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Season 3, Issue 11: Silent Running
Amazing companions on an incredible adventure.
1. The Week That Was
It’s been a quiet fortnight. As mentioned in the previous newsletter, various vacations and visits meant that half of our team have been out of office for a good chunk of June and July. Shawn and Barry have travelled East, and I — this is James writing, btw — journeyed South and West.
But I’m back now! And I have
seized been given the reins of this newsletter to share a little about what’s been going on in the world of Good Enough since we last met. Just give me a minute or two to catch up on Slack, Basecamp, Ponder, LogLogLog, Email, Github…
… OK. Phew.
On our blog, Patrick has shared his quest to find and listen to a song from the soundtrack of a pilot TV show from more than twenty years ago. He’s also been doing some deep thinking about an upcoming super simple site serving service, which we hope can become a great home for the Weird Web.
Lettini has been looking closely at Meta’s Tweet-a-like offering “Threads”, which leveraged Instagram to attract over 100 million users in less than a week. It remains to be seen whether or not Threads will supplant Twitter (and whether or not it can do it without becoming a dumpster fire), but in the meantime, it has some quite nice UX affordances that we are impressed with (for example, how images are handled).
Arun has been ideating and synergising, but more importantly, stepping away from the work to think about how we work, particularly during this rapid prototyping phase. When anything is possible, discipline and process become our rudder, steering us away from chaotic whirlpools of distraction and towards (hopefully) interesting islands of investigation and innovation. The codename for this nascent process is Next Steps. I’m excited to get involved.
My head is full to the brim. Vacations are great, but it’s also nice to be back, refreshed, engines humming with potential. Let’s go!
As part of my travels, I couriered the printer control boards I made a few weeks ago to Patrick, who had taken receipt of a few other necessary components, and between day trips to the pool and nights drinking cocktails and cheesecake (eating, not drinking, that’s insane, what are you talking about, no, I’m not jet-lagged, YOU are jet-lagged), I assembled and configured the printer units for dispatch to the rest of Good Enough.
Pretty soon we will have a bunch of these little buddies operating, and can start some material exploration. What might we find, a decade after the original project (and its commercial cousin) had their fifteen minutes of fame? I don’t know. Maybe you have some ideas?
In the meantime, I have a printer running on my desk here in London, and if you’d like to send me a message, head over to the little message app I built, and it’ll print out like a little charming telegram.
I await your urgent dispatches, dear reader!
3. Watch/Read: Two perspectives on the dawn of personal computing
Most of us at Good Enough are thoroughly enjoying this golden age of prestige television, and we like to share reactions and recommendations whenever possible. Over cocktails with Patrick and Lettini, I was reminded of one of my favourite shows, which follows a handful of characters through the very early years of the personal computing revolution: Halt and Catch Fire. I highly recommend it.
If you’ve already seen Halt and Catch Fire, you might also enjoy this comic, available to buy, or read online: Incredible Doom by Matthew Bogart. It’s set in roughly the same era and touches on similar things, but from a very different perspective. The tagline: “A comic about '90s kids making bad decisions over the early internet.”
Now, I hand you over to Arun:
I asked for suggestions on what to write.
Patrick: "Give us 3 paragraphs of stream of consciousness"
Matthew: "I vote river of consciousness"
James: "I vote WATERFALL of consciousness"
All I can say is: be careful what you wish for. You might get it.
From a stream to a river to a waterfall. Which of course brings to mind this song. It’s darker than I remember. Because all I typically remember is the chorus.
"Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to."
Out of context, it feels preachy. And a bit alarmist. Waterfalls are amazing! In context, it still feels preachy, but… I get it. We were collectively very worried at the time about drugs and HIV. We called them epidemics. We watched them take lives and steal souls (sadly, they still do – but then, so does being alive).
So I did the thing that some of us do these days – I googled the lyrics. And discovered, on the wikipedia page, that there was a Paul McCartney song with a very similar line before TLC’s song. It, too, was called "Waterfalls."
“Don’t go jumping waterfalls
Please, keep to the lake
People who jump waterfalls
Sometimes can make mistakes.”
I want to go hunting for meaning here. Perhaps there’s some mythic significance to waterfalls. The power and beauty of nature. The way water is soft but, given time, can carve its way through the hardest of rocks. Soft but hard. Yin but yang. Your mom meets your dad and now, against all the odds, you exist.
Why did James mention a waterfall? Is it a coincidence that, just a couple days ago on a trip to Portland, I was riffing with a friend about this song? Was Jung right about the collective unconscious? And if so, what the hell is it trying to say here?
Stay away from waterfalls? As if.
People can sometimes make mistakes? Yeah, we know.
Life is pretty goddamn strange? You bet. ––AS
5. In conclusion
I’ve never been able to find it online, and so as the final act of this newsletter, I consecrate this poorly-edited photo into online Valhalla, with hopefully-sufficient metadata such that future humans might be able to find it, and forever appreciate it as I do.
Until next week: keep it foolish. ––JA