Interesting Ideas

Don Knotts
Don Knotts -- Genius

Squidward, the new Spock

Gyros
The Gyros Project

The Western Avenue and Vicinity Art Gallery

lakefront carving
The Lakefront Anonymous Art Gallery

Outsider Art

If the world is lousier than ever, why are so many things so much better?

The evil late
The evil nice

Why are you here?

I don't know about you, but as often as not I live in a fog. Facts and faces, sometimes whole vistas of society and culture, appear suddenly out of the mental mist. I’m amazed at what I see (and what I’d also been missing). And I’m often confounded, without the foggiest notion of what they signify. Even when visibility is good, my mind can hardly integrate more than a slice of what I look at. I am attuned to an internal frame of reference. What I see beyond is usually exactly that - beyond me.

The mind’s fog is probably good. Those vistas it obscures would quickly overwhelm and immobilize if they became perfectly, persistently visible. It would be the opposite of Narcissus -- staring forever outward instead of inward -- but no less fatal. (That, of course, is what many fear social media and ubiquitous media are doing to all of us.)

If your field of vision is constrained to what’s immediately before you, there is a better chance that what you see will have some direct relation to your internal frame of reference and thus mean something. So I proceed, interacting with what is right in front of my nose, feeling a little bit in control. Occasionally I stumble over what materializes out of the fog -- maybe cursing at the distraction it represents, occasionally ecstatic over an unexpected epiphany.

Where you are now is the Web, and as a Web user you are likely to be very focused on some particular purpose of your own. Shopping for a car, downloading a song, ordering a book or some other routine task. The things necessary to do it you probably see clearly.

But as with life, the Web ends up surrounding its users with things that amount to so much fog -- links and lists and videos and pictures. Despite the best efforts of publishers to make all that stuff compelling, just about everything but the user’s original goal remains largely ill defined to them. Usability research suggests that users may succeed or fail in their original tasks but are not likely to do something else just because a Web page proposes it. That other stuff remains invisible. Social media has introduced a degree of serendipity, but the suggestibility that readers demonstrate while consuming newsfeeds is the envy of most digital publishers.

As for this site, there’s a good chance you don't have the foggiest notion why you're here. If you actually arrived with a purpose and found exactly what you were looking for - congratulations! Otherwise, here’s a chance to seize serendipity for yourself. Check out the unexpected aggregation of content linked here and prepare for a miraculous epiphany to appear suddenly from out of the fog.

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