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Vol. 1 - Issue No. 1

How your website reflects the kind of poetry you are, Meta doesn't need to federate to get your data, Arc browsing for Windows, Kiss goes immortal, you are an icon and replacing your friends.

Robert Rackley
Robert Rackley
5 min read

What Kind of Poetry Am I?

On the meta-subject of blogging, Robin Rendle recently had a post that resonated with quite a few in the blogging community. In it, Rendle goes over the difficulty some have in choosing how to position their blog and what they choose to publish. He addresses his answer to someone named Katherine on Mastodon, who is worried about what to put out there.

I’m sort of dragging the conversation in a different direction slightly here but what Katherine touches on is the oldest question on the internet: what should our personal websites do? Should we prioritize getting a new gig or selling a service? Or can we be ourselves? Weird and fun and peculiar? Should we talk about topic X but avoid topic Y? That’s a common one I hear from fellow bloggers. Or what if a potential employer doesn’t see the last big project we worked on? Are we hurting our future careers by blogging about fun recipes or books that we like? Isn’t that an unnecessary distraction from moving from an L3 to an L4 or whatever?

Rendle ends up coming down on the side of more individuality from bloggers. Instead of something fit for LinkedIn, he says, "I want weirder, more broken websites!"


Meta Doesn’t Need to Federate to Get Your Data

Threads, the fledgling social network from Meta, is closer (sort of) to fully implementing ActivityPub, which allows communications with other networks on the Fediverse, such as Mastodon. Not everyone in the Fediverse is keen on this idea. There is outrage on Mastodon, led by the fact that Meta has hardly been a trustworthy actor in the past.

The cartoon from this post on Mastodon sums up the sentiment nicely.

However, Robb Knight details why Meta doesn't need ActivityPub to get at your data.

Take my profile for example: https://social.lol/@robb. It's all right there for downloading, scraping, or scribbling down in a "robb is very clever and handsome" notebook. The local timeline for social.lol is the same. Ready to be gobbled up into whatever data center Meta want to put it in. This doesn't even take into account that Mastodon has an API that anyone can use. Hell, they could follow the local timeline on Mastodon.social and probably get 90% of the data they want anyway, assuming they want any of it to begin with. Or create an account on a few hundred instances and get the data that way. But they won't because that's not why they're doing this.

I do find it amusing that people are putting data on the open web, but then act like, without federation, companies like Meta won't be able to get at it.


Arc Browsing For Windows

The ultra-customizable Arc browser is now available on Windows in beta
The Browser Company has announced the Windows version of its Arc browser. Invites are already going out to waitlisted users.

The Arc Browser is one of the few pieces of software that I have tried in the past couple of years that has stuck with me. I made it my default browser shortly after installing it and have kept it there since. The word that most readily comes to mind when I think about it is "delightful." It has many bits of polish that make it so.

One feature I particularly enjoy is the ability to pin tabs that then function much like applications. This works really well with sites that have a timeline. You can open sites from the timeline (with a feature called "Peek") that then have their own sort of preview window which you can close to return to the timeline or expand to a full tab. It's a bit of magic in a workflow.


Kiss Goes Immortal

Kiss recently announced at the end of a show that they were going to be "immortal" by introducing avatars that never age, which will now carry on their legacy of performance. It's kind of fitting, as Kiss has always been more about style over substance, arguably working harder to project an image than to produce interesting music. It also fits with their legendary penchant for merchandising.

The “new era,” of course, is one of making money from the avatars. The company behind the show, Pophouse Entertainment, has already been doing so with young, digital versions of ABBA in its ABBA Voyage show for over a year. Kiss, a band that has doggedly merchandised its image for half a century, seems like a good fit for such a partnership.

It sounds like shows put on by holograms are fairly big ticket sellers. I wonder whether people go for the novelty, or whether the event is truly analogous to a live concert.


You Are An Icon

Zac Settle has a gorgeous piece on iconography, the sacredness of creation and climate disruption. She articulates Orthodox and Catholic theological perspectives on God's role in the material.

Icons are both material and sacred. They are meant to usher us into prayer in the deepest sense—inviting us to live into the sanctified world of the icon, which is also our world. Icons urge us to see all creation as sacred, sustained by divine love. They are reminders of creation and the incarnation through which God embraces the material world. The Franciscan theologian Ilia Delio puts it this way: the incarnation “makes the entire creation—all peoples, mountains, and valleys, all creatures big and small, everything that exists—holy because God embraces it” in love. It is this holiness that an icon aims to capture. In an icon, Chryssavgis writes, “There is no sharp line of demarcation between ‘material’ and ‘spiritual.’ The icon constitutes the epiphany of God in the world and the existence of the world in the presence of God.”

Settle uses her observations of pelicans at the beach as a poignant illustration of this line of thought.

A couple of months ago, while traveling in the mountains, my wife and I attended a service at an Orthodox parish outside of Boone, NC. The homily, about the power of the material even in Jesus' miracles (such as touching the hem of his robe to be healed), reminded us of why we venerate icons. It made sense to my wife, who had previously thought of the veneration of icons as something weird.


Replacing Your People

Years ago, when I attempted to read Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules For Life, I gave up after the 3rd chapter (or rule) because it didn't seem to align with Christian values. Peterson makes the point that you should expunge those from your life that you feel are dragging you down. This seems to ignore our responsibility to others.

Fr. James Guirguis makes the point for self-reflection and improvement as a focus, rather than discarding people that we may conveniently blame for holding us back.

If you want to give yourself a gift don’t replace the people in your life, replace your sins and passions with virtues. The virtues will open your eyes and help you to see that God is working tirelessly in your life. This will then lead to heartfelt gratitude instead of grumbling. Then your work will be truly beneficial.

Guirguis emphasizes a spirit of generosity towards others that puts Peterson's philosophy of only associating with people that can benefit your ambitions to shame.

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Robert Rackley

Orthodox Christian, aspiring minimalist, inveterate notetaker, software dev manager and paper airplane mechanic.


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