I was starting to write a really big thing about permacomputing--I'd already made an outline and was drafting--but then I read this article and feel like I see things very differently now: applied-langua.ge/posts/termin

the Alan Kay "metamedium" idea that runs through this article is powerful; reframing the discussion around the concept of "what do I do with it" rather than "how old of a computer can I do my work on." more like the @stevelord "heirloom computer," less like an old DOS laptop that is still useful.

I'm sure there are critiques of Gemini in the article that are unfair; I don't really care one way or another about Gemini. But the bigger point--that a lot of what passes for "minimalism" is very misguided--still rings true. All these ARM SBCs are still more powerful than the laptop I got for college.

Instead, what would a "permacomputer" be if it were a way of working supported by hardware that lasted a very long time?

Plan 9, Emacs/Lisp machines, Smalltalk, hell even something like AS/400s--these kinds of "paradigm" environments seem like the thing we should be figuring out how to make "perma" instead of Linux on ARM or the Commodore 64.

The reality is that the "retro" part overtakes the "perma" and the two become intertwined. The reality is that you can buy a Pentium M laptop for $25.

Another stray thought: think about something like Open Firmware. Something about "it's a regular PPC Mac laptop or Sun workstation, but you can also just boot it straight into a Forth REPL" feels like a future we shouldn't have left behind, a basis for a different relationship with our computing tools.

@kl Somehow your thread this morning got me to click through and read your systemstack.dev/2022/05/waking and systemstack.dev/2022/06/things. Thank you!

I dislike applied-langua.ge/posts/termin just like everything else the authors have written. But thank you for getting me to focus on the few sentences in between about the meta-medium idea. They don't ooze contempt. But here's the thing: they'll have the same problems if a community coalesces around them. This stuff is hard.

@kl Nobody building minimalist systems is saying the problems are solved. The thing the authors are missing is that minimalist systems are a _reaction_, a backlash to the problems of mainstream systems. Of course they have problems. But when you're sick of the hegemony of one set of problems, it's sometimes a relief to leave behind the bugs you know for new bugs you don't know about for a while. Above all, it's a relief to depend on software created with less inscrutable motivations.

@kl So far I've come up with a few ways to phrase the core problem:

- How to get the nice things we've gotten used to under the current regime of software development, but replace the governance process with something more democratic. Oh, and how to sustainably maintain some minimal level of grassroots citizen engagement with that process, something unsolved even outside software. Because if you don't do that last bit, your democratic machinery will quickly rot away.

@kl Perhaps part of the solution here is to tighten our belts. We've gotten used to a level of luxury that may well be unsustainable with current technology once you take governance costs into account. Your footnote in systemstack.dev/2022/05/waking _really_ resonates here.


@akkartik thanks for reading. That "Waking up from the Dream" post really sums up my relationship with a lot of this stuff recently. I think my stance there against rent-seeking is probably too strong, as you point out, and mostly has to do with who the current crop of landlords are.

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