Welcome to a new version of an old newsletter, "Vacuum"

After starting and stopping several newsletters and mailing lists and weblogs over the past few decades, I’m at it again. There are just too many things to be said that require a format longer and more thoughtful than random tweets, but not as impersonal as a blog. To that end, I’m rebooting a mailing list that I first had in 1999 called “Vacuum”.

The idea is to reconstruct a little community of thoughtful people on the Internet, especially a group that has some experience with how the net has changed, and bounce some ideas in the form of essays off of you all. I very much hope that your thoughtful ideas will bounce back at the group, and I plan to have a method and mechanism for making that happen too.

“Vacuum” in its original 1999-era format started as what was then called an “essaynet”, with pieces about this size shared via a moderated email list, and an accompanying weblog to capture and share some of the things too short to warrant filling up people’s inboxes. That work morphed into blogging as the primary structure for communciations, and then actually turned into a paying jobby-job writing for AnnArbor.com.

Getting paid to write was a high point and a low point, for I had to not only crank out 500 words a day with the phrase “Ann Arbor” in the lead paragraph, but also read all of the comments from a completely unmoderated, uncontrolled, wretched hive of commenters. (Never read the comments.) When I was restructured out of a job there, it was both a setback and a relief.

I’m back in technology now, working on open source software running on bare metal hardware. The publishing tools of 1999 have changed a lot, and no one is typing in HTML by hand if they can possibly avoid it. Open source software has gotten so much better and so much easier to distribute that there’s a world of tools out there that when properly discovered and used that give you what by 1999 standards are superpowers.

I’m hoping to write regularly for a small audience, sharing some highlights of projects that are doing good work, keeping my eyes and ears open for transformative technology, and looking especially for people who have superpowers for software that makes hardware sing. But I’m also interested in building or rebuilding community beyond the technology and to work with people, not just technological abstractions.

I’ll be testing out the idea that writing regularly for a small engaged audience is its own superpower, and I hope to learn as much from you all as I share a journey to understand.

Edward Vielmetti, Ann Arbor MI, March 2021