Optimizing for Conviviality: Gifts (Part One: Cultivating Generosity)


Over Christmas, the topic of gifts naturally came to my mind as something that there’s quite a bit to say about. Of course it’s taken me a while to set aside enough time to write these thoughts up (in fits and spurts, here and there — further complicated by the that this topic has proven large enough to need to be split into two posts). An upside to this is that the thought of gifts should once again have divorced itself from anxieties around the sense of obligation that seems to be attached to Christmas gifts. That’s not really the sort of gift I’d like to focus on, preferring to look at day-to-day gifts that may be small, intangible, and further removed from the scope of commerce.
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Some optimizations for conviviality (and a little more “why”)


I’m pretty sure that I had intended to write this post in August. I got about half of it done then, but didn’t finish it. I could come up with many reasons why I didn’t finish posting it then, but can’t imagine any of them being particularly meaningful. The only thing I can really think of to say on that topic is obvious: I didn’t make this post in August; I am making it now. Also a point that may not be obvious now, but should be soon (and may serve as something of an excuse, though I intend it more as a caution): this post is long.
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Why Optimize for Conviviality?


Having boldly claimed in my last post that I believe optimizing for conviviality to be a good thing, I clearly have a duty to back that claim up. The evidence that I find most convincing is that I generally tend to feel very content with the parts of my life that have developed from this optimization — but since that might simply be a quirk of my personality or my circumstances, I’m going to make an attempt at an argument that such a quirk is relatively widely shared (and maybe even more than a quirk).

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Optimizing for Conviviality


A few months ago, while chatting with my friend Steven about the heuristics and algorithms people apply to our lives, it occured to me that a heuristic that I’d been applying (not necessarily strictly or perfectly) to my own life for the past several years could be summarized as “optimize for conviviality.” Working from the idea that this is a pretty good heuristic to be applying in one’s life, I started toying with the idea of maybe writing about it a bit on the internet.

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Installation art.


Back in the winter, I finally put in an application to have the 5 cubes project at this year’s Nuit Blanche. Since it was accepted as an independent submission, and since Nuit Blanche barely more than 2 months away, I launched a kickstarter yesterday to raise money for the last of the materials.

Please visit it, share it with anyone you think might be interested (and encourage them to share it too!), and hopefully even contribute.




I have once again made the migration from my winter mooring to my summer mooring, and made sure that my address on my website is up-to-date.

Unusual public post.


Normally, any post I make here that isn’t essentially notice of a change of address or relationship status or anything of that sort, is kept relatively private. I’m going to make an exception of this post, because I feel pretty strongly that the public debate on the Snowden leaks about NSA activities is hamstrung by ideologies, and missing some very important points.
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Last Thursday (Oct 18), I moved the boat from my summer mooring to my winter mooring. My website has now been updated to reflect this change.

Address change.


I have moved the boat back from the winter mooring to the summer mooring. The address on my website has been updated to reflect this change.



In keeping with this statement on my website, nearly all the posts on kiwano.melon.org, and the recently-mirror-ish livejournal are either restricted to logged-in kiwano.melon.org users (OpenIDs are accepted), or friends-locked.

Already having this system in place, it’s not been much additional effort to have a few filter groups in which I can really geek out on some topics without boring the hell out of everyone else who doesn’t share an interest in those topics (not that I get around to that much). I recently added/forked a few topics, so I’m reposting the list (publicly even) to allow you to request inclusion on a filter (or exclusion from a filter) and as a general notice that these access controls are in place. Anyhow, the topic filters I currently have are:

  • Bicycles
  • Burning Man
  • Guns
  • Magick and the Occult
  • Mathematics, Science, and Technology
  • Queer
  • Sailing