TDG #014: Catching Up

Hey friends,

This is Skylar, the same person screaming at you over the interwebs about Albania for the last four weeks now. But alas, this week is not about Albania.

Instead, let's catch up a bit.

After a month in Albania, Steph and I headed to Mexico in search of tacos and beaches. Well, at least Steph was searching for beaches - too much time in sunny, beautiful climates doesn't sit well with my Pacific Northwest blood and cranky disposition. But I digress.

Leaving Europe was tougher than I expected. February marked eight months of our planned year-long expedition. When you first set out on a trip like this, your options are endless - each day, week, or month offers the prospect of a new foray into the unknown. For the most part, we've been taking things month by month, trying to balance stability and spontaneity. But the number of months we can plan out is quickly vanishing. So in a way leaving Europe had a finality to it that I wasn't expecting to confront. Odds are we won't be going back before this iteration of our travels comes to an end.

But I was excited to head back to Mexico (and Latin America more broadly) to practice my terrible Spanish and eat amazing food. When most people (read: Americans) picture Mexico, I imagine they have visions of lounging on pristine beaches, sipping colorful cocktails with little umbrellas sticking out. And while we spent a week in Puerto Escondido and had our fair share of beach-related boozing, most of our time was spent in San Cristobal de las Casas - a beautiful old city in the southern mountains of Chiapas.

We had a month full of good food and great conversations with people, chefs, and distillers. I'm taking the next couple of weeks to parse through everything, so more on that soon.

Some Tech

If you are, like me, constantly trying ways to break free of algorithmic purgatory, you might like an app called feeeed. This is not a sponsorship or anything of the sort - I heard about this app in Robin Sloan's The Lab newsletter. You can read more about feeeed, but the premise is essentially an algorithm-free way to swipe through the news, publications, photos, and internet "stuff" you care about most. No ads, no subscriptions, no attention monetization - it's effectively a modern take on the RSS reader from the old internet days of yore. It's pretty slick and well-built.

The creator of feeeed, Nate Parrott, is also on the team that makes Arc Browser, which I've really enjoyed using for the past few months.

I've also been dabbling with Mastodon. I'm highly skeptical of the false promise of most new tech (especially social media), so it's taken me a bit to look into Mastodon. But after a few days of reading about it and poking around, I don't hate it. It's a beautiful, rather complicated mess, but in a good way. There are no algorithms promoting content, though some discovery tools are built-in, so you gotta find folks, hashtags, or communities to follow the old-fashioned way.

There's a positive, democratic feeling built into the open-source ecosystem and the people (mostly volunteers) who are drawn to it. The biggest issue Mastodon has from broader adoption is its relatively steep learning curve. For folks not deeply entrenched in tech/publishing/social media, it feels daunting to dip the toes in. And the experience does feel a bit clunky. On top of that, it is yet another app/social media platform to care about. But if you're interested in something social media adjacent but, fringe, give it a look.

Between Mastodon's official documentation and this handy guide, you should be able to cover most questions.

Some Feedback

The Daily Grog is still very much a work in progress - trying to sort out the ontology of this newsletter is an ongoing project. For me, this series represents a outlet of ideas, thoughts, and inner monologues onto a few emails and pages. It's also a convenient excuse to meet and talk to fascinating people.

But I want to ensure you all find value in this project too. So below is the world's shortest (one-question) survey, just to see what you all find the most exciting and worth your time (choose multiple):

If you're having issues viewing the survey in your email client:

And like always, feel free to reply to this or write me separately with other questions or suggestions.

That's it for this week - short and sweet.