A Guilty Pleasure

mon16oct2006—42w289d79%— 17h47m00s—0utc

As much as I truly hate domain hoarding when I’m out there looking for a spiffy domain to my latest webapp, I confess compulsive domain buying is one of my guilty pleasures1. I’m hoarding, I know, but perhaps my scale will redeem me. Those bastards — you know who you are — who hoard (“park”) thousands of domains, financing the whole murky enterprise by filling their spoils with semantically-related ads disguised as directories… well, may they be strangled to a slow, painful death by his noodly appendage.

My two most recent acquisitions are ThisWorldIsTooDark.com and Nellodee.com.

The first domain is a phrase that has haunted me since I first read it at a local exposition2 (thanks to Andrea for telling me about it) of the work of Cultural-Revolution China’s Li Zhensheng WP. A photoreporter of the main newspaper in China’s far Northeast during China’s Mao mire, Li kept negatives of his work against orders and they may be the best remaining record of the horror. Andrew Stuttaford wrote a harrowing review of Li’s Red-Color News Soldier AM and he didn’t escape the phrase either:

More typical, and more tragic, was Wu Bingyuan, a technician accused of counterrevolutionary activities (a pamphlet). Li recalls that when Wu heard his sentence, death, "he looked into the sky and murmured, “this world is too dark”; then he closed his eyes and never in this life reopened them." The photographs show Wu being paraded through the streets of the city. Later, shackled and bound, he’s pictured at his place of execution. His eyes are still shut. We see him kneeling, back turned to the firing squad. His eyes are still shut. The final image is of Wu’s corpse. His eyes are still shut.

I want to do something at thisworldistoodark.com that honors Wu’s memory but I still don’t know what. What I do know is that the phrase is forever carved into my memory.

(fleft) The other domain, nellodee.com, is thankfully from the opposite end of human possibilites. Nellodee is the full version of Nell, the name of the protagonist of Neal Stephenson’s excellent Diamond Age AM, a toddler from the future slums that chances on a state-of-the-art learning machine. This book-machine, the Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, the book-within-the-book, is every self-learner’s wet dream: endlessly interactive, infinitely patient, all-knowing, self-adapting, story-driven, fractal (the basic outline of the book’s story is presented at the very beginning, from then on you advance the story by zooming in on any particular fragment of it, the fragment develops into a full-fledged story, and on it goes). It has left me so deeply impressed that I have to do my share to bring it eventually to life. Toki Pona seems like the perfect subject to try my clumsy hand at the Primer concept with a simple web-app — it’s a small, simple, and enjoyable subject, and I’m already sort of an expert in it. We’ll see.

So why am I telling you all this? To assuage my conscience. You see, perhaps I dawdle for years before actually implementing any of the above ideas and so I’ve configured both ThisWorldIsTooDark.com and Nellodee.com to redirect here, to this very post, in the meantime. If you are doing (really doing, not pie-in-the-sky woulda doing) something really cool, are missing a good domain, and either of those two would be a great choice for your project, I’d be glad to give them to you. Gratis. Full-ownership. With my best wishes.

1 And I indulge it at GoDaddy, which despite its overcommercial ethos is actually a decent, self-improving registrar.

2 Oh, the stupidity of MAZ’s (Zapopan’s Art Museum) website. Annoyingly flashy (two unlinked image ((!) pop-ups welcome you)), splashy, pointlessly animated, marketese driven, almost content-free (any drop of content that somehow escaped their stringent tests presented an uncopiable word at a time), unlinkable (!), unbackable… stupid. A case study of the atrocities possible (and oh so common) with Flash.

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