A Pint and a Parma

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from cos

For my birthday walk I found myself drawn, without even really thinking too hard about it, to an old suburb I briefly lived in twenty years ago. Music in ears, camera in hand, it was glorious wandering down random streets with older buildings – no need to hurry, no need to stress about a dozen errands to take care of. The journey through these streets is as much a journey through my memories, and it feels different each time.

My regular Chinese practice has me seeing things – this sign reminded me of 哭:

FKIQE9054.jpg

Whilst taking one quick photo of an old car, a lady walking past told me “He's a bit of a recluse. He collects Renaults.” At the other end of the same street, I found a lovely old Chevy ute with headlights like giant eyes that'd stare straight through you.

determined headlights

Further south, I found a light pole completely overrun with plant life – the kind of thing I'd be more likely to see from a train window in South East Asia...

Parkville's creeping horror

This felt like it must've been someone's forgotten labour of love, left parked on the street:

"dunrovin"

The afternoon was a whirlwind of sociability and conversations – the kind of thing I find enjoyable but draining. I need another long walk to recover!

 
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from staff

We've updated. See the release notes for more info. In terms of new features:

  • ✅ yes, authors can see subscribers
  • ❌ no, we haven't enabled e-mail subscriptions – we'll wait for SMTP support
 
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from cos

I like drone music. I'm trying to get to like drone photography but it feels like a harder slog so far. My resting father, a glider pilot, may have enjoyed it moreso, but only if he couldn't do the real thing.

East

I did the necessary registering and certification stuff, which wasn't too onerous for Australia, but moreso in Thailand when I took it along just in case I'd be able to use it. The 150m limit (generally, around where I am) doesn't feel like an issue – I've never gone higher than 100m so far, and still had pleasant-enough results. It feels like I have to go through that “the first 10,000 photos are going to be terrible” process all over again in order to feel like it's part of my overall mission.

I love the vistas I see from travellers like Yan, but accept that I probably won't be travelling that much or that far. There've been occasional moments, though:

Lake Tyrrell, Feb 2022

It'll be a slow burn, this one. The hard part is finding a diversity of times and places to practice – it's much less immediate than the camera in my hand, but the payback is the opportunities that I'm hoping it will open up. All said, I'm grateful to my prior employer for the 10-year tenure gift card that prompted me to consider this at the start of last year.

Mt Cooper, a year ago

(click through to see the original photos in their full panoramic glory, BTW – they're getting squeezed in this blog)

#drone #photography #learning #relearning #confusion

 
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from staff

It looks like we've survived our first ever writefreely upgrade – it'd been a bit over a year since the last release, so I hadn't ever needed to do one yet. I'll fully admit to “faking it 'till I made it” with the Docker build in order to resolve breaking changes in the way Go works after updating the base OS image release, but here we are.

Read the release notes for more on what's new. Really, I'm just happy seeing signs of life in the project, because I Want To Believe™.

Next, I need to work on my own motivation to post. I'll find a way.

 
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from cos

The transcendent nature of hearing a strange old robotically buzzy 20 year old song as the bus crested the hill on Punt Rd and, a little later, I stepped off and walked to the office; it fit the cold morning air so well.

When did I first hear this song? I’d bought the CD in Singapore and listened to it on this train trip to Kuala Lumpur in early 2004, in very different weather to this wintry morning:

the view out of the opposite window on a train, with a single person sitting to the right. You can see a pole outside, and some greenery.

I learnt so much on that trip, and saw so many things:

IMG_0263

As we get older, it’s harder and harder to fight the pull of nostalgia. What would I have done differently? Plenty of things, but also nothing.

#music #memories #Malaysia

 
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from cos

A month later, seeing the scans from my last roll of film come in, I realise how much I miss those morning walks in Japan.

escape route

The sun rose early, and I could explore the quiet streets, some quieter than others.

spring, relentless.

I’d watch the streets fill with people making their way to work, to school, to anything...

headlong into the void

...while I floated in a temporary void, needing to be nowhere in particular, enjoying the New Ordinary.

walking out in the morning dew

#japan #travel #photography #film #hipstamatic #osaka #street

[ Photo notes: the 3x black & white ones are from the same roll in my trusty Olympus XA2, the square one’s from Hipstamatic on my iPhone ]

 
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from cos

We visited Ueno Station one cold, grey morning, entirely because of a memory of an old song, as you do – or, well, as I do.

B985938-R2-17-18.jpg

My wife found it odd. I couldn't really explain how songs seep into your bones over time, but it related to how I needed to experience a more random nature of Tokyo beyond other people's top-N lists.

L1003400.jpg

We could've seen anything at all here, and it would've helped a few more connections form somewhere in my brain. That's what I'm looking for – the joy of less-conscious discoveries. After all, it's up to you what the image means.

L1003403.jpg

#music #travel #japan #tokyo #photography #film #digital #memories

[ photo notes: the first one's on film from my Olympus XA2, the other two are from my Leica M Typ-240 with an old Canon 35mm M39/LTM lens ]

 
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from koosli

Last Friday I got caught up in some airport silliness. As soon as I read the text message telling me my flight home had been cancelled I foresaw a need for reading material. I was only a few pages from finishing a novel and I didn't have much else I could use to keep myself occupied.

So before heading to the airport to try and get on another flight I stopped in at a nearby bookshop and found some cheap editions of classic whodunits – I picked out The Mystery of the Three Orchids by Augusto De Angelis who is an Italian writer and journalist (and anti-fascist) who wrote from the mid 1930s to the early 1940s.

Sure enough, I arrived home five hours late. The book served me well – I'd read more than half and I finished it the next day. It was simple and satisfying, easy to read while tired, exactly what I was after.

It revived some of my existing idle thoughts about what, for me, makes a good whodunit (book or film), and what I'd like to see in new ones. So I thought I'd make this list as an exercise in thinking it through some more.

An eccentric detective

I think I draw the line at the detective having some kind of super power or really extraordinary talent, but apart from that any detective will do. They can be professional, freelance or amateur, I don't mind. I don't have a favourite detective but nor have any really bugged me.

Okay, maybe Inspector Thomson in Gosford Park was too bumbling, and Benoit Blanc's accent is terrible. I never warmed to Miss Marple nor Hercule Poirot. Commisario De Vincenzi was fine, I guess?

Oh yeah, Lieutenant Columbo. Maybe I just want Columbo. He's scruffy (something I can identify with) and good at getting people off-guard, that's all you really need. Having a photographic memory or extra-sensory perception (or whatever) just feels like cheating, and it can create distance between the mystery and the reader (who doesn't share the special ability).

A contained and compartmentalised setting

I really enjoy stories that unfold simultaneously in different compartments within a contained environment, whether that's a house, a boat, a train, an island, or whatever. Essentially, it creates a reason why people can't immediately leave or why help will be unreachable or delayed at best. And it's fun to piece the story together in time. I imagine this aspect is quite fun to write.

The airship in the indie game Wayward Strand would make an excellent setting (ignoring the fact that it's an old folks' home where death is neither uncommon nor mysterious).

Red herrings

According to the Wikipedia page for red herrings, the term was coined by a dude who used smoked fish to distract his dogs from chasing rabbits. This week I've been using dried kangaroo to distract my dog from being scared of going down stairs, something we have to do at least three times a day. So now, at least three times a day, I have good cause to dramatically yell out, “aha, a red herring!!” – excellent news.

Anyway, red herrings are fun and should always be included because they're about playing with the reader. You want to be able to guess the mystery before it's revealed, or to be fooled, but you don't want to find out pertinent information at the point of reveal. There's no fun in that.

Not more nostalgia

It's gotten beyond a joke. Yes, mobile phones and the internet make it harder to write constraints into a story. Yes, first-class train carriages looked pretty in the 1930s. Of course this was when many classics of the genre were written, but do we need to keep remaking them? There's a lot about these times that's really on the nose in any case. I like to see stories that work within the context of today, just so we're not avoiding this challenge. Or, at least, for stories set in the past for a reason that's more than aesthetics or narrative convenience.

Easy on the zeitgeist

One thing that bugs me generally is when stories lean too hard on the zeitgeist. I want my murder mysteries to be escapism from world events, not to excessively reference them. Even stories set in the past that reference an imagined zeitgeist can bug me. They can lean a little bit, just not so much that it's writing half the story for them. I just find it the opposite of clever.

Down with rich people

Notwithstanding my love for Gosford Park, I'd like to suggest that rich people are not a compulsory inclusion in a whodunit. I know that inheritance can provide a spicy motive – I myself expect to inherit a stack of second-hand floorboards from my father, who in mentioning this to me appears to have conceded he has no plans to do anything with these floorboards in his lifetime. Maybe one of my siblings has their eye on them and I'd better watch out.

But back to the point, it'd be nice to see fewer rich people (and their servants) featured in whodunits. There can still be money involved, that's fine. I just resent the suggestion that those of a wealthier class are inherently more interesting.

 
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from koosli

I caught the train to Southern Cross today and walked over to Docklands, grabbing along the way a display cabinet chicken tandoori wrap and a coffee. While I sat down to eat outside the ferry terminal, I got out my digital camera and tried to figure out how to tell it what I wanted to be in focus.

I've had this camera for a while (I seem still not to have reattached myself to the passage of time since March 2020) and I've figured out the focus settings more than once, but they just don't stick. I like this camera—an Olympus micro four-thirds—because it's smaller than a DSLR but still has interchangeable lenses. My problem is that it's all settings, acronyms and multi-level menus, which is great for doing an exact thing but is not conducive to heuristics. I work by heuristics, normally via some kind of visual logic, which suits photography pretty well but not with this camera.

I decided to give the Olympus a rest and use my film camera instead. It's my dad's old Pentax that he used to take all of our family photos in the 70s and 80s. He gave it to me in non-working order but it was easy to get repaired. I've decided to not bother with the light meter and just use rules of thumb instead: it was an overcast day so I set the f-stop to 5.6 and cranked up the shutter speed to 1/500 (I won't know until I get it developed whether this was a terrible idea and I come crawling back to the light meter). I am fairly sure the film currently loaded in it is from around when time stopped.

I realised my favourite part of Docklands is 'The District', a breezy, mostly indoor shopping and entertainment district that always seems to be mostly deserted. Even when there are people there. It has the Melbourne Star ferris wheel, which is no longer operating, and a Hoyts cinema with enormous screens and motorised recliner seats but which is almost entirely self-serve. There are several US American restaurant chains with highly developed aesthetics and food I would never eat. Lots of families do come to Docklands to hang out, I mean it seems like the parking is convenient and there is free ping pong.

I wandered around the upper walkways to get a view of the malls below and take some pictures. After a while I noticed that the same logo, the logo for the shopping centre itself, was on all the windows – the upper floor is almost entirely untenanted. With regularity, there were also decals urging your reconsideration of Docklands: [hashtag] Imagine different. Indulge your curiosity. More food and entertainment this way –> [a series of blank panels].

I realised that the signage was the best thing about the place. Incantations attempting to lift Docklands' hex. Underrated. Is this art? Are you art? Imaginaria. A flame inside a five-pointed star. A very many pot plants. Surely we can jump-start some psychogeographic significance here.

Of course, mocking Docklands is too easy and very tired. Cheap shots, the lot of them. But I do think the thing that makes Docklands funny is also what makes it interesting. Perhaps there'll be some paranormal indications when I get my film developed (or maybe the film was just expired).

 
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from KatLH

Compiled by @KatLH@scholar.social with input from many others. I have been regularly using the fedi since 2018. Thank you to those who responded to my call-out, and please get in touch if you’d like to be credited.

I tooted a call-out seeking different people’s views on the ethical complexities of academics treating the fediverse as a source of research data (I hesitate to even use the term ‘data’ in case it implies a resource or commodity). By ‘the fediverse’, I am mainly referring to Mastodon and its similar forks.

My intent is to provide a non-exhaustive list of ethical issues for researchers. I have written this in plain language for broad accessibility. Those contemplating research should not assume that something that might be seen as acceptable and innocuous on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook is acceptable or innocuous within the fedi. Skilled social media scholars will already have good practices with these kinds of things, but experience tells us that many researchers still do not.

This is not a new topic and others have tackled it in far more detail and with greater insight and consultation than I have here – please see the list of links at the end, most of which I consider essential reading. I hope that this document is a useful summary and helps avert harm.

Terms of Service

At the most basic level, researchers need to be aware that every server has its own ToS that defines what is allowed. There is no central authority granting access. ToS are not consistent between different servers, and furthermore they may change over time. Fediverse content can involve many, many different servers.

While it is a very obvious point that researchers need to comply with all relevant ToS, unfortunately there are already egregious examples of this not being done [1].

Some terms may explicitly address the use of data for research (e.g. [2]) or might be more general about the use of content hosted by that server (e.g. [3]). I suggest that anyone contemplating research with the fedi starts by getting in touch with the relevant server admin(s).

Many people on the fediverse explicitly opt out of data collection via the bio in their profile, which might contain something like “I do not consent to my data being used […]”. However, there is a general expectation that the minimum bar to clear should be opt in via informed consent. There are several reasons for this, some of which I outline below. Unfortunately, there is a long history of private data being leaked from the fediverse simply because it’s technically possible.

Server admins will actively defend safety and privacy. Actions by anyone that compromise safety will almost certainly result in moderation actions such as: suspending the offending account or defederating from the researcher’s server in the event their admin does not take action. This means that a server that aims to be ‘open’ or ‘objective’ will achieve the opposite, as their reluctance to defederate will be met by defederation by others.

Trust deficit

There are communities within the fedi that have been directly harmed by unethical research in the past (for example, First Nations and transgender communities). Hence there is a pre-existing trust deficit.

Furthermore, the historically extractive nature of research and the impetus to ‘publish or perish’ is well understood by many people on the fediverse. While in some areas academia is getting better at foregrounding the needs and desires of communities through participant-led research, most would argue this is still the exception rather than the rule.

Researchers might therefore encounter a general sense of wariness before earning trust and obtaining informed consent.

Audience and privacy

Fediverse software offers a suite of privacy controls such as post privacy and the different server moderation policies. This can get quite complex depending on federation and vantage point.

The visibility of content to a particular user is not necessarily indicative of the intentions of the content’s author. For example, posts on specific servers (such as those run by and for marginalised groups) may well only be intended to be read or shared by that community and not by outsiders, regardless of technical visibility.

A fediverse user’s understanding and preferences relating to privacy may be in flux as they interact with the fedi. Once again this means that researchers shouldn’t make assumptions about what is acceptable use of a person’s content.

Safety

Many people on the fedi are members of communities historically targeted by hate groups – this includes some academic communities, too. Defederation from untrustworthy servers is an important safety measure, but data collection can compromise defederation and create risks.

As one person who responded to me explained:

I am on server A. I have preemptively suspended server C for safety. An academic (or journalist) comes along from server B without any knowledge of this and puts A and C together into some dataset. Now C can know of my existence.

On this note, academics rebuilding their networks post-Twitter should remember to ask permission before adding anyone to public lists.

Extra notes about social context

Much of the fediverse has a strong sense of relationships, mutual aid and a duty not to betray one another. Researchers should not assume that their understanding of social relationships gleaned from other social media platforms or communities are transferable to the fediverse. Incentives or reasons to participate in research might be different as a result.

Nobody can see the entire fediverse. Different servers can have very different stances on moderation ranging from heavily defederated to completely unmoderated. As a result, what is visible can vary wildly. This means aggregate analysis is highly contextual and research purporting to offer an objective view is junk.

Despite everything mentioned in this document regarding marginalised communities, much of the fedi is hegemonically white, tech-oriented, able-bodied and rich.

I highly recommend this blog post [4] which gets into more detail about how researchers can misinterpret social worlds and cause harm.

It’s not all negative

Compared to the large social media platforms, the fedi can be a great site of dialogue and engagement. Opt in research can tend to get a lot of traction, provided researchers are trusted and the framing doesn’t grate or harm.

Server admins and many other people on the fedi are excellent sources of guidance and could even become potential collaborators. I imagine that open source research tools and creative participatory methods will lead to all kinds of cool things.

[1] An Open Letter from the Mastodon Community https://www.sunclipse.org/wp-content/downloads/2020/01/open-letter.html

[2] Privacy Policy – Use of Scholar Social for research https://scholar.social/privacy-policy

[3] Server Rules – use of content hosted by mastodon.nz https://mastodon.nz/about

[4] maloki, On Scraping Mastodon https://blogghoran.se/2020/01/27/on-scraping-mastodon/

Robert W. Gehl FOSS Academic https://fossacademic.tech/2022/10/18/notesOnNobreEtAl.html

Elias, T., Ritchie, L., Gevalt, G., & Bowles, K. (2020). A pedagogy of ‘small’: Principles and values in small, open, online Communities. In Open (ing) Education (pp. 364-389). Brill. (thoughts from 2018 on what to consider)

 
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