Words for Your Lovecraft Fan-Fiction

For Lovecraft, his “new artificial myths” represented an “aesthetic crystallization of that burning & inextinguishable feeling of mixed wonder & oppression which the sensitive imagination experiences upon scaling itself & its restrictions against the vast & provocative abyss of the unknown.”

“[A]ll my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance in the vast cosmos-at-large.”

I mean words literally, like vocabulary words.

Creatures and body horror

squamous – covered with or consisting of scales

saurians – any of a suborder (Sauria) of reptiles including the lizards and in older classifications the crocodiles and various extinct forms (as the dinosaurs and ichthyosaurs) that resemble lizards

argot – the language used by a particular group

wattles – a fleshy process that hangs usually from the head or neck (as of a bird)

oleaginous – resembling or having the properties of oil

agglutination – a clump of cells merged together into one

Places

annular – of, relating to, or forming a ring

cyclopean – of or relating to a style of stone construction marked typically by the use of large irregular blocks without mortar

demesne – region, territory

sidereal – of, relating to, or expressed in relation to stars or constellations (astral)

Misc

eidolon – an unsubstantial image; phantom

stentorian – very loud

surcease – to put an end to

albedo – fraction of light reflected by an astral body or surface

Facebook’s Diminishing Utility to Small Business

Facebook’s push toward paid advertising is likely to aggravate an “already tense relationship between small businesses and social platforms over audience ownership,” says Steven Jacobs of Street Fight, a Colorado-based media-and-events firm covering local digital marketing. Businesses used to own their consumer relationships through email or other in-house marketing channels, or to buy them from newspapers, television and other traditional media outlets through ads. “But Yelp and now Facebook are trying to peddle a third model, he says: “renting—in which a business can build a community but never own an audience on a platform.”

 Read the rest at the Wall Street Journal

Another chapter in Facebook’s monetization, and consequent diminishing of their utility to small businesses. “…as of mid-January, the social network will intensify its efforts to filter out unpaid promotional material in user news feeds that businesses have posted as status updates.”

When we started the Storm Cellar, posts on the Storm Cellar’s Facebook page consistently received a number of impressions that represented 75-80% of the page’s total ‘Likes’. (This was back when there wasn’t even a ‘Like’ button – as I recall, it was ‘Become a Fan’.) Over time, the number of impressions Page posts get has diminished, so that our popular posts now reach 204 people out of a total of 2,800 fans.

There are non-nefarious reasons for this: when we started most major brands weren’t on Facebook yet – the field was a lot less crowded. This was also before the algorithmically sorted Newsfeed, which was an effort to deal with information overload.

As an advertiser, Facebook becomes pay to play, which strongly discourages developing it as a primary channel to reach my customers. But this isn’t just bad for small businesses and advertisers – it’s bad for users as well. As a user, my feed will be filled predominantly advertisements, which even though they’re algorithmically determined are not as intelligent as seeing content from the pages I actually ‘Liked’. Case in point, the endless automatically generated t-shirt ads I see in my feed.

Twitter is heading this direction – the feed becomes less chronological and more algorithmic over time. And my Instagram is getting crowded, as I slowly, cautiously follow more brands. Instagram’s progression (or declension) is textbook:

  1. At first my Instagram was a few personal friends
  2. Then I found a few all-star photographers on Instagram, a welcome addition to the mix
  3. After a while most of my friends were on Instagram, including people I felt like I need to follow out of obligation
  4. Every brand in the world needs to be on Instagram. I follow a few cautiously
  5. Instagram adds advertising
  6. Soon, they will ‘help me’ deal with the dropping signal-to-noise ratio by algorithmically sorting the feed, which will help drive more advertising.
  7. Growing resentment
  8. Abandonment in favor of a different, newer social network where the cycle can repeat.

You Are Not Late

Kevin Kelly points out how much of the Internet frontier we have yet to explore in a remarkable essay: You Are Not Late

So, the truth: Right now, today, in 2014 is the best time to start something on the internet. There has never been a better time in the whole history of the world to invent something. There has never been a better time with more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/risk ratios, better returns, greater upside, than now. Right now, this minute. This is the time that folks in the future will look back at and say, “Oh to have been alive and well back then!”

We do not get to choose our cultural moment, but this is a great one. Like Archimedes we just need to find our lever and a place to stand.

Alexander Pushkin

Weary from hunger of spirit
Through grim wasteland I dragged my way,
And a six-winged seraph came to me
At a place where two paths crossed.
With finger-tips as light as sleep
He touched the pupils of my eyes,
And my mantic pupils opened
Like eyes of an eagle scared.
As his fingers touched my ears
They were filled with roar and clang:
And I heard the shuddering of the sky,
And angels’ mountain flight,
And sea beasts moving in the deep,
And growth of valley vine.
And he pressed against my mouth,
And out he plucked my sinful tongue,
And all its guile and empty words,
And taking a wise serpent’s tongue
He thrust it in my frozen mouth
With his incarnadine right hand.
And with his sword he cleft my breast,
And out he plucked my trembling heart,
And in my gaping breast he placed
A coal alive with flames.
Like a corpse I lay in the wasteland,
And I heard God’s voice cry out:
‘Arise, prophet, and see and hear,
Be charged with my will—
And go out over seas and lands
To fire men’s hearts with the word.’

‘Slow’ Social Media

I am a voracious user of the social medias. They are sweet, sweet catnip to the part of my soul that apparently is a cat. I am also introspective and suspicious. When you put that together I often find myself wondering: “How should one think about Facebook / Twitter?”

Facebook feels intimate by design, but I think this is a deception. We select what we share of ourselves on social media, whether we are particularly careful about the selection or not. In other words, we construct our social media ‘selves’ – they are a persona.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that this persona can’t or shouldn’t be true. Or even that it can’t represent our aspirations or our ‘better self’. It’s natural to post more pictures of when you’re dressed up going out to a fancy restaurant than when you’re binge-watching the new season of House of Cards at home in your jammies, eating heart-shaped Peeps you got on post-Valentine’s clearance. But I digress.

Recently I have discovered a tool that has helped me keep social media in it’s proper box. I don’t know if it can help anyone who isn’t as addicted as I am, but here it is just in case. The tool is a post scheduler. It allows you to drop in a bunch of posts in advance, and then it schedules them to publish at regular intervals.

The most common one is Buffer, but it’s focused mainly on business. I tried Twuffer and Circular and am using the latter for personal posts. It’s allowed me to make a number of subtle changes to my social media habits:

Helps escape periodicity. The web is full of interesting things, and its relentless pace (which makes the old television news cycle look glacial by comparison) exerts a subtle pressure to be the first person to share a particular thing that’s making the rounds. Using a scheduling service changes this around – if it’s not worth looking at in a few days, it’s not worth sharing now.

Provides an extra layer of self-censorship. I often start to type a tweet, or share something on Facebook, only to decide mid-way that it’s not worth it. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but for me it’s a regular occurrence – I discard dramatically more than I post. A scheduler adds an extra layer to this. When I see my upcoming slate of posts, which makes for even more opportunities to have second thoughts.

Gives a little extra distance. Facebook uses complex algorithms to determine how many of your friends will see your posts. The simplest version of this is that Facebook shows your post to a small sampling of your friends, and depending on how many of them interact with it they will then show it to a broader group. Sometimes when I post I find myself checking back to see whether people are responding. When I schedule my posts, I often don’t see them for hours after they’ve posted.

Nerdiness all the way down.

I’m trying to think of the Upworthy headline for this post, or the tl;dr version. Simple tool allows man to take control of his social media life or something like that. I think the ultimate triumph here is the discovery that you can nerd out about esoteric web apps and the examined life at the same time. It’s a new layer of cross-disciplinary nerdiness – the Internet is nerdiness all the way down.

I own a clothing store in Moscow, ID.