Today is Pinboard's sixth birthday as an online service, but of course the roots of the site go much deeper. My grandfather started Pinboard all the way back in 1931, when he was a young agronomy student in need of some way to help keep track of cuttings. What began as a simple system of shelves and apple saplings had soon expanded to encompass the books in his comfortable study.
In 1968, like so much of Polish culture, Pinboard went underground, in this case literally, as a warren of tubes and cables that could be quickly disconnected if a local political officer came snooping by. The rat's nest of hidden cabling below the floor would inspire me years later when it came time to wire up my own servers.
By 1980 Pinboard was an elaborate system of strings and pulleys cross-referencing material across five bookshelves and a greenhouse. One of my earliest memories is tugging on one of the threads and watching a cloud of white bookmarks fly out from between the onion-skin pages of a thick tome. I got a sound drubbing for it. But how we laughed!
With changing times came changing technology. Visits home turned into long evenings keying cards into a ZX Spectrum, lulled into inattention by the soft hiss of the cassette tapes that the data would save onto (or the dreaded crinkling sound that meant the tape had gotten wrapped up in a spool).
When it came time for me to take over Pinboard, I vowed to continue my grandfather's committment to Eastern European craftsmanship and traditional Polish customer service. But then I got bored and thought, "eh, just put it online and see what happens." That was six years ago today.
Here is the traditional set of statistics:
|active users (K)||2.8||16||23||23||24||25|
|bytes archived (T)||0.2||3.0||5.9||8.8||14.2||20.9|
|unique URLs (M)||2.5||16||32||48||63||82|
As you can see, growth in data stored has been fairly linear and the number of active users has crept up to the 25K mark. I changed the business model of the site in January from a one-time signup fee to a recurring fee, but has this affected income? It doesn't feel like it. Possibly it has. I really need to look into it.
I am a terrible businessman.
Thanks for another year entrusting me with your precious data, and giving me the genuinely pleasant feeling that comes from running a useful project. Please don't forget to make backups!
Late last month, Alan Jacobs presented 79 Theses on Technology at a seminar hosted by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. The theses, dealing chiefly with the problem of attention in digital culture, were posted to the Infernal Machine, a terrific blog hosted by the Institute and edited by Chad Wellmon, devoted to reflection on technology, ethics, and the human person. I’ve long thought very highly of both Jacobs and the Institute, so when Wellmon kindly extended an invitation to attend the seminar, I gladly and gratefully accepted.
Wellmon has also arranged for a series of responses to Jacobs’ theses, which have appeared on The Infernal Machine. Each of these is worth considering. In my response, “The Spectrum of Attention,” I took the opportunity to work out a provisional taxonomy of attention that considers the difference our bodies and our tools make to what we generally call attention.
Here’s a quick excerpt:
We can think of attention as a dance whereby we both lead and are led. This image suggests that receptivity and directedness do indeed work together. The proficient dancer knows when to lead and when to be led, and she also knows that such knowledge emerges out of the dance itself. This analogy reminds us, as well, that attention is the unity of body and mind making its way in a world that can be solicitous of its attention. The analogy also raises a critical question: How ought we conceive of attention given that we are embodied creatures?
Click through to read the rest.
There's been a lot of changes happening over the past month or so and wanted to update everyone.
I'm in a unique position in the open source community - I often joke that I'm employed by the internet. It's a nice setup - anonymous people support me through recurring micro-payments. This is good for a few reasons:
Unfortunately, due to various incidents I have personally had with the founder of gittip and other indirect things involving him, I have chosen to leave gittip.
This is complicated, as the majority of my income and funding for my work is received through gittip. This means a potentially huge financial hit for me, which I'm personally a little worried about. At the level I was earning before, I could afford to purchase my own health insurance and attend therapy, which is sadly a very necessary thing when doing this work. Additionally, I am paying a personal assistant to help me with travel arrangements for conferences, coordinating with event organizers, managing my email, and removing threats and abuse from my inbox so I don't have to see it. As you can imagine, these are all things I would like to continue to do.
If you were supporting me on gittip, I would really appreciate it if you would move your weekly donation from there to one of the following services:
There are initiatives to create a gittip alternative run by and for marginalized people and I will let you know when those are ready to be used. I would like to close my gittip account as soon as the majority of my donations have been moved over, so your help is appreciated here
Over the past few weeks, I've backed away from Twitter pretty substantially. Due to ongoing harassment, threats, and abuse I receive there and through other channels, I'll only be using Twitter for my work. I'll still post updates on what I'm working on, links to important things to read and how you can be better involved in increasing diversity in tech.
If you see that I'm being harassed or threatened on twitter, this is what you can do to help me.
As I won't be using Twitter for social or personal stuff anymore, friends are welcome to email and text me.
If you want to contact me about consulting, you can find more information on the consulting page.
I finished conference traveling in early June, ending my nearly 15 month(!) travel schedule. It's great to be home, sleeping in my own bed, and not living out of a suitcase. I don't start traveling again until September, so over the next few months I will be finishing up The Diverse Team. If you pre-purchased a copy, you'll receive a coupon code via email as soon as it's released.
I'm already working on the plans for the next book in the series, which I'll announce once I get The Diverse Team shipped.
I'm also in the process of updating the Thanks page with requested vines, hair dye photos, and burrito parties.
We are organizing a couple events in NYC and Boston coming up this fall and we need your help! We are looking for:
If you can provide any of those things, please email me with how you can help and in which city.
As soon as we have the basics worked out for the two events, we will get event pages up so you can get tickets.
In my years working in technology, I have learned a few things. These lessons have become oft-repeated refrains when speaking to people, so I thought I'd collect them so I have a link to send folks when needed.