Landrace Philosophy with InfoPonEmacs

I mentioned briefly in my Ko-fi blog post that "I'm going to come back to representing myself, as myself, not focusing on building up a presence for any of the groups I coordinate with."

That's a pretty abstract sort of declaration, so I'd like to take some time to explain what exactly I mean by it. I'm hoping that this might be the first in a series of fairly casual posts onto my Ko-fi, that can serve as a kind of re-introduction into who I am and what that means I do, in a more holistic way than just seeing a photo from the garden or a snippet of political thought every three months.

As folk around me note, I tend to do things for my own reasons; I appear to practice a coherent philosophy that affects how I view and interact with the world around me, and this philosophy is notably different (and dischordant) from the philosophy that's hypernormalized in our society.

A part of this practice, for me, has always been keeping some sort of records - if only very firm memories - of what it is I believe, and why. I've pretty much always maintained access to computers, so often times these records are digital.

In the late 2010s a term, "digital garden," started to become more popular, and it fit very well for the kind of work I do on a computer. The metaphor also allows me to explain my motivation for recordkeeping in another way.

By doing digital gardening, I am stewarding those qualities of information I find valuable into growth, and limiting the qualities that I view harmful. The records serve as a tool for framing what's going on in my day through my own philosophy, and this lets me, over time, develop a "landrace philosophy," one that is cultivated out of the experiences of its own environment.

Over the years I've used a wide range of tools to do digital gardening, as influenced by my environment as the information that went into them. These days, I'm using Emacs, a text-editor, and Org-mode, a text-markup, to get the work done. Emacs, for those readers who don't know, is a ridiculously sophisticated (complex) text-editor. In fact, its fans and detractors both make the joke that "Emacs is a fine operating system, but it's a shame they didn't include a text editor." One cool thing about Emacs is that it runs using its own programming language, Elisp, and so is really, really, configurable. In fact it's so configurable, there's different "flavors" of Emacs a person can run, and many users have created what's called an "Emacsen," an Emacs configuration that's catered to exactly how they use Emacs and their computers.

Org-mode is a way of writing text files so that the Org-mode interpretter, which runs inside Emacs, can extrapolate data from relatively human-readable files. Y'all might be familiar with Markdown, which lets you put a word in *asterisks* and the computer can swap those for emphasis when the text is rendered. Org-mode is like that, but with a lot more features. It lets you associate schedules and deadlines with topics, give them progress states, tags. You can use all this metadata to filter and report across files. Org-mode also allows for tangling code in with writing, so a document can be both the words about some computer code, and the computer code.

There's a third component to this, called Beancount, which is software for maintaining ledgers. This is a big part of the "code" that is tangled in with the rest of the records.

My Emacsen configuration, I call "InfoPonEmacs," a portmanteau of information, ponics (derived from hydroponics et al), and Emacs. It's essentially a very bare-bones Zettelkasten system, if readers are familiar with that. (It's so bare-bones because I'm often running Emacs on phones hooked up to bluetooth keyboards, and so something like Org-roam with its running database system just isn't feasible.) I'm not ready to release any of it yet, but I thought the techy folk in the readership here might be curious to know what specific tech tool I use to maintain my center.