Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Urban Garlic

Still tinkering with the blog settings. I've decided to identify myself as "Urban Garlic" -- it's a handle (or is it a nick?) that I use in a lot of places, and have for several years. I'm not sure if I'm the only one doing that, or not. Also I finally found the time-zone setting and got it right.
I picked the name because it had the word "urban" in it, and generally speaking I like cities better than their absence, and because it was a weak pun on "herb and garlic," which was the default salad dressing flavor before "ranch" came along.
I recently discovered that the urban dictionary says it's slang for marijuana. That wasn't what I had in mind, and since nobody seems to have heard of it at all, I think the danger of confusion is very low, both in the sense that people are unlikely to be confused, and that if they are, it's unlikely to be dangerous.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Connectedness of All Things

Putting together the link list over on the right there reminds me of how contingent some of these connections seem to be. I believe I discovered "Freefall" and "Bob the Angry Flower" from Usenet news groups, back in the day when physicists ruled the web, and was pleased to discover that Stephen Notley (of BtAF) is a fellow Canadian, and related to the Alberta provinicial politician Grant Notley, leader of the provincial New Democratic Party in Alberta in the 1970s.
From there, following the hosting link, I found Lore Sjöberg, and from there, many of my favorites, including Jonathan Coulton -- Lore linked to a YouTube video of "Code Monkey", and I was hooked enough to get tickets to see Coulton at the Birchmere when he was there.
I think possibly the only thing on that list that I found by looking for it is Dresden Codak, which turned up in a concerted effort to find interesting new webcomics. Quite a find, that one, and I was pleased to be able to chat with the artist/author and buy a "Dungeons and Discourse" poster.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Web Comickery

Added "Order of the Stick" to the list of links, it's a cool D&D-oriented webcomic. To call it that, though, is to damn it with faint praise.
My most interesting recent webcomic moment was back in October, when I went to the Small Press Expo in nearby Bethesda, MD. I had a nice chat with Kristofer Straub, the impressario of Starslip Crisis, and got a cool sketch in my copy of his book, Memnon Vanderbeam saying, "In the postmodern era, it is no longer possible to change the subject." This was a thrill, I've been a Kristofer Straub fan since the Checkerboard Nightmare days, and I remember when it used to be called Starshift Crisis. I grokked Straub before it was cool.
The quote is from a Laurie Anderson installation I saw years ago in a Hugo Boss prize exhibit on one of my all-to-infrequent trips to New York. I believe the line was delivered by an articulated wooden parrot, but I wouldn't swear to it, although there definitely was an articulated wooden parrot in the piece.
SPX (that's what we cool folks call the Small Press Expo) also featured a panel discussion, one of which was moderated by Josh Fruhlinger of the Comics Curmudgeon, which was nominally about formats, but inevitably wandered into the fields of comic economics, the merits and demerits of syndication, and how to judge quality. It was an interesting, necessarily inconclusive discussion.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


So this is it, the inaugural post of yet another other further different blog. I'm doing this in part because I believe in the participatory web, and it bugs me the way consumer ISPs try to treat web browsing like television, with features like terms of service which prohibit clients from running servers, and (if the rumors are true) interfering with peer-to-peer traffic, and generally treating their customers like criminals at worst and mindless content consumers at best.
On the other hand, the participatory web raises the "aggregator problem" -- there are too many feeds for anyone to follow, so people have to trust aggregators, which means that gatekeepers emerge, and the gatekeepers who attract the most eyeballs get the most ad revenue, which encourages them to reach out to broad audiences, which means watering things down, which takes us back to the television model, exemplified by a quote which I may have made up or may have heard, namely, that any sufficiently commercial technology is indistinguishable from telelvsion.
If I have to choose, I'd rather be part of the problem of too much content being generated than be part of the problem of too many people passively viewing content.