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Subtle Times at Floating Atoll

Recently, I've noticed more flirting than usual from the girls I interact with in my daily life; standing at the bike rack, working at the coffee shop, playing pool at the bar; I'm rather unaccustomed to the attention. It seems to be unrelated to my physical appearance, or at least the parts of it that I can change (haircut and clothes); I surmise, then, that I've started broadcasting some sort of "low-key" signal expressing interest.

It could be the other way around, though; I may have just recently learned how to interpret some "low-key" signal that I'm not aware of, such that it seems that now everyone's flirting with me; maybe they already were, and I just couldn't tell. Maybe it's both.

I think that successful low-key flirting requires both parties to actively work towards communication, even if the total conversation consists of eye contact on your way out the door. It's hard to say, but I suspect that it's similar to how your olfactory sense works: every nerve (person) in your nose (life) reacts differently to a given smell (interaction), and it's up to your brain to somehow make some sense of those reports and react appropriately.

Each time you interact with someone you're attracted to, dedicate a few seconds of thought (not too much) to the interaction. Don't worry about extracting useful conclusions from it, just think back to the interaction, compare it to other interactions, and then get on with whatever you're doing. Occasionally you'll know for sure that someone was attracted to you — and as you think back, you might suddenly realize that an interaction you thought was friendly was actually a flirt.

Most social groups have some forum where discussion about interactions is accepted; stereotypically, girls go the bathroom and guys go the bar. Over time, each person assembles in their mind some subconscious compendium of low-key signs and probable meanings; sharing situations with others allows this to happen much more effectively, as you can air several opinions about any given situation. That's at the core of my current social interaction theory: first, interactions; second, interpretation; third, comparison.

Continue reading "Subtle Times at Floating Atoll" »


Many put a lot of effort into the look and feel of their website, and then watch it reduced to plain-looking HTML in RSS readers.  After seeing Joi's feed reduced in this manner, I decided to try applying the rather elegant style from his site to his feed.  I met with success.  Here's how I did it.

Update: Sam Ruby provides some technical guidance; I've updated the RSS 2.0 and Atom instructions.  The RSS instructions may change again soon once a way is found to move the stylesheet out of the content and into the XML; the Atom feed is now HTML and XML compliant, however, readers will need to be configured to look for the stylesheet link.  Thanks, Sam!


Backup your templates before trying this.

If you're the auther of software that renders the HTML it receives from feeds, I strongly recommend reading Mark's post about sanitizing RSS feeds, and then following his advice.  This implementation of RSS stylesheets will be changing to be more like the Atom way, as the current method wreaks too much undesired havoc on readers.

Replace http://www.example.com/site.css with the URL to the desired stylesheet; for MovableType users, I recommend styles-site.css; for TypePad users, styles.css.

This is an experiment, and may break things; there's a bug with Feed on Feeds, for instance. The RSS approach violates the specification; however, your feed will validate as XML.

These directions will only work as expected if your feed is both full-content and HTML.  MovableType's default templates do not ship with either of these features; I strongly urge using the full-content, HTML enabled RSS templates — and verify the content type on the first line of each template if you're installing these, as they aren't UTF-8 by default.

After making these changes, please check to make sure that your feed is still usable; subscribing to the feeds in an RSS reader works well for this, as does FEED validator.

Tips on how to do this for other feed formats not listed below are welcomed; if I've left out your favorite syndication format, that can change.

RSS 1.0 and 2.0

Search for the <content:encoded> tag (or, if that's not present, the <description> tag) in your template; make sure it's the one that contains the entry body of your posts; for MovableType users, this would be the one that contains <$MTEntryBody>.  Immediately after the tag, before any other content, add the following text:

<![CDATA[<link rel="stylesheet" href="http://www.example.com/site.css" type="text/css" title="styled" />]]>


Search for the <feed ... > tag in your template; inside the tag, before the <entry> tag, add the following text:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="http://www.example.com/site.css" type="text/css" title="styled" />

Links: Brent set me down this path in the first place; Morbus discussed this, too; Anil talked about this a year ago; Liz researched CSS and Atom; Michael does a lot of research, including an actual proposal for styled Atom; Mark talked about styles and syndication; Gadgetopia's audience chimes in.

Continue reading "RSS with CSS [DOES NOT WORK]" »

We can help you hear the voices.

It's just having an audio connection open with the other person as you both go about doing whatever you were doing, a persistent phone call, if you will.

This is nice between two people, sure, but what happens when we move #JoiIto to a system like this? How noisy would it be? How would it scale? And is there a way to do it that would work for Windows, Mac and Linux?

Grant, Joi, and John are all discussing something that's existed in the sci-fi and military circles for a much longer time: continuous audio communication. Starship Troopers makes a perfect example; a swarm of troopers, all linked to their commanders at any time they wish. A primary protagonist in the novel Xenocide exists only through her expression of self via electronic mediums -- occasionally visual, but primarily aural.

We're on the cusp of changing the way humans communicate forever. More and more people have discovered the power of instant messaging, as texting takes off overseas and all major operating systems ship messenger clients. The only remaining limit to this always-on connection has been the social ramifications of being connected: the technological warts on your skull.

With the rise in popularity of Star Trek (and science fiction in general), a growing number of people have been exposed to the concept of machine augmentation. In the books and in the movies there's cyborgs; people who, for one reason or another, are augmented with (or replaced entirely by) machines. For those who see technology as a plague, this is one of the worst nightmares: augmented humans.

Cell phones have introduced a completely different force into motion, the power of large groups with effective communication. The ability to be connected by audio to anyone in the world is coming into reach, slowly. A major forward jump towards this occured when cell phones began to saturate the teenage market, thanks in part to their early adopter, computer-friendly parents.

Such a jump will occur with the advent of computer-driven headsets. Using low-power wireless chips (and, if desired, certain blue-sky power sources) a human being can be put in touch with a computer, any time of day or not. Most people are accustomed to the computer being a telephone - so I'd like to introduce headset "party lines".

If you're interested in talking to whoever's in range of your wireless, flick a switch; now you've got an automatic party line, joined by anyone else who's in range. While the potential for abuse in public could be strong, the ripples would make a wonderful complement to instant messenging.

Texting could be turned into a permanent audio channel into someone's ear, providing a Flash website that channels the users' microphones straight into your ear - adjusted for volume and filtered, of course. With an aural voicemail-like interface, messages can be replied to, ignored, deleted, etc.

One unexpected change comes from the direction of IRC: open public spheres of communication. You must choose to join in, and you can leave at any time; conversation occurs whenever it will. The need to respond is somehow absent; those who lack the ability to find a comfortable silence may have much better luck using IRC. It's pretty neat stuff, and I'd like to channel it directly into my ear.

Unfortunately, I can't spend all of my time walking around muttering an audio commentary of my life - even with a headset. While fun, it would become distracting. In the interests of keeping the conversation lively, though, I'd be happy to stream a video feed from the earpiece; a small camera would be easy to merge with most headsets.

In the end, my goal is simple: I'd like to bring anyone who's willing to participate into the videoconference I'm holding with the world. It's a live performance; y'all are invited.

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