State of the Blog 2022

Hello friends. It has been a while since I’ve done one of these, because really not much has been going on with the blog for a while. And not much will be going on with it in the future, but it will hopefully be a bit more lively with the changes I have planned. TLDR: I have practically been using the blog as a newsletter for a while now, so I am going to lean into that more, with each post compiling a few different updates and insights instead of always having a singular focus. I am committing to this as my main means of disseminating information, rather than Twitter or other corporatized internet spaces.

Starting with this post right here!

What Has Happened to the Internet

I am pretty damn young but I am old enough to remember that the internet was not always like this. Today people (self included) engage with the internet mainly through platforms, rather than bouncing around between several independent websites. Evan Dahm, a webcomicker, puts it pretty clearly here.

And this kinda sucks. It sucks for creators because they either have to conform to the tastes of the platform’s algorithm, or accept that what they create will be buried. Obviously this kind of institutional influence and compromise has been part of art production since forever, but it was not always this way on the internet.

It sucks for readers/viewers/etc. because a lot of these platforms are shitty places to be on. They exploit and encourage shallow, impulsive engagement; they cultivate a sense of always missing out, of always needing more. I have found out about a lot of cool stuff on Twitter—events, book recommendations, sometimes interesting news—but always in the midst of great quantities of dreck, much of it aggravating or depressing.

Fortunately, I have this old-school, independent form of information dissemination: the blog.

(These thoughts are not remotely original, of course. There is that video essay I quoted above, for instance. And broadly what I am engaging with here is the “Web Revival“—follow that rabbit hole if you want to learn more. I am honestly a bit of a neophyte myself.)

What Is Happening to the Blog

I would like to make a greater commitment to sharing stuff on this blog. In the past, I’ve thought of each blog post as an essay, almost. Its own thing, meant to be viewed in isolation. Any thoughts or smaller ideas—e.g. a short book recommendation rather than a full review—I would just keep to myself, or maybe tweet. This made sense when I was updating the blog weekly, but now it effectively means that I am putting out more information on my Twitter than I am on the blog. I would like to do the opposite.

Which is not to say that the blog will be full of trivial one-liners, no—truly inane stuff, goofs, whatever, that will still be confined to Twitter. But instead of treating each post as a single, monolithic thing, I’m going to include bits and pieces about what I’m writing, new projects from my friends, books I’m reading, and so on. This post itself should serve as a prototype—there is a main topic of interest, which I’m almost finished with now, and below there are some other tidbits.

So the blog will probably not update any more frequently. It will still be mostly announcements of publications, with the occasional book review. But when it does update, the posts will have a bit more going on in them.

I Changed the Homepage

You may have noticed that my homepage has changed! If you didn’t, go check it out!

For the entire existence of this website, my homepage has just been the blog feed. Since the blog doesn’t update regularly anymore, I think a static homepage is a better welcome for anyone first encountering me. It looks a little scuffed, for which I blame the WordPress editor. Although I do own the domain for this website, WordPress is still a kind of platform, and one that is relatively constraining as far as website editors go. I would like to eventually change to something that allows more access to the back-end of the code.

For now though, this is how the website looks. If you are reading this you are probably already subscribed/following in some capacity, so thank you for that! It is really cool to have this independent space on the web, and really cool to have your support.

Now, on to the other stuff!

Public Domain Day 2023

Public Domain Day is just two and a half months away, and this year I would like to get some more people involved. Every Public Domain Day (January 1st) for the past five years, I have celebrated by writing a post dealing with the public domain in some way, and releasing one of my works to the public domain. You can see more about that here.

This year, I am putting out the call for any creators to join me in releasing some of your work to the public domain. My idea is that on January 1st, 2023, everyone will crosspost/share each others works—So I’ll post links to/downloads of everyone’s work on my blog, and everyone else can do the same on their own blog/newsletter/group chat/whatever.

Guidelines for participation: none! Anyone can join in this, any medium works. It can be something you’ve already made, or something you make specifically for Public Domain Day. Just know that ceding something to the public domain is unconditional, and non-retractable. The idea is to truly relinquish control of the work, to surrender it fully to the commons.

If you would like to participate, please let me know! The more the merrier. My email is FrancisRBass (at) gmail (dot) com.

My Friends Make Things

It is the spookiest month of all, and I am of course getting into the spirit by reading some horror-ish books. Namely Devil House by John Darnielle and The Hole by Hye-Yung Pyun. But I actually haven’t started those yet. What I have read are a couple things made by my friends, which are also seasonly dreary.

First is the second anthology from the TerraGenesis Collective, The Many Lives of Devon Reeves. Each story features a character named “Devon Reeves,” and each story is (incidentally) some flavor of grim. The anthology is bookended by two highly meta stories—in Wyatt de Miranda’s “The Call to Adventure,” Devon Reeves is aware that he is the protagonist of a story, and in Ike Riva’s “Author’s Note” he is a writer himself. “A Thing Forgotten” by Trevor White starts out rather mundane, with someone trying to hunt down information on a half-remembered deep sea creature, but the longer his search persists, the more obsessed he becomes. And “Conscience” by Christine M.E. Hansen is a bleak, tense story about a pair of hitchhikers, somewhat reminiscent of In Cold Blood. Altogether it’s a pretty quick read, and a great way to get into the October mood. (The previous TGC anthology, A Dark and Stormy Night, is also pretty goth for that matter, and I wrote the forward for that one.)

Second is Anagogia, a piece of interactive fiction from the aforementioned Trevor White. It is a moody, atmospheric piece, more exploration and setting than plot or character. If you are into that kind of thing (which I very much am), you should be into this. The setting is sufficiently evocative to make it a compelling read, and almost every passage of text is paired with a photograph. The photos are eerie, mysterious, and extremely lonely. Although many feature human structures, there are no human figures. Combined with the fact that most are desaturated or totally grayscale, the effect is wearying, depressive.

But like, in a good way. I recommend putting on some kinda somber, instrumental background music, letting the vibes wash over you, and wending your way through Anagogia.

That’s all for this … post? Newsletter? Missive? Thank you again for reading and subscribing to an independent internet thing. I will have another post soon about the “Cartographer” zines, and after that of course I’ll have something for Public Domain Day 2023. I would also like to write some reviews of Evan Dahm’s Overside books, but that’s a big project … we’ll see. Ciao for now.

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