Vikshepa Blog

Mental Distractions

28 Apr 2022

writing in html - imagining a better future

Writing in html

One thing that I like about this composing this blog in Bluefish editor is that I am writing it in the actual html used to publish it online. Not in BBCode, Markdown, some sort of WYSIWYG view, or a word processor. It's somehow liberating to use the actual code, even if I do find occasional validation errors afterwards. That's also why I want the code to be as clean and easy to read as possible. For example, I shift long html anchor links to the end of the post.

CSS (cascading style sheets) enables us to separate style from content, so that the code can be as clean as possible. But if you look at the source of most modern web pages (Ctrl + U in the browser), what you will see is an undecipherable mass of code and java script. Hubzilla is relatively tidy, but if you open a single Hubzilla post or article, you need to scroll down through about 2000 lines of code before reaching the post's title and text, whereas, as you can see from the image below, this is not the case here. desktop with editor open

Not only that, but, because of the WebDav system, I'm also writing it online and saving occasionally, so a visitor may catch me in the middle of an unfinished post.

Solarpunk

Yuval Noah Harari says that science fiction is the most important literary genre of our era. But when an average movie-goer thinks of SF today, they probably think about blockbuster superheroes or post-apocalyptic dystopias. The situation in print is fortunately a little better, but we know from even the greatest writers, going back to Dante and Milton, that it has always been easier to imagine and write about scenes from hell than about heaven.

Some popular authors, like Kim Stanley Robinson [1] buck the trend for doom and gloom by imagining more positive outcomes, based on confronting the issues. This kind of fiction is sometimes called Solarpunk [2]. The SF site Tor has a review of several books in this category [3].

The sense of the upcoming disaster seems to traumatize all those who are not in denial of it, and there is a tendency towards paralysis - which is the opposite of what we currently need. Films like "Don't Look Up" attempt to shake us out of complacency through parody, but the idea that "anyway, we're screwed" is not likely to lead to a way forward.

It's hard. George Monbiot [4], who writes about climate change for The Guardian, has been known to break into tears on live TV, because he sees that what needs to be done is consistently undermined by policy makers.

One thing that we know is that shifting the responsibility to individuals is not going to solve anything. Buying bamboo toothbrushes with bristles made from beans isn't actually going to save the planet.

Changing our conception of the way the world works, rejecting a vision of the future where humanity loses the planet due to the inaction of politicians and corporate concerns, and galvanizing people to action, on the other hand, could actually help.

As human beings we are always motivated by the stories we tell ourselves, the myths we believe in, and our dreams. Human history can't be understood or explained without giving sufficient space for these aspects. We live less in objective reality than in our collective imagination. So the only way to motivate people to make a real change is to reach people first on this level.

Solarpunk, which is not just about fiction-writing, but also about hacker spaces and community, could be an interesting way to start. Yesterday I learned of an online conference that is coming up at the end of May, which looks promising.

Links

  1. Kim Stanley Robinson on Science Fiction and Reclaiming Science for the Left

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2021/11/kim-stanley-robinson-science-fiction-capitalism

  1. Solarpunk - Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solarpunk

  1. The Solarpunk Future: Five Essential Works of Climate-Forward Fiction | Tor.com

https://www.tor.com/2021/09/30/the-solarpunk-future-five-essential-works-of-climate-forward-fiction/

  1. George Monbiot | The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/profile/georgemonbiot

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