Welcome to the ninth edition of Ephemerata, a weekly-ish digest of links, ideas, learnings, and sounds that I think are worth sharing.
I’m doing this to stimulate discussion around what I find interesting, and also to share things before they disappear into the void of my journal.
I found some clarity around what happened to me last week. There were various reasons for my emotional state, but one of the main ones was my perceived financial insecurity: I was impatient with myself and the process that I’m involved in to construct my own path to a sustainable life. Somehow though, I managed to re-orient in the last few days, and now I feel great.
Since around March 2020, I had lost a significant portion of my income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and although I received some temporary government aid, I knew the income wasn’t coming back. I thought I needed to ‘resolve’ this before being able to live the life I want to live. I was comfortable living small off of declining savings, because I believe in what I’m doing, but every now and then I felt kind of ‘irresponsible’ for just letting the wind carry me.
I realize now that I’ve been living like a bird that doesn’t notice it’s out of the cage: trying to move freely for a second, but abruptly stopping where the shadows of the edge used to be. The reality is that I do have enough freedom to pursue virtually all of my near objectives, probably as much as always, and somehow this never occurred to me because of the way I saw my situation.
It’s true that 1) I have long-term goals of financial stability that are not yet achieved; 2) my savings probably won’t last beyond the next twelve months; and 3) I don’t seem to have something material to show for my effort since last year; but it doesn’t have to weigh on me. The anxiety is partially self-inflicted and partially because society trains you to see this as problematic—all of which can be remedied. I would extend Gurdieff’s “to be free, you have to first recognize you are in a prison” to add “and then recognize when you are not”. I am not. Nothing in my situation changed except for perspective, and this has had a tangible impact on my well-being.
The financial return matters in the long-term (because in the current system it enables one to continue doing meaningful work) but interpreting the progress at this stage is premature, and perhaps irrelevant or dysfunctional in my case—it takes a while to construct new worlds. I was influenced by short-term thinking taught by business people or startup mindset, that certain periods of time should correlate to certain outcomes. Better to focus on building the world you want to live in and strive to protect your ability to do that. With a fire mindset, everything feeds you somehow.
I am legit excited for how much there is to try and feel like I have nothing to lose. There is so much light possible that it’s blinding. So much can be done collectively and we haven’t tapped into it yet.
I’m chatting with Fission again this week, this time about “earning a living from apps without holding other people’s data”. There will hopefully be a recording for anyone who isn’t there, but be welcome to join us live—it’ll be fun.
If you’re enjoying this, consider contributing to my Open Collective. Virtually everything I create is public, accessible for free, and open-source. Your support helps me keep adding to the commons and making it available for everyone.
Lennart Ziburski’s Rethinking how technology uses our personal data is a stunning visual essay exploring patterns for regaining control when sharing data with third parties:
[Use artificial intelligence based on local data only. AI profiles should be transparent and tweakable.]
[If data is the new oil, where are our cars?]
[Treat data like money: sharing it is like a payment that requires our approval. Use ‘data permits’ to allow access.]
@mcclure111 wrote a flaming thread about what it means to post content to algorithmic timelines:
Continuing to post on this site if the timeline is algorithmic, not chronological, is unpaid labor. It would mean rather than communicating with people, I’d be providing “content” which Twitter posts as they believe they can monetize.
I replaced maps.me with an identical app called Organic Maps that is open-source—after exporting and importing, it seems to work fine. This is an indispensable traveler’s map: saving regions offline and making your own points anywhere helps you orient quickly to new places. I’ve been using it for years, and I’m happy that now it’s harder to screw up via small-minded business practices.
Precious Plastic features @mandukumckay’s gorgeous weaved baskets and fences made from recycled plastic. It strikes me how unwasteful this is. Why don’t so-called ‘developed’ countries do this?
These herds of sheep photographed via drone over the course of a few months do not look like sheep to me.
All the following items can be accessed as a one-click playlist via Joybox without accounts or sign up—just open and play.
Joana Queiroz (via Amanda Pedrosa)
In Brazilian, I would say I’m completely ‘apaxionado’ for her music. So happy to have randomly stumbled upon this in my explorations.
Diários de Vento (diaries of wind) (2016) seamlessly integrates nature and song and humanity: it’s the sound of someone enjoying instrument timbres and ambience. Around clarinet melodies there’s a duet with a fly, a child warbling their tongue, clanging pots and pans, squeaking of a rocking chair, lots of tasty sounds. Ai qué delicia!
Performance sonora is a live improvised “sound performance” from 2021. There’s something pure and unfiltered about a human being making music with an acoustic instrument while walking through nature. Accompanying is the sound of birds, dogs, air, footsteps, singing, a self-playing accordion, a fireplace, frogs…
Memórias is a live performance from 2019 where she builds sound structures with loop pedals and various clarinets, accompanied at times by graceful dancing. Sublime colouring in the photography and clothing.
I would recommend listening to any of these with your eyes closed or open.
Ron Everett’s Glitter of the City (1977) mixes traditional jazz and swing sounds with weird stuff, and I dug several tracks: Royal Walk with warbly instrumentals, loops, screeching, spoken word; Tipsy Lady’s blues/hip-hop and old school drums; Pretty Little Girl’s singing off-key Latin vibe; the 8-bit bossa nova of Untitled No. 4. (via Bandcamp Daily)
Lil Nas X’s single MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) (2021) it outside my milieu, genre-wise, but it’s a bodyshaker that deserves to be blasted on good speakers. The artist explores their sexuality with visual metaphors and vibrant colours. (via Marcos)
Sometimes I try to play Arabic/Indian-ish scales and I enjoy it. I’m getting more comfortable playing in front of other people.
I always love receiving music. Send me recommendations anytime, anywhere!
Feel free to reply and share any reflections you might have, or just say hello.