots of stuff on the internet while he was a teenager and decided to do something with that and ended up here. Although I’m not that famous and making tons of money from what I’m doing, it still feels too much for me.

Anyway, that’s one of the reasons why I decided to start a blogchain on traveling and what type of stuff I’m thinking about traveling and/or while I’m traveling. I wanted to write and talk about it, so that maybe I can manage to turn all of those half-baked ideas in my head into something else.

Let’s see what this blogchain will take me.

Charismatic Megapigment

A collaborative project between Charley Peters, Wesley Goatley and Tobias Revell. Charismatic Megapigment is a sculptural installation that examines the politicised nature of the colour green and the tensions between formalist and conceptual art practice, as explored through the practices of painting and machine learning. 

The screen moves across the painting randomly while feeding the image the camera on the back captures through a machine learning system that draws a closest neighbour match from a bank of 102,000 images related to ‘green’ found on Google.

Loved this work since I first saw it. There’s so much to unpack, especially every time the screen finds an example of a specific green. Never wrote much about art but works like that makes me want to.

There’s also a bit of extra writing about it on Tobias’s blog.

The hypersane are among us

Found this article thanks to Arikia:

Many ‘normal’ people suffer from not being hypersane: they have a restricted worldview, confused priorities, and are wracked by stress, anxiety and self-deception. As a result, they sometimes do dangerous things, and become fanatics or fascists or otherwise destructive (or not constructive) people. In contrast, hypersane people are calm, contained and constructive. It is not just that the ‘sane’ are irrational but that they lack scope and range, as though they’ve grown into the prisoners of their arbitrary lives, locked up in their own dark and narrow subjectivity. Unable to take leave of their selves, they hardly look around them, barely see beauty and possibility, rarely contemplate the bigger picture – and all, ultimately, for fear of losing their selves, of breaking down, of going mad, using one form of extreme subjectivity to defend against another, as life – mysterious, magical life – slips through their fingers.

The hypersane are among us, if only we are prepared to look – Neel Burton

This is an interesting term, “hypersanity“. Came across first time with this article and to be honest, it fills many holes about some of things I’ve been thinking about.

One thing that connected directly in my head with hypersanity is how people are always looking for normal, sane and ordinary. So they can feel safe. To do that, they even attack what is not normal and sane enough for them without thinking. But when you’re going through the mad times, normal and sane is the most useless thing. You have to be something more than sane. I think that’s where hypersanity can come into play.

This is going to be something I’ll dive deep into researching at some point. But I’m just putting a note here for now. Feel free to jump in and turn this into a conversation.

Infinite Detail by Tim Maughan

Tim Maughan’s Infinite Detail was published in March and since then it was sitting on my Kindle for reasons. Finally got my hand around it and finished the book today. And I have to say that this book is amazing.

The smile grows into a self-deprecating chuckle; and she’s strangely embarrassed that part of her had imagined walking out into some huge abandoned space: a bourgeois science-fictional fantasy of a long-lost civilization where she’s the special one, the only survivor that could see past the crass commercialism of the masses and got out in time, the intrepid, educated explorer unearthing this forgotten, archaic relic of barbaric capitalism, an empty cave filled with unfamiliar, alien branding.

The topic and how Tim handles it is just brilliant. Although Infinite Detail is a near future speculative fiction, you can easily see that all of it can happen next week. The politics of technology and the current situation of capitalism is analyzed in a mind opening way for anyone who isn’t already familiar with it and while the story shows you how messed up it is, it also shows you why just getting rid of it is not enough.

What’s different is that the massive inhuman artificial intelligence wasn’t enslaving us with nuclear bombs or turning us into batteries (how WOULD that work?) or crushing our feeble human skulls with its metal feet, but by finding the best ways to sell us stuff. SkyNet is real, and it wants to sell you shoes made by child slaves.

Tim’s storytelling is also strong. Going back between before and after, you can easily feel the change between those two timelines. The story pulls you inside its world and at some point, you can feel that those two timelines are about to merge and you get nervous and anxious just like the characters you’re reading. Although Tim has a unique way of telling his story, this feeling also reminded me Gibson’s The Peripheral, and I’m saying this as a huge compliment.

In short, in my opinion Infinite Detail is a must read book. Not just because it’s a great story but also this is the type of speculative/science fiction we need more today.

Until you can dismantle them, he tells himself, always use the oppressors’ tools against them.

#CoveringClimateNow Week is Here

From the project website:

Our initiative includes more than 250 outlets worldwide, and dozens of institutional and independent partners, with a combined audience of more than 1 billion people.

From September 15-23, our partners have committed to emphasizing climate stories. The goal is to maximize coverage of the climate crisis and its impacts in the lead up to the United Nations Climate Summit on September 23.

Many major outlets such as The Guardian, The Nation, BuzzFeedNews, Bloomberg and Gizmodo joined as a partner to this project. Which is quite important considering the issue. Seeing that journalists taking it seriously and using their tools and power to cover the climate crisis as powerful as possible to create a pressure over the UN Climate Summit is something we really needed.

We’re also part of it as NewsLabTurkey and our aim for this week to help Turkish journalists and media people to have a wider perspective on climate crisis and climate journalism and help them to reach new tools to cover this issue. This is the least we can do.

Helping this project and coverage put out during this week to reach as many people as possible is really important. We don’t have much time left to take some serious action and we should be in support of any attempt in that direction. So go visit the partner outlets, share their stories and use the hashtag #coveringclimatenow so more people will learn about it.

mono.kultur #44 & #47

Recently decided working on to change and add more diverse stuff to my information diet. This also includes thinking about where I’m spending money on and make sure it goes to people and ideas will feed my brain more and actually needs and deserves support.

So I started with mono.kultur and these two arrived yesterday afternoon. From the moment I pulled those out from the envelope it was obvious to me that I made the right decision. Stuff like these makes it clear that people who made it creates things because they care about things or they have something to say and that thing you’re holding is important for them —whether it’s a book, album, zine or a mag. 

That feeling is something I look up to and try to create while I’m working. I hope I can achieve that. And I really wish I had more money to support everything which gives me that feeling.

#Olay ve #Susamam

Bir günde iki şimdiden klasik olacak rap şarkısının gelişini blogda paylaşmamak olmazdı. Hem Ezhel hem de Şanıser ve çetesinin (daha iyi nasıl tanımlayabilirim bilemedim) aynı anda böyle şarkıları ortama salması kesinlikle bir şeylere işaret. Şarkıları dinlediğimden bu yana kafamda dönen birkaç şeyi de buraya not almak istedim.

Eğer internette daimi olarak saçmalayanları bir kenara bırakacak olursak iki şarkının da istedikleri etkiyi bıraktıklarını ve hakettikleri sevgiyi ve övgüyü aldıklarını görmekten fazlasıyla memnun oldum. Elbette biri daha klasik rap, diğeri ise trap; birinde Ezhel’in söz yazma şekli var, diğerinde farklı birçok tarz. O yüzden ikisini kıyaslamak ne kadar anlamlı bilemiyorum. Fakat her ikisi de kendi tarzları içerisinde hem teknik hem de söz olarak çok sağlam olmuş.

Ancak ikisini birleştiren en önemli nokta elbette sözlerin içeriği ve söyledikleri. Elbette buradaki rapçilerin büyük bir kısmı zaten politik duruşa sahip olan ve dinleyenlerinin fazlasıyla farkında olduğu isimler. Ezhel, Şanıser, Aga B, Tahribad-ı İsyan ve diğerleri politik duruşlarını ve mesajlarını hâlihazırda şarkılarında yazan isimler. Fakat bu kadar konsantre, gayet sert ve net bir şekilde ve aynı günde karşımıza çıkmaları da aslında belirli bir eşiğin işaretçisi olarak okunabilir. Özellikle de her iki şarkının yakın dönemi ve onun etkisini özetleyen, buna yeter diyen bir havaya sahip olması ortak bir ruh hâlini işaret ediyor. Bu ruh hâlinin toplumda da bir karşılığı var ki, iki şarkı da dev bir ilgiyle karşılandı.

Buradan bir politik analiz falan çıkartacak değilim. Sadece sevdiğim rapçilerin böyle sağlam işlerle çıkması ve ikisinin de ortak bir ruhu paylaşıyor olması dikkatimi çekti. Bunun nasıl bir karşılığı olur ya da bu şarkıların devamında ne gelir zaman gösterecek.

Common ground: Holly Herndon in conversation with James Bridle

Our desire for control is precisely the problem. We are never going to understand the world more broadly. We’re not going to be able to talk to trees in the way that we talk to one another. But we need to be able to live meaningfully, equitably with them and with all other natural systems.

James Bridle

This conversation between two artists whose works I admire has it all. Both Holly Herndon and James Bridle’s perspectives on technology and how they’re using that perspective in their works is inspiring. When they both came together, it turns into a conversation you want to quote most of it.

For the first timers, you should definitely listen Holly’s latest album PROTO and read James’s book New Dark Age. Maybe do it both at the same time.

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.

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.