In attempts to regain control of a piece of the internet, my piece of the internet, I've started up signalnerve. It's a weblog - old-school - with a focus on writing about the things that I don't get to normally cover, whether that's on Twitter, Medium, and elsewhere.
I'm thinking about the way that the internet has changed my brain - especially Twitter. This isn't a new idea, by any means, but I've noticed a transition over the last couple years - Twitter's "micro" format was a novel and interesting way to produce and consume information, but now it feels like it is the way that I produce and consume information. It's hard for me to write something this long, or to read long takes without looking for the tl;dr, or the summary.
The inability to write anything substantial, at least, almost consistently not given the ability due to the platform to try... it's a pressure cooker. Writing online is the job. To write code is a form of discourse, albeit one pretty obfuscated by systems put together by people around the world. But code itself is also another form of constrained expression: one focused on meeting deadlines, feature requests, to build something with a particular goal.
So, here's signalnerve. Goal-less, focus-less, a place to write anything, and everything. A place to own the things I write, in case service X or Y disappears. A place to write about the things that, frankly, I feel a little unable to share on Twitter, Medium, etc. As Hugh Brownstone would say - hold that thought - I'll come back to that idea soon.
I'm interested in the idea of a website representing the kind of thing that websites did in the early 2000s. I'm spending a lot of time trying to figure out what it was about early 2000s internet that was so appealing - in the best light, it's because it felt personal, but it might simply be because things felt like they had definition - this is my space, show me yours - and I'm interested in recreating that. We sell off our thoughts to be wrapped around advertisements, we farm our words out so that neural networks can learn how to write, and we're left with a scenario where we can point to different services as the aspects of ourselves. The "me on Facebook, me on Twitter" meme is so interesting in this way - the idea that we do truly have these different versions of ourselves on different services, that we pick an identity to suit the scenario: it's no new observation, again, but it does feel like a digital deterritorialization a la Deleuze and Guattari. Twitter takes my stream-of-consciousness thought, Facebook or Instagram takes the external focus on aesthetic, Medium takes the presentation, the "job" stuff; in the end, it feels like I'm really nowhere at all.
At the risk of sounding self-gratifying, there is some kind of statement wrapped up in centering everything in a place. Like this.
I have this feeling of nostalgia for a time in which I didn't feel so completely wired all of the time. I think I'll remain endlessly fascinated with the time I grew up in, as a kid who grew up alongside the internet and lived half a childhood glued to TV and the Nintendo 64, and then... boom. The pulse of the world mainlined into my veins. Dial-up was impressive, but broadband happened and I haven't really felt like I've disconnected since. There's too much to know, too much to experience - why turn off?
I love the name signalnerve because it has this interesting cyberpunk connotation, one that I struggle with a lot. To be so plugged in, to be "always on"... what do you do when the thing that has led you to understand the world feels so entirely unnatural? When you feel like digital signal and analog nerve are hopelessly bonded together?