Updated 15 days ago.
I like the concept of a blogroll, and in the old “blogosphere” they made sense, but that world no longer exists and the way we consume content has changed a lot. So this page is intended to fulfil the function blogrolls used to, but filled with general recommendations instead of just links to other folks’ sites.
I’m still figuring this out.
I’ve tried reading some content digitally; it just doesn’t work for me. Periodicals, mostly. There was a revelation for me there in that the way in which I read impacts whether I do, what I’ll retain, and what my tolerance for distraction is.
Put that way, it sounds obvious, but noticing it has made a big improvement to my reading life. I’m still learning about this part of myself.
I get my inputs from:
- MetaFilter for general content on the internet; it
always seems to bring the good stuff to the fore.
- I really like that MetaFilter doesn’t necessarily surface things I’d find myself through other means. The archive is fun to pick through too, and the quality of the comments & discourse is — generally — a cut above something like Reddit which fulfils a similar function.
- The London Review of Books, delivered physically to avoid
both random distractions and their regrettable mobile app
- Unexpectedly, the LRB’s not really “about” books. Really, the LRB is about current affairs, history, and life — it’s just strung together over the scaffolding of book reviews. Truly great stuff.
- See this article about the “reaction economy” or this article about semiconductor manufacturing for examples.
- Desmog for climate news
- Heatmap for more climate news
- The Guardian for general UK news
- Tortoise Media, mostly for their audio-based news (although the writing’s also terrific, and their email newsletter is worth the subscription)
- RSS, discussed below
RSS! RSS forever. I really believe it’s important to curate trusted thinkers and read specifically their output, so blogs collected together in a good RSS reader — I use Reeder — are a blessing for me. The benefits are twofold:
- When somebody publishes something new, I don’t have to remember to check the blog. That means someone who publishes infrequent but high-quality content doesn’t get forgotten about: I subscribe, and their content bubbles up to the surface when I need it to.
- There’s no algorithm, at all. I pull the content I’m interested in, I read it in an environment I control (no ads, tracking, and so on), and I sort and filter it however I like.
Algorithms can bubble some content to the surface, but as soon as it’s involved there’s a selectiveness introduced that I can’t control. No good. A chronological feed of anybody I’m interested in, please and thank you.
So, less distraction, more high-quality content. Here’s some of what I enjoy, when it does bubble up (some of these post quite infrequently)…:
- Craig Mod is an obsession. I think everything he writes is gold. He’s been a huge influence on me.
- Hillel Wayne’s writing on engineering and formal
methods is always salient and interesting.
- Take their June 2021 post on clever vs insightful code, for example.
- Tim Bray writes about tech and life clearly
- He’s actually quite an interesting character. He’s worked at Sun, Google, and Amazon on standards like XML, ATOM, and JSON. He was a VP at Amazon and left in 2020 (relatively publicly) in protest of their treatment of internal whistleblowers. Tim seems to be a smart and principled person.
- Maciej Ceglowski at Idle Words, too, of course.
Maciej seems to see the tech world through the lens of his fine arts
education, but with a background of actually having developed and produced
software as a living for over a decade, which gives him a fascinating
perspective. He’s also a terrific writer.
- I was quite affected by his writing on the Hong Kong protests a few years ago.
- He writes really well about all sorts of things. Here’s a great “turns out” story about how, through the 19th century, we completely forgot the cure for scurvy, then discovered it again through blind luck.
- If you’re a tech-y person, you might also enjoy his tech-adjacent writing and talks. I think of this, reflecting on the history of planes to consider the future of the web, probably once a week.
- Maggie Appleton has a delightful digital
garden. It’s a real gem! For the design alone, I adore this site, but her
content is really good too.
- A good place to start would be her essay on the history and ethos of the digital garden, which I imagine must be relatively famous and certainly got me interested in the subject.
- I’m very jealous that she used to work at HASH.ai, incidentally. Those folk do some very related stuff to my PhD. Hey, HASH, if you’re ever keen to chat, let me know.
- pudding.cool do some really interesting visual
explorations of topics.
- I don’t keep up with this like I’d like to (in fact, I’ve paused my
writing here to add it to my RSS!), but it always bubbles up in my feeds
somehow — usually on pinboard’s
- This recent article trying to replicate the results of a cool study that they wanted to validate is the latest to rise to the surface.
- I don’t keep up with this like I’d like to (in fact, I’ve paused my writing here to add it to my RSS!), but it always bubbles up in my feeds somehow — usually on pinboard’s
There are also some cool folk I’ve worked with or whose academic output I otherwise admire who write from time to time. You should check out…: