Bookmarked Webring History: Social Media Before Social Media (Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.)

How the webring became the grassroots tool of choice for sharing content online in the ‘90s. The concept was social media before media was social.

Ernie Smith provides a history associated with webrings.

Structurally, a webring has many parallels to the modern-day Twitter quote-tweet chain, a Russian nesting doll of sorts in which you’re encouraged to keep clicking on the tweets being quoted, with no end in sight. Depending on what you’re up to at the time, it’s a novel, entertaining, somewhat curated experience.

Smith discusses the pioneering work of Sage Weil, as well as the association with Bomis, the website that led to the development of Wikipedia.

In some ways, Wikipedia’s success as a concept benefited from the same feedback-loop dynamics that a webring does. It’s a site that rewards clicking, and becomes more valuable the further down the rabbit hole you go. It becomes like a game, almost. That, in its own way, is a dynamic that Wikipedia borrowed from Bomis and other webring-driven networks.

This is a useful piece alongside Charlie Owen’s more technical examination.

Liked What Facebook Fed the Baby Boomers by Charlie Warzel (

Like most of us, they gave little thought to the connections they made. Mr. Young added friends he hadn’t spoken to in decades. When Ms. Pierce joined a nonprofit organization she accepted dozens of friend requests — some from people she’d met only in passing. “I meet people on airplanes all the time and we exchange Facebook handles,” she told me.

But as Facebook evolved, these weak connections became unlikely information nodes. Mr. Young and Ms. Pierce were now getting their commentary from people they hardly knew, whose politics had once been unknown or illegible.

Bookmarked Like Jazz, Bowling, and Old Hollywood Hairdos? Thank Insects. (Literary Hub)

Shellac is sold as a popular varnish for furniture and decks, it keeps the skins of citrus fruits and apples waterproof and shiny, it adds a glossy patina to candies, and it augments the drying properties of many types of nail polish, hair sprays, eyeliners, and mascaras. It appears on the ingredients lists of dentures and tooth fillings, and it is increasingly often used as a nontoxic preservative for cadavers.

Shellac is, quite literally, everywhere, from our hair and teeth to our fingernails and stomachs (even after death). Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all “in the groove,” moving to the rhythms of the lac bug’s life cycle.

In this excerpt from The Butterfly Effect: Insects and the Making of the Modern World, Edward D. Melillo unpacks the history associated with shellac.
This month, my feeds have been full of Trump. Here is a selection:

Although this is a significant decision for everybody in the world, I wonder if a part of the post-election actions have been as much about Trump’s effort to garner attention. I am reminded here of Doug Belshaw’s post from a few years ago, Curate or be Curated and the challenge that we face in regards to managing our feeds and thinking about who or what is filling our mental space.

After listening to a recent episode on corruption in politics on The Minefield podcast.

During this conversation Waleed Aly, Scott Stevens and Bruce Buchan discuss the current situation at home and abroad, I am left thinking whether people have simply become jaded by such discussions and how this all plays out.

Liked One of Australia’s most famous beaches at Byron Bay is disappearing, and storms aren’t to blame. So what’s the problem? (

When there is too much sand for the headland to hold, or there’s a change in wave conditions, some sand will be pushed around the headland — bypassing it — before continuing its journey up the coast.

This large lump of moving sand is called a “sand pulse” or “sand slug”. The sand pulse needs the right wave conditions to move towards the shore. Without these conditions, the beach in front of the pulse is deprived of sand and the waves and currents near the shore erode the beach.

Headland bypassing was first described in the 1940s. However, only about 20 years ago was it recognised as an important part of the process controlling sand moving along the coast.

Replied to What Should a COVID-19 Memorial Be? by Ian Bogost (The Atlantic)

When it comes to a COVID-19 monument, Cooke proposes an “unmonument” instead, one that samples from Black Lives Matter and other protest movements and spreads their DNA like a different kind of virus. “It first attacks our memorials to false leaders, then real ones, then attacks the monuments of capitalism and consumerism and industries too weak to resist,” Cooke wrote in a statement.

It would start at the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond, Virginia—a statue that graffiti and chalk have already redecorated. Rather than tear down the statue, Cooke wants to repurpose it. He would erect scaffolding around it, along with fencing and barricades, materials often used to stave off vandalism. Once installed, visitors would add elements atop: photographs, keepsakes, or other reminders of people affected by the pandemic—or by unchecked police violence, or by the neglect of declining economic outcomes.

From there, the memorial would expand to other locations, feeding off of other, even more hallowed sites of tribute, culture, and commerce. The Lincoln Memorial, perhaps, or even Times Square, although the design could take root anywhere; Cooke is more interested in facilitating its natural growth than prescribing sites in advance. He likens the process to erosion, wearing away the significance of these older structures. “Their histories are tainted,” Cooke said. As a result of his intervention, he hopes these monuments, and monuments in general, would cease to honor existing structures of power. True to the spirit of hip-hop, a statue, a memorial, a block, a whole district become materials to be remixed anew.

This was a helpful piece in understanding ‘hip-hop as a process’. I guess this is how Autechre is ‘hip-hop‘, because of the process.
Replied to Designing school when students have the Teacher’s Copy by dave dave (

Design with care. Imagine activities that your students will enjoy. Build trust where you can. Be present, even in your assignments. Do longer term-style assignments where your formative feedback applies to their work. Talk to them about why you love what you know. Try to encourage them to care about what you know. Hold on.

Dave, I really enjoyed this reflection, in particular your point that right answers encourage cheating

If you give any question to a student that has a clear, definitive answer, you are tempting them to cheat.

Google’s experiment using AI to create poems in the style of past poets. This reminds me of Ian Guest’s debate about poetry versus coding. I imagine some would worry that this might be considered as ‘cheating’, however what interests me is the opportunity to easily create and then deconstruct the structures associated with the text.

Another example of AI generated text is Mark Riedl’s Generating Parody Lyrics.

via Clive Thompson

Replied to Mass Producing Google Slides from Sheets: Scripts Are Your Friends (CogDogBlog)

To me, buying an app is serving me a fish dinner; giving me a script I can modify is a lesson in fishing. I’d rather fish. You?

Thank you so much for sharing Alan. I really like the starting point Rohe provides. I too would rather fish, than processed fish fingers.
Liked OPEN S02E18 – Hoe gaat het met je BIMI? by Frank Meeuwsen (

Maybe 2021 will be the year in which we all easily become owners of our own domain and find and maintain our own network from that own domain. Indeed, exactly as is now possible on Twitter and other social media. Reclaim some ownership of our data, thanks to RSS’s underlying pipelines. I like that.

Bookmarked Google Photos — Bait Meet Switch by Thomas Hawk (

Once burned shame on you. Twice, three times, four times, five times, six times burned, shame on me. I will never trust Google with another product again.

Thomas Hawk reflects on his experiences with Google Photos and explains why he will never trust another Google product.
Liked Why Twitter is (Epistemically) Better Than Facebook (

Design can’t solve all of our problems. Users still need to decide to make good use of the tools available to them. But as we spend more time on social media platforms, it’s important to recognize the strengths of their effects on us. Platforms can mimic and codify the limitations of our offline epistemic environments by only connecting us with people we already know (and giving us the option to filter them out when it’s uncomfortable). Or they can encourage productive epistemic friction by pushing us to consider who to engage with, what topics to avoid, and for how long, so that we consciously shape our own epistemic environments.