Greetings. I am Bryan Kaplan, proprietor of literal.domain.name. This webspace
is allocated for my musings and self-aggrandizement. As you've noticed, there is
no CSS, no nav -- indeed barely any markup. While I'm well-versed in building
attractive user-friendly websites, literal.domain.name is a concession to my
taste for minimalism and the KISS principle.

Document Fragments: (
    Introduction,
    Overview,
    On Technology,
    Artist's Statement,
    Why I love Arch Linux,
    My Public Profiles,
    Contact Me,
    Blank Space
)

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FRAGID:   #intro
TITLE:    Introduction
CATEGORY: Autobiography


I am an artist and an engineer; a maker and a hacker. I enjoy creating value by
building innovative things. I love to solve difficult problems, and I love to
work toward ambitious goals.

I also love to study the systems within which our creations succeed and fail. My
current general interests include Game Theory, Artificial Intelligence, Cultural
Economics, Analytic Philosophy, Creativity Theory, and Symbol Systems.

I am the founder of Botker.



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FRAGID:   #overview
TITLE:    Overview
CATEGORY: ( Website Metadata, Autobiography )


This site is not a blog. The content order is not chronological. I update this
site infrequently. When I do, I am more likely to modify existing content than
I am to add anything completely new.

Here are some miscellaneous unordered data about me. Ambitious startups excite
me. I view alarm clocks as torture devices. I am an Arch Linux enthusiast. I am
a Panarchist Libertarian. I wish brick-and-mortar stores would arrange their
products alphabetically. I live and work in an xterm in San Francisco. I hold
simplicity and clarity in high regard. I'm considering the purchase of an
R1200GS. Competition, including games and business, is important to me.
I dislike chocolate as an ingredient. I enjoy playing chess and poker, but not
both at the same time.


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FRAGID:   #tech
TITLE:    On Technology
CATEGORY: Historical Perspective


Technology is important to me. It advances human culture, and allows us to
become increasingly god-like, as compared with ancient peoples. Yet I believe
our most sophisticated technologies are ancient.

Language in particular is more advanced than we tend to realize. Spoken language
allows us to do real-time wireless data transmission from one brain to another.
Not bad for a prehistoric technology. Even the invention of the wheel pales in
comparison. Spoken language is hardly lossless, but it's damn impressive that it
works at all.

Written language was a monumental upgrade. It allows our communication to be
transmitted over any distance. Moreover it allows our thoughts to persist long
after we die. We tend to take it for granted that we now have a high-fidelity
unidirectional communication channel with the dead, but it's a highly advanced
achievement.

I don't mean to suggest that new technologies are unsophisticated. Programming
languages, for example, are indeed amazing. They allow us to communicate with
nonliving objects in such an effective manner that these objects will actually
obey our commands. But such an advancement would have been impossible were it
not for our ability to accurately read the thoughts of long-deceased geniuses.

I find it important to always bear in mind the sophistication of ancient
technologies when considering any shiny new technology that builds upon them.
A proper awe of ancient technology is fundamentally required in order to
objectively assess our current work.


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FRAGID:   #art
TITLE:    Artist's Statement
CATEGORY: Autobiography


Art is important to me. It's the key to maintaining a high quality of life.
While each of us may have our own personal definition of "art", mine is somewhat
eccentric. Art, to me, (at least the kind of art I care about) is the product of
imposing gratuitously high standards on both one's work and one's understanding
thereof. Every human activity and inactivity is qualified to be art under this
definition.

Throughout my 20s, I was devoted to studying art. Since childhood I had been
making music, drawings, sculptures, and mixed-media installations. But I only
began to take that stuff seriously around age twenty, having surmised that art
-- because of its unique ability to be anything whatsoever -- would alone
provide me with a versatile framework within which I'd have ample freedom to
happily follow my arbitrary whims.

Ironically, my open-minded conception of art's potential led me to an uncreative
acceptance of the art world's conventional operating procedures. But that would
only become clear to me a decade later, after having exhausted a breadth of
media and after beginning to study cultural economics. Along the way, I picked
up a ton of useful knowledge and principles that are applicable to much more
than what most people consider to be art.

When I first committed myself to seriously studying art, I began with
a classical training. I learned traditional methods of art-making, classical
representation, and human anatomy. At the same time, I re-learned how to
scribble. If you haven't scribbled since early adolescence, I highly recommend
breaking open a new pack of crayons. Scribbling as an adult is really fun, and
it's surprisingly difficult to do well.

Building on that foundation, I experimented with one sculptural medium after
another -- including computer-generation, clay, plaster, polyurethane foam,
rubber, welded steel, ceiling tiles, tree branches, glass shards, you name it.
During this time I read Wittgenstein's Tractatus and other important works from
the Analytic Philosophy of Language. I learned a whole lot about aesthetic
structure, value production, creativity, and innovation.

My motivation for focusing on sculpture at the time was the simple fact that
sculptures veritably exist as true objects in the real world. Reality was itself
my primary general interest and subject matter. My underlying goal was to to
make an impact on the real world. Despite sculpture being literally physical, it
turns out it's a fairly ineffective device for achieving that goal in any
meaningful way.

Realizing that, I adopted the view that art is a social construct. I made
artworks in which the viewer was the subject matter. At the same time,
I developed an interest in cultural economics. I wanted to understand art's
social nature and my own activities in terms of their underlying system.

Despite the fact that the art world is a multi-billion dollar industry, any
topic that views it in terms of money is fairly taboo among artists. I think
this is primarily because any serious consideration of cultural economics can
easily lead an artist to reject the art world altogether. At least that's what's
happened to me. As I began to consider business to be the most appropriate
medium for social art, I began to realize that the confines of the art world
directly opposed my motivation for considering myself to be an artist in the
first place.

There's no part of me that misses the art world. Art remains important to me,
but only because my personal definition of it provides me with a versatile
foundation from which I can raise the bar of my work, whatever that work may be.
Additionally, the study of art has provided me with an impressively well-rounded
tool-set for becoming an entrepreneur. I can't imagine any other education that
would have provided so much insight into the nature of creativity, innovation,
product design, user experience, production, marketing, and branding.

I have several art projects indefinitely on the back burner, most notably Artist
Corporation.


                                     --<>--


FRAGID:   #archlinux
TITLE:    Why I love Arch Linux
CATEGORY: Software


In discussions of any field of production, it is useful to distinguish producers
from consumers. In football there are players and fans; in painting there are
painters and viewers; and in software there are programmers and end-users. The
dichotomy is not equivalent among different fields of production. Some fields
require a sharp dichotomy, whereas others are better suited for a weak one.
Football fans may themselves be pro football players, but they're physically
unable to play one game while simultaneously watching another game. Painters, on
the other hand, may view one painting while simultaneously producing a copy of
it. It is not uncommon to observe people doing just that in art museums, even
though most viewers are not themselves painters.

Software is particularly ill-suited for a sharp dichotomy of programmers and
end-users. Software is always programmed by people who are simultaneously using
other people's software while programming, so every programmer is an end-user.
And if we can define programming as the act of issuing a series of commands to
be interpreted by a computer, then we must concede that all end-users are indeed
programmers in a loose sense -- for, technically speaking, to click on
a hyperlink is to issue a command.

The concept of an end-user is still rather useful. It allows software design to
target the sort of person who would find that particular software useful.
Obviously not all end-users are alike -- MATLAB users tend to be more
sophisticated than users of, say, Game for Cats, the iPad app. Yet end-users
have a acquired a general reputation for being technically incompetent, despite
the trend of growing technical skills among the general population that has
paralleled the integration of computing technology into every aspect of our
lives. Ill-suited as software is for the sharp dichotomy of programmers and
end-users, the illusion of a sharp dichotomy is commonplace.

Yet the PEBKAC stereotype is not without merit. Some end-users actively resist
learning opportunities. This naturally creates demand for impotent software.
Unfortunately, much software is then designed to discourage the acquisition of
expertise. The end-users who would otherwise happily gain from learning
opportunities suffer as a result. End-user Development is an exception to this
tendency, but it remains fairly unpopular.

It's easy to suppose that this was not always the case, as there was a time when
computers shipped without software, and one had to be a skilled programmer in
order to use them at all. But if we look at the historical context, that view is
misguided. For centuries, the term "computer" described a human who manually
computed calculations. The closest analog of an end-user in those days was the
employer for whom the computer worked. With the rise of mechanical computers,
the role of the programmer displaced the role of the human computer. But the
employer, who never had to physically touch the computer, remained its end-user.
It wasn't until the advent of packaged software that end-users began to
physically interact with computers. And even then, the shift was gradual.

Since that time, we've witnessed continual growth of the computer industry, and
with it the continual growth of our average technical abilities. Meanwhile,
software has tended to become increasingly targeted at simple-minded end-users.
Hidden features may be available for power users, and APIs for developers, but
those features tend to stay hidden from those who don't seek them out on their
own. There are certainly counter-examples of software that presents an intuitive
UI while at the same time encouraging users to explore the higher reaches of
their learning curves, but such software is unfortunately rare.

As end-users today, we enjoy access to some of the most powerful machines in the
history of mankind. They're versatile machines that are able do nearly anything
we can imagine. The only barriers between our imagination and their potential
are our software and our programming abilities. We owe it to ourselves to seek
out software that constantly urges us to improve our skills. While a vast amount
of software is fairly impotent, notable exceptions certainly exist.

And that, in a seven-paragraph nutshell, is why I love Arch Linux. Of the few
Linux distributions that are completely friendly to technically competent
end-users, Arch is the only one that gets package management right. As a result,
Arch is extremely easy to maintain, while constantly seducing its end-users to
learn more about what our computers can do. It's frankly a pleasure to use, and
it's a great model for how software can be simple yet powerful, and easy to use
yet openly sophisticated.


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FRAGID:   #profiles
TITLE:    My Public Profiles
CATEGORY: Outbound


I keep some public profiles.
More content: ( Google+, Hacker News, LinkedIn )
Less content: ( Twitter, Github )


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FRAGID:   #contact
TITLE:    Contact Me
CATEGORY: Outbound


I appreciate your candid feedback: literal_username@literal.domain.name


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FRAGID:   #blank
TITLE:    Blank Space
CATEGORY: Nothingness
CF:       Patch of Absence