So yesterday I wrote up a sort of rambling ‘about’ page, which as promised I’m going to keep ‘on file’ so to speak. But I’m still getting my head around how I should be structuring things here, so I decided to rewrite it as a kind of manifesto, and change the about page to something simpler. If this seems like TMI, 1) you’re probably in the wrong place, and 2) it’s intentional – I want these formative steps to be here for me to look back on.
My aim here is to layout some initial commitments that I’d at least like to try and stick by. For starters, I’d really like to keep this site as upfront as possible. I genuinely believe that sometimes there are wider considerations that make full disclosure, or complete transparency, inappropriate and wrong. I don’t just mean obvious stuff like professional ethics etc – sometimes “the better part of valor is discretion”, sleeping dogs should be left to their naps, so on. What I don’t want to do is use that as an excuse – where appropriate, I want to be forthcoming in all respects. If this sounds a bit dramatic, don’t worry, there’s nothing terrible in play. But through the years I have lied and deceived people, sometimes about things that were really important, and with really crap consequences. Like most people, I am flawed. I have generally behaved decently, but sometimes poorly. This paragraph is my ‘no bullshit’ commitment. Hopefully when I (or if anyone else) comes back here to look at what’s written, it will stand up to that commitment.
Relatedly, I want to keep things here as intellectually honest as possible. I am a strong believer in pluralism and freedom of expression within a robust public sphere. Sometimes that might mean discussing things in a way and from a perspective that causes offence. I do not and will not apologise for that as a point of principle. However, if I am wrong or insensitive or unthinking or even cruel, I will try to own up to it, because I also believe that accountability is a necessary condition of any just freedom. Possibly more challenging than admitting when I am wrong will be admitting that I simply don’t know what I’m talking about. It seems to be a fairly widespread trait to hazard error rather than acknowledge uncertainty. I have to say I think I DEFINITELY do that a lot, but I’m going to really try and reign that tendency in. Finally, that commitment to intellectual honesty and pluralism should never serve as a convenient mask for exclusion or prejudice. All people are welcome here, as they should be in the world in general, as long as they are willing to make the same mutual, reciprocal commitment to one another. If you’re a race-war nationalist or a gulag socialist, you can fuck right off though.
Speaking of community, there is a risk of appearing arrogant for assuming there will ever be one. Yeah, it’s unlikely, but we have to take every precaution! I spent a LARGE part of my early adulthood moderating internet forums of one kind or another. I have no desire to ever do that again, or even just deal with spam shit. That means no comments, no forums. If there is ever a need for some kind of community-interaction platform, I’ll probably set up some kind of matrix community and then benevolent-dictator the whole thing, ideally with democratic principles and as little involvement from me as possible. Sort of like the Queen of England. Or people can just do it themselves and that would be ideal, though beware of platform-fatwā.
Oh yeah, platforms. I want to do my level best to ensure that this site is accessible to, compatible with, and supportive of, free and open-source tech. I don’t want to ever directly monetize it. The internet is part of (arguably most of) our de-facto public sphere now, and it shouldn’t be dominated and shaped by corporate, private interest. Let me ask you something: do you think your primary means of socio-political engagement should be optimised for approval/attention addiction in direct/indirect pursuit of corporate advertising revenue? Think about that for a while, and take a long, hard look at how you access and engage with the internet. Data and privacy are perennial concerns in our media, but I actually think they’re a subsidiary, lower-order issue (would the ‘ownership’ of data even be a concern in a just society?). I don’t think nearly enough attention is given to the effects that perverse platform incentives can have on society, and ourselves.
Of course, part of me knows that this site is as likely as not to end up full of posts about product shit (multitool review incoming). So bearing the above paragraph in mind: I will try not to ignore consumerism and commodification when it suits me. I will endeavour to bring a critical perspective to any item-related posts. All worlds should inform the others; no compartmentalisation here (I hope).
Finally, I will try to make sure that anyone who finds this place, and spends their time reading it, will not think that time entirely wasted. I’m not promising any effort:benefit ratios, just endeavouring to provide readers a gross positive. Yeah it’s a low bar, but that’s what Limbo is for.