"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Free Speech, Terrible Ideas, and The Internet

The other weekend I wrote about the Trump Phenomena, and its connection to social media supplanting traditional media gatekeepers. An old colleague of mine shared it into his network on Facebook, breaking my filter bubble, and resulting in a spirited response from a Trump supporter, which was awesome:

[Outlandish Josh's] devotion to the First Amendment is really ankle deep. He likes free speech as long as the speaker agrees. Everything else, he's ok with suppressing...

What it comes down to is, "We can't rely on the establishment to silence people who don't agree with us anymore, so we'll just have to do it ourselves."

One of the things I appreciate about Trump is that he's forcing the liberal brownshirts to show their true colors.

Liberal Brownshirt! Amazing. It got me thinking about what I really mean by "stick a big fat stake into the heart of some of the most malignant political ideas that stalk the land." More to the point, how does this dialectic thing actually work, and what if anything does it have to do with free speech?

At the same time, there's also some Internet drama I'm casually following around a programming get together called LambdaConf, and whether or not a particular speaker should be invited to speak or not due to the fact that he's a foundational figure for a noxious bloom of reactionary thought known as "The Dark Enlightenment". I'll explain the details later.

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Trump and the Filter Bubble

The phrase "Filter Bubble" was coined by Eli Pariser, founder of MoveOn, the first effective left wing online organization, and a man who knows a bit about how the internet can influence political thought. Pariser was most concerned with the pernicious impacts of systemic personalization (e.g. weighted Google Search results or algorithmic timelines), but I believe what Clay is referring to is the result of Social Media becoming a primary news source.

He's right. The Trump phenomena will be studied and professionalized in the same way the political establishment digested Howard Dean's use of online outreach to build grassroots support and raise small-dollar donations. The benefits of the internet aren't without hazards. This is one of them.

More and more Americans get their news from Facebook and Twitter, a trend that is going to continue to increase. What Trump is exploiting has nothing to do with pernicious personalization algorithms, but rather the fundamental result of what happens when news is curated by social network rather than newspaper editors. Once you're getting your news via what is effectively word of mouth, a few things happen:

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Daditude!

I'm a father! Something I've wanted for a long time, now a glorious, bewildering, exhausting, inspiring reality in the form of a beautiful baby girl.

Baby Jiya

Her name is Jiya — pronounced "Gee-ah", like Gia that trashy Angelina Jolie flick from the '90s — and she was born on February 18th here in San Francisco. She and her mom are healthy and happy as can be, and I'm doing my best learning on the job as a dad.

It's a trip, man. All the clichés are true, which is what makes them cliché. But it's objectively bizarre how such a massively life-shifting event can feel so normal and natural, even as it turns everything upside down. The sleep deprivation is no joke (and I have it relatively easy compared to Rina), but even that quickly just becomes your new reality. It's worth it just to see her smile. Oxytocin is a hell of a drug. Humans are endlessly malleable. And so on. Like I said, all the clichés are true.

Something I didn't expect: I've had a bunch of early life memories resurface. Not of myself at Jiya's age of course, but long-forgotten moments of my sister Brie as an infant, lullabys overheard, scenes of life with a baby up close and personal. Like, flashing back to being bizarrely afraid of that little stump of umbilical cord that hangs around for a while. These are all things I remember, obviously, but I also can't remember the last time I remembered them, if that make sense. Guessing there will be more of this down the line.

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Reclusive Reflections

I haven't posted anything here for 10 months, the longest drought since I started publishing myself on the internet. A lot has happened — tales for another time, hopefully soon — but on my return trip from WordCamp US, a milieu rich in the blogger spirit, I felt the creative mind open up. So here we go.

The liminal space of travel is a good one for me. Somehow it prompts higher grade navel-gazing than usual, and I'm drawn to reflect for a moment on my regression as a writer, and on becoming a relative recluse from these social medias.

So, I don't blog. My "insta game" is weak. I pull up Facebook maybe once every other week and I post maybe once or twice a year. It's weird. This all used to be my jam, and as an industry it's absolutely still my job, but even though I read a lot, I've laid off publishing much of anything (anywhere) for most of the year.

I still tweet — jabbering about my industry and a bit about politics — but even that's been spotty, and a lot of it driven again by professional interest. My production as a scribbler on deeper, more personally-generated themes has fallen off, way off, which is to my detriment.

Writing is an excellent means of sharpening thoughts. It forces a triplicate processing of every idea: first occurring in the mind, then execution through the hands, and finally re-processing by the eye. That's different than just letting the brain wander.

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