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Well, finally went ahead and did it. And it wouldn't have happened without this place and all you crazy people in it.

Thanks to you all. Thanks more than I can say.

The New York Magician is available for sale right now on Amazon Kindle, as well as on Nook and Kobo if you want an ePub. Hopefully soon on Apple iTunes!

And thanks to Zeph for kick-ass cover art!

Hoo boy. Some big changes lately.

I received formal notice from my company that as soon as my fringe account is paid out, I'll be laid off. Well, they call it a "furlough" for obscure legal reasons, but it's the same thing.

The last six months have been a complete bloodbath across the entire industry, and enough people are willing to work far below their qualifications for far below the formerly standard salary ranges that it's starting to put some serious pressure on everybody.

Right now, there are guys with 25 years of experience working entry levels for half of what those entry levels were making a year ago. The best I can do as far as an analogy goes is imagine if the financial industry was suddenly hurting so bad that senior account executives were suddenly forced to take jobs as data entry clerks making minimum wage.

It's a perfect storm of industry slump, the people working in that industry being so hyper-specialized there's almost no possibility for lateral movement, and immense personal pressures caused by those people living the high life for too long to give it up even temporarily.

So rather than stress, I'll be taking a bit of a break. I'm tired of the travel and I'm tired of the pressure. So, having ratfucked away enough money in the mean time to be comfortable for the next two years or so, I'll be puttering in the garden, raising a dog, and perhaps finishing up a few odds and ends at a local institution of higher education.

In happier news, for the first time since I left home as a surly teenager, I am in a position to be a responsible dog owner, so I am jumping at the chance. No more coming and going all the time, no complete shit schedule, no doggie psychological warfare with Big Master gone for a month and home for a month.

The Mrs. and I went to the shelter yesterday to interview some candidates, and this morning we head back down to bring home the winner. He's an 8 month old mutt with some very obvious hound blood in him. If I had to bet, he's hound, terrier, and cattle dog. He reminds me an awful lot of the kind of dog you see across Southwest Asia.

50 lbs of furious wagging, and it looks like he'll hit the high 50's before he's all done growing. Excellent demeanor, interested in humans, no barking or nervous behavior even in the shelter, zero aggression of any sort. I suspect he'll be a pretty good dog.

So I'll be occupied for a while, messing with the dog and digging out the back yard some more. There are six varieties of heirloom tomatoes, three or four kinds of peppers both bell and hot, and a burgeoning herb bed that is already giving me some very pungent basil, rosemary, sage, and mint. I'm going to try for coriander, lemongrass, and basil when I can find some. I hope to put down some onions and possibly some potatoes as well this year, so I can grow my own curry.

I thought writing a hundred words was fun at first. It inspired me, I saw new word combinations, and themes started to emerge. I didn't take this real seriously, it was fun, it helped pass the time, and I thought it was worth mentioning to a friend of mine and his partner who were struggling with the dreaded writer's block.

When I opened an email, I saw an encouraging post from my friend, telling me about a strategy that had worked for him in the past. I emailed him back to thank him, he emailed me a hundred words, and I was blown away by what he shared. I had no idea how to respond, so I told him that I loved him, and there wasn't anything he could do to make me stop loving him.

He wrote back, and then I wrote back to him. I've been writing since I was nine. Now, at thirty-eight, I'm beginning to grasp what putting words down is really about. I don't want fame, or fortune, I'm famous, or infamous in my own way. People have called me interesting, lately I've been called brilliant, but what I really want is inner peace, and a way to heal myself. The podcast I listened to about a psychiatrist describing his own descent into alcoholism wasn't full of drama. He wanted a way to help himself, and his patients recognized his torment meant he understood what they were going through as well.

I had no idea there was so much buried hatred, horrible feelings, trapped emotions, darkness, thoughts of being a former self who thought about suicide as an option, contemplated it, wrote about it, wanted it, didn't feel that I deserved it. I have wonderful friends who have supported me through times that I felt were tough. They weren't tough, I was mentally weak. I can see that now.

The clothes I didn't have, the body that guys liked, but I hated, the parents who didn't love me or make me feel safe, others who rejected me, trashed me, talked shit about me, threatened me, used me, stole from me, violated me, I have better people skills now. I can say fuck you, but I don't have to because I'm learning who I am, discovering who I'm not, and I can love when it seems as if there isn't a reason to keep on going.

This is a dying website, and maybe I'll eventually leave. I don't know. But if I do, I'll be around, and if you really want to stay in touch, you'll know where to find me.

Take care, I love a lot of you.

Jess

E2 Reader- Introduction

The E2 Reader is a Web app for testing ways to explore content that is highly interlinked. It uses the web of linked articles and people that is Everything2 as a testbed for graph-based discovery and recommendation techniques. It will:

  1. Try to replicate the basic E2 functions for search and discovery with a read-only app.
  2. Identify relationships in the existing link structure that are unused, under-used or used ineffectively.
  3. Identify new relationships that improve discovery and recommendation (curation).
  4. Experiment with user interest modeling and controlled serendipity for personalized discovery that avoids the 'filter bubble'.
  5. Test different interfaces for using the relationships to explore E2 and discover the gold hidden in its great bulk.

"That's all fine and well, but E2 does that already, you fool!"

Well, to some degree, yes, but I think E2 is currently using only about 10% of its brain, so to speak. I want to bring that up close to 100% and to later integrate the Web outside of E2 into the discovery process as well.

Premises for building discovery techniques:

  • Content has a large and complex context (lots of natural links to other stuff)
  • Content is discovered most naturally and efficiently when stored in a graph database structure that captures its full context of people and other content.
  • Graph structures facilitate discovery of implicit and emerging relationships.
  • Discovery by following relationships is fun and easy because that's the way the mind works.
  • Content discovery is more effective and efficient when driven by personal interests, aided by recommenation, and modulated by a degree of randomness. Serendipity, the joy of finding interesting things that are incidental or even unrelated to what is being sought stimulates exploration.
  • An effective UI for discovery uses the true (graph) data structure (linking).

 

Development will be directed in large part by user feedback.

 


*E2 Reader will try out personalized discovery and recommendation techniques and interfaces that emphasize search through exploration of a dynamically-structured, many-dimensioned semantic space guided by individual profiles of likes and interests. Controlled perturbation will be used to avoid the usual pit-traps of interest-directed search will also be evaluated.

Next in series: Implementation

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