Favorite Things in January 2024

| 1924 words | ~10 mins

As a part of my goal this year to cut back on mindless consumption I have decided to do something somewhat constructive with all that junk I consume. This is a series where I write about the things I enjoyed each month.

Blogs

Blogs and personal websites are probably the best places to find insightful and interesting content nowadays. There are many other types of interesting website, but blogs are probably the most human. Here are some of the highlights of this month. Feel free to send me links to your blog or other ones you think are interesting.

My line about SEO being a red herring by Ruben Schade

Ruben Schade’s blog is one of the first ones I started following when I started getting into the IndieWeb last year. He has posted a lot of interesting posts over that time and I’ve not gotten through all of them yet. Here he shares a little bit about his opinions on SEO.

I think I mentioned my problems with SEO before, but Ruben does make some great points that SEO is still a term that is mostly meaningless. I think with the amount of AI generated SEO spam that we see nowadays trying to perform SEO on a website is even more pointless. Search engines are broken and if you really want a website to do well just create good and accessible content.

Search Experiment Conclusion by Yukinu

So I’ve mentioned how I think search engines are almost useless above. Yukinu has been seeing the same thing and decied to use a mix of smaller general purpose search engines and site specific/purpose built ones. They have some insite that may be useful.

A real takeaway is that big search engines often bury good or interesting content in favor of ads and AI SEO spam.

The permanent commodification of arts by Simone Silvestroni

Simone calls out and laments the current era of streaming. I agree that it is a kind of corporate gaslighting that has largely won over many. Some people look at my shelf of books and physical Switch games like I’m crazy, but they will pay $40/month on streaming service and own nothing. Then there is the issue of these companies not paying their creators what they are worth.

I don’t think all hope is lost though. Lots of good indie projects exist and physical media has not completely lost just yet.

How to quit capitalism by Joan Westenberg

I actually found this post on Simone Silvestroni’s blog.

Joan gives a more nuanced look at how capitalism relies on an unsustainable endless growth mindset, how we can combat the destructive nature of it, and some things we can do personally to decrease our reliance on consumerism.

Unlike a lot of more extreme folks Joan doesn’t just whole sell blame capitalism for all of our woes while also not holding back any punches.

Treating the Symptoms by Jim Nielsen

This one is also cheating as it was published in February rather than January, but it is a good one.

I’ve only recently discovered Jim’s blog, but he has some good insights on the web as a whole. In this he brings up a new app called “Arc Search”, something I only just learned about. The app searches for you and uses AI to summarize the content it consumes.

People will go out of there way to remove the human element from the web and it is sad. The web is a beautiful place when you get away from the corporate web, but most people don’t know that. Instead of fixing the web, we have companies like Arc sticking a bandage on the problem.

Any way Jim brings up a good point:

But the state of the mobile web is not a technology problem. It’s a people problem. People and incentives.

And while I appreciate as much as the next person technology that bypasses people problems — popup blockers, ad blockers, tracking blockers, etc. — I am under no illusion that these don’t solve problems. They treat symptoms.

The incentives for publishing anything on the web continue to receded more and more

We are removing the incentives to create content on the open web and that can kill the open web.

I do think that this is going to kill the big web, but might be a great oportuntiy for the IndieWeb/small web to grow. People are getting tired of the current way the internet operates. The IndieWeb is actually building a cure to the problems rather than just sticking a bandage on it. How? By encouraging human connection. I need to write more on the indieweb this year.

The indie web by James

Speaking of the IndieWeb, James’ blog is another one of the first blogs I found when rediscovering the joys of surfing the internet.

Here James has a post full of hope for the future of the open web. He talks about having a place where he can post anything because having a website you control give you freedom.

Having a website is like a little rebellion against the corporate web that Jim Nielsen writes about above. I’m with James on this one and it really does inspire for a future where we can see all sorts of interesting things on the internet again.

What Can a Website Do? by Dave Rupert

David talks about how the book What can a Body Do? by Sarah Hendren got him thinking about how he could build accessibility tools for others. He is building tools to help other web developers build accessible systems as well as helping educate others on accessibility.

I think accessibility is an important thing. I am not the most knowledgeable about programming myself, but I am looking forward to more tips that help me make my website more accessible to everyone.

Why I Am Leaving Academia (For Now) by Wouter Groeneveld

Wouter’s blog BrainBaking is actually an inspiration for this post as he does a Favorites series himself.

In this post he talks about his struggles in Academia. I used to want to be a teacher and I gave up when I saw how difficult it is to get into it. He brings up a lot of good points and it really resinated with me.

I don’t think I could ever survive in a field that required such hyper specialization and competition.

How To Search The Internet also by Wouter Groeneveld

Wouter tried experimenting with alternative search engines like Yukinu did. He gives excellent advice and several options.

I might have to do my own web search experiment. I did play around with several web directories and small search engines, but I mostly been sticking with duckduckgo as my main search engine. Maybe it is time to cut it cold turkey and try something new.

Anime

I love anime, but it is hard to recommend a lot of it to non-anime watchers. The reason being is anime is strange to western audiences and often violates our cultural taboos. That said there is a particularly good series I’ve been watching that I must recommend.

Sousou no Frieren (Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End)

This series follows ancient elf Frieren after she and a party of heros have defeated an evil demon lord. Years pass and the her party mates die one by one. Frieren doesn’t really understanding the value of her relationship with them till it is too late. Fifty years to her is but an instant, while in that time her friends have passed away.

Fast forward and Frieren and her apprentice travel along the same path she did with the party of heros on a mission to see those who have long passed on. Along the way she recounts her memories.

It is a really good and bittersweet show. It is ranked number one on My Anime List right now for a reason. If you like fantasy stories in general you should watch it.

YouTube

YouTube is my default time waster and I’ve been trying to cut back on all that infotainment junk, but there are still a lot of good things on the platform.

First Steps to reverse engineer a Growteam mail video ad for future projects (E-waste worries too) by Rinoa’s Auspicious Travails

Rinoa discusses one of the worst types of e-waste/junk mail I’ve seen in a while and shows how to maybe reuse it for something productive.

A company called Growteam is sending video ads in the mail. Nasty. Fortuantely it looks like they are fairly simple devices that you can reuse as video cards of your own or scrap for parts.

Also remember it is often illegal to throw away batteries so reusing these might be better than starting a fire in your trash can.

Bobby Fingers

This is an amazing channel that I discovered in January. Bobby Fingers made dioramas of several interesting situations like Mel Gibson’s drunken arrest. He also made a photo realistic row boat in the shape of Jeff Bezos’s head.

There is some real art and creativity in this channel. The attention to detail is great.

From Trash to Treasure: Recycle Cutlery into 3D Filament! by CNC Kitchen

This may be cheating a little as I actually did see this video in late December, but recycling is an important topic to me and CNC Kitchen always does detailed research and tests. Being able to recycle plastic at home will be a key part in curbing global warming and this video shows how close we are getting to at home recycling.

3D printing is one of the technologies that will help us curb waste, improve our relationship with the planet, and democratize manufacturing. CNC Kitchen is one of the best channels when it comes to sharing research in 3D printing technology.

What’s the Best PSU For Your Low Idle Home Server? by Wolfgang’s Channel

Wolfgang has been covering low cost and low power devices for a while now. This time around he has provided a detailed spreadsheet for the most power efficient power supplies.

If you live in an area where electricity is expensive or simply want to reduce your impact on the environment definitely give it a watch.

Perfectly Recreating Egyptian Mummification… Just to Taste It by The Thought Emporium

Have you ever wondered how Egyptians mummified animals and people? How about how they taste? The folks at the Thought Emporium always do interesting experiments and this time they went in depth on the processes historians believe the Egyptians used to preserve their dead.

It is truly a fascinating accomplishment to recreate something that was thought to be lost to time. It is a little strange to taste it, but history gets strange sometimes.

I learned Alchemy from Medieval Manuscripts. Here’s how it works by Fraser Builds

If you couldn’t tell from the above, I love history and I love watching people make stuff. Fraser Builds walks viewers through the history of alchemy, recreates some of the recipes, and explains the science behind it.

Really amazing stuff.

I hope you Found it Useful

I hope you found some entertainment, joy, or otherwise utility out of some of these links. The world can be a beautiful place. In the future I’ll include books I’ve read, more anime if people like that, and maybe some teas that haven’t gotten proper reviews yet. Maybe I’ll use it as a personal status update in general. What do you think? Leave me an email if you found any of this interesting.

Here is to a wonderful new year.