Replied to Ignoring carbon, is energy use bad or fine? (Interconnected, a blog by Matt Webb)
Maybe energy use is actually fine, if the carbon footprint of energy production is zero, and we ignore the manufacturing footprint of the powered items? That’s how it seems but perhaps I’m missing an externality somewhere.

Given your starting point of it being solar, Matt, the energy is already reaching earth and mostly turned into heat upon arrival. At worst you postpone the transformation into heat by using it for other things first. So the energy usage would be fine I suppose (though the purpose might not be)

Another perspective is that until now energy efficiency in devices hasn’t reduced energy usage, but usually increased it. It lowers the threshold for energy use, making more things (financially) ok to use energy for. Where energy efficiency lowers the floor for energy use, energy abundance as you describe I think removes both the floor and the ceiling: there’s no financial reason to keep one’s energy use in check, no task too trivial, no task too big.

What I’ve always found odd in discussion with suppliers on whether to add solar panels to our roof was their insistence of dimensioning it just below our usage. That never made any sense to me. No sense, because of obvious things such as the likelihood of at some point driving an EV that needs charging. And no sense because of the scarcity mindset it suggests, whereas a household having an energy surplus means you can be more of a maker household, and can start thinking about contributing directly to your local area in new ways. It only makes sense from the perspective of feed-in tarriffs, and the needs of centralised electricity suppliers, the grids, and load balancing.

Other factors might come into play with true energy abundance, that mean not limits really but the need to take energy needs of neighbours into account, with local social feedback loops concerning distribution, peak usage, local grid’s physical limits, timing, and intermittency of use.

Today, following a book reference by someone in a discussion thread, I ended up purposefully using the Internet Archive’s book collection for the first time. The book in question was a 1965 UK paperback. The Internet Archive offer several million books from around the world, and my Startpage search for the book led me to their collection. Being logged in with my account (I’m a monthly supporter of the Internet Archive, maybe you want to consider that too), I could hit the ‘borrow’ button and have the scanned and indexed 1965 book before me for an hour. Going through the table of content I quickly found the two things of interest to me, skipped to the two related chapters, read the relevant few pages, and hit the ‘return this book’ button after 10 minutes.

That was very useful. Following up a loose thread of information, finding the source, lift out the few relevant details, make a note of it, connect it to a few existing notes and move on. Useful and a very pleasing process.

I sighted Fred again this year, a big carp that lives in the water course behind our home. We think we heard him splash around a few times already but didn’t spot him yet. Last year the first sighting was early May, now its over a month later. Whether it’s because we spent less time at the water side this cold spring or because Fred was someplace else, I don’t know. At least it’s good to know who he’s still around, spotting him the fourth year in a row.

As I’ve run into trouble with my TinyTinyRSS install, I’m switching to FreshRSS, to see how that works for me.

My TinyTinyRSS has the issue where many calls to the file backend.php keep timing out. It seems to have as effect that feed updates are not coming through, and worse that the repeated resource use flagged something with my hoster, making them blocking my home IP. That’s a blunt instrument to wield without checking whether that IP is your client’s own IP, but still.

Next to TinyTinyRSS my hoster also supports FreshRSS for self-hosting, so I installed that. I wanted to try FreshRSS out anyway, so this is a good opportunity to make the switch.

Amazingly useful plugins keep getting made for Obsidian. Plugins that help reduce friction to getting my material from other sources into flat markdown files that I then can edit, rework and do with as I see fit. Earlier I mentioned the Zotero plugins to extract PDF highlights and Zotero links into Obsidian. Today I started using the Kindle highlights plugin. It connects either to your Amazon account or you feed it your myclippings.txt file from your Kindle device.

It then pulls in your highlights into one note file for each book. You can edit the template for that note, to make sure it includes the information and metadata you want. Each highlight has a link directly to the highlight in your book, and when I click it opens my Kindle app on my Mac and jumps right to it.

Previously I would either download a CSV through the export notes function on a Kindle device which mails you your notes, or copy the myclippings.txt.

Using myclippings.txt is still the only way to get highlights from a book you did not add to a Kindle through Amazon (e.g. a direct upload from my Calibre library).

With one click, upon my first sync I now have about 100 notes with highlights from books I read. I never was a heavy highlighter, because of the friction of getting those highlights to a place where I could use them. That may now change.

Image: a screenshot of how highlights from one of my books now show up as notes in a markdown file, using the default template.

I assume that in its most basic form I could redo Dopplr of sorts by announcing travel plans in an OPML file, much like book lists or my rss subscriptions. Then it comes down to how to share such travel plans with a known and limited network only. (You don’t want to announce to just everyone when you won’t be home.)

The IndieWeb efforts concerning travel seem to focus on posting actual travel movements, like planned flights. A sort-of check-in style post. The socially shared Dopplr info was much simpler: a city and a set of dates. Because its purpose was aiding serendipitous meet-ups. Exact travel plans or exact location aren’t needed for it, just a way to flag paths more or less crossing to those involved.

Of course making such an OPML file currently is as easy as posting an empty file, as there’s no significant travel during the pandemic.

Theoretically I could use such an OPML file to announce several things:

  • The various cities I consider as home turf, as they’re within easy reach in an hour.
  • Selected cities I’m willing to travel to at short notice outside that hour travel time if there’s a good reason to.
    From where I am a visit to Antwerp, Brussels, Eindhoven would count in that category, or maybe on specific occasions Düsseldorf or Cologne.
  • Upcoming travel plans, things like ‘Copenhagen, Denmark, 4th-7th September’ (actually a 2019 example)

Such a list would allow comparison with your list to see whether any of your travel plans match with my ‘home turf’ and destinations I’m willing to consider outside of it, whether any of your travel plans match with my travel plans, or whether any of my travel plans line up with your home turf and other relatively nearby destinations you’re willing to consider. Cities and countries are part of schema.org vocabularies and as such usable in OPML as data attributes.

I think there’s a space for location based services, such as Dopplr was, that don’t depend on or use maps, but provide location contextualized information that influences my actions, choices and my relationships to my networks (a quote from a 2012 blogpost on moving beyond the map).

Or this is just me applying my current opml hammer to anything that might be a nail 😀


I couldn’t resist making this mock-up mimicking the colorful Dopplr