My big fantasy for what I’d do with a little free time is start a link blog. This is probably a sad commentary on a half dozen things simultaneously. - kellan, May 08, 2024

Like many people I’ve been dealing with the collapses of the various systems I relied on for information over the previous decades. After 17 of using Twitter daily and 24 years of using Google daily neither really works anymore. And particular with the collapse of the social spaces many of us grew up with, I feel called back to earlier forms of the Internet, like blogs, and in particular, starting a link blog.

This is the very definition of something that no one needs. Technology doesn’t work like this, you can’t solve today’s problems by slavish devotion to earlier forms, its one-way doors all the way down. And certainly no one needs my link blog. I don’t really consume that much media from that many varied sources.

But I’m impressed by the folks who never stopped, Nelson, Simon, Andy, Jason, and figure that there is value in the doing, for myself if no one else.


When dinosaurs roamed the Earth we had books printed on paper by a publisher called O’Reilly, and in the back there were notes about how the books were made, and they called it a colophon. That’s this section of the blog post.

When dinosaurs roamed the Earth there was also a site called memepool which for all intents and purposes grew up to become, and there was Kuro5hin (a response to Slashdot), which had a section called “Mindless Link Propagation” or MLP. That term has always stuck with me, and all the various attempts to put link blogs on Laughing Meme over the last 20+ years have been called MLP. And while was ground to dust by being acquired by Yahoo, we still have (which thankfully appears to be largely self sustaining because the maintainer seems to have gone quiet – now that’s good engineering).

Kuro5hin is long gone, but it’s creator, Rusty Foster is better known these days for Today in Tabs, and so there is someone else who never gave up the links game.

So those are the inspirations: it’s called MLP, and it’s powered by Pinboard.

And in the grand tradition of those long ago days, the first step was to write my own software to do power all of this. I borrowed heavily from Nelson.

A Github Action fetches tags from Pinboard with “mlp” and stores it in a local Sqlite db and checks that into the repo. A another action generates the HTML. A third action, over in the main repo for this blog, fetches the generated HTML and combines it with the Jekyll output for this blog and pushes it to Github Pages. Additional metadata is layered into “machine tags”.

This follows on my post from last month on discovering Github Actions (half a decade after they launched) and deciding to use it as aggregator, lambda, and cron job. It’s a slow debug cycle, and fiddly YAML, and requires you to hold a very specific mental model of a filesystem you never see, and really is in no way superior to the technologies we hewed from stone and wood in the early days of blogging, but I kind of like it. It was a fun puzzle getting it to work. Kind of like when you have one of those tavern puzzles. You can pretend you sat down and looked at the thing to solve it, but really we all just fiddle until the ring slides over the horseshoe.

I’ll be continuing to futz. But if you consume the whole thing with a well formed feed reader you shouldn’t see the thrash.

What I’m thinking about

We’ll see. The point of link blogging, for me, is the doing. So I’m looking forward to learning what I’ll blog about.

That said, some of my persistent interests right now are climate optimism, and separating the wheat and chaff of the transformative technologies that are transformers and LLMs from the abusive hype cycle at the heart of Silicon Valley that has latched on to this tech as its latest scam.

Mindless Link Propagation, and a feed.