Welcome to the fifth edition of Ephemerata, a weekly-ish digest of links, ideas, learnings, and sounds that I think are worth sharing.
I’m doing this to stimulate discussion around what I find interesting and also to share things before they disappear into the void of my journal.
SIGNAL FOR… WITH… EMAIL? (via Gordon)
I saw Delta Chat a while ago. The site describes exactly what it does, and somehow it flew over my head. Maybe it did the same to you if you looked at it.
After a recent exchange with Gordon Brander I decided to give it a try and it kind of blows my mind. Let me try to explain what I find interesting about it:
- There are no accounts. Your email address is your identity.
- It’s a messaging app (like WhatsApp or Signal), but you send messages to an email address. It actually sends emails, but somehow you don’t see them.
- If you send a message to someone that doesn’t have the app, they receive a regular email. If they do have the app, they receive a message in the app conversation.
- Messages can be encrypted if the sender and receiver are using the app, so even if you both use Gmail, it stays private and Google can’t read your messages. (Please correct me if I missed anything there.)
This makes it possible to ‘move away from big bad tech companies’ without even moving. No inventing something new for people to learn or adopt—it simply works on the back of email, which has been around (and will be around) for a while. And at the same time we get to keep our contacts and social graph forever. It also abides by many of the Zero Data principles: your data is truly under your control.
I decided to start a small yearly donation for them on their Open Collective, but they also receive funds on Liberapay. If you are able to support them financially, please consider contributing to this important open-source project even if you don’t use it.
I’m super excited to try this app with friends. Let’s see how far this goes.
Jeff Atwood describes incentives created by putting a number next to someone’s name in the context of social media, and also mentions the ‘Ars Banana experiment’:
[Ars Technica ran an experiment in posting that ‘Guns at home more likely to be used stupidly than in self-defense’, but wrote at the bottom of the article, ‘If you have read this far, please mention Bananas in your comment below.’]
[The first person to mention it was on page 3 of the discussion, comment number 93.]
Scott Alexander calculates Moral Costs Of Chicken Vs. Beef in terms of climate impact, carbon offsets, and animal suffering:
In conclusion, eating beef causes more climate change than eating chicken, but eating chicken causes more animal suffering than eating beef. Offsetting the climate change effects of beef would only cost $22 per year, which seems really good. Offsetting the animal suffering effects of chicken might only cost $360 per year, but this is a very tentative estimate and maybe shouldn’t be taken seriously.
In our conversation about how the modern world needs a secular church, Helder mentioned the Sunday Assembly, which is a weekly gathering of people who listen to talks and sing popular music together. (via Helder)
Beau of the Fifth Column debunks statistics about which animals are more dangerous:
[If comparisons are made without defining the criteria, it’s probably propaganda.]
If you’re enjoying this, consider contributing to my Open Collective. Virtually everything I create is public, accessible for free, and open-source. Your support helps me keep adding to the commons and making it available for everyone.
I was reflecting on the relationship between timelines and coming together in the real world:
Does hyperconnectivity give us just enough information about each other to make collective moments less ‘worthwhile’? Is the easy sharing of everything overloading our timelines to the point that we are coerced into trusting algorithms to determine when we interact with one another? If there was more friction, and no cheap substitute for collective awareness via feeds, would we have more collective moments?
Baldur Bjarnason describes the power dynamics of large companies funding open-source to control its direction:
[Google Reader and Feedburner were not victims but weapons used to ensure that only Google was extracting value from the industry.]
[Blogspot was an attempt to populate the search indexes because there was not much content. As advertisers started to push back, it became less worthwhile of an investment.]
[Open-source projects without revenue are either burnout waiting to happen, or a formerly well-paid developer coasting on savings, or a group that took venture capital.]
[It’s easier to sell one thing for $100 than a hundred things for $1.]
[What would you teach to yourself three years ago?]
[Set input goals instead of outcome goals.]
Steph Smith shares some reflections on hitting $100k in sales of her e-book:
[Being on an exponential curve is weird because when you look back, it’s flat, and when you look forward, it’s vertical.]
[Measure yourself by the people who measure themselves by you.]
The minute and a half escalation to the moment this dog wakes up makes it worth the wait.
A math professor fixes a stain in his projector screen by summoning himself in a Google Search. (via Dani)
Two cats and a mouse sit around and do nothing together on this kitchen floor.
All the following items can be accessed as a one-click playlist via Joybox without accounts or sign up—just open and play.
In Francis Bebey’s Akwaaba: Music For Sanza (1985), mbira and raw vocals are set to funky pentatonic bass grooves accompanied by other African percussion. You will sway from side to side.
The glitchy, hip-hop jazz in Kiefer’s Between Days (2021) had my head boppin’ for twenty-five minutes.
Music For Robots (2014) by Squarepusher x Z-MACHINES is a trippy mix of atonal harmonies, jazz solos over drum-n-bass, glitchy video-game music. Sounds like something going wrong, with great precision. (via @firstname.lastname@example.org)
Le Soir, by Fabrice Koffy, Marika Galea, and Michael Go from Montréal Sound Resistance: Chapitre I (2021) builds from French spoken word to trio music, to an improvised duo with a lovely African triplet feel. The bilingual album of poetry and spoken word is made in Montreal and dedicated to the memory of George Floyd.
I have so much nostagia for Egypt. The ornamentation in their music has a warmth that I haven’t heard anywhere else.
Dan Weiss posted a short video with the abnormal name ‘some drumming’. I just get octopus vibes watching his hands move around so fluidly.
I always love receiving music. Send me recommendations anytime, anywhere!
That’s all folks!
Feel free to reply and share any reflections you might have, or just say hello.