How can we think about digital communication, let alone silence? Is it possible? Michael Sacasas is back to chat about a few of his last newsletter posts: the nature of silence, attention not as a resource, on hope vs. expectations, the arms race of escalation, manufactured needs, askesis or discipline, the commons vs. the public, and trustlessness and codes of law.
Why read Ivan Illich today? In this episode, Madhu Suri Prakash and Dana L. Stuchul of Penn State University interview Michael Sacasas on his work as being a sort of bridge or interlocutor of Illich's thoughts. They talk about schooling and inequality in COVID, ways of thinking about technology, a life of planning vs. gift, convivial tools, redemption of work, and more. (Recorded in December 2020)
How does the digital life shape our perceptions of ourselves? Maggie Appleton starts us off on a discussion of school in pandemic times which lead to a discussion of the disembodiment that technology can create, somehow bringing us further towards our thoughts on time and space? (Recorded in November 2020)
What is the state of modern software now, and how is it like losing at Tetris? Stephen Kell joins Henry to chat about Ivan Illich's thought (counter-productivity, radical monopoly, critique of institutions) applied to software! We talk about the software/hardware arms race, how our default is more is better, tech being all-consuming, tyranny of updates. (recorded in Dec 2020)
What happens when we open up browser APIs like a filesystem? Omar Rizwan joins Henry to chat about his latest project, TabFS! We discuss possible extensions, tinkering with scripts vs being a whole project, writing it yourself, few dependencies, determining your 1.0, literate documentation, and maintaining a newly popular open source project!
How do we think about ourselves and the communities we move into? Sonya Mann and Henry continue a chat about the nature of conversion: about using jargon within a community, individuation, and transformation. Topics include the tools of a worldview, flavors of faith, the good of questions, essence and discovering yourself, hierarchies of reality, interwoven histories. (Recorded in September)
How does one come to faith, let alone come back to it? Sonya Mann graciously shares some raw thoughts on her relatively recent re-conversion to Christianity. We cover a lot of ground, going through doubt and spiritual malaise, the phenomenology of faith, fractal reality, happeningness. (Recorded in September)
What is Advent anyway? Alex Kim joins Henry to chat about the season of waiting, memory, our loss and discovery of tradition, teaching ritual as meaningful, a Christian conception of time, and opening ourselves up to hope.
Is technology just of chips and gadgets? Maggie Appleton joins Henry again in a 2-part chat to discuss how tech isn't such a static thing, building off of Mcluhan's thought of media and Dan Wang's article, How Technology Grows. We cover how tech itself contains it's own process knowledge involving how it is used, built, and maintained as well as going into digital immortality and the protestant work ethic, and chat about how our cultures are intertwined with tech.
Can there be knowledge without a knower? Maggie Appleton joins Henry again in a 2-part chat to discuss how knowledge is personal, through the work of Michael Polanyi. We cover how knowing is an activity, ambient technology, dualism, Bruno Latour, knowing as faith, learning through liturgy, Jesus as the embodiment of God. We end by asking how we should navigate the post-truth world.
What does a convivial society entail? Michael Sacasas joins Henry in the second part of a conversation about Illich and his views of the common good. We speak about Illich's critique against institutions, autonomy and interdependence, the story of the Good Samaritan, learning through apprenticeship and intimate participation, and outsourcing our choices
Can we consider limits as a gift? Michael Sacasas and Henry discuss an understated concept in our modern times, namely limited nature as creatures in the context of parenting, social media, and health. We pass through a mix of (sometimes heavy) topics: violent games and virtue ethics, parents as gardeners rather than carpenters, the issues of unprecedented scale, modernity as the application of technique, our inclination to believe more is better, and the art of dying.
What can we learn from someone's last tweets? Omar Rizwan joins Henry to chat about the Dynamicland way of thinking: communal, involving the whole person, user agency. We discuss user control, the problem of lists, industrial open source, materiality and embodiment, knowing through doing, and being aware of your emotions when programming. Also (of course) screenshots. (recorded in August)
What's life after removing yourself from social media? Philip Gee joins Henry (the last in the trilogy) to chat about LAT, life after Twitter. We discuss being irrelevant, forcing yourself to think about different things, treating a newsletter like email, restraining your growth, moving to the digital suburbs, engaging with the past, directing your attention and production, being particular and local, making it normal again to not have to create. (recorded in July)
Why would you choose to leave the public internet on your own terms? Philip Gee joins Henry (for the 2nd time) to chat about his recent choice to make a minimal public web presence after being on the web for many years. We discuss the logistics of removing social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube), moving to longer forms of media (podcasts, essays, books), making introductory content, recognizing different stages of your career, being out of touch, freeing your mind for the next thing, not being ashamed of previous work, taking time to reflect, and friction. (recorded in May)
What does it mean to be code adjacent? Shawn Wang joins Henry to chat about not just open code but open thinking with his experience in community managing, the idea of tumbling, moderating /r/reactjs, starting the Svelete Society meetup, documenting and learning in public, being historians of our field, fresh notes vs. awesome lists, the meta language, and adoption curves. (recorded in June)
Do we think about how the places in which we live are passed down? Both Bernardo Robles Hidalgo (architect) and Marianita Palumbo (anthropologist) join Henry to chat about living as maintenance. We discuss Bosch, responsibility of taking care of the places we live in, on our desire for comfort, the right to repair, the aesthetic of maintenance, and communal living. (recorded in February)
Is more (information, people, code) always better? Nadia Eghbal joins Henry to chat about her new book, Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software, a deep-dive into the of open source community and how it may paint a picture of online communities in general. They talk about her 2x2 model of communities, the public web (Twitter) to private groups (group chat), the turn to individual creators, and the importance of moderation and boundaries.
What happens to our religions when they meet the Internet? Tara Isabella Burton joins Henry to chat about her new book, Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World. They chat about our failing institutions, taking fandoms like Harry Potter seriously, how we all remix religion, how consumerism infects all of life, on embodiment and givenness, and most importantly, what is our freedom even for?
What does flourishing look like? Nicole Williams joins Henry to chat about faith in a less reductive way (than many of us may of grown up with). On rationality, the Church as a body, education, liturgy, family, being productive, and simply doing things for it's own sake. Was rather hard to say what we were getting at until the very end, all tying back to a picture of shalom! (This was recorded in May)
Why do we so easily forget where we come from? Dr. Timothy Patitsis joins Henry again to chat about the affect of legacy on our lives through the language of standards, language diversity, being a melting pot or mosaic, legibility, Jane Jacob's tripartite society, algorithmic control and agency, sanctification and faith as an adventure. Michael Polanyi says that "a society which wants to preserve a fund of personal knowledge must submit to tradition".
Why attempt to faithfully recreate the past? Jordan Scales joins Henry to chat about design systems, being pixel perfect, accessibility, the Microsoft Windows User Experience reference manual, using VMs, MSPaint and Figma, whimsy and having fun with coding, creating satire at no one's expense, and even how Babel's Guy Fieri meme could of been Jeff Goldblum in another universe.
Is programming all digital or do we still have embodied roots? How does this affect how we write, teach, and learn code? Maggie Appleton joins Henry again to discuss everything metaphors (basically everything). We chat about mental models and abstraction, Polanyi, Cartesian dualism, auto ethnography, knowledge, cats!
Is the open source community a gift economy? What even is a gift? Maggie Appleton joins Henry to discuss open source as a gift economy (versus a market economy), why we participate in open source and exchange gifts, rituals and habits, patronage and crowdfunding, quantified self and disembodiment, our role in tech
Why not record an conversation while getting a haircut? Fellow friend and developer Jonathan Tsao cuts Henry's hair and they have a spontaneous conversation about a variety of topics covering faith and culture, living in NYC, creativitiy, narratives, sharing in vulnerability, and embodiment.
How should we think about saving something forever? Jonathan Farbowitz (Guggenheim) continues the on-going discussion of software preservation with Henry in talking about the goals of museums, the hard (and maybe impossible) task of keeping something intact, the norms and steps of conservation, comparing physical and digital artwork, the importance of authors in conserving a piece, emulation vs. language porting (rewrites), a discussion about an art's 'dependencies', possibly adding automated testing, and deprecations/breakages in environments/standards.
In our excitement to develop products for the future do we neglect the past? Wendy Hagenmaier (Georgia Tech) discusses with Henry on the importance of maintaining our history, especially in software itself. They chat all about archival: what is it, what should concern an archivist, differences b/t physical/digital, artifacts/process, value/worth of things to preserve, struggles, places where archival can happen (personal, libraries, companies, museums), and our shared responsibility and knowledge.
Why play or even make games? Anthony Giovannetti (MegaCrit) joins Henry to chat building the video game Slay the Spire with the community. They discuss games an a interactive medium, immersion, player incentives/tradeoffs, emergent gameplay through roguelikes (procedural generation, permadeath), player mastery/difficulty, Steam early access, user feedback, importance of testing, data-informed balancing, and player accessibility driving features via streaming, translations, and UX.
Do we learn in a vacuum, or does it involve our whole selves? Philip Gee (UC San Diego) joins Henry to chat about maintaining a web presence since its beginnings. We discuss some of the points made in Nadia's post on ideas carrying us forward, even beyond what we are known for, the greater intimacy of podcasts and vlogs, attaching ideas to people, science as subjective vs. purely objective and in community, knowledge as opening up possibilities, embracing whimsy and being random (haircut podcasts), embracing spontaneity and cities, understanding our bodies and mortality and it's relation to our digital lives and rest.
Why should we standardize? Jory Burson (Bocoup) joins Henry to talk open source and standards: what they are, why we need them, what should be standardized, lifecycles of standards, past/future accessibility of participating in the process, and more!
How can we be free? Evan You (Vue.js) chats with Henry about the complexities of funding people vs. projects, non-monetary perks of oss, Patreon potentially just a payment processor, the honing in on the uniqueness of open source (being free, flexible, organic/emergent, self-motivated, distributed/remote), full time not being for everyone, the importance of side projects and off-pressure moments and just having fun.
How old is open source anyway? Mikeal Rogers (Protocol Labs) joins Henry in talking about making friends through podcasting, conference organizing as maintainer-ship, patronage and fundraising, old/new school open source, deprecating packages and ecosystem health, new ideas and becoming a maintainer by being the 'first', and parenting!
What do we treasure? Stephanie Hurlburt (Binomial) joins again to chat about inherent vs. perceived value, success breeding success, psychology around hiding information, code versus money, a holistic/explicit view of business, everything as marketing, confidence, money as idolatry, the nature of giving, our biases around people/status, people want to see you succeed, communicating how people can help you. (recorded in February)
How is business development relevant to open source? Stephanie Hurlburt (Binomial) joins Henry to chat about understanding learnings from success, setting health boundaries, what 'networking' really means, conversations/pitching, and more! (recorded in February)
What's beyond simply beating a video game? Henry is joined by Eric 'Omnigamer' Koziel to chat about speedruning as an optimization problem (code golf), game knowledge as discovery, access as a result of technology, issues of game preservation/archival, coordination issues, obscure/popular games, versioning/patches, and more! (recorded in January. Since then, Eric has a new book out, Speedrun Science)
Is the city a toaster (an object) or a cat (a living organism)? We are joined by Dr. Timothy Patitsis to talk about how our physical and digital spaces, like liturgy, can be understood as "the work of the people". We discuss science as organized complexity, the meaning of knowledge, recursive societies, fractal hierarchies, and implications for governance.
Why do we trust anyone? We talk about trust as an act of faith, trusting people versus trusting code, and the relationship between trust and work.
How do our rituals shape us? We talk about where habits come from, why we use them, and whether they strengthen our belief systems.
Does authority have a place in religion? We talk about authority in decentralized organizations, listening to others versus trying something new, and when to fork or leave a community.
How do symbols and stories foster culture? We talk about stories as a way to onboard new contributors, the mythology of leadership, when leaders step down, and how traditions evolve over time.
How do communities handle money? We talk about money and centralization, tithing systems, how much funding is too much, and when to contribute money versus time.
How do we evangelize our ideas? We talk about evangelism in religion and tech, meeting people where they're at, living one's values in public, and maintaining humility in the face of conviction.
Can everything that matters be measured? We talk about measuring the output and health of a community, competition between groups, growing a community without losing authenticity, and embracing "holy inefficiency".
Why do we do what we do? We talk about intrinsic motivation, the role it plays in creative work with uncertain outcomes, motivating new contributors, and sustaining motivation over time.
What does it mean to join a community? We talk about casual versus committed membership, and how maintainers and leaders manage expectations around trust and collaboration.
We talk about our backgrounds and motivation for doing this podcast, and why the practice of faith seems so prevalent among open source developers.
Just listened to the first episode and one of the things that came to mind is the connection between motivation for giving and anticipated benefits/rewards, as with the prosperity gospel movement. I wonder what the parallels between that and Open source might be— jory burson (@jorydotcom) October 17, 2018
Really encouraged by @left_pad and @nayafia's podcast series "Hope In Source". Not only from the insightful discussions and parallels drawn, but also by their commitment to learn and explore some of the greater questions in life with a childlike heart of awe and wonder.— Jonathan Tsao (@JonathanTsao) October 19, 2018