Currently, Craig Mod is walking across Japan, filling in the Kumano Kodō he has yet to walk. And because Craig Mod is Craig Mod, he started another newsletter to write about it. It’s temporary, running only for about a month, from May 11 to June 6, and already I look forward to reading it every morning with my cup of coffee that I’ll miss it when it’s gone.
Today’s issue, the eleventh one and titled Old Infrastructure, has this hilarious encounter with a group of elementary school kids:
I had stopped to chug an iced coffee from a vending machine. A group of thirty or so elementary school kids were being herded onto a nearby bus. They all wore the same dorky yellow hats; hats that would have gotten you punched at my elementary school. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? They screamed at me. Walking! I yelled back. OH YEAH, WHERE’D YOU WALK FROM? And I told them. I told them where I had walked from and they just said, HOLY SHIT.
In issue three, We Got Iced Coffee, he had another encounter with kids that had me laughing:
The elementary school children ran away from me giggling. They hid behind their umbrellas. As I passed I said to the umbrellas, Mighty fine little town you got here (as I say to most kids I pass — “nice town!” is a nice thing probably not enough people say, certainly not to kids, and I mean it too — these little towns are pretty nice), and one of the boys yelled back, Just what the heck race are you anyway?
Kids are so honest and unashamedly so that I wish we didn’t lose this trait as we get older. I love talking to kids, too, so I can relate to Craig’s impulse to write about it.
Earlier in issue #11, Craig met an old man who told him to:
Use your body when you’re young, he barked, And your mouth when you’re old! Ha ha!
Old. Young. Just use your mouth!
Dave Morrow, from a video he posted to his YouTube channel in 2018:
So my theory for quitting these [social networks] was that even though I didn’t notice it, I felt like all the input of being on those platforms, every few days or every week or whatever, I would always have a bunch of background static, where conversations going in my head and I wouldn’t know why, but it’d be like I was always thinking about something or worrying if I had to do something on any social media platform, like respond to somebody or stuff like that.
What would happen if I took all the energy that I spent on social media—posting, replying, looking at stuff, anything you do on social media—I took all that mental energy, all that physical energy, and I just devoted it straight toward what makes me feel really good? That is photography and traveling to new places on foot, out on the mountains, out on the wilderness. So I’ll take all that energy from social media, which only gives me, if at any happiness level, a very low amount of happiness comes from social media for me. But if I took all that energy I was devoting towards that and pushed it all towards something that makes me feel really good, makes me feel really accomplished when I’m done, how much more would I accomplish every single year? If I just took all that energy and diverted it only to the things I like?
This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, but something I’ve been thinking about more since linking to Cory Doctorow’s essay earlier today. I’ve found it easier and easier to live without Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, but if I’m being honest with myself, it’s been easier because I replaced it with Micro.blog. I don’t like that I replaced one compulsion with another, regardless of how much more integrity this platform has over, say, Facebook. I don’t like the background static, like Dave Morrow so beautifully put it, after every post I publish or every response I write. It keeps me from creating, and creating is the one thing that keeps me happy.
So what if, like Dave Morrow says, I focus all my energy toward the things that make me feel really good? Toward the things I like? What would my life like that look like? Well… let’s find out.
Here’s my declaration: I’m quitting all social media, including Micro.blog, starting today. Like Dave Morrow, I want to focus all my energies towards the things I like, and that means writing, reading, photography, traveling, and anything else that flexes my creativity muscle. And hey, if that turns me into an even bigger asshole, so what?
The genius of the blog was not in the note-taking, it was in the publishing. The act of making your log-file public requires a rigor that keeping personal notes does not. Writing for a notional audience — particularly an audience of strangers — demands a comprehensive account that I rarely muster when I’m taking notes for myself. I am much better at kidding myself my ability to interpret my notes at a later date than I am at convincing myself that anyone else will be able to make heads or tails of them.
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.
When I wrote my post about my blog acting as my second brain a few days ago, these were some of the feelings I had behind it. I looked at my list of tags, at the potential all this self-knowledge was and could be, and I felt relief. I felt like I finally found my place online, a place for myself so I can be myself. But unlike Cory, I’ve felt the most comfortable when I write for myself rather than, as Cory writes at the end of his essay, “to attract, rather than serve, an audience.”
All forms of social media, from Facebook to Twitter and, yes, even Micro.blog, has felt like a place to show off, to write something that would get reactions, with each new post feeling like it only existed to elicit even more reactions, to get even more hits from the drug of self-validation by friends or strangers. This is a big reason I don’t have Webmentions or adhere to any of the IndieWeb standards. I’m glad they exist, but they’re not for me. I want my home to stand on its own, with my own rules and idiosyncrasies. This, in all honesty, reflects who I am in real life and not just online.
I was that person, that student, that friend, that teammate, who had no backbone, who melded into every group just to be liked, who never built a personality because of how afraid he was to be disliked by anyone. I said yes to anyone who ever asked me to do something, from doing my friend’s homework to letting them cheat off my tests just because they asked. I let everyone walk over me because I wanted to be liked. I never allowed myself to question any of it because I just wanted to fit in, and that was my way of doing so. It wasn’t until after college when I felt like I finally found myself. And that self was and is kind of an asshole.
My friends now who know me have told me that I’m not an asshole whenever I’ve brought this up, but part of me feels like an asshole when I stand up for myself and tell people “no.” I feel like an asshole when I refuse food from people because I’m vegan and everyone around me eats meat, and I feel like an asshole when I turn down an invitation for anything if it interferes with my workout time. I feel like an asshole when I express myself honestly and say exactly what’s on my mind, whether it’s to my friends or family or my bosses, even. I feel like an asshole whenever I try to do things that are good for me but not for them. I feel like an asshole right now because I wrote earlier how I’m not supporting Webmentions or any IndieWeb stuff on my site. But I feel happier as a human being this way, whatever the cost.
A few months ago, I cancelled my Micro.blog yearly subscription and decided to build my own blog on my own terms. I downloaded Hugo onto my computer and built my own blog from scratch. I taught myself everything I needed to know to do this—from the obtuseness of programming in Hugo to the complexities of CSS—and all that work has been some of the most fulfilling of my life. And because of this, I don’t feel held back by anything or anyone. I have the freedom to do what I want, to explore more, to try things out, to produce for my own sake rather than trying to fit in with someone else’s rules. And you know what? Because I’m doing this for myself and not for anyone else, I’m happier, and I’m simply just eager to see what comes of this, if anything.
I know not everyone feels this way, but I don’t care if I have an audience. I don’t care about being liked or disliked. I’m just going to do what I want to do and see where that takes me, because again, life is too short to not live by your own rules. And to be honest, this is not what I thought I’d write about when I wanted to link to this post, but that’s kinda the beauty of doing your own thing, and that makes me happy, asshole or not.
Toward the end of his essay, Cory writes:
Cringing at your own memories does no one any good. On the other hand, systematically reviewing your older work to find the patterns in where you got it wrong (and right!) is hugely beneficial — it’s a useful process of introspection that makes it easier to spot and avoid your own pitfalls.
On my archive page, I have posts going back 7 years. Unlike Cory, I have and still do cringe when I go back and re-read some of them. I’m disappointed that I’m still trying to find answers to questions I asked back then, but I’m also proud at the progress I’ve made in other areas of my life. Will I look back at this post in the future and cringe? I hope I do! That’s the point. I cringe at the person I used to be all the time, and that’s because I’m always pushing forward, trying and thinking and doing new things, all in an effort to squeeze as much juice out of the short time I have to live. And why hide behind fear? Just take that step and see what happens, and that’s how I want to live my life, fuck what anyone else thinks. If that makes me an asshole, then I’m an asshole.
Grace Ebert, Colossal:
Although her earlier images captured the fleshy fungi in spectacular detail, Pollack has spent the last two years getting even closer to her subjects—which are often less than a millimeter tall—by using a combination of a microscope and macro lens that magnify her findings up to 10 times their actual size. The resulting images document even the smallest features, like individual spores, the veiny web structure encasing them, and the distinct texture and color of each organism.
Her photos are incredible. I would love to see her work in real life to see how she does this.
Austen Goslin, Polygon:
Dragon Ball Super is getting its second ever movie sometime next year, Toei Animation announced on Saturday. The announcement of the new movie came on Goku Day — May 9 because the Japanese character for five and nine can be read similarly to the character’s name — which serves as a celebration day for the entire Dragon Ball universe.
Dragon Ball is the anime that got me into anime. A few years ago, I binged through every Dragon Ball series, so of course I’m stoked for this.
But what I didn’t know is that May 9th is Goku day. According to the official Dragon Ball website:
Goku Day is an official anniversary certified and registered by the Japanese Anniversary Association. Why May 9th? Well, since in Japan the date is written in the order 5/9, and because 5 and 9 can be read as “Go” and “Ku”, the numbers combine to make Goku’s Japanese kanji! Thus, May 9th became Goku Day!
I much prefer this holiday over May 4th, but that’s mostly because I didn’t grow up with Star Wars like many people around me did. And 五 (go) and 九 (ku) is just cool.
Funny story: I studied screenwriting at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, and we had most of our classes in a building named after George Lucas, and it wasn’t until my freshman year when I finally watched my first Star Wars movie. Yeah, that was awkward! I’m a fan now, though.
I haven’t participated in every Bandcamp Friday since it first became a thing last year, but when I saw that today was Bandcamp Friday, I decided to pull the trigger on a few purchases I’ve had my eye on. All in all, I spent over $40, and I couldn’t be happier. According to Ethan Diamond:
If you’ve started to feel guilty about buying music on any day other than Bandcamp Friday, here’s something to keep in mind: on Bandcamp Fridays, an average of 93% of your money reaches the artist/label (after payment processor fees). When you make a purchase on any other day of the month (as 2.5 million of you have since March, buying an additional $152 million worth of music and merch) an average of 82% reaches the artist/label. Every day is a good day to directly support artists on Bandcamp!
I’m glad that regardless of when I want to buy music on Bandcamp, the artists get a majority of my money. That’s how it should be.
On a side note: Not a half hour after I purchased my music, my friend Jon texts me and asks me if I use iTunes. “Yes,” I said. “Great, because I have a $40 iTunes gift card that has literally been sitting in my dresser for years. Do you want it?” “Of course!” And sure enough, when I went to see him, he gave me the gift card with a copyright of 2017 on it. I added it to my account and blam!, $40. I won’t be spending it on Bandcamp, but now I have even more music to add to my collection, which is nice. I truly believe that buying music is better than renting it, so this makes me happy.
Andrew Webster, The Verge:
The Longing feels like a troll. It’s a game that takes 400 real-world days to finish, and it moves at a pace that could only generously be described as glacial. The first word that ever appears on screen is “Wait!” Simple tasks, like walking up some stairs or opening a door, drag on forever. And yet, here I am, a month after I first started, and I can’t seem to stop playing.
I remember seeing this game during last month’s Indie World Showcase and thinking how much I wanted to play it. I thought the idea was clever, a game whose purpose is all about the player feeling the weight of time. I probably won’t play it because my backlog is ridiculous, but maybe one day…
Gruber, a blogger and podcaster with a passionate audience among Apple fans (and executives), thinks Apple will eventually have to relent on at least one of the App Store policies former CEO Steve Jobs instituted years ago: Apps can’t tell their users they can buy something — say, sign up for the paid version of an app or buy virtual currency for Fortnite — outside of the app.
In practice, this means developers that don’t want to sell through the App Store — such as Netflix and Spotify, which sell subscriptions to their streaming services on their own sites so they don’t have to give Apple a cut of their monthly revenue — can’t tell app users they can do so when they open the app. Instead, they have to just hope users figure out how to do it on their own.
I’ve been pretty ambivalent about the Epic vs. Apple trial, but this is one rule I never ever liked. Prohibiting developers from even breathing the fact that there are other ways of buying their products or services from within their own app always felt petty and stupid to me. If this one change does actually happen, then I think that’s a win for many people.
Reggie Ugwu reporting in the New York Times:
For Mars, 46, giving up his company’s independence is a major professional and philosophical pivot. Joining SiriusXM means leaving Radiotopia — a network of creator-owned podcasts Mars co-founded with the public media company PRX in 2014 — which he has regularly championed in the credits of “99% Invisible” as the home of “the best, most innovative shows in all of podcasting.” Mars said he will give $1 million of the money he is earning from the sale of his company to support the rest of the Radiotopia roster, which includes smaller but well-known podcasts like “Criminal” and “Song Exploder.”
“I’ve been devoted to independent podcasting for a really long time, and I still believe that there’s a role for that in the world,” Mars said. “But my role right now is something different, which is to spend more time on the show and on making things that I love.”
I’ve been a fan of “99% Invisible” for a very long time, so of course I’m happy for Roman Mars and his team, especially after the last year, but part of me worries about the consolidation the podcast industry is experiencing right now. I trust Roman Mars enough to believe he thinks he’s making the absolute best decision for himself and his team, but I don’t know.
With the backing of Stitcher and SiriusXM, Mars said he hoped to continue producing ambitious work — without the strain of handling the financing himself.
“With a bigger company, I can do more things and not be fettered by the small business mentality,” he said. “Hustle less and make more.”
Artists need patrons, but will some part of his soul suffer because of this? Will he still have that fire now that he doesn’t have to worry about money? That’s really hard to say.
I do wish him luck, though, and I’ll keep listening.
Joan Acocella, in a review of Richard Greene’s (no relation) The Unquiet Englishman, describing Graham Greene’s writing routine:
Graham Greene was an almost eerily disciplined writer. He could write in the middle of wars, the Mau Mau uprising, you name it. And he wrote, quite strictly, five hundred words per day, in a little notebook he kept in his chest pocket. He counted the words, and at five hundred he stopped, even, his biographer says, in the middle of a sentence. Then he started again the next morning.
I like this. It’s simple and can be done anywhere.