#020: wetware of writing and doing • memex method • danny boy

Welcome to the twentieth edition of Ephemerata, a weekly-ish digest of ideas, learnings, links, and sounds.


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.


This is a presentation I gave at Tools For Thought Rocks on how I use my apps to make things happen. The video and slides are available and there is also an expanded text version for anyone who wants to read. Here is an excerpt:

I talk often about my apps and their features, but rarely about how I use them day-to-day—partially to leave space for people to imagine their own workflows, but also because I didn’t think it wouldn’t be of interest to share mine. This changed after a conversation with pvh, who remarked that after reading the website for Launchlet and trying to play with the compose interface, it wasn’t clear how all the parts came together until watching my tutorial videos—I found that interesting coming from someone who has plenty of experience with computer programming and its paradigms. It made me realize 1) that interfaces clearly communicating ‘features’ doesn’t mean people appropriate them, 2) the importance of good affordances to help people go beyond merely ‘using the app’ to extending themselves in the process. The larger question to address here is: how can the environment better transmit what is possible so that those within it can take fuller advantage? It will likely take some time for me to find my own answers and implement them in projects, so for now, I feel motivated to do what is knowable and share more about how I use my apps to illuminate the wetware. What I find myself ‘doing’ most of the time involves […]


[Every conversation has an arc.]
[Focus on how their brain is working.]
[You can’t listen in anticipation of what you’re expecting.]
[People tend to be close-minded about what they truly believe.]


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[To feel unrestricted by what comes from outside without being isolated from what comes from outside.]

[Bitterness has its own life and doesn’t let us be lightweight.]

[Indifference is love transformed, anger too. Self-love transforms into shame. Reactive emotions come from wounded love.]


  • November 1—7, 2021: :airplane: Visiting Vancouver (reach out if you’re around :wave:t3:)
  • November 10, 2021: Hosting remoteStorage monthly hangout
  • November 20, 2021: Co-hosting Improvisation, spontaneity, and oneness with Vivek Thyagarajan
  • November 24, 2021: Co-hosting Zero Data Swap #4: Hello World with Noel De Martin (looking for someone to make an easy example of remoteStorage or Fission’s webnative)


Cory Doctorow’s The Memex Method gave me much food for thought about writing, capturing, publishing. In relation to sharing (like what I’m doing right here) I notice my tendency to describe ‘what it is’ as opposed to ‘the importance to me’—will try to work on that more.

[It’s neither my last word nor a repetition of what I have to say.]

it represents the synthesis of recent events with a long run of earlier events, interventions, scandals and actions. Further, it represents the evolution of my ability to convey these complex and thorny ideas, based on the reception earlier pieces on the same subject received.

[If writing is about clarifying your thoughts, your older work will naturally make you cringe. But systematically reviewing older work to observe what you got wrong and right makes it easier to avoid your own pitfalls. The structure can even be a public recap of what happened 5, 10, and 15 years ago on this day.]

Jacob Collier improvises versions of ‘Danny Boy’ on the piano to never before seen index cards with names of emotions that become increasingly complex, while transitioning as smoothly as possible between one card to the next. I felt initially that this would be kind of a gimmick, but hearing his analysis after each set gives you a sense of how intertwined his improvisational process is with compositional thinking. I appreciate his ‘handedness’ with tonalities, modulations between keys, decorative devices. I’m always a fan of “giving people who aren’t familiar with free improvisation a way into the concept”.

This Global Clock uses letters of the alphabet to ‘spell’ time the same way across zones; I imagine that once you get used to the letters, you would not need to convert as much. Here’s the best meeting time between Vancouver, New York, and Paris. (via @cinnamon@merveilles.town)

The idea is to have a unified time zone that works for all locations on earth by using the same time system we all know (24 hours, 60 minutes, 60 seconds) and adding on top of it a rotating UTC layer as the global time. This layer is presented in alphabet. The reason for that is to distinguish the local time in numbers from the global one in letters.

John O’Nolan from Ghost speaks on the Indie Hackers podcast about building Internet businesses with non-capitalist organizational structures.

[Blogging used to be writing about your experiences.]

[Use a paywall to give yourself space.]

[Enable an ecosystem of businesses to thrive around what you build.]

That’s all folks!

Feel free to reply and share any reflections you might have, or just say hello. Have a great week :slight_smile:.

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I appreciate you sharing a write up of your “wetware of writing and doing” talk! I was really interested in that and find it easier to read it as opposed to hear it.

It all adds up, and to keep things from overwhelming me I practice a productivity trinity

I really love these principles & how concisely you state them! I’m impressed that this has been your system for so long. I feel like I’ve kind of stumbled into these principles over time but haven’t always stuck to them.

For example, the “do it or delete it as soon as possible” - I’ve definitely practiced this, abandoning articles/videos if they’ve just been sitting there half read, and it was great. But then I also found myself succumbing to “am I missing out because I’m unable to complete these things? Maybe I just need to force myself to do it…”, so I think it’s pretty validating to hear this is also part of your process.

I’ve been surprised at how this idea of queues helps me ‘write without magic’. It feels like writing happens without great pain or earnestness

I like this a lot, because it makes me think of a process I had always accepted as inherently painful/difficult that can be done so much easily by kind of finding/developing the right techniques for it.

Thanks for reading @omarshehata :slight_smile:

I think I had one of your ‘writing is truer than speaking’ moments, felt I could be more coherent that way.

I don’t try anymore to read things because “I’m supposed to”. This usually means there are references that might be common in my world (like maybe the Greek myths, or ideas from academia…) which I haven’t exposed myself to and thus don’t ‘get it’ sometimes. I also believe some variation of “If you can avoid it, it doesn’t matter. If it matters, you can’t avoid it.” It’s simpler for me to just stay focused on what’s interesting.

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Also this was really mindblowing. I feel like I have so much to learn here but one very cool thing for me here was thinking about how the song itself is not “happy” or “sad” etc (and by that I guess I mean…the harmony? The collection of notes?) but a big part of it is how it’s played/arranged. Like the simple fact that repeating the notes 3 times makes it sound triumphant, like a national anthem.

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