‘Brunch Of The Dead’ Officially Released

Writing & Stories — Sean Bonner @ 7:14 am

BOTD_cover So I’ll start this off by noting that Brunch Of The Dead is currently FREE in the Amazon Kindle store and will be all week, after this week the price skyrockets to $2.99.

Now that that is out of the way…. Brunch Of The Dead is a few things. It’s a short story around 5,000 words about old people and brunch and zombies that has been 12 years in the making. That’s trumped up a bit, it was written initially 12 years ago when my friend Morgen and I used to skip work to hang out coffee shops drinking coffee and trying to make each other laugh with crazy stories. This was one of the few we wrote down, but a serious lack of confidence caused us to shelve for most of that time. About a month ago I dug it out of the archives, still thought it was funny and Morgen and I decided to put some time in reworking and polishing and then publish it. Which we did. Hence the “official” in the subject up there.

It’s also the first piece of fiction writing I’ve ever published, which is a bit nerve wracking. More so than I expected. I really enjoy fiction when I’m reading but I have a horrible time writing it. It’s one of the things I want to do more than anything in the world, but whenever I try I end up writing something that actually happened. I’ve written before about how that scares the crap out of me. I’ve also written before — countless times — about the value of just going for it. About how if you don’t try you are 100% assured to fail. About how anything creative you produce can find a handful of people who enjoy it. So I decided to take my own advice and jump in.

I’m not going to go so far as to say it’s “good” but I will say that I know exactly what happens in it and I still enjoy reading it, and it still makes me laugh. And what I will go so far as to say is that it’s done. I actually made it, and actually shipped it. Which is a huge step for me. And somewhat amusing that it took 12 years for 2 guys to publish a short story that could basically be told verbally in 10 minutes.

But it’s out and that feels awesome. I highly recommend to anyone who is wavering on finishing/publishing something -just go for it.

Encryption and Suspicion

Networks, Theory, and the Web,Uncategorized — Sean Bonner @ 6:19 am

Why using encryption is seen as suspicious — the difference between privacy and secrecy.

encryption

(Originally posted on Medium)

Not long ago I discussed some of the steps I was taking to ensure some privacy online and since then have had quite a few conversations with other people about their own efforts to do the same. We most frequently talk about how easy or hard something is to implement and express shared desire to have more of these options baked in as standard features on normal applications used by everyone. If encrypting an email was as easy as CCing some for example, it’s safe to assume more people would encrypt their emails.

These discussions also inevitably note that the simple act of encrypting your email is more likely to draw the attention of folks like the NSA because to some people this is seen as suspicious behavior. But I don’t buy it — if encrypting your email is suspicious that’s only the case because not many people do it, which is only the case because it’s not that easy. And now we’re running in circles. But lets think about this a bit more for a second.

What’s so suspicious about it? (more…)

Rule 34 for Creatives

Philosophy — Sean Bonner @ 11:24 am

Salton Sea Detour
[Originally published on Medium]

If you create it, there’s someone who will like it.

As citizens of the internet, we all know about The Rules, most referenced of course is Rule 34If you can think of it, there is porn of it.

Some things are just such universally understood facts that there’s no point in arguing about them. Rule 34 is one such fact. But it’s easy to read at face value and then move on thinking it’s just a joke, but in fact there’s a much more important lesson here especially for anyone creative. I say creative but I should note that I think there are very few people who aren’t creative — maybe no one. Not everyone is a writer or an artist or a composer or a crafter or a hardware designer or whatever else you can think of, but as a people we enjoy making things and at some point you have to admit that requires creativity. Anyway, that’s another rant all together — back to the rule 34 discussion.

If you can think of it: Well that’s pretty much anything, because duh.

There is porn of it: This is the moneyshot of this statement, so to speak. Keeping things a bit abstract here, porn doesn’t just exist. Someone has to create it. But more than that, someone has to not only care enough to make it but also believe that someone out there in the world would also enjoy it. If you haven’t spent much time on 4chan you might not really be grasping the scope of what we’re talking about here, but seriously, anything you can think of, it’s out there, and someone enjoys it.

The way this relates to you, as a creative — that thing you’ve been thinking of… that thing you want to write, that thing you want to paint, that thing you want to sing, that thing you want to design, that thing you want to build — whatever it is, someone will dig it. Traditionally, producing things is scary. Will it be good enough? Will anyone like it? Will everyone laugh at you? Rule 34 applies to you.

If you follow through and actually do this (I don’t want to keep contextualizing this, but you know what I mean, whatever it is you are hesitating to do. For me it’s writing, for you it might be publishing some photos or starting a sketchbook) someone out there will like it. And that’s really all you need. One person to appreciate the work you put into. The catch here is that you may never know this person exists — but they do, and Rule 34 proves that. If whatever kind of crazy twisted freaky porn you can think of has at least enough enthusiastic fans out there to justify someone willing it into existence, then certainly anything you want to make but are second guessing can find an audience.

And better than that, if you keep doing it, those fans will tell their friends, and your fans will double in number. And before you know it you’ll have double digits of fans. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

I know I personally talk myself out of so much that I want to write because the stupid bullshit voice in my head tells me no one will care. No one will be interested. No one will like it. Rule 34 proves that voice wrong. I just need to know one person was glad I finished that thing and hit publish. Now I don’t have an excuse. How about you? What are you waiting for? That person is out there, don’t disappoint them.

Knowing the destination before setting out on the voyage

Me, Myself, and this blog,Writing & Stories — Sean Bonner @ 1:37 pm

Earlier today I mentioned that there’s never been something I’m so equally attracted to and horrified of in my entire life – as writing. I’ve done it and not done it all my life and I’ve written about doing it and not doing it probably more than I’ve actually done it. I have this problem that I’ve become much more aware of recently, which might actually be making it worse now that I know about it, where I’m petrified of beginning writing if I don’t know where I’m going to end up. Depending on your perspective this has never/always been a problem for me to some extent – or rather, it’s been a problem in other areas that I didn’t realize were problematic, but hasn’t really been a problem with writing.

In my most prolific writing days I had no idea where I was headed until I got there and that was my salvation. Writing was incredibly therapeutic and with just a spark I could dig into my head and spill my guts all over a page and not only feel good about what I’d written, but feel better mentally as well. Like I’d worked through something. Solved something that I didn’t understand before and that drove me to keep doing it. At some point I got the idea that I needed that spark to give me the push, and then at some other point I realized those sparks don’t really happen on command. And then I started worrying about them and how to find them and what to do without them. The spark was like a quick strobe flash in a dark room that gave me an idea of what route to take to get through it, and without that I just keep standing there not knowing which direction to move in.

I told a story last year (and many times before actually) that as a kid I never took first steps, or said first words. I sat around staring at people for ever – much longer than I should have – and then just started walking, and just started talking in full sentences. It’s a story passed on to me from my parents and I don’t even know how much truth is in it. But I guess I convinced myself it was true, and then used it as an excuse by blaming some weird way my head works. I have to know I can do it before I start. Or I have to know the destination before I can embark on the journey. Which I think is bullshit, so that’s conflicting to say the least.

The thing is I love writing. When I’m in the groove it’s easily one of my favorite things in the world. If I could do that all day I would in a heartbeat. When I’m not in that groove it’s torture and I beat myself up about it all day long, which I’m certain only makes it that much worse.

I’ve talked to a number of my “writer” friends, or just my friends who write even if they don’t consider themselves writers. I ask them if they know where they are going when they begin. If they have a roadmap. If they just dive in blind. And their answers, of course – I knew before I ever asked them, are varied. Some people have outlines, some people have ideas, some people barely have a spark. So there’s no one solution, no one answer. And again, I already know that so I don’t know why I keep asking. But I do. I feel like I’m 1 year old just watching everyone walk around too afraid to try to take a step. Does that mean that at some people in the future I’ll just *get it* and suddenly be able to write without issue? I doubt it, but that’s a good excuse to not try today.

And it’s not even a fear of failure. I don’t mind if I suck. I don’t mind if what I write is stupid. I mean I don’t want to write sucky stupid stuff, but if that’s the result then I’m already OK with that because it’s a result, which is better than what I have right now. I’m afraid of getting lost. Afraid of staring at the blank page and not having any idea what to write next. Afraid of trying to tell a story and not having a story to tell. If I don’t actually write it then I can keep telling myself that I have a story that I just haven’t written yet. If I force myself to start writing it and hit a wall, then I have to admit that I don’t have a story. Which is where that desire to know the end before I begin comes from. And again, I know it’s stupid.

I’m not even looking for advice here, just trying to kick my own ass and sort through the crap in my own head so I can better grasp what it is that is actually standing in my way. Like with this post, I knew the first sentence because I’d already written it on twitter, everything else just appeared as I typed the line before it. So that’s something.

First 140 People On Twitter

Networks, Theory, and the Web — Sean Bonner @ 10:27 am

(crossposted on Medium)
A conversation on twitter last night reminded me of a list I’d seen compiled many years ago of the first 140 people to sign up for Twitter – known as twttr at that point. The site where the list had been posted was down but thanks to The Wayback Machine I was able to find the list. I thought I’d repost it here just for posterity.

top 6 x 6 following list on Twitter I find this list incredibly fascinating for a number of reasons. We all know what twitter is now, but no one knew what it would be then so if nothing else (with the exception of the people who worked at Odeo) this is a snapshot of a somehow connected (it was invite only) group of people who were willing to try out new things that likely made no sense to them at the time. Who is on the list is just as interesting as who isn’t – and seeing how it spread. Jason Cosper invited me and I invited both Xeni Jardin and Richard Ault who signed up immediately. I recall the first few days much more vividly than I do the following 6 months. Random text messages from people stating that they were making sandwiches or going to the store, and the feeling that this info was probably important in a context I couldn’t quite wrap my head around – which made it exciting. It was also annoying. But it found it’s groove and as I’ve said before the service went on to change my entire world and how I communicate with people, and I’d argue I’m not the only one who feels that way. I can’t imagine a world without Twitter today. And because those first few days and weeks were so new and weird, this list is a bit nostalgic for me. I don’t know how it makes anyone else feel, but like I said I just thought it was worth archiving.

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(Note: Unfortunately it seems that a few people on this list, over the last 7 years, changed their usernames or stopped using them and someone else has snatched those names up. They are obvious when you follow the links below, so this list is more an archive of the names and accounts, no so much the current users.)

(more…)

Decisions Decisions

Me, Myself, and this blog — Sean Bonner @ 8:29 pm

I feel like I used to be a lit more decisive. I don’t know if that’s true or if it’s just my head making shit up but I feel like it’s true. I feel like when I was presented with an option I would make my choice and run with it but at some point I started asking myself about the options and which was better and what might happen if I chose one over the other. I told myself that this was smart and it would help me make more educated choices and more thoughtful decisions. And that’s not entirely wrong, or bad, but the result of doing that more and more often hasn’t been making better and better decisions it’s been making some very well thought out decisions and being paralyzed in fear of making the wrong decision so not making a decision at all on far too many other things. Maybe I don’t have time to do the research I think I need to, or maybe the info that I found wasn’t definitive, or maybe I just didn’t feel like thinking about it – whatever the reason a choice left unmade was the result. And it’s been happening more and more often. It’s almost like I’m bikeshedding myself.

Anyway I sort of knew I was doing this but pretended I didn’t, and then I really knew I was doing it and thought I’d just ignore it. Turns out neither of those are really good ideas and it’s just been getting worse and worse. The anxiety. The indecision. It’s a bunch of bullshit, all of it. This morning I was at Costco with Tara because we needed to pick up a few things (protip: Costco sells a giant 26oz jar of MaraNatha Almond Butter which is amazing in smoothies for like $6, which is even way cheaper than Amazon, and the 12oz jar is $19 at my local grocery store – but anyway…) and we were walking down the office supply isle and Tara said “Oh we need printer paper” and reached over to the stack of paper packages closest to her, grabbed one and put it in the cart and kept going.

I stood there in shock. And then told her why I was in such awe.

There were no less than 8 different kinds of printer paper there. At even my quickest glance I could see they were all about the same price and about the same sheet count so there was no instant, obvious reason to choose one over the other. If I had been standing there and realized I needed paper it would have taken me 10-15 minutes of reading about each option and trying to decide which one was the wisest choice. I probably would have been googling them holding them next to each other to see how much of a difference there was between 92 bright white and 87 white. And I would have been unsure about my final pick. Did I spend extra for something I don’t need? Should I have gotten something brighter? What about recycled? Tara wrestled with none of that, she didn’t even care. She spent 3 seconds on it – if even – and then moved on.

I thought about this for the rest of the day and this afternoon realized why. I hadn’t really realized how much this indecisiveness was bothering me until I saw how little impact making a choice and running with it had on her. Because really, there’s no difference in any of those papers – they all do the job. So anything more than 5 seconds would have been a waste, but I couldn’t have realized that until I saw it in action. And so here I am, obsessing about that and promising myself that I’m going to stop wrestling with myself over shit that doesn’t matter and just make a decision and run with it, and be happy with it, and stop thinking about it so I can move on to the next thing. A decision made is better than a decision in limbo tearing away at me. I won’t even get into the months and months of disasterous mental hell I’ve been putting myself through over any number of choices that have been laid out before me. None of which deserve 1% of the time I’ve spent on them.

I’m feeling like this is a reckless decision but it’s probably not in anyway. But I’m making the choice to just start making choices. I’m committing to making a commitment and seeing where it leads rather than trying to know the whole map before I take a step. Maybe I’ll make the wrong choice sometimes, but I’ll be making choices and that’s better than where I’m at right now.

So we’ll see where this leads.

Message Boards might just be the solution to Comments

In the mid 90’s the community where I spent the most time online was Alen Yen’s ToyboxDX. This site was the epicenter of the Japanese toy collecting world, and naturally in our pre-twitter, pre-blog, pre-social networking world, the message board there was where all the action was. This was also a pre-wikipedia world so research was much trickier and that message board was invaluable for those of us trying to figure out what toys which companies released and when. I still have good friends who I first met soaking up details about rare chogokin and sofubi there. We had built a vintage toy nerd utopia… and then the Transformers kids showed up with their unrefined discussion about toys made in the 80’s. People threatened to leave the site because it had become a cesspool of US released plastic toy talk. It was a nightmare as you can imagine.

Until someone had an idea – what if, all Field of Dreams style – we could build something for those Transformers dorks that would be more appealing to them and would get them out of our faces. We made a special “Transformers” section of the message board (along with an “off topic” ghetto) and instantly the problem was solved and the classic toy threads returned to their previous unmolested toysnob glory.

In the years since then I’ve thought about this strategy time and time again when working with communities online. Adjusting where someone hangs out is easier than adjusting how they hang out. It’s not about getting someone to talk about something else, rather finding the right place for what they want to talk about. (more…)

Encryption and Privacy – What I’m Using

Texture

[Originally posted on Medium] Can you imagine if an email program shipped today without a “reply all” feature? Or a browser shipping without tabs? It’s a crazy prospect because those things are used so frequently used, to not include them would ensure instant death for this new software. I’ve often complained publicly that privacy and encryption tools aren’t thought to be just as crucial, and expressed some annoyance that developers don’t consider them mandatory. Afterall, if these options were baked in and simple people would use them all the time, right? Or at least much more frequently. Recently a friend threw this back at me and asked if we, all of us, are not to blame for these things having a low priority because we neither use them regularly nor demand their inclusion in our software?

I initially objected to this idea, but the more I thought about it the more it rang true. Saying “it’s too hard to use so I’m not going to bother using it” doesn’t provide any motivation for people to make it easier because hell, people aren’t using them anyway. On the other hand if people used these things regularly and “how hard it is” became a common gripe, then making it easier would suddenly be very attractive. Looking at it this way, maybe we really do only have ourselves to blame that these technologies and assurances aren’t ubiqitus. And when faced with a realization like that, I always feel like I have to at least try.

So I spent a few days looking back over the tools I’ve used in the past, the tools I want to use now and bringing things a bit more up to date. There’s always a balance between convenience and usefulness because I know myself and if something is a pain in the ass I’ll eventually stop using it. So one of my main criteria here is that is has to be easy to use, even if there are a few hoops to jump through in the initial set up stages. I’m a Mac users and do a lot of my work in the browser so I have a preference for tools that “just work.”

As I have these conversations with others from time to time, I thought I’d share what I found and what I implemented so that perhaps others might find something useful in the mix. I don’t pretend to be an expert here and welcome suggestions for improvement. (more…)

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