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Semiformalishmaybe

Campfyre

The smell of burning wood reminds me of when I was much younger and did Boy Sprout things.

The smell of burning ideas reminds me of when I was slightly less younger and argued a lot about politics and technical things.

There are few things more interesting than watching people try to sensibly argue while their talons keep popping out, particularly given the 2000-foot perspective of having heard most of the arguments before and seeing them mostly overdefending particular decisions that are reasonable and attacking other particular decisions that are reasonable. Jumping in to play devil's advocate would require responding to many, most, or all of the posts, so it's probably best to just watch.

I suppose in some way I'm either likely to be seen as underqualified or overqualified to take part in that debate (more likely the former), and I tend to feel a bit odd anyhow conversing online with people who arn't too keen on conversing with me in real life. Oh well. Maybe there's the metaquestion ofIs this a question that has:

  • No wrong answers
  • Some wrong answers
  • One right answer
As well as its twin of "are there other ways of looking at the problem that either change the answer to the above, or the content of the above?"

I think I would be flattered pink if people were to come up and either ask me advice or ask me what I think about these topics (or really any other topics where I have an interest). I guess to have that I'd have to be acknowledged as being some permutation of being a clear thinker or wise, alas. Oddly, I remember the younger, much more strongly-opinionated me being more popular in discussions - people would seek me out to have arguments. I think part of it was I was more prone to think that things had right answers and have a good back-and-forth with them as I tried to paint my opinions as being closer to true rather than simply being reasonable. Either people liked that sport, or they find the "it's mostly the same thing" attitude to be insufferably arrogant/unsatisfying. Oh well - I believe the shift was the right thing to do, and as a general rule I've formed my opinions based on my own considerations rather than how popular they would make me. Sadly, it was a lot more fun to argue the way I used to argue.

I sometimes really regret not trying harder to organise unofficial STUCOs on various CS-like topics to address (what I see as) deficiencies in CMU's CS programme. The closest I ever got didn't manage to get ten people, and my other attempts bombed more spectacularly.

I am somewhat grumpy today because a ceiling tile in my office was flooded by an air conditioner leading it to disintegrate, fall to the floor (and stain the door) and fungusize the carpet. Yay. Tried working elsewhere in the building but wireless reception is spotty. Oh well, downside of a nasty fungus smell, upside of easy access to my tea and the comfortable office chair. Fair trade, I think. Whenever I leave CMU, I wonder if it's even slightly workable to take my office chair with me.

I sometimes wonder how people pick the face they're to show the world through their blog - most of us differ a bit depending on whom we're with - the progression from someone being a generic member of whatever clique they're in into being a semi or fully specific person causes us to adapt ourselves a bit to conform to sensibilities, dreams, life stories of the other. The internet as a whole is different (unless we restrict our posts to a few people and actually treat that audience similarly to how we would treat those people as a group). What kind of identity do we paint onto the people (if any) who read us, and if we have indicators of who actually *does* read us among the people who might, how does that further shape things? I think at times present I write about 30% for myself, 20% for specific other people, 10% for people who might read, and probably about 40% as if I were on a stage talking to some imagined public. Thanks to browser crumbs and security flaws in livejournal, I know roughly who's watching, when they do so, from where they do so (oh hay someone has travelled back home for some reason), and if they use 「friend groups」 to read, if they've classified me as a loser (thanks!), someone to read, or likewise. It's that 40% (rather than the 20 or 10) that's interesting - people I don't know, possibly in the future digging up dirt or maybe something else. Do we all imagine the same crowd? Do we need the crowd? I see systemic differences in the length, topics, and tone of my posts when I was dating from when I'm single, likewise when I was immersed in various crowds - the posts evolved to lessen the topics where I had intellectual release on those in conversations with significant other or friends (at some periods in my life they became either very short or very infrequent). Is the public a way to patch cracks in our social circles? (and what does this say about comics, who are as notorious as actors in having broken or complicated personal lives?) Unidirectional (or mostly unidirectional) non-biological communication is a funny thing, probably something where neurosis is to be expected.

I imagine that large audiences are almost as bad as the internet in general for satisfying whatever urges lead to broadcast social communications - we're pushing squarely against whatever ev-psych mechanism exist to keep us safe in packs that's presumably using social ties as the lasso to pull is back in. Perhaps it's healthy as a supplement, but it's probably unhealthy as the only food we eat. Rather akin to certain other areas where biology's hand dictates certain behaviour.

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