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should data expire? metapost + notes on ANTICUBE

monday 22nd august 2022

the dust has settled, and i'm finally ready to talk a little bit about the talk i did for summer school, should data expire? entropy and permanence in digital landscapes (alt title: navigating forgiveness and growth in an environment of fixed points).

the week leading up to it was manic. i absolutely underestimated what it took to get something together that was not only thorough, but also concise. fitting everything i had to say into the miniscule fifteen-minute window was gruelling - i was editing stuff out right down to the wire - but it paid off. i got it all out, just under the mark (i could have spoken slower). i skimmed off the bloat, and what remained hit right to the quick.

shortly following, i published the transcript with an audio recording of the talk, and the slides, on my website. this is still available to read/listen through right here ⧉. it was really interesting to have something so solid out of all the whirling thoughts i've been wading through for the last few months - i finally had something i could send to friends, family, and anyone who'd listen that really quantified a core principle of what i'm thinking about right now. it feels like a bit of a window into my brain, that you can lift up and poke the squishy bits underneath. it feels raw, to publish something accompanied by some quite unfiltered speech, not measured and controlled like reciting a poem but filled with interest and urgency because this feels like the most important thing in the world to me right now! it's kind of embarrassing to allow that kind of emotion out in speech, i think.

i've been playing with the idea of writing it up more formally, with capital letters and proper referencing and everything, to legitimise it. i still might - i'm hopefully going to be pursuing an MA course which would let me properly contextualise this research in an explicitly academic context - and i kind of feel like the ideas in it deserve that space and time to breathe, and in turn be breathed in by people who only understand things if they look plain, standardised and unassuming. i know i'm going to chase this thread, though it's since fragmented into a complex knotted and frayed cord of ideology - and i'm starting to see how it's tied to the other ideas i've always been holding in my head when making works. it feels quite nebulous but also very central. i feel like i have a mission to try and untangle it, make it linear and understandable to people who don't necessarily live inside it.

step one in this process: i'm actually doing it again. it's going to be part of the antiuniversity now programming on september 10th - rsvp here ⧉. i'm going to have more time. it's going to be less rushed, and more in depth, i hope. and i'm going to add back in a couple of bits i thought really deserved a mention.

step two, but it's actually going alongside all of this anyway: i'm maintaining a resource on my gemini capsule which has links to pieces of writing, video, and organisations who deal with the concepts surrounding this train of thought. loosely i'm collecting it under a beacon of collected resources on degrowth, communities & scale, forgiveness & growth, and imagining a kinder future. this can be found on gemini here ⧉ (and if you don't know what gemini is, click here ⧉ for a little more context)

there are a lot of wonderful thinkers dealing with this kind of topic right now (a lot of whom have been collected on my gemini research page), and it feels very natural to try and work it all out alongside them. i think there's something very fundamental to it that could shape a new/old way of life, a new societal structure even, that to me feels emblematic of hope in such trying, traumatic and harrowing times. it's leaking into not only my practice but also all of the discussions i'm having irl and url, reshaping my worldview as it goes. it's scary to feel like you're tapping on the shell of something powerful, but i really do believe that somewhere down this path lies a really fundamental human truth. trying not to sound like i've fully gone off the deep end, but when what you find in the depths feels so promising, who could blame me if i did?


the first piece of writing i ever did which felt like it tapped into this fundamental, almost unhinged way of thinking was a rebuttal i wrote to timecube in 2018. it's archived here, on the conifer web archiving tool.

now, if you don't know about timecube - it was "a personal web page, founded in 1997 by the self-proclaimed 'wisest man on earth', otis eugene ray" [source] that hosted his manifesto on.. well, everything. it speaks of a cubic time, opposed to any traditional understanding of physics to assert that every day is four lived days at once. it makes repeated assertions that a divided, quaternary view is the only 'correct' way to see the world, and well, this just really offended me.

it's long formed part of my worldview that in order to exist within the world, we must understand how we are absolutely, inextricably interconnected with every part of it. that we are existing in not a fragmented universe, but a magically interwoven one. so, driven by his work, i wrote the ANTICUBE. for a long time, it was my homepage. it flooded out of me in a unified, constant stream, asserting the opposite hypothesis - that all is happening now and forever.

it's always interesting to revisit things you wrote a long time ago, especially something which was created in such a flow state, almost a joke but hinging on something very real. it's especially interesting when you find yourself agreeing with past-you even more solidly than you did at the time you wrote it.