Most recent update: 13th November 2020 - 18:25:04 - 4495 characters

What is State of the Smerity?

Writing is an experiment - an experiment in language, an experiment in knowledge, and an experiment in scaled productive collaboration. Even by reading this you're a part of that experiment.

State of the Smerity began life as a process journal and over time has expanded like a tech tree in a computer game. Most of the entries are fragmented. I'm not ashamed of that though! Isn't fragmentation the default state of ideas that come fresh out of our minds? The fight to bring clarity and connection to what may have started life as random linguistic sparks?

This process journal was intended both to reflect and improve on myself as a human but also serve as an underlying dataset for a language model of my own design.

Where did all of this come from?

State of the Smerity and my most recent wandering journey have been a few years in the making at this stage. I left a lucrative job and rather than rushing into an equivalent opportunity or raising large sums of money, I took time to really explore where I intended to go. Being lost in the metaphorical woods can be surprisingly advantageous once you get over the fear of the dark. When you no longer have external goals to drive you it triggers a state of introspection on what your internal goals are. It's not easy, and I'm lucky to have the time, space, and support to even have this as an option, but due to so few having such an opportunity I felt it was all the more important for me to do go on this journey.

Any conclusions so far?

As I traced my life and sketched out the future I swung back and forth over various ideas, dreams, and fears. Like a satellite orbiting distant planetary bodies, I found myself returning to the familiar concepts and being pulled closer and closer to a gravitational center.

All of this boils down to three familiar concepts:

  • Positive sum
  • Minimize entropy (confusion)
  • Maximize entropy (diversity)

And a set phrase:

Language is humanity's longest running program

Each already have a few dozen pages of writing where the prose's content is a coin flip between insightful and rambling.

Why have you been so quiet recently?

The fear of making your writing public is real. This is made even more acute when you've accidentally accumulated tens of thousands of followers.

State of the Smerity tries to leverage imperfection as imperfection provides the most forgiving and fertile playground for creation. For some time the only way I could guarantee guilt free imperfection was by having no audience except myself. This was also useful in exporting and organizing my own internal monologue such that it'd still remain coherent frozen statically on a page.

Constraints of the medium

As I became better centered and more consistent it became more and more obvious that the best path forward was collaboration with an audience. This means speaking to you, as fear inducing as that is.

Rather than a casual conversation, I'm imprisoned by Unicode characters assembled ahead of time and featuring no real time call and response to queries that you might have.

Beyond that, I'm writing for two audiences - humans and machines. There's a separate underlying engine, hundreds of millions of lines of code from top to bottom, that's meant to understand an ill defined and wildly problematic polyglot language. The amount of machinery required to let me tell your machine that this should be italic is terrifying. All of this machinery has been set in stone by someone you've never met, implemented dozens of different ways, and now entirely impossible to extend.

We've constructed a magical thinking rock (which most refer to as a computer) that enables creativity beyond anything humanity could have imagined a quarter century ago. Since then we've somehow limited both computers and our interaction with them, by equal parts accident and malevolence, such that a pen and paper's expressiveness will beat them in the flexibility they afford you.

This entry marks the end of my internal phase and the beginnings of an attempt to externalize a distilled version of my thoughts, explorations, and tools to a broader audience.