1. 11

    Urbit still seems entirely ridiculous to me. It sets off every scam/cult alarm in my body, and I’m not the sort of person who dismisses these things out of hand (in fact, I’m generally a very early adopter on weird tech stuff like this).

    The only other alternative I can think of is that Urbit is some sort of performance art. I made a similar comment on HN a year or two back and one of the urbit guys politely invited me over for a chat, but unfortunately travel schedules got in the way. On account of that effort to reach out I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it’s challenging. Just look at the YouTube videos on their website. No explanation of anything, just weird culty videos with weird culty music and a lot of buzzwords.

    If someone could concisely and correctly explain why urbit is useful, I would really appreciate it. Right now it seems to me like an ill-conceived and mostly pointless vaporware attempt to (poorly) reinvent the wheel (but with some NRx artistic flare) without any clear justification for doing so.

    1. 9

      It’s a VM running programs in their new, custom language. Networking allows distributed computation, but the entire system is a hierarchy designed to give the creators total power. There’s more the last time Urbit came up.

      1. 4

        That other thread had some good stuff in it–I recall it well, especially the more entertaining revelations about Yarvin’s feudalism in constructing Urbit.

        I posted this link mainly because the infamously clunky nomenclature of Urbit now has Ethereum rubbed all over it for good measure.

        1. 2

          designed to give the creators total power

          It’s actually designed to be eventually distributed, just like Ethereum or Bitcoin or IPFS. As the network grows, the creators have less power: https://urbit.org/docs/about/objections/#-urbit-isn-t-even-really-decentralized-it-has-a-government

          1. 8
            1. 2

              yeah I know, I’m just fact checking you, we don’t want fake news here on lobste.rs ;)

              1. 1

                You’re deliberately spreading misinformation because you think the people behind Urbit are untrustworthy. That’s a little bit ironic, isn’t it?

              2. 2

                I mean this is basically the ruse that many “communists” pulled. I’ll only be a dictator for a bit but then once things are really moving then we’ll have a government ruled by the public. Once you have power it’s easy to use that power to maintain power, so ceding power at the beginning is a really dumb strategy.

            2. 8

              The only other alternative I can think of is that Urbit is some sort of performance art.

              If it is, one totally should consider the artist.

              1. 3

                It seems to be a “dump” of the NRx ideology into a codebase. I think it’s fair to think that is some sort of performance art.

                1. 2

                  It’s not a vaporware in that it has working code. Lots of it: deterministic VM, bootstrapped compiler, cryptographic infrastructure, overlay network, and (hopefully cryptographically secure) mechanism to do live update of everything above VM. Whether it’s (or will be) useful is an open question, but in my opinion the current codebase is self-evidently exciting.

                1. 6

                  The W3C has never been in a position to block DRM.

                  DRM could be blocked by convincing media companies that they don’t need it, by convincing browser vendors to reject it, or by convincing consumers to boycott it. The W3C’s blessing (or lack thereof) is completely irrelevant to all of these parties.

                  1. 14

                    W3C has been irrelevant since they abdicated progressing web standards. in useful directions.

                    DRM was the absolute last thing we as devs and users needed.

                    Vast javascript libraries is NOT what we needed.

                    Personally, viewing the web landscape today… I think EFF did the right thing.

                    Ignore W3C and find an organization that actually wants to make the web a better place.

                    1. 6

                      IETF

                      1. 2

                        One issue that complicates this is the W3C’s copyright policy for their specifications: https://www.w3.org/Consortium/Legal/2015/doc-license

                    2. 6

                      TBH the whole W3C debate and protest over DRM was a boondoggle.

                      The three largest browser makers are all pro-DRM, and Mozilla is mostly funded by pro-DRM companies. W3C approval or not, web DRM was going to be implemented and rolled out. The only question was whether it would be standardized or if each browser would implement their own.

                      Like it or not, the internet is just a revenue source these days.

                      1. 10

                        If each browser required its own DRM implementation, using DRM would become more expensive and challenging, which is the goal.

                        Why are people trying to save the DRM companies money? Standardization isn’t a goal in and of itself. You wouldn’t want to standardize malware APIs (although arguably that’s what W3C is doing) or JS APIs designed to help pop-up ads.

                        1. 3

                          If each browser required its own DRM implementation, using DRM would become more expensive and challenging, which is the goal.

                          You fundamentally misunderstand the role of standards bodies.

                          If the W3C had rejected EME…all of the browsers would have gone ahead and continued to use the EME standard they’d all already agreed upon and implemented. All that would be happening would be that the W3C had stuck its head in the sand and chosen to pretend a standard that existed in practice did not exist, because they didn’t like it.

                          Standards bodies exist to help facilitate coordination between the browser vendors. Standards bodies are only useful insofar as they facilitate that coordination. Standards bodies have zero power to force browser vendors to do, or not do, anything. If standards bodies cease to be useful for coordination purposes, they will be ignored and replaced by a new body that the vendors can actually cooperate through.

                          There was no universe in which the W3C could force browser vendors to not implement EME, or all do their own thing. The only choice was “acknowledge the existence of EME” or “stick head in sand and become irrelevant”.

                          1. 2

                            The browsers didn’t require W3C to approve EME to implement it. They implemented it long before it was approved. A ‘no’ vote would not have made anything more expensive or challenging.

                            1. 1

                              If each browser required its own DRM implementation, using DRM would become more expensive and challenging, which is the goal.

                              That’s not the goal, and that premise doesn’t hold anyway.

                              The expenses around this are pocket change for Microsoft, Google, and Apple, and not having a standard means they SAVE money because they can use their existing DRM. They’d cross license each other’s DRM, and they’d all be compatible.

                              The people hurt by not having a standard would be people developing new browsers. They’d have to implement multiple DRM technologies, instead of just one.

                              I don’t like DRM, but it’s not going away, so it might as well be dealt with in a sane way.

                            2. 3

                              I totally agree. To me, this seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. So, the EFF has abdicated its right to advocate for digital privacy rights as part of the W3C?

                              I realize that sometimes groups like the EFF need to make a stand, I’m just not sure this is the best way to achieve what they’re looking for, or whether this is the right hill to die on, so to speak.

                              1. 2

                                I don’t think it’s just a revenue source, because non profits use it well. It is built for companies and organizations, because it is a client-server model and running servers takes money, initiative, and persistence.

                                What I am always a bit confused about is: if the internet isn’t good enough, you are necessarily missing (small $) money, initiative, or persistence, but then why is your goal worth anything? Those are all reasonable signals for social usefulness.

                                Thus, distributed/“libre” networks inherently have little value. You’ll know you’re doing something useful when a few other people are willing to help foot the aws bill.

                                1. 11

                                  You’ll know you’re doing something useful when a few other people are willing to help foot the aws bill.

                                  I respectfully disagree.

                                  When I was younger, I enjoyed learning about things on all manner of odd private websites. To this day, when I’m feeling down, reading webcomics (many of which lack advertising!) cheers me up. Flipping through archives of essays and memos hosted by people gratis has taught me much.

                                  If I can help give back in that same way by hosting content myself (even silly things like my own blog), then I believe that I have done something useful–quite without consideration for profitability.

                              2. 5

                                There’s a difference between blocking DRM and refusing to support DRM.

                                It’s not a pointless moral play. Refusing to standardize malware APIs makes it more expensive and inconvenient to write malware, even if it’s probably going to happen anyway.

                              1. 5

                                Seen on HN, here’s another IETF draft submitted by this author:

                                https://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-omar-si-00

                                [Satellite Internet] works by using a space network of satellites that surrounds the whole earth, connected to each others using fiber optic cables

                                1. 2

                                  I guess someone has to link to the (legendary) Stack Overflow response about parsing HTML with regex: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1732348/regex-match-open-tags-except-xhtml-self-contained-tags

                                  1. 2

                                    Also

                                    Some people, when confronted with a problem, think “I know, I’ll use regular expressions.” Now they have two problems.

                                    • Jamie Zawinski
                                    1. 5

                                      I’ve always hated this quote (and most of its variations). As far as I can tell it boils down to “never use regular expressions”, which is bad advice.

                                      1. 3

                                        Indeed, I’d rather see someone use a regex where appropriate than try to re-invent a capture-group from scratch.

                                        EDIT: I’ve seen some absolutely miserable text-extraction code written by juniors who hadn’t ever picked up regex because it was “icky”. A quick demonstration later the whole module could be deleted and replaced with a handful of neat little regexes, making good use of capture groups.

                                        1. 1

                                          I ‘grew up’ with Perl, so in that day and age, it was something that did need to be said…

                                      2. 1
                                      1. 5

                                        Am I the only one that thinks that the Mastodon/GNU social is going to be a huge mess?

                                        Even if the federated code works flawlessly, it’s going to be almost impossible to have recognisable identities without some big players setting up their nodes and providing some assurance of who is who.

                                        1. 27

                                          Not great for celebrities/brands. Just fine for me and my friends, and people they vouch for.

                                          1. 6

                                            Yeah, I’m nearly certain that the people complaining about this aren’t the people using it.

                                          2. 10

                                            No more of a mess than email.

                                            1. 2

                                              And look how “uncool” email is now, and Slack et al are in.

                                              edit: For how federation can turn into a big mess, see Usenet, which is now just pirates and spammers.

                                              (FWIW, the IRC model of federation is also interesting. More smaller scale.)

                                              1. 2

                                                see Usenet, which is now just pirates and spammers.

                                                Usenet got that way through an evaporative cooling process when all the real users skipped town to the web. That is the eventual fate of any platform, federated or not.

                                                1. 2

                                                  Email and Usenet don’t have investors spending millions of dollars on marketing (or on feature development, to be fair).

                                                  1. 1

                                                    email is uncool because it’s push not pull.

                                                  2. 2

                                                    Email is a gigantic mess.

                                                    1. 1

                                                      I love email (as a protocol and as a communication medium), but email is by definition something private and sender to receiver (cc: never worked really well). It’s not a publication protocol.

                                                      Twitter-like protocol is something public, closer to usenet and completely unrelated to email.

                                                    2. 10

                                                      I’ve said (roughly) this before, but I’ll put it here because it applies. I genuinely don’t believe that any of these federated services will ever take off so long as “federation” is viewed by the developers as the “killer feature”.

                                                      Virtually no one wants to run their own instance. And virtually everyone just wants to set up an account and use it without worrying about whether their server will be fast enough, or be kept up-to-date, or even still be online in a year. As an aside, yes, I know Twitter could disappear tomorrow, but I can’t control that risk so I don’t stress about it.

                                                      In fact, virtually no one even wants to choose their server (or node, or whatever you want to call it). I certainly don’t, because there’s no way for me to make a reasonable decision based on a giant list of servers and basic stats about them. How do I know which ones are run by trustworthy people? How do I know which ones are run by some kid who doesn’t know the first thing about securing a server? That’s too much stress, and most people will respond by giving up. I signed up for a Mastodon account only after it appeared that mastodon.social was something akin to an “official” instance. No idea if that’s true or not, but that was what got me to sign up.

                                                      So do I think that federation is undesirable? Not at all. But federation is a safety valve, not a core feature. It forces (in theory) providers to put their users first, because their users can leave and take their data and connections with them. It also allows nerds and the paranoid (whether justifiably or not) to self-host, which should make for a richer, more inclusive, and more pleasant experience for everyone. But again, the people self-hosting are going to be a tiny, tiny minority if the system ever becomes widely popular and we should acknowledge this and act accordingly.

                                                      1. 2

                                                        I agree not many people want to host their own server, but many people do want to choose their instance. Probably not a majority, but a pretty large minority. So far this is mostly because some instances act kind of like mini-BBS/forums, not merely a place to connect to the larger federated network from. The “local timeline” tab shows a firehose feed of all posts from people on your own instance, and people on instances with some kind of shared community use that as a general chat (it’s less useful on huge instances like mastodon.social). There are other ways this could be built that doesn’t tie the community to a specific server, e.g. GNU Social has a concept of “groups”, which Mastodon doesn’t interoperate with. But some things are hard to implement if not tied to a server; different servers have different moderation/content policies, for example, which is implementable because the admin of the server can enforce them.

                                                      2. 9

                                                        I love how many other instances are also named “mastodon”.

                                                        “No, I’m not user@mastodon.social, I’m user@mastodon.network, you followed the wrong person”

                                                        1. 1

                                                          I was sad to see that gay.crime.team does not have open registration.

                                                      1. 9

                                                        I don’t want to write my own CSV code, but I have to work with CSV producers who wrote their own. A parser that handles quoted text containing commas correctly doesn’t help if the producer doesn’t quote their commas.

                                                        1. 54

                                                          Ha ha, it’s funny because a white supremacist hid a Nazi joke in a pop culture reference.

                                                          1. 10

                                                            I didn’t see that, was it in the article?

                                                            1. 90

                                                              Early in the article:

                                                              What is an app, anyway? It’s shared computing. Everyone’s data is one data structure, in one program, on one server, owned by one corporation.

                                                              This is a callout to the Nazi slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer.

                                                              And then the only other time “shared computing” appears in the document:

                                                              To paraphrase Walter Sobchak: say what you want about the tenets of shared computing, but at least it’s an ethos.

                                                              In the movie The Big Lebowski, the protagonists are harassed by by nihilists that the sort-of militantly Jewish Walter initially assumes are Nazis. When it finally gets through to him, he says, stunned, “Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it’s an ethos.”

                                                              Yarvin is a deliberate, meticulous writer who prides himself on his references. This is not a coincidence, this is a white supremacist laughing at programmers not recognizing that he’s calling competing software Nazis. Well, I happen to be reading up on Yavin’s buddies and I understood that reference.

                                                              He’s laughing at programmers because he knows the technical and political are inseparable, and the longer programmers think so the longer he gets to use them to gain power.

                                                              1. 13

                                                                Fantastic explanation, thank you. I totally understand that the technical and political are inseparable. But one thing still doesn’t make sense to me: Urbit is designed to be “eventually-distributed”, meaning there is no central company (like Facebook or Google) that can control it (ofc Yarvin’s company, Tlon, owns a large part of the Urbit network, but for the sake of argument let’s give the benefit of the doubt and assume Tlon won’t be evil). As such, Yarvin believes he is fighting against technical fascism. And yet he is (or we believe him to be) a white supremacist; white supremacy as an ideology includes the idea of one race “ruling over” or being superior to another race – which is also a form of fascism. So even though Yarvin is building a product to subvert fascism, he also believes in fascist ideals? How do these two things make sense? I figure either

                                                                1. he’s lying about the “eventually-distributed” goal of Urbit, and actually he intends to use Tlon to enact some kind of elitism in the Urbit network. I’m thinking analogously to institutionalized racism, where gerrymandering and obscure laws can be (and have been) enacted to suppress votes from certain demographics.
                                                                2. his ideology is more nuanced than we give him credit for - perhaps what we read as “white supremacy” is something closer to “population genetics”.
                                                                3. he has compartmentalized his white supremacy so as to focus on the less controversial part of his ideology: fighting technical fascism.

                                                                That’s all I can think of. Not sure how much time I want to spend analyzing this stuff. Urbit is technically interesting, but politically confusing, so is it worth investigating? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

                                                                1. 63

                                                                  He’s not subverting fascism, he’s enacting a fuedalist fascism. The Nazism references are a winking joke.

                                                                  Look back at early docs before he’d invented all the jargon obscuring it. He’s not building a flat, distributed system, he’s building a hierarchy where he and his handpicked buddies literally own the world. Everything else (like the crowdsale) is just a noisy distraction.

                                                                  Yarvin believes that some humans exist to be ruled and that historical racial oppressions should be regarded as the normal, desirable expressions of this state of affairs. He also knows that a lot of this is outside the Overton window, so he dances around how he expresses things, burying it under tens of thousands of words of historical references and smirking “but of course I never actually said that” when someone summarizes it or he accidentally says something a little too on the nose.

                                                                  Urbit’s fundamental technical structure is an expression of Yarvin’s political philosophy. Urbit exists to create a new serfdom.

                                                                  1. 12

                                                                    That’s a pretty solidly damning link to that design doc, and it makes the rest of your argument seem a lot sounder to me.

                                                                    1. 5

                                                                      And yet, from the same doc he goes on to talk about how to avoid monopoly ownership.

                                                                      Therefore, the solution to decentralization is to distribute rootkeys as broadly as possible, in such a way that it is as unlikely as possible that they will coalesce.

                                                                      1. 3

                                                                        I wouldn’t be so quick to condemn a metaphor. Feudalism isn’t necessarily fascist, although certain feudal lords could certainly employ fascist devices like taking people’s wages or limiting speech. The question should be: is specifically Urbit fascist? I’m not convinced either way (yet).

                                                                        1. 21

                                                                          I wouldn’t be so quick to condemn a metaphor.

                                                                          Programming is metaphor reified.

                                                                          1. -5

                                                                            As long as we are condemning metaphors, why are so many OSS projects named after women? Cassandra, MariaDB, Apache Jena. I always thought it was creepy the way we name databases especially - you know that place we inject our data into - after women. Freud would have a heyday with the OSS community.

                                                                          2. 4

                                                                            He’s not building a flat, distributed system, he’s building a hierarchy where he and his handpicked buddies literally own the world. Everything else (like the crowdsale) is just a noisy distraction.

                                                                            That’s the bit I agree with–I’m not fascism is the correct term either. But the feudal aspect is pretty undeniable.

                                                                            Yarvin justifies it as:

                                                                            My answer is simple. The dukes are the developers of Urbit. They created it - they get to own it. This is standard Lockean libertarian homesteading theory. Lend a hand - earn a slice. Thus Urbit, unlike most open-source projects, offers a rational motivation for contribution. For starters, everyone invited to the urbit-dukes mailing list is, if he accepts, a duke. One may decline this honor, of course.

                                                                            1. 38

                                                                              Yarvin on feudalism:

                                                                              Someday I will read all of Froude’s twelve-volume history of England from Henry VIII through Elizabeth I, but I have only read a bit of the first volume. That bit was so impressive and stunning that I thought I might want to wait a year or two before taking in any more.

                                                                              Froude describes a Tudor society which is completely ordered - which consists, from top to bottom, king to knave, of these relationships of mutual obligation. They are relationships of family, of feudalism, of guild traditions such as apprenticeship, of the Church, of political patronage, of commercial patronage and monopoly, and of course of law and government. It was impossible to live a normal human life outside this tapestry, and nor is it at all clear why anyone would have wanted to.

                                                                              This dazzling idea has been seen recently and is why I also use the term “fascist”. To quote from “They Thought They Were Free”, a 1955 book on the lives of the unexceptional civilians who enabled Nazi Germany:

                                                                              Herr Kessler went on after a pause, “it was not just a matter of how it would look for the Party. There was something else. You ask why the hospitals would call the Party office when a soldier died who had left the Church. It was because people called the Party in all difficulties arising from the reconstruction of the country, and the Party always helped. This pattern was established from the first, long before the war. It was what made the Party so strong–it would always help. In religious matters, in domestic problems, in everything. It really watched over the lives of the people, not spying on them, but caring about them.

                                                                              “You know, Herr Professor, we are told that not a sparrow falls without God’s care; I am not being light when I say this– thhat not a person ‘fell,’ fell ill or in need, lost his job or his house, without the Party’s caring. No organization had ever done this before in Germany, maybe nowhere else. Believe me, such an organiztion is irresistible to men. No one in Germany was alone in his troubles–”

                                                                              Yarvin says “feudal” because he expects a multipolar world, but the system he describes is a fascist one. A place for everyone, and everyone in their place. Not a “place”, really, but the lowest-order bits of a variable-length bitfield encoded as syllables to form the address of a node in an internet-overlaying virtual network running code distributed hierarchically and written in a mostly-punctuation programming language compiled down through an intermediate language to an abstract lambda-calculus-like core language with every single thing given a new name and defined only with reference to their own lower-level terminology until you’re so overwhelmed you can’t see the shape of the whole thing is that he gets to be king and you get to be a serf.

                                                                              And then when it’s boiled down, Yarvin smirks “but I never said that” and anyone who skimmed one technical document goes, “well, let’s not be hasty here”.

                                                                              I challenge anyone who thinks I’m mischaracterizing the system to find Yarvin describing what it means for the namespace to be “hierarchical” in standard technical language. What specific power does a “duke” (I think this is “galaxy” in the current branding) have over their vassals? I don’t think you can find such a document. That’s the con. Everything else exists to distract you from the power he wants to wield over you.

                                                                              1. 13

                                                                                Someday I will read all of Froude’s twelve-volume history of England from Henry VIII through Elizabeth I, but I have only read a bit of the first volume.

                                                                                snip

                                                                                It was impossible to live a normal human life outside this tapestry, and nor is it at all clear why anyone would have wanted to.

                                                                                Lord. “I read an overview of the organizational structure of feudal England, skipped all the messy parts where it was an increasingly intolerable mess, and so I have trouble understanding the impulse to reform it”.

                                                                                1. 7

                                                                                  What specific power does a “duke” (I think this is “galaxy” in the current branding) have over their vassals?

                                                                                  It’s an address-space.. The owner of an address-space can grant a piece of it to you, and take it away again. This has been an explicit & core idea of Urbit since the first incomprehensible blog posts.

                                                                                  1. 24

                                                                                    Revocation is not actually listed in this article. I have no charity left for this project or author, so I don’t believe this is the only omission.

                                                                                    1. 6

                                                                                      I oversimplified the rules, but they’re spelled out in detail in the whitepaper that page links to - the deed to a moon belongs to its parent, but planets, stars & galaxies are self-owned and can change parents.

                                                                                      “I haven’t read the documentation but this is definitely a sinister Trojan horse in some way that I can’t specify” is not much of an argument.

                                                                                      1. 18

                                                                                        My actual argument is “I have read way too much of his smirking bullshit and believe the author when he says he wants to recreate feudalism.”

                                                                                        1. 4

                                                                                          I agree! But I also think that Urbit is interesting, and “it’s dangerous, don’t look at it!” is a unsatisfying & ineffective response to it.

                                                                                          1. 11

                                                                                            Then you should keep an eye out for people who have made that claim.

                                                                                2. 0

                                                                                  Well, what is so bad about feudalism? From a historical perspective, feudalism was great at distributing a region’s economic/agricultural risk across smaller fiefdoms. With nation-states and globalism, all the risk is centralized, so one error between e.g. Russia and the US could lead to disastrous consequences for the rest of the world. In feudalism, two fiefs warring will not affect the entire world or even country. (This argument has been made by many historians, I recently found it in DeLanda’s 1000 Years of Nonlinear History, which I highly recommend, it’s an exciting read.)

                                                                                  As for the second block quote, this sounds much like what we have now. For the most part, the people controlling the development of Linux are Linus and his lieutenants, the people that own most of the IPs are some governments and companies that got in when the internet was just starting. Of course new ones come along but they don’t have as large of a slice. But Urbit isn’t competing with Linux, it’s competing with Facebook and Google, which is about as centralized and dictatorial as you get. Feudalism could be an improvement over a Facebook dictatorship.

                                                                                  1. 23

                                                                                    Well, what is so bad about feudalism?

                                                                                    Well, from a historical perspective, it was an absolute dogshit deal for the 99.99999% of humanity who wasn’t king or at best lord. Zero freedom of movement, no possessions, no say in governance, your station in life determined entirely by the accident of your birth, wild inequality in legal treatment, zero freedom of religious belief, etc, etc. It’s rather well documented in all those things societies wrote while they were in the midst of overthrowing these systems. Those French peasants were certainly rather powerfully mad about something.

                                                                                    The “region’s” (aka, the one guy who owns everything) risk is well distributed? Hard to care about that.

                                                                                    In feudalism, two fiefs warring will not affect the entire world or even country.

                                                                                    Because they were fighting with pointy pieces of metal and not nuclear warheads. Feudalism had nothing to do with the limited scope of the conflict. If Russia and the US wanted to go to war with broadswords it would be a lot less dangerous, too.

                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                      Yes but you’re comparing it with the improvements that came after. Was feudalism not an improvement on what came before it? Anyway, the French peasants revolted against monarchy, not feudalism.

                                                                                      Perhaps it’d be best to avoid the medieval baggage by simple arguing in favor of federalism, something that’s easier to agree with.

                                                                                      1. 17

                                                                                        Yes but you’re comparing it with the improvements that came after. Was feudalism not an improvement on what came before it?

                                                                                        Sure, just like amputating a limb because of a broken bone was better than dying of sepsis. There’s still rather a lot bad about needlessly cutting off limbs, though.

                                                                                        And since we’re discussing Yarvin’s political theories for the modern world it’s also a wee bit important to consider how much worse it is than the current state of affairs.

                                                                                        Anyway, the French peasants revolted against monarchy, not feudalism.

                                                                                        Both, actually. They coexisted in various forms until 1789 when the revolutionary National Assembly passed a set of Manorial reforms that put a final end to vassalage (theoretically the peasants were supposed to pay out the seigneuriage, but they refused, so that theory didn’t last long and by 1800 it was well and truly dead)

                                                                                        1. 5

                                                                                          And since we’re discussing Yarvin’s political theories for the modern world it’s also a wee bit important to consider how much worse it is than the current state of affairs.

                                                                                          The current state of affairs is Google and Facebook own most of the trust w.r.t. user identities and data, thus they own most of the users' computing abilities. This makes a Muslim registry very easy to create, for example. It’s not as easy to do under Urbit’s identity model because its decentralized.

                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                            Thanks for the history lesson!

                                                                                            Anyway, I was just rereading the Urbit page on address space, and all the references are to republicanism, not feudalism.

                                                                                            In either case, the emphasis is on decentralized federation.

                                                                              2. 6

                                                                                You wanna get even more freaked out? They have custom phonetic representations for all the punctuation (runes) their language uses. This includes ‘~’, pronounced ‘sig’. So what is their logo? A sig rune…!

                                                                                (Personally I don’t give a shit about the politics and find these stupid edgy jokes almost hilarious. I wouldn’t take it too seriously, given that this stuff is probably less likely to help and more likely to harm their prospects in the long run…)

                                                                                1. 22

                                                                                  Personally I don’t give a shit about the politics and find these stupid edgy jokes almost hilarious.

                                                                                  I don’t know you from Adam, but maybe give some thought to the idea that it’s possible to be a little too uncaring about politics when you’ve reached the point where “we need to overthrow democracy and return to the good ol' days of feudalist monarchy” merits just another “yeah whatever politics is politics” shrug.

                                                                                  Some things are legitimately crazy enough that they should cause almost anyone to raise an eyebrow.

                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                    You’re right, I shouldn’t be so flippant.

                                                                                    I’ve actually thought about Urbit quite a bit. I believe the federated system could potentially offer a lot more freedom than the current web.

                                                                                    A lot of my feminist friends are incensed by the idea that Facebook bans female nipples - they believe they have the right to freedom of expression, but on Facebook, there’s nowhere else to go. We’re all serfs to Facebook.

                                                                                    If these people had, say, planets on a star which started revoking the right to post nipples, everybody would have the freedom to up sticks and move to a star more amenable to freedom of expression.

                                                                                    At least, that’s how it should work in theory. I like to believe that despite Yarvin’s political leanings, one can put together a libertarian, or even a progressivist argument for Urbit’s architecture - we all want roughly the same thing, freedom. And this is why I am willing to overlook his politics.

                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                      If these people had, say, planets on a star which started revoking the right to post nipples, everybody would have the freedom to up sticks and move to a star more amenable to freedom of expression.

                                                                                      Isn’t that like up and leaving Facebook for a social network you control or have influence over - or at least one that’s friendlier to the content you want to express? I’m sure there are examples of websites where the users can post with more autonomy than Facebook without having to invent a new paradigm for computing.

                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                        You really don’t remember what the web used to be do you? It used to be decentralized. Our ISP uses to be run by some guy down the street with a closet full of computers. Our email was run by that guy or our university, or ourselves. Social networks were links across websites and web rings. It became decentralized when all the corporations decided they wanted to own the internet and the web. The future isn’t decentralized, the past was. We forget what we lost.

                                                                                      2. 3

                                                                                        Eh, they’re just words. Words will never, ever, get more than a shrug from me, no matter what they are (c.f. “sticks and stones…”). I’m willing to at least half entertain almost any notion, and bounce it around in my head for a bit, even if I disagree.

                                                                                        I’ll believe Moldbug wants to “overthrow democracy” when I see him leading a crowd of people with guns.

                                                                                        1. 12

                                                                                          I’ll believe Moldbug wants to overthrow the government when I see him leading a crowd of people with guns.

                                                                                          Do you also turn up your nose at preventative healthcare? Is there no benefit in nipping fascism in the bud, or do people have to die before we take action?

                                                                                    2. 2

                                                                                      He’s not subverting fascism, he’s enacting a feudalist fascism.

                                                                                      I’m not sure whether you can have feudalism (lords controlling independent fiefs) and fascism (authoritarian nationalism) at the same time, since feudalism is federated and fascism is centralized.

                                                                                      I do think you’re on to something with the feudalism label… but that could actually be an improvement for the internet, though it would be a regression in real life.

                                                                                      The internet is currently a wild-west that relies on trust. We’re bumping up against the limits of that now. Spam, sibyl attacks, centralized DNS (which can and does have outages)… Urbit provides a more robust, federated structure.

                                                                                      1. 6

                                                                                        I’m not sure whether you can have feudalism (lords controlling independent fiefs) and fascism (authoritarian nationalism) at the same time, since feudalism is federated and fascism is centralized.

                                                                                        Feudalism was historically widespread because it enabled taxation and control in ways that were otherwise uneconomical. It was created and promulgated to support centralization, and began to fall away once centralization could exist without it.

                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                          What’s a more decentralized alternative to federation? Other than complete non-communication.

                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                            Fully automated luxury space communism

                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                              I wonder what that would look like manifested as internet architecture :) resource-sharing of some kind?

                                                                                            2. 2

                                                                                              polycentric law

                                                                                          2. 4

                                                                                            Urbit provides a more robust, federated structure.

                                                                                            In what meaningful sense of the word “robust” is a niche project dealing with less than one one-millionth (one-billionth, even) of the traffic, issues, or attacks the DNS system currently withstands “more robust”?

                                                                                            1. 9

                                                                                              Architecturally and conceptually robust. Admittedly their system is not under heavy load so I have no idea how much traffic they can actually handle, but that’s not what I was driving at.

                                                                                              Let’s face it, the architecture of the internet is broken. There are so many systems which rely on trust to operate.

                                                                                              • BGP requires a router to trust its neighbors, and is easily spoofed. Accidental spoofing can cause massive outages.
                                                                                              • DNS relies on you to trust your provider, and is trivially middle-manned by any network operator. Public wifi does this all the time in order to force you to accept a EULA. There is a whole host of issues listed on Wikipedia. DnsSec is a band-aid.
                                                                                              • TLS helps solve the problem of cryptographically asserting a website’s identity, but relies on centralized certificate authorities who (until the advent of LetsEncrypt) charged thousands of dollars per year for a certificate. Certificate authorities are open to government subversion.
                                                                                              • TCP’s complete lack of cryptography allows injection/spoofing attacks, replay attacks, SYN flooding, etc.
                                                                                              • Rogue DHCP servers are able to perform man-in-the-middle attacks on the network they are plugged into.

                                                                                              There’s almost no end to the ways in which the current internet is totally busted. We keep trying to paper over the flaws, but the system simply was not designed for security from the beginning.

                                                                                              In contrast, Urbit:

                                                                                              • Uses a functional and minimal base language Nock, which is useful for doing proofs.
                                                                                              • Cryptographic identity means you know you’re communicating with the intended target.
                                                                                              • Scarce identity (32-bit “planets”) helps to prevent sibyl attacks, and reputation helps to prevent spam.
                                                                                              • The address space is an interesting middle-ground between raw IP addresses, which are hard to memorize, and DNS names, which are human readable but require lookup.
                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                The Internet is not broken. It worked the day it was turned on an has never been turned off. What’s broken is our governments, economies, and laws.

                                                                                          3. 1

                                                                                            Thank you, great detective work. So many things pissed me off about Unit’s network model. I learned more and decided it was created by fascists. This is the final nail and damning proof for me.

                                                                                        2. 8

                                                                                          great analysis… ugh. deep crap there. Did you see Politico mention that Bannon and Yarvin chat: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/02/steve-bannon-books-reading-list-214745 followed by this denial: http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/2/7/14533876/mencius-moldbug-steve-bannon-neoreactionary-curtis-yarvin I was more afraid that urbit.gov was in the works.

                                                                                          That said technically it’s interesting… kind of like the V2 I suppose.

                                                                                          Not even sure how we got to this point of Godwin’s Law becoming Godwin’s Presidency. The ‘ethos’ of National Socialism was so half baked (and then fully baked in firebombing hue hue hue) that I don’t really understand how people could dig it up when there’s so much new and classical thinking that supports fair and just treatment of all humans. These blips of self imagined superiority always get stomped by unified diversity, yet here we are watching one pop up like a case of idea acne here in 21st century.

                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                            When I heard about Urbit and learned the network structure, I was like “what is this neo fudalist bullshit. I thought this was p2p”. Then read Yarvins work and was like “oh, how cute, a fascist. That makes sense”. Nope, won’t touch with a ten foot pole.

                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                              He’s not wrong, though, is he? Some companies are better about exporting data, but everyone’s Facebook emails and messages are in one data structure, shuffled by proprietary source code, in one company’s control, and restricted from access via anything but the interfaces they create & permit. Last I checked, Facebook isn’t run by a democratically elected leader, either…

                                                                                              1. -1

                                                                                                He’s clearly describing the “one"s of apps as undesirable qualities.

                                                                                                That bit from The Big Lebowski is a pretty standard joke.

                                                                                                There’s plenty to object to in his writings, you don’t need to stretch like this.

                                                                                            2. 9

                                                                                              I think this is the first time we’ve had a slayed dragon (see “2017-02-09 19:44:02” entry). Kudos to @pushcx, @angersock, @bsima, @matt, @bsima, @ChadSki and others for pulling it back from the brink :)

                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                I have no idea what’s that supposed to mean.

                                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                                  Contentious threads are flagged as “dragons”. This one was briefly a dragon before being unflagged (see the moderation log).

                                                                                              2. 1

                                                                                                Attack the work, not the man. Cmon dude.

                                                                                                1. 41

                                                                                                  It’s totally reasonable to reject someone’s work if they’re using it to propel an agenda of dividing the community. The idea that we should blindly accept contributions independent of social consequences is a bit half baked. It’s one thing if someone is just a dick, it’s another entirely if they are actively trying to divide the community arbitrarily for the sake of personal gain. This is after all what ________ supremacists do, and to overlook it is genuinely harmful to the progress of open source. In short, if someone isn’t willing to listen or respect others, they don’t get to demand respect.

                                                                                                  1. 8

                                                                                                    If we’re willing to abandon tools and techniques because the people who came up with them don’t agree with our ideology, we’re doing ourselves a disservice and we will be surpassed by people who do not use such a subjective metric.

                                                                                                    To bring out some old examples…should we have ignored rocketry because von Braun was an actual Nazi (a Major in the SS)? Should we have given up synthetic fertilizers because Haber basically invented chemical warfare?

                                                                                                    Or on the other side, should Turing’s work been disowned because he was a homosexual and his existence divided the (nominally God-fearing, straight) English community? Should English and German banks have avoided the practice of interest-bearing loans pioneered by the Jews that they viewed as an other (which is actually a fascinating bit of history into itself)?

                                                                                                    Only somebody who lives with either extreme luxury or extreme fundamentalism that can afford the position you’re advocating.

                                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                                      It depends how much of the repellent ideology is encoded into the tools, and how much ‘not giving it up’ helps the repellent causes.

                                                                                                      Also, your counterfactual is kind of weird, as through various points in history English and German financial instruments did (and many Islamic financial instruments still do) avoid interest as a mechanism for deriving profit, and Turing’s work was stopped (through the mechanism of Turing dying) due to the state disliking his sexuality, and I would argue that operation paperclip (and other similar efforts) were disastrous for the world - we should have executed all the Nazis, and just potentially taken longer to build rockets.

                                                                                                      So, this is more akin to rejecting (say) credit default obligations - an invention that encoded the repellent idea of the traders call and byzantification, while claiming to produce miraculous wealth decoupled from the underlying economy.

                                                                                                      1. 8

                                                                                                        This is a ridiculous mischaracterization. Try to engage in good faith here.

                                                                                                        should we have ignored rocketry because von Braun was an actual Nazi

                                                                                                        He didn’t have a monopoly on the idea of rocketry. We could have courtmartialed him for war crimes instead of celebrating him.

                                                                                                        Should we have given up synthetic fertilizers because Haber basically invented chemical warfare?

                                                                                                        Haber didn’t have a monopoly on fertilizer ideas. We should give up chemical warfare, and refuse to support Haber personally for his crimes.

                                                                                                        Urbit is owned by moldbug and his mates. Contributing to it is contributing to his prosperity.

                                                                                                        1. 4

                                                                                                          We could have courtmartialed him for war crimes […]

                                                                                                          I don’t these some of those words mean what you think they mean.

                                                                                                          We should give up chemical warfare, and refuse to support Haber personally for his crimes.

                                                                                                          If you’re replying to @angersock, I think you need to engage in good faith. We aren’t going to give up chemical warfare because other groups who want power aren’t going to give it up.

                                                                                                          And your revisionist history isn’t helpful. Other people were working on rockets, chemical warfare, nukes, cryptography, modern financial instruments, and hell probably agriculture; but, when the race is on for power, societies back winning teams. Operation Paperclip wasn’t a one-time thing, it’s happened numerous times throughout history.

                                                                                                          “Bad” people have, time and time again, made “bad” things for “good” people.

                                                                                                          (I note that you didn’t even touch @angersocks' “on the other side” examples. Goddamn, have I been trolled?)

                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                            I don’t these some of those words mean what you think they mean.

                                                                                                            Good spot - tried would be more appropriate (and very kind of you to soften the blow by reordering your words)

                                                                                                            We aren’t going to give up chemical warfare because other groups who want power aren’t going to give it up.

                                                                                                            Most major powers have agreed to give up the proliferation of weapons that cause excessive collateral damage.

                                                                                                            “Bad” people have, time and time again, made “bad” things for “good” people.

                                                                                                            Yep - and I don’t have a problem with using the things - but I do have a problem with supporting their creators.

                                                                                                            (I note that you didn’t even touch @angersocks' “on the other side” examples. Goddamn, have I been trolled?)

                                                                                                            My time isn’t unlimited; the principles in my response extend just fine to the rest of his examples.

                                                                                                            If you have a moral problem with homosexuality it’s follows naturally that you would not want to support Turing.

                                                                                                          2. 4

                                                                                                            Haber didn’t have a monopoly on fertilizer ideas.

                                                                                                            Yeah he actually kinda did. There’s a reason it’s referred to as the Haber Process. It was fucking huge.

                                                                                                            We could have courtmartialed him for war crimes instead of celebrating him.

                                                                                                            And then the Apollo program never would’ve happened, because he and the rest of the Operation Paperclip scientists were instrumental in the United States being able to catch up with the Soviets who had both the German rockets and tooling and the engineering talent to reverse and improve them.

                                                                                                            You know, this in turn resulting in the free world losing to a USSR with functional theater and ballistic missles.

                                                                                                            Urbit is owned by moldbug and his mates. Contributing to it is contributing to his prosperity.

                                                                                                            But the architecture and source is open-source, and so anybody is free to improve on it and use it for their own gain. Yarvin himself even says as much.

                                                                                                            ~

                                                                                                            To quote a certain movie:

                                                                                                            Forget it, Donny, you’re out of your element!

                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                              Haber didn’t have a monopoly on fertilizer ideas.

                                                                                                              Yeah he actually kinda did. There’s a reason it’s referred to as the Haber Process.

                                                                                                              That is just one of many processes. In fact, it’s predated by the Ostwald Process. The Haber Process was a great idea, but it wasn’t the only idea.

                                                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                                                You’ve mixed up the two processes as interchangable–they’re not.

                                                                                                                The Ostwald produces nitric acid from ammonia–the ammonia is made by the Haber process.

                                                                                                                From your link:

                                                                                                                Frank-Caro process and Ostwald process dominated the industrial fixation of nitrogen until the discovery of the Haber process in 1909.

                                                                                                                The Haber process was markedly more efficient than the Frank-Caro process.You probably mean to compare it with the Frank-Caro or similar cyanamide methods for producing ammonia. All those methods are not similar at all in yield to the Haber process, and require a lot more energy and, I believe, material.

                                                                                                              2. 1

                                                                                                                Yes, some free world we seem to have here. I bet we can do better

                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                  Yeah he actually kinda did. There’s a reason it’s referred to as the Haber Process. It was fucking huge.

                                                                                                                  He also invented it before doing any work at all on chemical weapons.

                                                                                                                  And then the Apollo program never would’ve happened, because he and the rest of the Operation Paperclip scientists were instrumental in the United States being able to catch up with the Soviets who had both the German rockets and tooling and the engineering talent to reverse and improve them.

                                                                                                                  Just so I’m clear here: is your argument that the US should pardon anyone who is likely to prove useful to national security, regardless of their crimes? (I don’t think they should, but that’s at least a coherent, self-consistent argument).

                                                                                                                  But the architecture and source is open-source, and so anybody is free to improve on it and use it for their own gain. Yarvin himself even says as much.

                                                                                                                  I have no problem with a forked universe. I’m calling on you not to support Yarvin.

                                                                                                                  To quote a certain movie:

                                                                                                                  I am indeed - ad hominem attacks have never been my strong suit.

                                                                                                              3. 2

                                                                                                                That’s not what I said, but cool argument against whatever ghost it is you’re fighting.

                                                                                                              4. 3

                                                                                                                I am unable to find any indication anywhere that Urbit is being used to propel an agenda of dividing the community. There are indeed things he says that I find disagreeable but Urbit has nothing nothing to do with any of them.

                                                                                                              5. 21

                                                                                                                Clever Nazi references are now part of the work.

                                                                                                            1. 4

                                                                                                              Like most Urbit articles, this is so heavily compressed that I’m not sure I really understand what they’re getting at, but it has an interesting re-examination of textual interfaces.

                                                                                                              I’m fond of the idea that some technologies which are considered completely unusable could be vastly improved with small UI changes (e.g. QR codes, HTTP Authentication). It will be worth a few minutes to poke at this once it’s more than just screenshots.

                                                                                                              1. 22

                                                                                                                I don’t put much weight on any ESR opinion after he indicated he believes that black people are sub-human.

                                                                                                                I can disagree with anyone, and still listen to what they have to say, but I draw the line when you start talking about how my colleagues and my cousins aren’t actually humans. I don’t really care what you have to say about anything after that.

                                                                                                                I wish we’d stop posting and reading to what he has to say about anything.

                                                                                                                1. 9

                                                                                                                  If I was a serial killer who raped and murdered dozens of women and children, set fire to a church, a mosque and a synagogue, would this automatically, for instance, invalidate my works in applied mathematics?

                                                                                                                  It is easy to act offended by this or that person. I prefer ESR’s factual and well-articulated arguments while he discussed Rust and Go any day over your ad hominem attempts to deconstruct a chain of argument stating something that doesn’t have anything to do with the problem at hand.

                                                                                                                  In the long run, people like you are the ones who are guilty of the fact that so many people nowadays are afraid of stating their own opinion. Trump’s victory, which was a “total surprise”, actually wasn’t. And now after he won, more and more people are not scared anymore to express their world view. Now, I am not judging anybody on any side. But I suppose your goal is to convince people that believe otherwise that negroes are human (duh!). Now, do you think it is more productive to

                                                                                                                  • talk to these people, get an idea why they believe so and suggest fallacies in the line of thought; or to

                                                                                                                  • shun them, isolate them, mark them as *ists, *phobes, nazis, whatever, deny their existence, ignore what they have to say, and so on.

                                                                                                                  I’ll leave that as an exercise for you and hope you see what I mean.

                                                                                                                  1. 10

                                                                                                                    Well, let’s discuss his works in applied programming then. His (rather, stolen by him) fetchmail, among its other sins, was not checking SMTP responses from the server it talked to when I looked at it. His gpsd truncates JSON responses after 1.5KB instead of allocating memory dynamically. I don’t see why I should listen to an opinion on relative merits of programming languages by someone whose level of competence is below an average 2nd year CS student.

                                                                                                                    If he were like Henry Ford, a Hitler admirer who reached great heights in his chosen field, we could discuss your line of reasoning, but ESR is no Ford.

                                                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                                                      So, I’m with you on his track record being spotty in some cases–a better example would be his hijacking/claiming credit for ncurses. That’s a fun little bit of drama to read about, as an aside.

                                                                                                                      But, I can’t give you a pass on this:

                                                                                                                      instead of allocating memory dynamically.

                                                                                                                      If only there was some kind of programming scenario where dynamic memory allocation wasn’t a good policy, like perhaps embedded or realtime systems. But that would only make sense if this code was being used for something like GPS–ha oh wait no, nevermind, that’s exactly what this code is being used for.

                                                                                                                      Besides, the behavior is clearly documented and recoverable, and clearly has somehow survived a lot of use in the real world…rather unlike your average 2nd year CS student. I’m sorry it offends your sensibilities, but perhaps maybe consider the problem domain before attacking it on stylistic grounds?

                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                        If only there was some kind of programming scenario where dynamic memory allocation wasn’t a good policy, like perhaps embedded or realtime systems.

                                                                                                                        According to its home page,

                                                                                                                        gpsd is a service daemon that monitors one or more GPSes or AIS receivers attached to a host computer through serial or USB ports, making all data on the location/course/velocity of the sensors available to be queried on TCP port 2947 of the host computer.

                                                                                                                        It’s not embedded software.

                                                                                                                        Edit: Downvoted as “incorrect”? Have a decency to correct me, then.

                                                                                                                        1. 5

                                                                                                                          GPSD is everywhere in mobile embedded systems. It underlies the map service on Android phones. It’s ubiquitous in drones, robot submarines, and driverless cars. It’s increasingly common in recent generations of manned aircraft, marine navigation systems, and military vehicles.

                                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                                            For what it’s worth, I didn’t downvote you.

                                                                                                                            Anyways, GPSD is run as a service in Android >4.0, so yes, it’s embedded software.

                                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                                              Android systems normally have hundreds of megabytes of RAM at the very least, so I wouldn’t consider them embedded, especially when speaking about allocating several kilobytes.

                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                And don’t forget - he didn’t actually create gpsd.

                                                                                                                      2. 6

                                                                                                                        “If I was a serial killer who raped and murdered dozens of women and children, set fire to a church, a mosque and a synagogue, would this automatically, for instance, invalidate my works in applied mathematics?”

                                                                                                                        It would make me not want to read your opinions, engage with you in technical discussion, or otherwise normalize your behavior. I’d continue to make use of valid technical results, but I would not disrespect your victims by accepting your participation in my community.

                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                          How do you feel about the Wernher von Braun?

                                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                                            The missiles go up and where they come down is not my concern says Wernher von Braun

                                                                                                                        2. 6

                                                                                                                          would this automatically, for instance, invalidate my works in applied mathematics?

                                                                                                                          I’m not arguing that; I’m arguing that the presence of these people in our community and the discussion of their ideas turns off others in our community, and signaling that these behaviors are acceptable ultimately leads to worse behavior from everyone. It’s a good thing, for example, that you can’t say the N word without being shamed or shunned by your peers and excluded from society.

                                                                                                                          1. 8

                                                                                                                            There are also people who go to the length of taking screenshots of text to put out of context. It’s as if the original material wasn’t even read, or alternatively not understood.

                                                                                                                            Sure this is going off-topic, but the presence of people who are wilfully ignorant or wilfully misunderstanding, and then spreading that kind of a false message, is a problem as well.

                                                                                                                            1. 12

                                                                                                                              Quite right. People keep saying “wah wah wah I want more politics in mah lobsters why do we have to be so technically oriented”, and then they go and show that they can’t be arsed to actually source things correctly and argue things beyond “but but but muh feelings, muh racism”. A bunch of dreck.

                                                                                                                              The argument @kb and others of his ilk put forth is “if you hold views that are not in agreement with us on a topic regardless of whether that topic is relevant to the current technical discussion, you should be shunned.”

                                                                                                                              This is very popular, very in-vogue, and the stupidest, most truly close-minded goddamn thing in the world, and that ideology should be mocked publically at every turn because it cannot play well with others, and because it cripples rational thought prevasively in the afflicted.

                                                                                                                              It’s absurd that irrational opinions or preferences should somehow automatically invalidate other good discourse.

                                                                                                                              Further, the immature notion of @kb’s that failing to shun these folks somehow automagically signal-boosts their message is absurd. You know why we have exposure of ESR’s crazy in this thread? Because @kb decided to pipe up about it.

                                                                                                                              Otherwise, we would’ve just had a reasonable amount of shilling by Go and Rust fans. It’s almost as though these folks can’t shut the fuck up about their pet grievances because they require those grievances to become front-and-center in every place they show their faces–hence my remark about not playing well with others.

                                                                                                                              1. 6

                                                                                                                                “It’s absurd that irrational opinions or preferences should somehow automatically invalidate other good discourse.”

                                                                                                                                Irrational preference is a funny way to characterize racist discourse.

                                                                                                                                “Further, the immature notion of @kb’s that failing to shun these folks somehow automagically signal-boosts their message is absurd.”

                                                                                                                                That’s not an immature notion, it’s basic decency.

                                                                                                                                Edit: Do I get to be of an ilk? Always been a dream of mine.

                                                                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                                                                  That’s not an immature notion, it’s basic decency.

                                                                                                                                  In what world does failing to ban X cause there to be additional X? Does my failing to ban the word “fnord” on my blog somehow create addional instances of “fnord”? No, no it does not. It might seem like splitting hairs, but in that small difference is the gap between tolerance and censorship.

                                                                                                                                  Basic decency, I’d posit, is more about gracefully handling the existence of people who don’t agree with you on everything–even something as “common sense” or “evil” as bigotry. It’s odd that the “decent” approach somehow calls for shunning people and kicking them out.

                                                                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                                                                    Who is calling for a ban on anything? But if your question is: in what world does widespread disapproval of some kind of offensive speech or behavior lead to reduction in that type of speech - the answer is: this world. For example the omnipresence of public humiliation of gay people or women in polite conversation in the USA 50 years ago has been reduced significantly by public disapproval. Or consider how white Americans called black men “boy” only a few decades ago even in supposedly educated circles.

                                                                                                                                    “Basic decency, I’d posit, is more about gracefully handling the existence of people who don’t agree with you on everything ”

                                                                                                                                    You conflate “disagree” and “degrade”. You may disagree with me about, for example, Barack Obama’s skills as a politician, but if you express your disagreement by waving around posters of Mr. Obama with a bone through his nose, we’re not “disagreeing”. Basic decency is treating all human beings as human beings, even if you dislike them or disagree with them. Asserting that an imaginary genetic inferiority of Hatians is to blame for the poverty of Haiti is a failure of basic decency (as well as an admission of gross ignorance).

                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                      Who is calling for a ban on anything?

                                                                                                                                      @kb, to wit: I can respect disagreements on most issues, but I don’t want you in my community and I don’t want to discuss what you have to say when you can’t see my coworkers and friends as human beings.

                                                                                                                                      But if your question is: in what world does widespread disapproval of some kind of offensive speech or behavior lead to reduction in that type of speech

                                                                                                                                      That was pretty clearly not my question…?

                                                                                                                                      Or consider how white Americans called black men “boy” only a few decades ago even in supposedly educated circles.

                                                                                                                                      Is this from personal experience, or calling on a vague notion of “the bad old days”?

                                                                                                                                      Because, from personal experience, I can assure you that folks still use “boy” as a diminutive when referring to, well, young males and young-acting males, all the time–at least in Texas–regardless of the race of the person in question. “That boy is going to get himself into trouble.” “I’m going to see my boy.”.

                                                                                                                                      You conflate “disagree” and “degrade”.

                                                                                                                                      I never said “disagree”, I said “don’t agree”: there is a category of “I don’t promote your message, but I also don’t promote the countermessage” which is important not to lose in the shuffle.

                                                                                                                                      Asserting that an imaginary genetic inferiority of Hatians is to blame for the poverty of Haiti is a failure of basic decency (as well as an admission of gross ignorance).

                                                                                                                                      That’s not what was pointed out, though–the exact thing pointed out was the observed (by some source) low IQ, and then a comment that “Gee, it seems like low IQ correlates highly with being a third-world country”. You have not here, or elsewhere in sibling posts, actually shown the accusation that you keep claiming ESR made.

                                                                                                                                      ~

                                                                                                                                      Like, the source text for all of this, his comments and our discussions, are right here. Hyperlinks and direct quotes will save you a lot of miscommunication and bullshit.

                                                                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                                                                        I don’t think you are arguing in good faith, so I’ll give you the last word.

                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                          Right, so no refutation of my points, and no further evidence for those of yours which were called out as misrepresentations of mine and others' points.

                                                                                                                                          If “good faith” argumentation doesn’t require such things, I’m not really sure why we should care about it, and I certainly see no benefit in having it here.

                                                                                                                                2. 5

                                                                                                                                  “if you hold views that are not in agreement with us on a topic regardless of whether that topic is relevant to the current technical discussion, you should be shunned.”

                                                                                                                                  This is a straw man, see my first comment that kicked off this whole thing. I can respect disagreements on most issues, but I don’t want you in my community and I don’t want to discuss what you have to say when you can’t see my coworkers and friends as human beings.

                                                                                                                                  It used to be acceptable to make sweeping generalizations about racial groups, demean women in the workplace, use the N word, and it’s generally not anymore, in large part because people who make those comments will be shamed/shunned/fired. I think that’s a good thing. I think you and others underestimate the effects toxic people have on others' participation in the community.

                                                                                                                                  failing to shun these folks somehow automagically signal-boosts their message is absurd

                                                                                                                                  Not about signal-boosting their message, but about the implicit message we send to marginalized groups when we tolerate the extreme beliefs of others. The message it sends when this person, who thinks you are too dumb to learn how to use a gun because of your skin color, is accepted and welcomed in the community.

                                                                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                                                                    Thank you for more clearly stating your position here.

                                                                                                                                    but about the implicit message we send to marginalized groups when we tolerate the extreme beliefs of others.

                                                                                                                                    It’s difficult to reason effectively about “implicit messaging”, especially without either spiraling off into space or making the sin of pretending we can truly know how another person feels about something and how they perceive it.

                                                                                                                                    I’ll take responsibility for anything explicitly said, but the way that you use implicit messaging here seems to translate to “whatever message others infer from their observations”. I only have one dog–your reasoning suggests I should be concerned that I’m sending off the “I hate cats” message.

                                                                                                                                    The message it sends when this person, who thinks you are too dumb to learn how to use a gun because of your skin color, is accepted and welcomed in the community.

                                                                                                                                    Where is this message in his writings, exactly? Or are you just spitballing a hypothetical or, god forbid, another idea coming out of Twitter?

                                                                                                                                    Also, that same message sans skin color predicate is used all the time by folks who dislike gun owners, and many of those folks are accepted with loving arms in the tech community. If you want this to be something we care about, maybe we should address that other blatant doubletalk first.

                                                                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                                                                      Where is anyone saying your coworkers and friends aren’t human beings? Where did he say something like that? What am I missing? Where is this gun claim coming from?

                                                                                                                                      edit: what particular belief should not be tolerated?

                                                                                                                            2. 10

                                                                                                                              You would probably do better to link specific examples than to just say “he’s an evil meanie racist who shouldn’t be listened to”.

                                                                                                                              Least of all because his software probably has more users than yours.

                                                                                                                              1. 17

                                                                                                                                In the case of ESR, I think it’s fair to ask whether people use “his” software because of or despite his authorship. I wager the concensus is that he’s done a shit job actually improving it, despite much bloviating to the contrary.

                                                                                                                                1. 7

                                                                                                                                  Sure, but that doesn’t mean his technical opinions are worth ignoring completely.

                                                                                                                                  Software quality is not, sadly, the final word–otherwise we would all use OpenBSD instead of Linux.

                                                                                                                                  1. 10

                                                                                                                                    Of course. His technical opinions should be evaluated - but one should be mindful of the quality of his past work while doing so. ESR portrays himself as a form of coding demi-god (see quotes below), but that may be stretching the truth somewhat.

                                                                                                                                    Yes, there was a bug in my vint64 encapsulation commit. I will neither confirm nor deny any conjecture that I left it in there deliberately to see who would be sharp enough to spot it.

                                                                                                                                    I often go entire months per project without committing a bug to the repository. There have been good stretches on NTPsec in which my error rate was down around one introduced bug per quarter while I was coding at apparently breakneck speed. This is how I do that.

                                                                                                                                    Source

                                                                                                                                    Right, so he implies a bug in his code was left there intentionally for others to spot (I’m not sure if it was a failed attempt at humour - it can be hard to tell with his writing style)? And he goes months without committing bugs to the repository. Wow. He’s come a long way since fetchmail is all I can say…

                                                                                                                                    Edit: I thought I was making a reasonable argument (with quotes!), but if that’s flagged as trolling, then so be it.

                                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                                      I don’t follow. Are you saying that we should listen to ESR’s technical opinion because his software is relatively popular, eventhough it’s low quality?

                                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                                        There is indeed a lot that can be learned from popular, if low-quality, software.

                                                                                                                                        Consider the other side of your position: Should we only listen to people who write high-quality software that never sees public use? I think not.

                                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                                          Consider the other side of your position: Should we only listen to people who write high-quality software that never sees public use?

                                                                                                                                          This is a ridiculous portrayal of my words. Only people who write software that’s never used? Of course not. But if I’m going to listen to someone speaking about programming, I’d rather listen to someone who can write good software, however popular it is, than follow popularity contests. If he were talking about marketing software to free sof^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hopen source enthusiasts, that would be an entirely different issue.

                                                                                                                                  2. 8

                                                                                                                                    Having more users doesn’t necessarily mean the software is any good. Just look at the horror that is fetchmail (in short: “As to fetchmail: it is an abomination before God”).

                                                                                                                                    DJB also had the following to say about it:

                                                                                                                                    Last night, root@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx reinjected thirty old messages from various authors to qmail@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

                                                                                                                                    This sort of idiocy happens much more often than most subscribers know, thanks to a broken piece of software by Eric Raymond called fetchmail. Fortunately, qmail and ezmlm have loop-prevention mechanisms that stop these messages before they are distributed to subscribers. The messages end up bouncing to the wrong place, thanks to another fetchmail bug, but at least the mailing list is protected.

                                                                                                                                    –D. J. Bernstein

                                                                                                                                    There’s more in the getmail FAQ. Yes, the getmail author may possibly be biased but that list of security holes doesn’t make for good reading.

                                                                                                                                    If the piece of software you’re most known for is, well, not that great (and you didn’t even create it - it was a development of Carl Harris' popclient), then I reserve the right to treat what you say with scepticism.

                                                                                                                                      1. 7

                                                                                                                                        Why not link to the source material?

                                                                                                                                        For example: http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=5001

                                                                                                                                        In my opinion, the full article is rather different from the snippet you linked.

                                                                                                                                        1. 23

                                                                                                                                          You…are aware that screencaps of text don’t actually imply much these days, right? Especially if they’re from, say, a pretty openly biased source. Hint: tptacek may be an expert in security, but I wouldn’t automagically trust him beyond that point. Do your own homework…speaking of which!

                                                                                                                                          Here, let’s look at the actual quotes in context and at least attempt rigor:

                                                                                                                                          Sure, here: https://twitter.com/tqbf/status/816464403168161793

                                                                                                                                          From an article entitled “Preventing visceral racism” The thrust of which was ESR (however clumsily) trying to explore his own irrational feelings so he could learn to transcend them.

                                                                                                                                          and here: https://twitter.com/tqbf/status/816445221470957569

                                                                                                                                          The first bit is talking about what the guiding principle of the hacker community is (in his opinion), and how to approach him with an objection to that principle or a critique on it execution. Quite harmless, one might dare even say progressive, and frankly the sort of advice that people like you should take (instead of blindly regurgitating tweets).

                                                                                                                                          The second is ESR arguing that politics is the red-herring in Haiti’s “it’s the politics making it bad” is in fact due to “it’s the below-average IQ of the population”. Racism based on skin color (either for or against) is explicitly pointed out as being wrong. The final paragraph is saying that low IQs correlate with third-world countries–only exceptionally uncritical reading would interpret that as “yep, sure hate them blacks folks aye tell you hwut.”

                                                                                                                                          and here: https://twitter.com/tqbf/status/769328477606547456

                                                                                                                                          From this thread, the first comment of which is the one screencapped (which I am disallowed from linking to directly, sadly).

                                                                                                                                          If you read the paper under discussion, specifically the summary on page 60, you’ll see what they’re talking about–specifically, that it is claimed that social stressors don’t completely account for the increase in mental health issues with non-heterosexual and transgender populations.

                                                                                                                                          In that light, Eric’s comment is not some crazy bigoted nonsequitor. It can still be incorrect mind you, as can the report they’re discussing, but it’s hardly a smoking gun unless you’re hellbent on dismissing what the man has to say.

                                                                                                                                          Which, by your own admission of course, you are.

                                                                                                                                          I wish there was a downvote option for “intellectually lazy”.

                                                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                                                            The second is ESR arguing that politics is the red-herring in Haiti’s “it’s the politics making it bad” is in fact due to “it’s the below-average IQ of the population”. Racism based on skin color (either for or against) is explicitly pointed out as being wrong. The final paragraph is saying that low IQs correlate with third-world countries–only exceptionally uncritical reading would interpret that as “yep, sure hate them blacks folks aye tell you hwut.”

                                                                                                                                            You don’t have to sound like a racist out of central casting to be racist. The comment by Raymond you cited qualifies as racist.

                                                                                                                                            1. 7

                                                                                                                                              I don’t get it. What is racist about it?

                                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                                Seriously? You don’t get what is racist about a white American saying that a 100% black country, which his own country has invaded multiple times, has economic problems because its population is made up of people who are genetically doomed to stupidity?

                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                  He didn’t make up the IQ of Haiti. What do you want from him? How much sugar do you want with your research? Maybe Haiti has problems from both being invaded and being full of borderline disabled people?

                                                                                                                                                  I don’t know how you could possibly look at that fact and not think it’s going to have a big effect. Maybe the research is flawed but to say it’s racist to even ask the question is pathetic.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 0

                                                                                                                                                    At this point “ask the question” is like “it’s just a joke”.

                                                                                                                                                  2. 2

                                                                                                                                                    That isn’t what he said though…If you read the link, he says nothing about genetic predetermination. You are attacking him for something he didn’t write there.

                                                                                                                                                    Also, would it be less racist a claim, by your logic, were ESR not a white American? Cmon.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                                                      “Also, would it be less racist a claim, by your logic, were ESR not a white American? ”

                                                                                                                                                      Of course. This is how language works. It’s annoying how when these types of topics arise, people affect a kind of bland literalism that nobody uses to navigate daily life.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                                                                                        Jesus Christ. The IQ is what it is. How can you seriously say it’s racist to examine it?

                                                                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                                                                          IQ is not like atmospheric pressure - it’s a socially defined and socially significant “measure”. There’s a lot of research on the topic. There’s a good, short introduction in this article https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/why-people-keep-misunderstanding-the-connection-between-race-and-iq/275876/

                                                                                                                                                          What Raymond does in that note is a long way from “examine” some objective measure.

                                                                                                                                            2. 7

                                                                                                                                              While it’s well within your right to ignore ESR for his bigoted views, and idiocy, I do like to challenge this idea that because someone takes a certain stance on one thing, they shouldn’t be taken seriously in another, unrelated thing.

                                                                                                                                              I wonder how many contributions to science, literature, math, software, etc you’ve enjoyed, used, quoted, expanded your mind with, that were contributed to, written by, discovered by, persons with views that you would oppose so vehemently?

                                                                                                                                              Maybe the fact is, we live in a much different world now, where we have the tools necessary to understand people’s opinions and beliefs, because people share them openly on blogs and such.

                                                                                                                                              I’m not suggesting it’s the wrong approach to take–it may be the best strategy for defending against hate–but I wonder how this works when we might promote someone we don’t know enough about, which we wouldn’t if we did, ya know?

                                                                                                                                              1. 6

                                                                                                                                                A guy who’s considering the implications of scientific research and trying to actively train his system 1 to be less racist, what a monster.

                                                                                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                                                                                  Go tell a black coworker or a black friend that you don’t believe that black people should be allowed to own guns because you believe, as a group, they lack the intelligence to learn how to handle them and then get back to me on whether these are racist comments or not.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                                                                                    I didn’t see that claim made. I saw a claim about the average IQ in Haiti?

                                                                                                                                                    Seeing if an idea hurts someone’s feelings seems like a pretty bad idea to tell if it’s true though.

                                                                                                                                                    edit: I love the “here be dragons” label, I wish more places would do something like that rather than delete things.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                                                                                      Presumably, though, telling white (whatever that means) people that one believes, as a group, that they have pillaged the earth and made the human race worse off is somehow acceptable?

                                                                                                                                                      Please, let’s end this line of conversation for the time being.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                                                                        You’re moving the goalposts, and no, it’s not.

                                                                                                                                                        1. 7

                                                                                                                                                          How am I moving the goalposts? Friendo, you haven’t managed to set any meaningful parameters on this discussion beyond snark and half-baked accusations.

                                                                                                                                                          Maybe you could start by actually linking (directly!) to the material that you’re roundabout suggesting exists when you say things like

                                                                                                                                                          because you believe, as a group, they lack the intelligence to learn how to handle them

                                                                                                                                                          If ESR said that, source it–if he said that indirectly, source the different parts and draw the pattern out for us. If he didn’t say that, you’re just spouting inflammatory nonsense in an attempt to signal and get upvtoes.

                                                                                                                                              2. 2

                                                                                                                                                Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Sometimes the wrong people are right about something, and the strengths of their observations stand on their own.

                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                  Sometimes the wrong people are right about something, and the strengths of their observations stand on their own.

                                                                                                                                                  Plenty of people have thoughts about Rust and Go, we don’t need to also listen to the racist folks.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 4

                                                                                                                                                    Well, I think we can’t ignore any solid points they raise, if we happen to come across them.

                                                                                                                                                    I’m not saying we should seek out the opinions of racist folks. I was just browsing Lobste.rs when I saw this.

                                                                                                                                                    It might also be a good idea to keep abreast of what the racists are up to. Otherwise they might surprise you.

                                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                                Keepass is another open source password manager with many different front ends, including mobile.

                                                                                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                                                                                  Edmonton, Canada.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                                    Calgary, Canada

                                                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                                                    I wish this went into more detail because we don’t actually get much insight into the decisions.

                                                                                                                                                    It sounds like the HTTP / Postgres layer is really thin - so thin that they had to stop using transactions. Is that really an improvement?

                                                                                                                                                    If you’re doing a huge refactor, why go out of your way to keep AR’s interface?

                                                                                                                                                    Why not cache at the HTTP layer?

                                                                                                                                                    Why not use e.g. ActiveResource instead of writing your own AR-style object HTTP mapping library? Etc.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                                                                                      I basically agree with Paul Graham, along the axis that one oughtn’t to fight income inequality per se – we don’t want to punish people for doing a good business.

                                                                                                                                                      I am skeptical of the idea that technology leads to greater income inequality. It would seem to raise everyone’s productivity.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                                                                                        It would seem to raise everyone’s productivity.

                                                                                                                                                        Who decides what to do with the profits that come from increased productivity?

                                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                                          I feel like there are a couple of steps missing here – between your point and mine.

                                                                                                                                                          Say that technology enhanced everyone’s productivity – how would that affect distribution? The same people would decide as before; but the relative amounts might not change (on average).

                                                                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                                                                            how would that affect distribution?

                                                                                                                                                            We don’t have to speculate about this, of course. Simple observation of the economy reveals that those at the top take a massively disproportionate share of the benefits from increased productivity.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                                                                              This is coming at it from the wrong end – no one is disputing recent economic history. We’re talking about causes.

                                                                                                                                                              Were the kings of France or the holders of Roman estates so much closer to the poor of their era than the executives of today? Do we attribute this to technology?

                                                                                                                                                        2. 1

                                                                                                                                                          I think so far technology has raised everyone’s productivity. But we’re at a point where it’s about to start replacing humans more and more altogether. And that will absolutely cause an income inequality, the people who own the machines will control the wealth. This CGPGrey video explains the problem a lot better than I ever could. For context I’m thinking on a decades timeline here.

                                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                                          In other languages this problem is solved with keyword arguments and optional arguments with default values. This is clearest in this example:

                                                                                                                                                          pthread_magic_create(&thread, "stack:4096 guard:0 detached", ...
                                                                                                                                                          

                                                                                                                                                          Can C be extended so that it supports (roughly) this, without the double quotes?

                                                                                                                                                          (Second thought, why isn’t taking a struct as an argument an option?)

                                                                                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                                                                                            Passing a struct is an interesting option. That does solve many cases, but can make FFI even more annoying.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                                                                              Wouldn’t a struct impose ABI incompatibilities more often than both macros & a string interface?

                                                                                                                                                              1. 5

                                                                                                                                                                I think libraries should try to add function calls to manipulate structs rather than just the raw struct. It makes binding much easier.

                                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                  how does that differ then to the pthread API? That looks exactly like functions to manipulate an opaque struct pointer.

                                                                                                                                                                  pthread_attr_init(&attr);
                                                                                                                                                                  pthread_attr_setstacksize(&attr, 4096);
                                                                                                                                                                  pthread_attr_setguardsize(&attr, 0);
                                                                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                                                  1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                    I don’t dislike the pthread solution. I think it’s the right idea.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. 2

                                                                                                                                                                    As easy as a C string? :)

                                                                                                                                                            1. 12

                                                                                                                                                              A silly exercise, IMO. The restrictions on valid forms (e.g. IP addresses are OK, but only if they’re publically routable) are unsurprisingly difficult to express as a regular expression. The version listed as “@stephenhay” is quite reasonable; if you need to restrict it further then parse it and test the components individually.

                                                                                                                                                              1. 7

                                                                                                                                                                In my opinion, this is sort of like email addresses: do the minimum amount necessary to break it into components and then just use them. Don’t waste a lot of time on especially strict validation, as that happens later on anyway. So a “valid” domain is anything you can cram into a DNS query; you’ll never actually encode “does this resolve” into a regex (especially because the answer is constantly changing), so you know whether or not it’s “valid” when your DNS server replies with A or NX, respectively.

                                                                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                  The complicated ones are also wrong now. They reject http://tedu.ninja/ which is totally legit.

                                                                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                  It’s funny to see an article like this, demanding more innovation.

                                                                                                                                                                  A few days ago we had an article telling us the web suffered from too much innovation and that a good approach would be to stop new “standards” for a couple of years.

                                                                                                                                                                  I personally agree with the latter. Instead of clamping more and more onto it, we need to clear out the trash. Of course, you can’t ban HTML5, but as food for thought for the W3C, what’s so hard about just declaring a set of default video formats every browser should support? And as a minimal condition, these formats shouldn’t be patent-encumbered or non-free. The people at the W3C should grow some balls and finally start coming up with strict standards. It’s not helpful when they just spend their time “documenting” what the big companies have come up with in the major browsers. In the end, nobody can grasp what it’s all about and you need millions of man hours to even create a decent web-browser.

                                                                                                                                                                  The web should be free, so why on earth are we so inclined to make it so inaccessible?
                                                                                                                                                                  1. 5

                                                                                                                                                                    There’s not even a list of plain image formats a browser must support, is there? Maybe start with that before trying to solve video.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                      I actually thought about this point when I wrote the paragraph about video formats. Thing is, it took over a decade for browsers to properly support a set of image formats properly, and this was mostly due to a long evolutionary process where certain formats were found to be best for certain applications (jpg for photos, png for line-art, gif for animations, …), but living in Web 3.0 we forget how difficult it has been to come this way.

                                                                                                                                                                      Nowadays, people not only understand what webm, ogg, mp4, … are really good for (and tbh, it’s all about storage size anyway) and publishing “HTML 5 video” becomes a complex task, but also companies fight wars with “their” formats. Only a fool would believe the “best” format is chosen for technical reasons in this early stage; webm is on a good way though. Apple has MPEG, Google has webm, Microsoft has/had wmv, … . Image formats never “really” belonged to a special company if we take a look at those which raced for the win a few years ago in the web.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. 2

                                                                                                                                                                      what’s so hard about just declaring a set of default video formats every browser should support?

                                                                                                                                                                      A declaration is useless without incentives or consequences to back it up.

                                                                                                                                                                      The W3C isn’t in a position to send ultimatums to Google, Microsoft, etc. Most national governments aren’t even in that position.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                        Though, the W3C is definitely in a position to declare standards. That’s what it does, or am I missing something? Of course, the companies are not forced to adhere to these standards, but if the W3C for instance declared webm to be a “must-have”-supported format, maybe Apple would be more inclined to support it, else Safari would quickly be known as the “non-standard” browser. Not in the interest of being booed I guess they would do it.

                                                                                                                                                                        However, the W3C literally is a set of representatives of the industry. I never expect them to make a move.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. 5

                                                                                                                                                                          Standards aren’t declared, they’re agreed-upon. It’s the only way the political dynamic can work.

                                                                                                                                                                          if the W3C for instance declared webm to be a “must-have”-supported format, maybe Apple would be more inclined to support it, else Safari would quickly be known as the “non-standard” browser

                                                                                                                                                                          That’s a pretty weak threat. Even if Apple cared, they could easily win any PR war because they’re popular and the W3C is not.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. 2

                                                                                                                                                                        The people at the W3C should grow some balls and finally start coming up with strict standards.

                                                                                                                                                                        “Fuck the pope. How many divisions does he have, anyway?”

                                                                                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the comment. To be clear, I was pushing for a very different kind of innovation than the one PPK was arguing against. I was arguing for building fun/cool things on the web again - not on pushing more browser features. To me, the web was once fun and innovative, but has lost that edge to IoT, devices and apps.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. 10

                                                                                                                                                                          The author’s top complaint is that JSON is not a binary format and is not compressed, but I think he is forgetting that most web servers Gzip responses on the fly. That layer of compression is going to get you eighty per cent of the performance you need in that area.

                                                                                                                                                                          Also, JSON-LD is introducing standards to make responses follow a schema not to mention other works like JSON API (which is now 1.0).

                                                                                                                                                                          I don’t think this author is very well grounded in his arguments. REST is not a one size fits all but it does generally work in most cases.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                            Yeah, JSON can be gzip’d, but that consumes CPU. And for what? Readability that requires exactly as much tool intervention as, say, thrift or protobufs? I challenge anyone to pick out the structure of a machine generated, unformatted JSON string without invoking a tool – thus, obviating the putative “human readable” advantage.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                              You can take the output of a response and easily format it in many ways though. The ubiquity of such tooling can not be discounted. Some examples (certainly not exhaustive):

                                                                                                                                                                              • pipe curl output to python -m json.tool, jq, etc
                                                                                                                                                                              • view request/response in chrome developer tools and click the little {} pretty printer thing
                                                                                                                                                                              • copy and paste output into some web json formatter

                                                                                                                                                                              With the current trend of single-page-webapps coupled with the fact that json is a first class citizen to javascript, and javascript is the de facto language of the web (oh how I wish it was lua!), means that json ends up being extremely pervasive. Many frontend devs I know make frequent use of the legibility of json on-the-wire while debugging weird issues.

                                                                                                                                                                              If you are talking about a “pure” http api that interacts with something like mobile devices, customized tooling, or backend only systems, then there are indeed many seemingly superior encoding choices: capnproto[1], protobufs, thrift, maybe even msgpack if you desire something “jsonish”.

                                                                                                                                                                              [1]: I have used this. Worked well.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                REST supports different formats too so the API can respond to /api/user?format=json and /api/user?format=msgpack. There’s no need to marry a given format.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  REST supports is kind of an odd thing to say. Features are added by dev teams, and of course require support and testing. What you say is true though. You can indeed support many different return types. It is easier with self describing formats (like returning xml, json, or msgpack as the client requests). It is harder to include types like protobufs, capnproto, thrift, etc, as it requires more work, maintenance, and testing.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Aside: I have occasionally been told that using a format query param is poor form, and that http accept headers should be introspected instead, with a clearly defined default/fallback. Others say arguments are fine. Still others say to append the request with “.json” or “.xml”, which I personally consider a very poor choice, but I still hear it sometimes. shrug

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                                                                                                                                                                                    IE9 and possibly 10 are not supporting Accept-Type headers properly, so in general it’s better to use a format query parameter.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Just curious, why do you wish it was lua? Though I don’t mind the language, I didn’t exactly fall in love with it, mainly because of the arrays start at 1 thing, but also because it seemed a little verbose, almost like BASIC.

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                                                                                                                                                                                I have worked with jsonschema stuff and I admit to not like it very much. It is cumbersome, verbose, and hard to work with large schemas. I vastly prefer the approach taken by capnproto, protobufs, thrift, where schemas are more struct like.

                                                                                                                                                                                I will take a look at json-ld though. Hadn’t run across it before. Seems interesting.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  I dunno, it seems to me that the author’s top complaint is that HTTP methods and response codes are not nearly expressive enough for some complex systems. REST works great when you are working with things that are obviously modeled as resources. Every time I build a REST system I end up with a few “resources” that are really just endpoints for RPCs.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Lots of business actions touch multiple resources equally, and can’t simply be expressed as an HTTP verb applied to one of those resources.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    I feel like the Fielding paper is really just an elaborate if fantastically convincing retcon. Nothing about HTTP seems particularly well-designed to me, and shoe-horning it into a pseudo-RPC role just feels like ex post facto reasoning.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Fielding specifically said that he derived REST after the fact.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Calling it pseudo-RPC kind of misses the point. Is RPC pseudo-REST?

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Diagnosis: author is smoking crack.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Not to mention Swagger, the de facto standard for REST documentation,

                                                                                                                                                                                  No, you idiot. RFC 6838 is the de facto standard for REST documentation. Swagger is an alternative to REST, as you said yourself.

                                                                                                                                                                                  RESTful web services are CRUD-oriented, rather than business- or transaction-oriented.

                                                                                                                                                                                  No, you idiot. You’re right that if you confuse REST with CRUD you are going to have problems.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Countless times we had to carefully map business terms into simple create/update/delete actions.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, you idiot. If you want to get the benefits of REST you have to carefully map your protocol into things where recovery from failed connections is possible. If you don’t care just use RPC (whether HTTP POST or XML-RPC or Sun RPC with XDR or whatever) and then suffer the problems described in A Note on Distributed Computing twenty fucking years ago. Or invent your own architectural style to solve them. But don’t come whining to Roy about how programming distributed systems is hard. We know it’s fucking hard. We invented REST to make it tractable.

                                                                                                                                                                                  The de facto standard format for REST is JSON.

                                                                                                                                                                                  No, you blithering idiot. The de facto standard media-type for REST is HTML or possibly JS, although Flash put up a good fight for a while there. Binary media types work fine with REST. REST was invented in 1996–9 and formalized in 2000. JSON was designed in 2002. What the fuck even is wrong with you?

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Diagnosis: author is smoking crack
                                                                                                                                                                                    No, you idiot.
                                                                                                                                                                                    No, you idiot.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, you idiot.
                                                                                                                                                                                    No, you blithering idiot.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I would have downvoted this, but there is no downvote option for “hostile tone for no apparent reason”.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Heh, no kidding. That’s been bothering me, too; “troll” is up to the voter to define, but at least is available if one feels it fits. I generally don’t downvote comments anyway though, it’s not often the productive way to continue.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Downvote for troll and move on

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                                                                                                                                                                                          The problem is that I clearly wasn’t trolling — you can clearly see that what I said is not only sincere but also correct. It’s tempting to write off the original article as a troll (especially given its flamebait title!), but there’s really no indication that the original author is anything but sincerely and profoundly ignorant.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            The article’s author is not profoundly ignorant. The fact of the matter is that “REST” is very inconsistent in practice (the only really universal-seeming aspect being that it goes over HTTP), and so reasonable people can disagree over what it actually means. Neither you nor the article’s author are strictly wrong.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Reasonable people cannot disagree over what REST actually means. Roy Fielding coined the term to describe the architectural style embodied in the HTTP/1.1 standard, which he also wrote, and wrote an entire chapter in his dissertation about what it means. That’s the origin of the term, and that was only 15 years ago. People who use “REST” to promote their random poorly-thought-out hacks that happen to use HTTP as a transport are cynical charlatans, attempting to free-ride on the goodwill accrued by the REST architectural style.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Your comment would be better without repeatedly calling the author an idiot.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          You are correct. I am afraid I am turning into Erik Naggum. :(

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                                                                                                                                                                                          If you want to get the benefits of REST you have to carefully map your protocol into things where recovery from failed connections is possible. If you don’t care just use RPC […] and then suffer the problems described in A Note on Distributed Computing

                                                                                                                                                                                          Extracting this bit (which gets to the core of why REST exists) in the hope that people will look past the tone.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            I for one am absolutely fine with minor abuse, especially if the person doling it out has done their research (as is case here).

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                                                                                                                                                                                              I’m very surprised. Are you accustomed to working in a hostile environment? It’s easy to ignore these things once you’re used to them, but taking a step back and looking at it the GP is really very unpleasant, and with very little value in the unpleasantness.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Furthermore my anger is misplaced: I should be directing it at the charlatans who claim that their JSON-CRUD systems are “REST”, not at the poor idiots they manage to take in.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Prediction: the title will get more discussion than the actual article.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Ultimately, I think this boils down to three basic points:

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. HTTP is a terrible protocol. It evolved haphazardly, is misfeatured for the web it’s intended for, and is insufficiently-featured to be a decent API protocol.
                                                                                                                                                                                            2. People are terrible at picking the right protocol. Human-readability should only be a concern if human-readability is a concern, and it must be understood to work against every other technical property of a protocol.
                                                                                                                                                                                            3. REST is a very poorly-defined term, so discussions about it very easily decay into semantics and untrue scotsmen.
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                                                                                                                                                                                              Human-readability should only be a concern if human-readability is a concern, and it must be understood to work against every other technical property of a protocol.

                                                                                                                                                                                              This is a really great point.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                REST is a very poorly-defined term, so discussions about it very easily decay into semantics and untrue scotsmen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                The dissertation defines it fairly well, it’s the last decade of blog posts that make it difficult to discuss.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  The dissertation tries to generalize from a single example; naturally it gets some aspects wrong. Its definition is precise, but that doesn’t make it accurate.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Is the bit about the caterpillar a reference to something?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  it made me think of http://learnyouahaskell.com/starting-out (search for “If we think of a list as a monster, here’s what’s what.”) but I don’t know what it’s actually referencing