Spool Five


Author: Eoin Carney Published: Mar, 2021


Adventures in the smolnet

When I first started this site/blog, I really wanted to update it at least once every month. So far, I’ve been pretty much keeping to that schedule.

However, as I wrote about in my last post, I’ve been spending more and more time on things like gemini and gopher lately.

Which means I haven’t really dedicated any time to write something for this site.

In lieu of a proper post, I’ve decided to post a few things that I’ve written for those other places.

‘Other places’…I’m not really sure what to call them. I see the term ‘smolnet’ used a lot to refer to them, so I’m using that here. A quick search for the term returns Alex Schroeder’s Gemini Wiki containing the following quote:

There’s a nascent movement offing, I think. Retrotech started it, hacker culture and tech, natch, but it’s incorporating new stuff like Gemini. Textnet, “slow internet”, I call it smolnet. People are tired of the corporate behemoths and cacophony. Demimondes like SDF provide a respite from all that, and a forum for some resistance and development apart from the bloat and blather. There’s a demotic tinge to it all in the hacker tradition, but without necessitating 1337ness.

It’s from @Shufei’s Mastodon account. A cursory glance at Gemini and Gopher definitely reinforces that idea that they are something other than hacker/retrotech culture. There is a lot of techy stuff there, yes, which goes over my head, but there is also a lot of simple ‘writing’. In its many forms. I like the term ‘textnet’ that @Shufei uses here, that’s what it feels like. Maybe it feels similar to the early days of blogging and podcasting, before podcasts became so commercially successful, and before there were things like Medium. There are no comment sections on Gopher/Gemini, so there are no ‘trolls’. There is no way to monetize content, or track ‘user engagement’. It changes how people write.

Anyway, here are a few of the things I’ve written in those spaces this month:

And, finally, I’ve also created an account on the tilde server Cosmic Voyage, administered wonderfully by Tomasino. Both my shell account on that server, and my one on the sdf.org server have been a lot of fun.

Cosmic Voyage is a science-fiction writing platform/experiment. Users post simple text files that are styled as fictional ‘logs’ sent via a QEC (Quantum Entanglement Communicator) from various ships/outposts/colonies. All the communications are aggregated as a single feed, and it’s quite enjoyable to read. If you want to check it out, I’d recommend one of the most popular stories: Voortrekker.

Since the stories are all written within a ‘communication’ format, it introduces interesting restrictions. I was attracted to it because of these challenges. It reminded me of This Is How You Lose The Time War, since it’s just a series of letters, announcements, diaries, etc. Anyway, I tried to start writing something for it. The story isn’t very original, nor the writing good. But it’s fun writing it.

You can find it at this mirror of cosmic.voyage (though, it’s better to just go to Gemini/Gopher to read it): Orestes

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