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I guess it’s time.

Hi. I’m Sameer Vasta, a snail-mail boy living in an email world. I'm an over-user of the discretionary comma.

I pass my time reading my never-ending stack of library books, writing letters to penpals, and exploring the urban landscape on foot. I find beauty in the mundane and joy in the small things.

If you’re ever in the area, come join me on my aimless strolls around the city, or for an espresso and conversation; I love making new friends.

“places do not change
so much
as what we seek in them”

- Audre Lorde
bookshop.org/a/10444/978039331

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in Norway, "up and not crying" is a not uncommon response to "how's it going" type questions, and I feel like that's a very reasonable standard to hold oneself to especially nowadays

If you’ve spent hours hanging out at playgrounds recently, like I have, this piece on their history in urban geography is fascinating: historyworkshop.org.uk/revisit

“As cities have become increasingly hostile to children, particularly as automotive movement has been prioritised over play and other communal street-based activities, then the designation of specific child-focused sites for play perhaps represents an important way to signify that children and young people are valued members of society.”

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Apple released a 2-min film for International Day for People With Disabilities (which is tomorrow) and while I recognize the film is a lab-created marketing ploy designed to make me feel things, it’s also really heartening and inspiring to see a big company that actually takes accessibility seriously feature people with disabilities in a joyful and celebratory way. Recommended watching, esp if in tooling isn’t a thing you usually think about youtube.com/watch?v=8sX9IEHWRJ

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‘Civil servants are users too - it’s important they have access to services that are easy to use.’

I’m re-reading: Services for government users #GovDesign
https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/design/services-for-government-users

My new advent calendar is gorgeous and useful and delightful. Makes me happy to open this every morning.

So maybe, just maybe, my personal blog, Flashing Palely in the Margins, is back up and running: inthemargins.ca/return-to-blog

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If you're like me, then you were really happy to learn about Mastodon's enthusiastic support for image descriptions, and you were really eager to join in.

Then you went to actually write something and realized you have no idea how to present visual information in a way that is helpful/enjoyable to those who are #VisuallyImpaired or #Blind.

I found this guide really informative: https://uxdesign.cc/how-to-write-an-image-description-2f30d3bf5546

Of course, I'd also love to hear any additional tips y'all might have!

#Accessibility

Things like the demise of Twitter (social media?) and the creation of ooh.directory make me want to revive my personal blog which I shut down earlier this year.

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“The terms social network and social media are used interchangeably now, but they shouldn’t be. A social network is an idle, inactive system—a Rolodex of contacts, a notebook of sales targets, a yearbook of possible soul mates. But social media is active—hyperactive, really—spewing material across those networks instead of leaving them alone until needed.”

Great piece by Ian Bogost on the end of the social media age in The Atlantic: theatlantic.com/technology/arc

In a surprise to absolutely no one, I was in the top 0.1% of Carly Rae Jepsen listeners this year.

Last night I discovered that trimming a Christmas tree with a two-year-old trying to “help” is a lot harder than you’d expect. But overall, it was worth it. Feels like the holiday season can begin, now.

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I do not like that site of birds
I do not like its awful words

I do not like what it became
I do not like its cult of shame

I do not like intrusive ads
I do not like the vapid fads

I do not like the clout it’s given
I do not like its algorithm

But I shall miss that weird bird town
I do not like it burning down

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"This is overlooked by Mastodonians who argue that the influx of new users will bring changes to the platforms. If you have an influx of new users and then you punish them for being themselves or trying to figure out ways to be themselves on the platform, then you will disincentivize users from recommending transformation or changes in the platform, even in open source platforms. They simply will not want to engage."

Dr Jonathan Flowers

#BlackMastodon
#WhiteElephant

https://techpolicy.press/the-whiteness-of-mastodon/

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If you enjoy someone's post on #Mastodon go ahead and click the star. If someone tells you that's meaningless because there's no #algorithm, ignore them. Sure, boost the post too if you want others to also see the post, but don't think telling someone you like what they posted is somehow unimportant. In real life I don't tell someone, "good job," or "well said," or "I love that," for the sake of some algorithm, I do it because I'm human and they are too. It's fundamental to being truly social.

In honor of Charles Schulz's 100th birthday, dozens of syndicated cartoonists worked Peanuts references into their strips schulzmuseum.org/tribute/

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your life is a small political experiment. you try to live in a way that reflects what you want the world to be. how you want relationships to work, how you want beauty and love to be felt by normal people in their own small political lives. you fail sometimes, and you keep trying.

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I never really understood the Star Wars franchise until @katylalonde pointed out to me 8 years ago that it's really a series of movies about gov tech procurement.

This piece delightfully tracks, cc @sboots (h/t @angelquicksey )

https://donmoynihan.substack.com/p/the-administrative-state-of-the-empire

A little bit of delight for your Friday afternoon: these “Natural Habitat” shirts are cute and funny and informative and just all-around delightful. (Who doesn’t love anthropomorphized animals doing everyday tasks?) naturalhabitatshorts.com

I’ve been mostly disconnected from geopolitics recently (having a toddler takes up all of my time) but this piece in The Atlantic on Taiwan-China relations was eye-opening for me: theatlantic.com/magazine/archi

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phire.place

phire.place is a Hometown instance for friends of friends. We care about mutual aid, trans rights, and reproductive justice. Hometown is a fork of Mastodon, a decentralized social network with no ads, no corporate surveillance, and ethical design.