Decentralised Lainchan?

From the Lainchan front: The literature and layer boards are back, but I’ve found something a bit more interesting: is now a thing. From my sleuthing1, it’s meant as a decentralised Lainchan, away from the software and look of traditional *chans.

The only theme is different, similar to the current Delete theme, a centred column of the posts and not the left aligned of traditional chans, and each post in a block. It definitely looks a hell of a lot nicer than most of the themes on the main site, and if they continue this design I hope it keeps the current aesthetic. And the domain was only registered two days ago!

For now, posting by Tor is blocked, for reason I only assume to keep spammers out until the proper filters are restored.

Whatever happens, I really like this site compared to the staleness of the .org site.

EDIT: I was wrong. The site isn’t a decentralised Lainchan, it’s a coup de tat, a copycat with the same name after all the drama I’ve reported on here. There’s controversy over this, a site with the same name attempting to divide an already fragmented community.

While I think it is a better site, if it’s going in the direction of a different site it needs a different name. But a different name, not staying within the ‘niche’ of Serial Experiments Lain, could potentially mean a different site, and I don’t know if I could be interested with that.

UPDATE 2: Just found this introductory post, which furthers that it’s a coup de tat:

Who are we?

We are a collective of former administrators and moderators of . Technical and organizational skills are distributed among staff members so that lainchan no longer has a single point of failure.

What is this?

This is our new home, a place under the faithful care of established community members (rather than simply the highest bidder) that can be trusted to continue the legacy of lainchan as it was before the last transfer of power.

Why are we here?

Neglect of critical services and backups, lack of priorities and accountability, and gross inaction and incompetence have led us to a situation in which we have lost years of content, but have seen little done to improve the situation. Freed from an entrenched bureaucracy (read: one person), we will be able to reconstruct lainchan and continue its development without unnecessary debate and delay over matters of insignificance.

Where are we heading?

The website has redundant offsite backups. Community services are decentralized. We now plan to rebuild content across the boards, recover data from our last good backup, and resume work on the constellation of projects by and for lains. Join us in on the Freenode IRC network to discuss the future of our community.

Directly attacking the faults of the old owner of Lainchan, and attempting to make it better. Coup de Tat if I ever saw one.

  1. With a hangover, but don’t all good detectives always have a hangover? 

The appeal of Medium to a young writer

This is vaguely a bastardization of a tech blog, meaning I also read tech blogs. A this brings a lot of arguments against […]1 platform Medium. Most of these arguments deal with the lack of control Medium gives you/ your writing is hosted on someone else’s server/ if Medium goes down so does your writing, you can’t pick the design. I’m personally conflicted about whether Medium is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Because it certainly has its benefits to a young writer like myself.

As a tech nerd/hobbyist semi-freelance web designer, a part of me rejects Medium for the techy tweak-y goodness that comes with a platform like WordPress or Ghost. I love to tweak the CSS to get this sites look to be just right, mess around with plugins and extensions until the site breaks. It’s just a fun time for me. Plus on Medium there’s no Markdown2, which is an essential part of my writing workflow.

Then, of course, there’s the argument on the web that you don’t own your content, which I read is a very important thing on the web. With any self-hosted option3, I own the words that I’m writing. I’m paying for my own domain, my own server. This gives me a level of artistic freedom I can’t really exercise if I’m letting someone else own my words. As the OG blogger Dave Winer says in his post Anywhere But Medium:

People also post to Medium to get more flow. But at what cost? Which pieces get flow? Ones that are critical of Medium? I doubt it. Or offend the politics of the founder? I don’t know. I don’t see a statement of principles, tech startups usually don’t have them. They’re here to dominate and make money off the dominance. I’m very familiar with the thinking, having been immersed in it for decades. […]

Medium also seems to be about just [one piece of writing], rather than just establishing a fanbase for a site or set of creators. Even Anil Dash, in his praise for the site notes this, comparing it to YouTube:

So what does Medium resemble more, with its organization-by-collection, diminished prominence of the creator’s identity, and easy flow between related pieces of content? It’s simple: YouTube. Though some subset of YouTube users subscribe to channels, most of us just graze through the site when someone sends us a funny video, only barely aware of who even posted a video. Medium is evolving to be the same; We get sent an article that someone wants us to read (or in the case of the recent spoiled-startup-boy essays mentioned in Madrigal’s piece, we get sent an article someone wants us to hate), and then hopefully we click around to check out a few more things.

Medium doesn’t (yet?) support the embedding of its content into other sites, which was essential to YouTube’s wide adoption, but in the core experience by which content is created and discovered, Medium is much closer to “YouTube for Longform” than it is “Blogger Revisited”.

This kind of thought works for magazines, which Poritsky argued Medium is, but not for the web. With a blog you want someone to keep reading, to click further and further onto your site, and eventually maybe become a fan. Medium’s single articles aren’t blogs, they’re articles, smashed into the blob of Medium and not really you.

However, a lot of those anti-Medium sentiments are written by old bloggers and writers who have been in this game for a long time and know how to deal their cards right. As a young blogger/writer4, starting out with nothing behind my name of note, there is an obvious appeal to Medium. In Medium, the SEO I have to try to craft is stripped away to nothing else but keywords and a title, and hope that the Medium content curation will make me known. As Ben Brooks says:

AI may be the future of curated content, of finding what matters, but Medium presents a pretty great step towards that right now. That’s why people like to read on Medium.
And it’s also why people like to write on Medium, as it presents a rare opportunity to easily get new readers. To be discovered.
As a writer the hardest thing is to get people to discover your writing. As a reader the hardest thing is to consistently find content you care about. And if you dive into Medium — it will do both for you.

As Poritsky said above, Medium is very similar to a magazine. Sure, it’s got your name and your writing on it but it’s on someone else’s pages. Which gives it obvious appeal. It’s the difference between publishing a high school zine and hoping someone reads it to writing in your local newspaper. Sure with a zine you get creative control over everything, but that includes getting people to read it. Medium is the newspaper young writers need in this day and age to get known, having our names blurred in with the professionals to give us a sense of place, of belonging, as Anil Dash writes:

This [Medium founder Ev Williams having dropped out of university shortly after starting] is the fundamental nature of Medium: it’s meant to be inclusive and egalitarian. In crass terms, it’s arguing that 10,000 monkeys can make a better magazine than Ivy League editors. In the more charitable terms I prefer, it’s arguing that culture is better for amplifying the voices of those whom traditional institutions exclude, even if that requires giving a platform to those who are thoughtless or negative.

Regardless of which tactic is more successful (and fortunately for Chris and Ev, it’s not an either/or scenario), Medium is at least a reinvention of the traditional narrative whereby the tycoons who win at the beginning of a new technological era plow their winnings into buying up captive media to act as a house organ. Carnegies build libraries, yes, but they don’t usually try to give away printing presses.

As an example of Medium’s power as a magazine, just to see how it would go I let my post on living in perpetual Airplane mode on Medium be published in the Mobile Lifestyle publication. It’s now got 32 ‘reads’5, which is probably more than the post on this website has. It’s still my writing, and I can pull it when I want, but being able to see my stuff being read is a great feeling. As Dave said above, this gives me more flow.

Part of the fun of blogging is playing with your CMS. But that’s absent when writing. I write for fun, but at the end of the day when the spelling is checked and the publish button is hit, what you really, really want is someone to read it, link it, criticise it. Anything to know your time writing was worthwhile. Medium shows me this, with reads being more instantly gratifying than looking at the analytics of this site. And inside Medium’s wall, my writing can reach a wider audience than it can on this blog.

This is a very attractive prospect to this young writer.

  1. I use the ellipses because I’m really not sure what Medium is trying to be sometimes. Is it the future of journalism? Just another blogging platform? Magazine 2.0: Get Wired? Perhaps one of the best ways I’ve head it described as is: It is an unholy amalgam of LiveJournal, Slashdot, The Magazine, and the features section of Rolling Stone. Pretty much in that order. Medium is the medium, reflected back through a funhouse mirror, and that’s a good thing. 
  2. Well, kind of no Markdown
  3. What this site is being published with. 
  4. I guess I’m a writer now, I just got my first rejection the other day
  5. Medium places a high value on reads, as they are how you know if someone actually read your post or just instantly clicked back. For some reason, my most read post on there is announcing the Web Development and Design Discord, with 149 reads. 

Can we really trust the Jedi?

From a 2005 article on Marginal Revolution, titled “The public choice economics of Star Wars: A Straussian reading”:

  1. The Jedi and Jedi-in-training sell out like crazy.  Even the evil Count Dooku was once a Jedi knight.

  2. What do the Jedi Council want anyway?  The Anakin critique of the Jedi Council rings somewhat true (this is from the new movie, alas I cannot say more, but the argument could be strengthened by citing the relevant detail).  Aren’t they a kind of out-of-control Supreme Court, not even requiring Senate approval (with or without filibuster), and heavily armed at that?  As I understand it, they vote each other into the office, have license to kill, and seek to control galactic affairs.  Talk about unaccountable power used toward secret and mysterious ends.

Despite what George Lucas said, my personal theory is that ‘Balance to the Force’, involves an equal number of Sith as there are Jedi, which is exactly what Anakin did. The Jedi are just too overpowered to be left uncontested in the galaxy.

As an addendum, the reasons the article states about the Jedi perfectly reflect why I love Knights of the Old Republic 2 over the original. Through Kreia, Obsidian perfectly critics most of the Star Wars universes problems. In it, there is no ‘right’ choice. Give a beggar money, and he is killed for it. Give him nothing, and he kills someone else.

Kreia seeks to show you, that even the purest of Jedi can never bring true harmony to the galaxy. Even if the Jedi where to become the sole users of the Force in the galaxy, the implications for this are not good for any normal civilian in the galaxy.

/r/hmmm: For the absurd


/r/hmmm is for photographs of things that just aren’t right. Two things that separately together, but smooshing them together produces something odd and uncomfortable, but still funny. Why the hell would some guy use a bowling bowl for beer pong?

And if you prefer your hmmm’s in gif form, there’s also /r/hmgifs

hmmm from hmmm

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A collection of minimalist web blogging platforms

Boing Boing’s Rob Beschizza has made a web publishing ‘toy’ as he calls it, It’s small, brutalist, anonymous and mostly just a fun little thing to play around with. Here’s the list of features from BoingBoing:

This is the dumbest publishing platform on the web. … There’s no tracking, ad-tech, webfonts, analytics, javascript, cookies, databases, user accounts, comments, friending, likes, follower counts or other quantifiers of social capital. The only practical way for anyone to find out about a posting is if the author links to it elsewhere.

But it is legible, no-nonsense static hypertext, good for short stories, not-short-enough tweets and adventures and all your numbers station or internet dead drop needs. Here you can scream into the void and know the form of your voice is out there forever.

Search engines are instructed not to index posts and I’ll do my best to make sure this isn’t used as a tool by spammers or other abusers. Nonetheless, posting will be turned off if anything bad grows out of it.

Use Dumbdown to format posts: #header, **bold**, *italic*, `code`, >quote, and hyperlinks in the format [link]( Try !hacker and !professor and !timestamp too. …

Long live the independent web!

Then goes on to write about a list of very similar web publishing platforms for small content like this: is plain and perfect. Unlike it allows post editing for the duration of your browser session. Barry T. Smith made it with Adam Newbold to provide “fast web pages for everybody,” especially those with poor internet and low-end devices. (Newbold also made, itself among the many inspirations for; see also Drew McConville’s bettermotherfuckingwebsite for an idea of what a line of CSS can do for you.)

Said So is “a simple, anonymous, non-indexed, non-searchable microblogging platform,” but with share links, and stylish typography. Writes author Apostolos Pantsiopoulos: “Anonymity was the first thing that interested me. Then after I watched the documentary “helvetica” I was inspired to create a minimal posting service that removes all the unnecessary clutter and deliver the message as emphasized as possible, using a font that has this “authority” effect on people.”

I really, really like this. Sure it may be stupid and nowhere near as fully powerful as an actual blog (ala this site), and it’s probably not just for the brutalist design1. Maybe it’s just because it’s an echo chamber for my thoughts, but any kind of indie centralised writing is great and can go a long way. Jason Kottke just celebrated his websites 19th birthday. That’s an amazing acomplishment that has outlasted most blogs. I hope Valiant Ghost does the same (A few months – 2-3 years going strong!).

You should start a blog too if you haven’t already. As a decentralised echo chamber for your thoughts and feelings. As one of my blogger idols Rands said: Support freedom of the press. Start a blog.

  1. I’ve had a weird obsession with brutalist design lately, both in architecture and on the web. Maybe it’s just because my university has brutalist architecture, or that I found brutalist web design was a thing and then spun my own 90’s-esque page on Neocities. There’s something very stark about it. 

A discussion of the good points of Griffith 

For a lot of people in the Berserk fandom, Griffith is an object of intense hatred. It makes sense after all. He killed of numerous characters that we had grown to love watching the show. But the intense hatred masks the good points of Griffith, which I set out to discuss in my editorial on Fighting For Nippon, Screw Griffith (Because Fuck Griffith is too crass for an article title):

To say that Griffith did nothing wrong would be incredibly wrong, but so would simply condemning all his actions as evil. He is a character that deserves to be discussed fairly, while most people would not hesitate to slander his bad points, I think his good points are something that’s interesting to discuss.

Because, in reference to his good points, I can kind of relate to Griffith.