Custom, Off-The-Shelf or DIY

  1. Quality and custom work is expensive, but it can be tailored perfectly to your needs.
  2. Off-the-shelf is cheaper, but a pretty good fit for the typical use case.
  3. Adapting an off-the-shelf product costs less than custom but it will never be a perfect fit.
  4. Do-It-Yourself, if you want to do it well, is going to take up much more time than you imagine, at least an order of magnitude more time.

A generalization of Eliot Peper’s The Four Laws of Making a Website*

Looking & Acting Bad

““Do you want material that looks bad before it acts bad, like shingles or clapboard, or one that acts bad long before it looks bad, like vinyl siding? A whole philosophy of maintenance falls one way or the other with the answer.”

-Stewart Brand, “How Buildings Learn.”

True of maintenance, true of life.

In 1997, the BBC aired a three-hour documentary based on Stewart Brand’s book, How Buildings Learn. Brand has posted the whole program on YouTube in six 30-minute parts: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six. Below, it says it is unavailable, that is just the first one if you aren’t in the right country, copyright-wise. You can either switch your country using a VPN to the United Kingdom or start with part two.

h/t The Prepared and kottke.

Run Your Own Social Network

“I suppose I’ll repeat what I said multiple times in this document, which is that running a small social network site for your friends is hard work, but it’s worth it. It is first and foremost the work of community building, and only secondarily is it a technical endeavor. And it’s completely possible to do, today, though depending on who you are and what your resources are it’s going to be difficult in different ways.”

-Darius Kazemi, “Run Your Own Social Network.” July 8, 2019

The net: Get five friends together. Open a lightweight account at a hosting provider like for $100/year and see how it develops.

It is possible to meet the needs of a 5 person group in something like group chat in Signal or another messaging application. However, it is difficult to grow these groups without compromising the dynamic.

The advantage of hosting it on a Mastodon server is that is provides a scalable platform to grow up to 50 users. If you have a hosting provider, it cuts down on the technical skill necessary to run the server, but you will have to give up the ability to customize the software to your community’s needs. For most circumstances, this is a reasonable trade off.

Of course, you can roll your own on a virtual server or an old PC you have laying around. However, old PCs fail, as do old PC administrators. Do yourself a favor and outsource the work for $100.

Solarpunk: Against a Shitty Future

“Solarpunk is about ‘ingenuity, generativity, independence, and community’ — the last of which is of particular interest — and rightly sees ‘infrastructure as a form of resistance.’

Politically, the stories vary, but they always feature a progressive focus on race, gender, and equality of all kinds: many revolve around themes of difference, recognition, and acceptance. Non-normativity is often raised to the level of heroism by imagining a world that facilitates the accentuation of one’s abilities precisely because of their difference. In Solarpunk, there is a place for everyone (except perhaps the occasional douchy white dude whose fate it is, in today’s cultural spectrum, to stand for all the problems that the genre strives to overcome).”

—Rhys Williams. “Solarpunk: Against a Shitty Future.” LARB. March 10, 2018.

Probably as much of a summary of identity politics as it is of Solarpunk.

Also, if interested, there’s a reference guide to Solarpunk.