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I don't write that much any more, here or anywhere.

Mostly, I have always written restlessly. The part of my mind's eye which never stops muttering to itself gets tired of nothing else listening, and I open a cut-buffer in my text editor of choice and let words start flowing out.

Freeflow at the keyboard, I used to type out, ritualistically, meditatively. This is me. This is me, bored.

I've typed those words so often now, to so little end, that to type them again so many years later feels like the confession of a crime, or maybe like a relapse.

I write less because I've learned to talk less. Words unpublished are just intent, and intent doesn't matter; actions do. Publication, now, that's action. Words spoken, to an audience you can't identify and don't control. Every word I've ever published here still exists, whether I'm proud or ashamed. Even the ones I deleted, even the ones editors deleted. archive.org is relentless, and it isn't the only record of data like this. The Internet is a Library of Alexandria that will never, ever burn. We have no right to be forgotten, not any more. These strange days and years we're all living through right now will be seen centuries from now as mankind's second dawn of history, that slow, sudden, mad moment where we passed from being a tribe occasionally, haltingly capable of documenting its own origins to something else. Something bigger, greater, and probably way crazier; some meta-organism that reflexively documents its own existence second by second, voraciously consuming not just storage and archival media and transmission bandwidth but also producing and consuming endless new techniques for generating, storing, archiving, and replicating data. Our grandparents were contemporaries of Alan Lomax and his father, men who lived within a generation of the first recorded voice and who devoted their life's work to creating field recordings of as many diverse voices as possible; in our own generation, the holographic reproduction of dead celebrities went from a theoretical possibility to a passé cash-grab more quickly than some of our most popular snack foods go stale. I once complained about this on Twitter by saying that the people who created a holographic Tupac should have put a prosthetic capital-H on his forehead; within an hour, a bot pretending to be Ace Rimmer had sent me a replying tweet saying "Smoke me a kipper."

Will history remember you and I as a kind of gestalt Howard Hughes entity, improbably rich but trapped in its own minutia, saving nail clippings in jars? Or will history remember us as some of the first people who spoke to posterity in our own true words, at sufficient length and in the presence of sufficiently robust metadata that we can actually be truly remembered, without the unreliable-narrator effects introduced by human typesetters, editors, publishers, collectors, archivists, archeologists, and forensic stenographers? We don't know. Our words aren't words and symbols etched cautiously and optimistically into gold and then shot into space as an inert payload alongside nuclear fuel and primitive circuitry and failing scientific instruments. Our words are an improbably accurate echo, shouted into a hollow space so geometrically perfect that no part of them, pitch or timbre or syllable, will ever degrade into white noise, whether we wish them to do so or not.

And so I write less because I am more and more aware of an audience I cannot contemplate. H.P. Lovecraft wrote about Great Old Ones, relentlessly alien and unsympathetic entities who owned our sprawling past so thoroughly that they echoed forward in time and drove mad anyone who heard those echoes. Sometimes I see the future like a photographic negative of his Long Now nightmare: Relentlessly alien and unsympathetic entities who own our sprawling future so thoroughly that they echo backward in time and drive mad anyone who anticipates their echoes.

A rapper who went by the name of El-P wrote during his participation in a project called Company Flow: "Even when I say nothing, it's a beautiful use of negative space." Silence can be art, that's what he's saying. The delicate discipline of saying just enough not to be misunderstood.

Silence can be a weapon just as easily. Mediated by SMS or Snapchat, the distance between earnest vulnerability and quaking sorrow can be measured in tenths of seconds. We describe delays beneath this threshold as latency, and delays exceeding this threshold as cruelty. Mediated by clay tablets, by cautiously preserved cave paintings, and by exabytes of data generated in the same 32-bit time_t epoch that produced our first research into concepts like bit rot and crypographic signatures, we begin to approach a newly terrifying realization: If an artist's greatest fear is to be forgotten, then as a society's ability to preserve data begins to outstrip its ability to index and curate that data, cacophony begins to become indistinguishable from oblivion. If all matter can encode information, then as we begin to approach the heat death of the universe, we will also be approaching a state where all matter has begun to encode irrelevant information.

If this is true, and if life is iterative feedback against the Second Law of Thermodynamics, then all intelligent life is iterative feedback against some equivalent law of information theory. In this case, we can characterize any work of art as an attempt to encode a greater amount of data in a lesser number of bits, and we can quantify the merit of that art by comparing the source data with its encoded representation and scoring the comparison on three axes: storage efficiency, time efficiency, and lossiness. Truth may be beauty, and beauty may be truth, but if you're trying to translate between them using finite storage and finite CPU cycles, sometimes you're gonna have to squint.