Laurel Schwulst, Rob Horning, Elan Ullendorff and a short break
Wednesday, I bought my first Christmas tree. Since then, we spent most of our time admiring its place in the middle of our living room.
With the tree came an unexpected realisation: I want to end my days in nature, being more outside than inside, sweeping pine needles rather than picking up street trash. Hopefully, I’m not in a rush. Since 2006, I haven’t stayed in the same place for two years. I have moved within cities and between countries. Denmark, Singapore, Hungary, Italy, Belgium, and now Greece.
Once home becomes a verb rather than a noun, it is hard not to question where to live. But relocation comes at the cost of familiarity and stability. Maybe that is why our living room guest is the first Christmas tree I bought myself. And although Uno, Ana and I have celebrated Christmas together for years, it feels like our first Christmas as a family. It is the first time we have the capacity to buy a tree, decorate it, and consider what songs to include in our DIY songbook. It is thrilling to seed our own family rituals. I long for these routines and the intimacy that opens when not everything is new.
A tradition I am proud to have maintained is writing annual reflections. They serve as a record of the past year and a guide for next. I mention this because I publish them in this newsletter later in December. And since I am taking a break next week, you won’t receive the usual links to the quiet, odd and poetic web until January 7, 2024. But on that day I will return with a map of the internet.
This week, Laurel Schwulst taught a class about lightweight websites at HFBK Hamburg. The participants were a mix of students and seasoned internet poets. I enjoy the fruits of their labour, including A Ritual For Shutting Down and Essay Mode.
Rob Horning questions large language models. He says they ignore local and situated knowledge in favour of centralised order. The people who suffer are those living differently from the machine imagination enabled by their engineers. In his essay, Rob connects modern agriculture practices with street-life, the topics from my past two introductions.
Elan Ullendorff proposes a New Turing Test: »If the original Turing test evaluated what computers are capable of, this new Turing test evaluates what we are capable of. And that re-centering of humans, if done in a supportive environment, can turn AI from something to be feared into a challenge: how beautifully, imperfectly, perceptibly human can we be?«
Gabriel asked me to answer »what if the internet felt more quiet, odd and poetic?« for a zine about the internet. I consider my contribution an easter egg: it is short but long enough to cite a handful of my favourite projects.
I’ve added two URL events to my calendar next week. Wednesday, Screen Walks hosts a desktop performance with Chia Amisola. And Thursday, the livestreaming network THING reappears with friends. Maybe we’ll meet in the chat?
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