The early mnemonic medium’s structures are too rigid for others to help define the medium

One very powerful attribute of the World Wide Web is that it launched with enough primitives that people could make things, but without a strict perspective on exactly how the medium should be used. And so early adopters helped figure it out, through experimentation which ultimately led to modifications to the medium (either by its creators or in some cases via patches from the early users). Ditto Twitter (replies, hashtags, threads). Ditto Gary Wolf’s account of Quantified self.

A problem, then, for the Mnemonic medium is that I’ve made it very difficult for others to become anything other than passive participants. As an author, you can write something in a Quantum Country-like medium, but you have basically zero latitude to experiment with what the medium is for or how it might be used. You have even less latitude as a reader (The initial mnemonic medium is implicitly authoritarian in premise).

This limitation is partly technological—but more importantly, it’s conceptual. I haven’t made primitives which support experimentation; I’ve made primitives which make it very easy to make something like Quantum Country, and only like that. By contrast, while the Quantified self community is developing tools to help with self-research, people can do self-research without such tools, and they help the community understand the genre by doing so.

I think I can do better here. Related: The mnemonic medium should give readers control over the prompts they collect.

Last updated 2023-07-13.