Always being grounded on the year 1999

At the start of my writing routine the very first thing that happens is that I put the date at the top of the document. That happens within most mediums that I have used to produce content. Probably the part of that routine that still creates the most reflection on my part is the tick of the year at the start of that YYYY-MM-DD to be used explicitly as YYYYMMDD. Other date formats exist, but are never going to work for me as well as that cherished time based identifier. Within that routine the first little bit is the part that really gets to me during the start of the writing process. I have reached the point in my lifecycle where I look at the year and think how we got so far from 1999 on the timeline. For some reason the anchor point in how I put a context to the timeline is squarely placed on 1999 and the change over to the year 2000. Apparently, that is how I start to unpack the context of how I relate to bringing my experience inline with the now. 

All of that consideration in the last paragraph showed up today as I pondered if it really was 2023 and how we managed to get all the way to that point in the timeline. Without question the simple act of sitting down and typing on this keyboard does not require any particular year or date. In general, I could complete that action without knowing the current date. The two things don’t have to be related in any way shape or form. It would be pretty hard within modern society to give up using the calendar. Even if I was devoted to dropping that construct from my routine it would show back up pretty quickly throughout the day as people made plans and shared upcoming events. I’m not planning to even try to give up on grounding my days in the context of what day it happens to be. I am still thinking about how 2023 showed up and it’s here. 

This will be the third day in a row of posting some content to the blog. I’m sure WordPress will send me a note about being on a streak of some sort. My writing pattern used to be really consistent within the pattern of creating a stream of consciousness based pose during the week and really spending my weekend time working on more academic style writing. That type of writing pattern was really about focusing my thoughts via the act of writing for a block of time and trying to really bring my attention and focus into the thing that needed the most support in terms of time and energy. Part of that is about recognizing that we only have so much time and energy to spend and I want to focus it on the right things.

A storm of modernity and bots

This weekend should include a few time slots to produce some epic prose. I’m still working to round out my 104 week writing project into machine learning. As that project comes to a close the next big journey will start. My five year writing plan and research trajectory will make a jump to the right and the plan will keep on moving along. One of the things that I had become very concerned about was sticking to the plan and producing a large enough degree of output. For example, just today I started to wonder if I should write a quick book called, “Your bot, my bot, our bot: A chat about platforms and bots.” Something about the latest large language models and the very real threat of content flooding has gripped my attention. Good writing comes from the depths of passion around a subject and maybe I should just give in and spend a couple of days focused on that bot project. 

Central to that intellectual question is what happens when we are not able to reasonably tell if our interactions are occurring with a bot compared to a person. We may very well be able to set up a friend bot and text with it all day shortly and it will be hard to tell if it’s not your college friend or long lost work associate. People are already trying to use a collection of video responses to generate virtual versions of a person. Enough video of me exists online that I’ll probably end up being a video bot one day. Maybe my current focus is about what will happen with that next persona and my concerns if it will end up being accurately polite and sardonic. Most of the bigger bots that have been created over the years and launched by even large companies have taken a turn to very mean rhetoric. 

We all know that a lot of internet forums and other online exchanges are not the best places to find civility. Training anything from that type of content is going to be a mirror to it and not as much a leap forward toward a vision of a civil society where a shining city on a hill remains delightfully just in reach. My corpus of writing based on previous GPT models ends up producing thoughts about writing, the process of writing, and complaining about both writing and the process of writing. While I tend to write about those things on this weblog and that is why that content exists in the corpus, my discussions with actual people during live dialogues generally don’t go that direction. People don’t really want to hear about the troubles and tribulations of the writing experience. That type of nonsense is best left for the written page where it can be ignored online or pursued if necessary. 

Within those central questions you can probably sense that my focus on a storm of modernity and bots could very well be a chapter in a book about the intersection of technology and modernity. My guess at the moment is that it could also be a stand alone manuscript and might be interesting. Either way it is probably an area of focus that will end up on my updated writing plan pending the completion of my current machine learning book. It feels oddly cliche to have collected enough content to publish a book on machine learning. A lot of those types of books have come into being in the last couple of years. I don’t think any of them are written in the same style or cover the breadth of content that I have evaluated, but that does not negate the sheer volume of machine learning content that has sprung up into being recently. 

This very weblog contains the two parts of my five year writing plan. First, it includes a reasonable list of upcoming research which describes the backlog of planned things. Second, a page on the weblog is devoted to my research trajectory. That collection of thoughts has been pulled together to help describe the general content areas that are pulling my attention from time to time and end up informing future publications. Together those two things are what fuel a five year writing plan which is really a way of measuring my writing output against both the possible and the rate of my actual production. Overall this is an important way to hold myself accountable to the possible creation of content. It also creates a process where I’m managing my time and screening out things that should not receive my time and attention as they don’t contribute to building something meaningful. You are probably well aware that my goal is to work just beyond the edge of what is possible. It’s just on the other side of that edge of possibility that the remarkable awaits. 

A bit of weekend editing and tinkering

This morning I spent some time writing the first 1,000 words of a Substack post about, “Touching the singularity.” That will end up being published during week 62 of The Lindahl Letter on Friday, April 1, 2022. Writing about the intersection of technology and modernity is something that I have been working on for decades. Tomorrow morning or potentially this evening I’m planning on refining that essay to a point where the audio podcast version can be recorded. One of the consequences of moving to a podcast audio recording of my Substack posts is that it inherently creates a locking point for the content where no more tinkering can occur without breaking the synchronization between written and spoken word. Sure I can go back and clean up a few small typos. Most of the time the act of reading the essay out loud will help you catch the more common typos and errors. When it does not sound right when spoken out loud then it is probably something that needs a bit of grammarian consideration.

One of the benefits of returning to my office after the floor renovation was completed is that my routine of writing every morning and turning out pieces of inspired prose has returned. Surely you have noticed my return to publishing longer than average sentences after consuming a few shots of espresso. A lot of time this week has been spent really digging into my writing plans and thinking about what needs to be completed. All of that effort is grounded in the idea that if I only had a small amount of time left, then what efforts are the most important and should be prioritized. I’m pretty sure a decade ago it would have been writing a full and complete investigation of the intersection of technology and modernity and just how that would impact civil society. However, future me did not put that weighty tome into the 5 year writing plan this week. 

Pivoting to an update on the old weblog recovery would be prudent at this point. Overall it looks like all the written content is file, but my media files are just gone. I’m not entirely sure how that ended up happening. Fixing or relinking older WordPress images after a migration is a topic people seem to write about. To get to that point, I’m going to need to figure out where a valid backup copy of the images is stored and then work on the fixing or relinking part of the equation. I’m starting to wonder if no valid backup exists. Several methods of backup have occurred over the years, but none of them have been helpful. Currently a new backup method was turned on which should prevent this situation from happening again. This really is not the first time that a migration or event has crushed out all my images from my weblog.

Ugh those smartphones

Smartphones and streaming did not make me uniquely happier. The things that I have decided to consume need to be memorable. Not more memorable or somewhat memorable, but actually something that is easy to remember because it was impactful. Art that elicits emotion falls into that category. The first time I heard the album Texas Flood (1983) by Stevie Ray Vaughan it stopped my perception of the rest of the world and focused my attention on the music. So much of what we consume is just very single serving content that won’t ever be memorable. Sometimes just taking the moment and enjoying the silence between things is enough to really start to think deeper about things.