But in calling these programs “artificial intelligence” we grant them a claim to authorship that is simply untrue. Each of those tokens used by programs like ChatGPT—the “language” in their “large language model”—represents a tiny, tiny piece of material that someone else created. And those authors are not credited for it, paid for it or asked permission for its use. In a sense, these machine-learning bots are actually the most advanced form of a chop shop: They steal material from creators (that is, they use it without permission), cut that material into parts so small that no one can trace them and then repurpose them to form new products.
Especially if you are a designer, an artist, a photographer, a writer, a blogger, a creator of any kind, owning your work is as important as ever. Social media platforms might be great for distributing your content and creating a network of like-minded people around you. But they will always be ephemeral, transient, and impermanent – not the best place to preserve your thoughts, words, and brushstrokes.
But most importantly, always write your most important thoughts on your own site. You can share the link on as many platforms as you like and have conversations with anyone who wants to connect with you and your work. But nobody can take it from you. You are in control. Forever.
Modern computing is far too rigid. Applications can only function in preset ways determined by some far away team. Software is trapped in hermetically sealed silos and is rewritten many times over rather than recomposed.
This community catalogs and experiments with malleable software and systems that reset the balance of power via several essential principles…
Write about what you learn. It pushes you to understand topics better. Sometimes the gaps in your knowledge only become clear when you try explaining things to others. It’s OK if no one reads what you write. You get a lot out of just doing it for you.
Lots of good advice from Addy:
Saying no is better than overcommitting.
A fascinating and inspiring meditation on aerodynamics.
Rather than thinking, “how do I combine a bunch of disparate content, templates, and tooling into a functioning website?”, you might think “how do I start at a functioning website with content and then use templates and build tooling to enhance it?”
I think Jim is onto something here. The more dependencies you have in your build process, the likelier it is that over time one of them will become a single point of failure. A progressive enhancement approach to build tools means you’d still be able to launch your site (even if it’s not in its ideal state).
I want to be able to view, edit, and if need be ship a website, even if the build process fails. In essence, if the build does fail I can still take all the source files, put them on a server, and the website remains functional (however crude).
The books I have written are created from words invented by others, filled with ideas created by others. Even the few new ideas that are new depend on older ideas to work. What I had to say would probably be said by someone else not long after me. (More probably there have already been said by someone I was not aware of.) I may be the lucky person to claim those rare new ideas, but the worth of my art primarily resides in the great accumulation of the ideas and works of thousands of writers and thinkers before me — what I call the commons. My work was born in the commons, it gets its value by being deeply connected to the commons, and after my brief stewardship of those tiny new bits, it should return to the commons as fast as possible, in as many ways as possible.
Applying Postel’s Law to relationships:
I aspire to be conservative in what and how I share (i.e., avoid drama) while understanding that other people will say all sorts of unmindful things.
Taking the indie web to the next level—self-hosting on your own hardware.
Tired of Big Tech monopolies, a community of hobbyists is taking their digital lives off the cloud and onto DIY hardware that they control.
Your grandmother is not just a starship, she’s a highly individual starship with her own goals and needs!
I’d like to see more of this thinking – maybe we could call it the future owners test – in contemporary responsible tech work. We mustn’t get so wrapped up in today that we overlook tomorrow.
This is a great way to use a service worker to circumvent censorship:
After the visitor opens the website once over a VPN, the service worker is downloaded and installed. The VPN can then be disabled, and the service worker will take over to request content from non-blocked servers, effectively acting as a proxy.
A wonderful introduction to the indie web—Ana really conveys her sense of excitement!
A really lovely unmonetisable enthusiasm:
All 2,242 illustrations from James Sowerby’s compendium of knowledge about mineralogy in Great Britain and beyond, drawn 1802–1817 and arranged by color.
Using ligatures to create a s*** font that f***ing censors bad language automatically.
The cloud gives us collaboration, but old-fashioned apps give us ownership. Can’t we have the best of both worlds?
We would like both the convenient cross-device access and real-time collaboration provided by cloud apps, and also the personal ownership of your own data embodied by “old-fashioned” software.
This is a very in-depth look at the mindset and the challenges involved in building truly local-first software—something that Tantek has also been thinking about.
- Is this really a problem?
- Does the problem need to be solved?
- Does the problem need to be solved now?
- Does the problem need to be solved by me?
- Is there a simpler problem I can solve instead?
This is something we’ve learned at Clearleft—you can’t create a design system for an organisation, hand it over to them, and expect it to be maintained.
You can’t just hire an agency to create a design system and expect that the system alone will solve something. It won’t do much before the people in the organization align on this idea as well, believe in it, invest in it, and create a culture of collaboration around it.
The people who will be living with the design system must be (co-)creators of it. That’s very much the area we work in now.