Big broad thoughts heading into 2022. My misanthropy grows, the pandemic has been amazing fodder to be used as evidence by it that society as it is is pretty untenable. Hard not to see it just a Death Cult in its final throes. With that comes some hopelessness that I could affect wide and broad change that I and I think my whole generation were raised to believe in. Most political movements as they are especially ones of much size and with some history are pretty … useless. We’ve proven them non starters, and I’m including all things including communism in this. All I’m left with is that we need new things and the seeds may still yet be found in what modern anarchists are up to, I don’t know, have some more reading to do. Big 2021 year end mood influences on that front include Disco Elysium and Don’t Look Up. Also of note from the prev year would be Black Sails. But this isn’t about looking back, just noting a few steps taken to get here.
Heading into 2022 what do I want to be thinking about, focusing on, working on, learning, and consuming?
The year in review posts give me a good journaling system for summing up a year and maybe thinking about it as a whole, putting a pin in it, and gives me some ground to start analysis and think about the coming year. Likewise, these Looking Ahead posts let me try and focus a bit and apply some initial direction to myself as I enter a new year.
So what do I want to focus on in the coming year? And if I’m continuing the year theme exercise, what will the year’s theme be? Let’s revisit that a bit later.
New section, new year. In my 2021 in review post I mentioned I’m getting more hermity. It’s almost 2 years into the pandemic and we’re seeing catastrophically the worst numbers now. There won’t be a going back to old normal any time soon, and I think even “new normal” is in a lot of flux and evolving still. Sure looks like I’ll be spending a good amount of time holed up at home seeing people remotely or outside and very few in person. This is a continuation of a trend from last year I called hermity but I think it does highlight why I’ve felt I’ve become more unwilling to socialize more or I’m less willing to meet people half way. With every interaction carrying risk, we’ve all been forced to apply much stronger filters and ranking to what if any socializing we chose to do weather we like it or not.
Early on in the pandemic I tried some video shared watching parties and even games nights. They weren’t amazing. Especially for TV watching its just not the same as being in a room together, video calls cannot replicate the audio space of a room, where people near each other can have a hushed side conversation, etc. There’s only one shared audio space and if you’re watching a show that’s dominating it. It’s the same for group hangouts even just to chat or food, it’s more like a meeting than a social hangout at a dinner out or at someone’s place.
Games can be a bit better but my groups have all fragmented. I tire easily of JackBox games with the non gamer friends, and my gamer friends and I all have settled into different games that we like so I’m a bit isolated there.
The pandemic has absolutely effected my social carrying capacity capabilities and that’s combined with making me less willing to try these less effective things rather than just do my own thing. With no time being that recharging, I’m not even as willing to spend some of it on sub par remote social events rather than just solo time at home.
The biggest socializing I do is shared text spaces, so maybe going into 2022 it might make sense for me to take a look at some of them, shore up or add a few more, and apply a bit more structure to some. Social media tools are so woefully anemic, and passive things like instagram or FB are next to useless. Food for thought, on how to try and apply a bit more structure. This does dovetail with longer form ideas we’d love to implement in Cwtch. But that’s still going to take a while, I think we have more than enough work at least for the first half if not all of 2022.
So I’m left with maybe cobbling together a few weak tools. Do a horrible group and ranking exercise to determine whom I might be missing regular contact with and cobble together a reminder system to do regular out reaches to the X people I select on some schedule. I think I’ve been avoiding this since it’s a little horrible, but also clearly I need a little check in with myself over the socials and I can’t rely on old habits and lifestyles like just seeing everyone for dinners and parties. And then also maybe trying to create a few lightly structure groups, tho what that looks like I’m a little less sure of.
This also includes social media communication. I think if its permeated pop culture from movies like Sorry To Bother You to Don’t Look Up it’s harder to justify social media concern about issue of the moment and resharing to spread awareness. A) we know things are bad and B) so what, what can we do about it. I need to spend some time thinking about my social media praxis.
Media & Games
Not too much to be excited for going into 2022. As a big Horizon: Zero Dawn fan, I am tentatively looking forward to that sometime this year but I’ll have to get a PS5 first and who knows when that will happen. As Stephanie Sterling just talked about today in reference to the New Years Square Enix letter, most big AAA gaming companies are just committing harder to providing less while asking for more so it seems pretty clear there won’t be much to be found there. Maybe time to buy some more indie games of the last while. Tho Stray, the cybeprunk cat game, does look cute so I’m hesitantly excited for when ever that comes out. In the short term, probably a replay of Disco Elysium at least.
As for shows? Oph, not a lot to be excited for that I can think of. Last year was not very full of much, and the biggest best thing I watched was a show that had been over for years. Might be time to push myself to do more reading. I think in part I gravitate to visual media in part because I’m lazy and in part it’s just habit to get up and sit down at a computer and stay there most of the day for work and entertainment. I think I need to take an active track on trying to structure some reading time and space, to make it more of a habit. Find a good comfy reading spot at home and maybe start the day off with coffee and reading. Something to look at for taking a more intentional approach to.
it does track, the cheaper the medium is to produce the more experimental or less pop appealing it can be. Movies are kind of in an era of peak pop culture appeal schlock as they all have to be big multi hundred million dollar block busters which leaves little room for anything interesting. The last decade has been TV’s era but I’m worried about even that. we’ll see. That leaves books and comics as the space with more room for interesting things to be found, and that’s semi validated by the fact of TV and movies consuming them years to decades later for ideas for watered down big media versions.
I think it’s clear 2022 needs to be the year I cut down on my video consumption a bit.
Tech and Work
I have a lot of excitement for Cwtch going into 2022. It’s in a wonderful place with a big strong base of working code now, so the first quarter or half of the year will be cleaning it up more, and adding hybrid groups. Cleaning up android performance will take the work of improving front end message caching a bunch and adding batch loading calls. Already the new storage engine and light new message cache helps a bunch, but it’s still not where I want it to be. Side benefits of this should be we’d have all the data we need in the front end to support cross profile notifications, another win. And then hopefully hybrid group work still start landing with customizable group contracts which should allow for a lot more cool structure custom social spaces on Cwtch. Along with all that then we’ll be revisiting overlays and starting to look at bulletin. If we can get all that in in the first half of 2022 Cwtch will be in an amazing place to start being more used by more people for more things and I couldn’t be more excited.
Web3 may be mostly a giant investment scam and hype to cover, but I’m increasingly excited about the decentralized infrastructure and communication platform Cwtch will actually provide. A personal word goal I’d like to be at least closer to implementing and I think hybrid group and contracts will get us well on the way to would be “zokus” from the Quantum Thief, as an aspirational idea/mood/direction.
Personally tech wise I want to continue improving my Rust skills cus while I still find it a high barrier to entry language that’s hard to learn, it really does seem like the best option going forward for new work. To that end I really really really want 2022 to be the year I start doing Cwtch bot work and hopefully see others do it too. First and foremost then that means getting a better handle on Rust proc-macros as macro-rules may no longer be strong enough to help me with the autogeneration of Rust native bindings based on the less native bindgen bindings for libcwtch-go. I’ve run into a little bit of a documentation shortage so if I get this to work it might make a good blog post, either for Open Privacy’s Discreet Log, or here.
Linux desktop, all desktops seem just dead ends. Windows 11 sounds mostly horribly boring, as they mess with the start pane to harvest more data and pester you with more ads. Tho I think they were adding better graphical integration to WSL so lol that’s something almost. My brief work with MacOS last year updated my opinion of it from probably terrible, to utterly wretched and very rotten. And Linux Desktop’s been pretty dead for a bit. Looks like Gnome is stepping up the suicide attempt tho, seems that all the features removed across the last decade of 3.x weren’t quite enough but now removing themes straight up in 4.x has done it and more projects are looking for alternatives, tho there isn’t much at the moment, just a bunch of proto tech, like EFL, and some experimental WMs. It’s going to take a bit to rebuild, but tossing Gnome and QT is the start, they are dead weight dragging the Linux space down at this point. It’s prolly gonna be a few years at best till we get some real options so I may be a little stuck with Gnome3/Ubuntu or jumping ship to XFCE for now. Tho with more open source groups like Budgie/Solus/Serpent moving on and companies like System76 willing to invest in moving on, there’s finally some light at the end of this very dark tunnel.
GUI framework wise, Flutter was a bet that paid off in spades so I’ll want to be keeping up with it, cus if I ever need any other GUI work, that’s what I’ll be doing it in for the next foreseeable future. speaking of, I’d like to get a bit more native integration going with Cwtch especially for notifications. Hopefully there are plugins for that now but if not might be something to contribute back up. Maybe even see if they’ll take a PR for the icon work we did, especially for windows. Would be good to push something back :)
As much as I hate centralized services, for now some provide some use. Recalling a year’s worth of media consumption is hard. Goodreads has helped for books. But TV and movies, I had nothing. So as a beginning of year step to improve that I’ve signed up for letterboxd, to keep track better and to also follow a few interesting folk in hopes it could lead to other good finds I might miss otherwise. As a wild dream, if I can push a Cwtch bot far enough, perhaps I could get it to the point where I could have it help in the management of these disparate services.
Dovetailing with that, I take too many photos, never engage in pruning or cleaning or organizing so I’m left with years and years of photos and hard to find anything I want. I do think that while probably not a this year goal, it would be nice to get a social service on top of Cwtch, where I can create topical streams that I can put photos into, making me filter and categorize a bit. the social service we have, IG in this case, are just so utterly anemic and useless.
I did personal training all of 2021. Finally by the end of it we’re def identifying and working on my back issues and I have a better understanding of my posture problems and some exercises I can do to help my back if it acts up. It’s a start, but I really want to continue all this year building on that and improving my health.
To that end it’s possible I should look at my eating habits a bit more closely but that’s def a deeply linked source of pleasure for me so it’s hard. Very slowly working on reducing portions should help tho.
PT helps with muscle building and maybe one day body shape but I still have a gap in cardio, which I also hate. Not sure how to tackle that in a meaningful maintainable way.
Mental health wise, I think the aforementioned focus on trying to read more may be good for my mental health, especially my focus, which isn’t exactly where I’d love it to be. If I am being ambitious, I’d like to commit myself to going back to language learning, like duolingo, and actually make some progress on spanish this year, but in “pandemica” my will power isn’t exactly high so maybe I have to give myself some grace on that? or stop making excuses.
New section for growth. For this year, between Disco Elysium somewhat summing up the dead end of most existing theories of some age, and Don’t Look Up reminding us how broken existing systems are, it seems to me if there are answers, i need to be reading more politics, and not old things like Marx and 100+ year old communist, socialist or anarchist works. This age while having similar problems, is also different, different contexts, and in some cases more entrenched opposition that’s read the same texts. I need to jump to more modern works for reading to see what people outside twitter are thinking now, and I think mostly on anarchist and adjacent thinking.
I need to keep disconnecting from the “outrage of the day”, and politics in general. Human brain finds it cathartic somehow, joining the mob rage, but there isn’t much to be done there or by engaging with the system, tho I have a friend or two who still are big democracy believes and would have me out reach to local politicians and try and engage to nudge some of their parties worst opinions to slightly less work, possible as an act of harm reduction. But more and more I think the healthy and only approach is to stop looking at the big picture, and focus on the local, especially my friends and social groups, where I can actually make some form of impact.
It’s going to be another year inside. TV and movies being lacklustre, and AAA games also being not great, for the non work side of my life I’ll need to lean into indie media, games and books more. Also for my brain’s health.
For work, maybe just maybe we can continue to develop Cwtch into something useful for this age, something to actually build so new better social communication modes on. As I’ve commented on before, the social media tools we have were made by the wrong people, white cis/het men who were privileged and under-socialized, nearly the worst people to make social communication tech, and their poor perspectives and understanding permeate our broken society now. As a Gawker article opined about NFT’s but more broadly applicable
I hope the Open Privacy team with Cwtch can actually offer something new and useful, we certainly need it.
And finally back to year theming. We’re much more in a time recognizable to some extent as cyberpunk mostly because it’s terrible. Cyberpunk is an aesthetic and doom mood but it doesn’t have much in the way of answers, more a warning, that we utterly failed to heed. The emerging genre and thinking post cyberpunk of Solar Punk will bear watching and engaging with more and more. It’s a year where I need to curate my intake a bit, to rehab my brain that I think has gotten relaxed and less focused. And it’s a year I think where at work we really are close to something very useful. Both “Solar Punk” and “Zoku” are aspirations for the year to me, but I think I want something a bit better to sum it up.
“Distributed community building tech (with a focus on smaller groups)” - Well that’s terrible, anyone know of a word that sums that up? “Inject some magic and anarchy into the world” – Not shorter