I think and write.

An experimental, stream of consciousness exploration of the leper's point of view in Mark 1:40-45.

“And a leper came” it's my own fault for being contagious. Skin melts off and corrupts. Can't go near a soul even my own. Don't touch me give me food maybe some figs. Living on the outside as a curse. Afraid of me because I am visible. Blame me for your problems push me out. Sin smells like me so you keep me far from you so as not to remind you of your faults. I'm too painful for you but I can't feel a thing nerves all dead except for shame.

Shame, shame, shame on the human race. I'm just the manifestation of our curse. Why do I have to bear it while you get to deny it and dull the sense of it with take care of the kids and plant the seeds mend shoes make enough coins maybe to spend it with friends drinking wine take it easy on Saturday? Sure you feel it sometimes crops won't grow died in childbirth stubbed a toe lost in the war but I bear it in my skin and everyone hates me you don't have to do that. I blame myself everyone else does starting to think hope is a myth.

Better go to the temple need to eat to survive but I don't really want to. Not coward enough to kill myself how would I do it anyway can't hold a thing with a claw hand. I'll just exist like a lump of curse maybe I'll inspire you to fear God maybe that's my purpose to be a warning. Better obey Him or you'll become feet swelling pain at first but goes away nose shaved off maybe lose a hand or a foot concentrate to breathe. Leper. Better not sin or “to Jesus,”

Jesus who's that keep hearing that name. Demon prophet god healer heretic. You should see him what's the point probably just another lunatic from Nazareth that tiny town. Might be interesting though to see him hear what he has to say. Healer could he heal me? No stop best not get my hopes up. Talking about the kingdom of heaven can't make sense of it but it burns me haven't felt like this in a long time. Repent kingdom of heaven is near he says. Near? Where? I can't see it but I can feel it breaking through the clouds pushing out of my heart like a needle. This world is all wrong topsy turvy but heaven sets it right. Is he crazy but he answers all of them all the doubts and burns them up. Brood of vipers woe to them he's right about that never did anything for me. I watch them all the time and I see what no one else sees because they don't notice me. Don't notice while they take the coins from the people doing the work that keeps the sun turning while they sit there telling them what to do praying on the corners right in front of me without seeing me thanking God they're not like me brood of vipers get what's coming to them.

Blessed are the poor not sure I understand that but I want to says the kingdom could be mine. Repent kingdom is near want to believe. Leave it all behind be healed and not have to slough skin crawling through the streets for a handful of figs Jesus Jesus of Nazareth can he hear me? I've never believed in anyone can't remember the last time I had hope “beseeching” but if there's an un-corrupted soul pure mighty righteous morning star shining in this tainted broken infected stinking bloody angry darkened world yours is the one shining like fired bronze a brand in the night star in the sky light in my life. If you can't heal me no one else will but I don't know why you would want to no one else does but you can do it if you're willing, loving, compassionate, caring enough powerful enough true son of God savior messiah walking on the earth willing to heal a wretched shriveled up burning angry mess of flesh bag of meat sordid pile of stinking human corpse remains barely breathing enough to keep sinning Jesus Jesus Jesus why please if you want to willing to heal make me better not what I am show me the way light at the tunnel inhale illuminate the perspective change the game the night to day stone to flesh please willing are you are you willing I'll do anything just to I'm breaking down “falling on his knees” can't live without you in my life please say yes if you're willing are you? Are you willing?

Can't really see what's on His face did He hear? Wait He's what He- Stop! Don't touch me! You'll be tainted sickened infected why can't I move or say a thing He's just reaching “moved with compassion” no! Hand on my shoulder feels like home warm my mother's womb father's proud of me. I shouldn't let Him do it but I can't move He heard me and everyone is watching what's He going to do or say?

“I am willing; be cleansed.”

Healed! Healed healed healed healed what's that He's saying? Healed! Can't really heal Him over the din of limbs and face made whole I'm better- says not to tell anyone- healed! Right I'll remember “to the priest” healed! I'm going to tell the whole town whole world that I'm healed there's a man named Jesus of Nazareth and He healed me I'm not sick never going to be a leper again! Supposed to testimony but I'm healed! Look He's over there with disciples yeah remember me my face looks different now because it's healed. Yes! He's over there His name is Jesus of Nazareth see Him over there oh well just ask and you'll find Him hard to miss maybe at the temple supposed to Moses but look I'm healed walking like its nothing see? Got my arm back! Proclaim in the market in the synagogue supposed to in the streets- healed! Go find him Jesus of Nazareth you know? He healed me! Yes that's Him can't miss Him He touched me and healed me and I'm not a leper. Healed! Healedhealealedheallledealedeallleeed...

Now the whole town knows “to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.”

Thank you for reading!

I am writer living in CT with my wife, our deaf cat and our new little boy. If you enjoyed this piece and want to say thanks, please consider purchasing my fantasy novel or sharing my work with others.

My website.

It's a sad song

It's a sad tale, it's a tragedy

It's a sad song

But we sing it anyway

— Road to Hell (Reprise)

Hermes stands over a defeated Orpheus. The boy watches his lover sink back into the Underworld. He was only a few steps away from life but he doubted and looked back, breaking his contract with Hades. Eurydice must now remain in hell, and Orpheus can never go back. It's a sad song that turns out the same every time, so why sing it?

Hadestown is a musical written by Anaïs Mitchell in 2006. She recorded a concept album and the show eventually made it to Broadway in 2019. It is based on the Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice, and I love it.

I am not a connoisseur of musical theater. Not until Hamilton did I really start to appreciate the medium, and it was only because of my wife that I discovered Hadestown (she teaches Latin). At first I thought it was interesting, not quite as smart or complex as Hamilton, but still good. Yet as I listened repeatedly (mainly because the music is phenomenal) the story started to sink its hooks in me.

There are a lot of worthy themes in Hadestown: faith, trust, love, fear... But the one I want to talk about, the one that is stuck in my mind, is hope that sings in the face of failure.

Orpheus the Naive?

And this poor boy, he wore his heart out on his sleeve

You might say he was naive to the ways of the world.

— Anyway the Wind Blows

Orpheus is a bit of a sap, and he is often played for laughs. Hades comes back for Persephone early, plunging the world into a dark winter. Then Orpheus comes along singing about bringing the world “back into tune.” His hope sticks out like an unwelcome gust of fresh air in a world where the wind is always foul.

This outlook is contrasted with the outlook of Eurydice, his lover, who as Hermes says “was no stranger to the world.” She is a “hungry young girl” who drifts from town to town when the wind changes. She runs from everywhere and everyone she's ever met because her experience has taught her that “everybody is a fair weather friend.” She, and everyone else in the world of men, can't imagine a better world because this dark one is the only one they've ever known.

In “Wedding Song”, Eurydice tests Orpheus not on his love for her but his ability to provide. She asks about the wedding bands, the table and the bed. It is only after Orpheus sings his song and grows a flower with it, thereby providing proof that he can do what he says he can, that she starts to accept him.

Hermes summarizes it this way:

When she fell she fell in spite of herself In love with Orpheus

— All I've Ever Known

It is difficult to judge either Eurydice or Orpheus. His naivety about the world leads him to neglect her by focusing on his song, and her worldliness leads her to betray him by accepting Hades's offer. Perhaps they were destined for a tragedy.

The Failure

Orpheus finishes his song, but by the time he does Eurydice is already dead. Hermes gives him a hard time, but when it is clear that Orpheus will go “to the end of time” to get Eurydice back, Hermes explains that there is another way to get to Hades without a ticket.

Orpheus makes an impossible journey into the Underworld. He crosses the river Styx and sings his song to make the stones of Hades' wall weep and let him in. He arrives in Hadestown and finds Eurydice, but he also finds the King of the Underworld.

Hades is not at all pleased that a poor boy with a lyre was able to cross his borders, but he is also bemused. He invites Orpheus to sing him a song before banishing him to the graveyard. Orpheus steps to the microphone and sings. He sings about Hades and his love for Persephone. He sings about the love that turns the seasons, and he sings to Hades the melody that the King used to woo Persephone.

Against all odds the song works. Hades's heart is softened and Orpheus is given a chance to leave the Underworld, but there is a test. Eurydice must walk behind Orpheus, and if he looks back she remains in the Underworld forever.

But Orpheus fails.


Hadestown could have addressed or rewrote Orpheus's failure and made it easier to swallow. The myth is ambiguous and Mitchell was already taking liberties with it, but she chose to dwell on the moment. The audience is forced to sit with the tragedy as Eurydice sinks back down, but why?

There was plenty of room for re-writing. In some versions of the myth Orpheus dies at the hands of Maenads. The musical could have continued, seeing Orpheus reuniting with Eurydice in the Underworld. There are echoes of this in the closing moments, where we hear Eurydice's voice and the coming of spring, but Orpheus's failure is the end of the plot. We are reminded throughout the last song that “It's a sad song,” and lest we forget that, Hermes reminds us that we are not here to “correct” the myth:

Don't ask why, brother, don't ask how

He could have come so close

The song was written long ago

And that it is how it goes

— Road to Hell (Reprise)

So why are we here? Hermes does not provide a direct answer, instead referencing the hope that Orpheus had for changing the world “in spite of the way that it is.” He asks us if we can see it, hear it and feel that hope “like a train.”

There are hints that Orpheus, in spite of losing Eurydice, was able to make spring come again and “bring the world back into tune.” But he does not get his love, and the last line of the musical brings us back to the beginning “We're gonna sing it again.”

A better place to find the reason that Hadestown dwells on tragedy is in the epilogue, which is usually sung by Persephone and company after the audience is done clapping and getting ready to leave. She asks us to “raise a cup” for Orpheus, and goes on to explain why they are singing.

Some birds sing when the sun shines bright

Our praise is not for them

But the ones who sing in the dead of night

We raise our cups to them


Some flowers bloom where the green grass grows

Our praise is not for them

But the ones who bloom in the bitter snow

We raise our cups to them


To Orpheus and all of us

Goodnight, brothers, goodnight

— We Raise Our Cups

Failure and tragedy are inevitable. They strike whether we expect them or want them to. Hadestown, rather than shy from tragedy or try to correct it, uses the myth to dive into the mixed feelings of loss, pain, guilt and shattered hope that swirl when tragedy strikes. And it ends with a celebration of the human spirit that keeps singing anyway.

Jonah and the government shade

So God said to Jonah, “Are you really so very angry about the little plant?” And he said, “I am as angry as I could possibly be!” The Lord said, “You were upset about this little plant, something for which you did not work, nor did you do anything to make it grow. It grew up overnight and died the next day.”

— Jonah 4:9-10 NET

“I hate politics.”

“Politics are more polarized than ever.”

“America is divided.”

“I hate elections.”

“The government is corrupt.”

I have heard these ideas expressed every election year. It is true that 2020 is exceptional, but in reality every election is exceptional. Who can calculate all the factors and people that swirl in our country for four years? The United States government has endured civil war, depressions and even pandemics, and its people have endured far more.

Most Americans I know are simply trying to live, but a few I know are so concerned about the shade of the government that they are angry enough to die. True, despair is easier to slip into and dwell in now. We can surround ourselves with bad news that we will never be able to do anything about. We have the ability to ignore all who disagree and let the facts be interpreted for us.

It is tempting, isn't it? I can create a world where my assumptions are never challenged and my opinions are always right. It pleases my pride to overwhelm myself with evidence that the other side is wrong. I have access to the truly true secret knowledge that “they” REALLY don't want you to know. All I have to do is tap some shiny glass, but the other side of the glass isn't real.

What do you believe in? Where is your hope? How much does the president mean to you? How much does he really effect you? When do you interact with the government? Do you really think that electing one person can solve all your problems? Can you be distilled into a binary choice? How many lives are you willing to sacrifice to be proven right? What have you done to make this country and this government? What do you owe it? What does it owe you? What is the government responsible for? What should it be responsible for?

These questions have been stewing since 2016. The only one I can answer definitively is the first one, but Jonah and his plant have helped clarify how I value politics:

I believe that America's system of checks and balances is a brilliant idea. I think it is about as good as we can do on earth. I am thankful to live in the United States, but I did not plant it or make it grow. I did not help write the Constitution or sign the Declaration of Independence. All I have done is live here. American government and its relative stability has been a shade over my head, and like Jonah I was once very delighted with it.

The shade seemed to wither in 2016 (though for others it might have seemed to strengthen), but now on the eve of an election I am reminded that my hope is eternal and that this world will pass away. I voted and I care very much who wins, but I do not care about it more than you or my family or Jesus. I want to devote myself to good policies over parties and to people over politics because the people of America are far more influential than the president.

A self-indulgent rant about marketing

It would be very easy for me to say that publishing is an industry, and that the reason I don't make enough money to even think about telling people I am an author when they ask the ubiquitously depressing get-to-know-you question is because I haven't invested in marketing or my platform, but I won't say that even though I just did.

Truthfully, I have no idea why my book doesn't sell. I could make some guesses: It's my first published work, I have no preexisting platform, I didn't spend any money on a campaign, it's self published, maybe it's just not very good. I could tell myself that I never really set out to sell a bunch of copies, but if I'm honest being a full time author is my dream job, and that is impossible without book sales.

I want to be the exception, the unicorn, but I know the chances of that are worse than scratch-offs. “You have to think about it like a business”, “You've gotta compartmentalize”, “View it like work” — all things I tell myself about marketing. Sometimes it works, but it feels dishonest to me. To market effectively you have to act like your book is the next Lord of the Rings, but I know it's not. I think Dawn Must Follow Night is pretty unique and worth your time, but I wrote it, and I see more and more of its flaws as time passes. I have relinquished the false assumption that sales equals quality, but I don't want to sell my book because I persuade you into it. I want the weight of the words to carry it. If I can only become a better writer by spending time writing, then time spent marketing is a waste.

Yet I know that marketing is not evil. As with most activities it can be carried to harmful extremes, but it is not intrinsically bad or good, but that doesn't change that it feels slimy to me. I have tried to read recently traditionally published novels that are best sellers and the next big deal and am consistently underwhelmed and sometimes revolted. Fifty Shades was not one of the ones I tried to read, but it proved that drivel can sell. Great novels are rare for a reason, but the industry rolls forward and publishes not terrible but not great writing as if it were.

Maybe that's the problem. Great novels have a reputation for changing lives. Book blogs publish “100 must read books”, but the reality is that no book is a “must read.” Do I love reading? Of course. It teaches, convicts, encourages, and engages my mind daily — but with the exception of a collection of documents passed down through thousands of years of history about a carpenter's son from Nazareth, I hesitate to call any book “must read.” They are all written by people, and like people they are imperfect and gloriously opinionated. Perhaps this industry is so streamlined now that we have forgotten that books are not products. They are a vehicle for thoughts and ideas and stories.

Steinbeck writes about the sterilization of language in Travel's with Charley in Search of America:

“Radio and television speech becomes standardized, perhaps better English than we have ever used. Just as our bread, mixed and baked, packaged and sold without benefit of accident or human frailty, is uniformly good and uniformly tasteless, so will our speech become one speech.”

Is that what is happening? Are we becoming such a product of television that uniform blandness has invaded not only our speech but our books as well? I could not tell you without reading more popular fiction, and I love classics too much to do that.

Perhaps marketing bothers me so much not because it is evil, but because it is bland. It seeks to appeal to the largest audience possible, and because of that it must be appealing to all. We who enjoy strong flavors and acquire a taste for the unique and often strange treasures of thought are put off. In popular fantasy and science fiction especially, success seems to be measured by whether or not you get a screen adaption, but writing as a medium is capable of so much more than a vehicle for plot and character. What is stopping prose from being as much a part of the experience as world building and character? What is stopping a fantasy novel from taking full advantage of the medium? Well, it takes a lot of practice to write like Hemingway, but the industry does not encourage fantasy authors who want to make a decent living to practice writing like that. The most popular ones are lauded for their ability to craft a plot and magic system, but rarely for prose or narrative technique. “Good” prose in the mainstream of the genre is “clear”, “descriptive”, maybe even “poetic” if it has some flavor.

Nobody looks for great masters of the written word in fantasy. They look for story tellers, dreamers, plot weavers. Perhaps I am crazy, and perhaps I should just go and try to write Literature, but I love my imagination too much to do that. If there is any genre where playing with perception and mixing the abstract with the concrete can be utilized to its full potential, it is in one called fantasy.

I am not claiming to be better than popular fantasy authors, but perhaps my goals are different. Once you've read an author like Hemingway or Woolf or Joyce or Steinbeck it is hard not to be disappointed by everything else. My pompous author pipe dream represented by an imaginary review for one of my books is this: “If Hemingway wrote fantasy.”

Clearly, I have a long way to go.

By Hunter Dansin

The comparison of large tech companies and corporations to colonizing powers is not a new one. In this essay I examine the comparisons that have already been made and what can be contributed to the discussion.

“Digital Colonialism”

The most direct comparison that has already been made is the usage of colonial terms to refer to Facebook and other big tech organizations exercising influence over developing countries via free services. Specifically, Renata Aviala, a senior digital rights advisor to the World Wide Web Foundation, used the term “Digital Colonialism”. She says that it is: “the new deployment of a quasi-imperial power over a vast number of people, without their explicit consent, manifested in rules, designs, languages, cultures and belief systems by a vastly dominant power.”

This comparison is made in the context of Facebook's substantial influence over local information ecosystems in many countries. Aviala gives an example from late 2017, when Facebook caused a sharp reduction in page views of publications and organizations by changing the news feed without warning. The effects were most severe in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia — because Facebook is a crucial platform for many news outlets in those countries (especially smaller ones). She uses the term “digital colonialism” as a metaphor to describe influence exercised by big tech (mostly American corporations) over smaller countries.

This term was also used when a number of developing countries refused to sign an “international declaration on data flows”. The reason for the refusal was rooted in the disparity between local users and the location of data centers. For example, India has the highest number of Facebook users worldwide, but only one of fifteen Facebook data centers is located in Asia (Singapore). The rest are located in North America and Europe.

The connection of the term “digital colonialism” with real world geography and events was also made in a paper by Michael Kwet of Yale University titled “Digital Colonialism: US empire and the New Imperialism in the Global South”. This paper is directly and indirectly referenced in the conversation about colonialism in the digital age.

“US empire and the New Imperialism in the Global South”

Because it is the most in depth exploration of what digital colonialism means, I will attempt a basic overview of Michael Kwet's paper. Kwet, at the time of writing, was a Sociology PhD candidate at Yale Law School.

Terms Kwet uses:

Global South: A term “employed in a post-national sense to address spaces and peoples negatively impacted by contemporary capitalist globalization.”

Big Tech: A term commonly used to refer to major US tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.

Big Data: “An accumulation of data that is too large and complex for processing by traditional database management tools.”

The abstract states: “This paper proposes a theoretical and conceptual framework explaining how the United States is reinventing colonialism in the Global South through the domination of digital technology. Drawing on South Africa as a case example, it argues that US multinationals exercise imperial control at the architecture level of the digital ecosystem: software, hardware, and network connectivity”. It then asserts that imperial control manifests itself in five “forms of domination”: economic domination, imperial control, global surveillance capitalism, imperial state surveillance, and tech hegemony. Lastly, the abstract presents People's Technology for People's Power as a provider of solutions to counter the “rapidly advancing frontier of digital empire” (Kwet 1).

The introduction contextualizes the paper as a case study of South Africa and outlines the main goals of its research:

“This paper proposes a theoretical and conceptual framework for assessing digital colonialism, drawing on South Africa as a case example. In doing so, it makes three contributions to scholarship: (1) it theorizes digital colonialism as rooted in control over the digital ecosystem, (2) it provides a conceptual framework for digital domination in the Global South, and (3) it recommends practical alternatives that societies can pursue” (Kwet 2).

The following sections define the five “forms of domination” and propose “a theory of a freedom-respecting digital ecosystem” via People's Technology for People's Power (People's Technology). I will summarize each one.

The 5 Features of Domination

  1. Economic Domination: Kwet admits that the point of economic domination has not been empirically proven, however he points to early instances, namely the negative impact of Google ads and Uber on the economy, as examples of economic domination by Big Tech companies (Kwet 4). In each case, foreign entities extracted large amounts of revenue from, and exercised influence over, South Africa. Kwet submits this as evidence of corporations acting like the Dutch East India Company by undermining local development, dominating the market, and extracting revenues from the Global South (Kwet 5).

  2. Imperial Control: Kwet asserts that Big Tech exercises control of the Global South by control of infrastructure. He compares this to the construction of infrastructure such as railways in South Africa for the benefit of colonial powers (Kwet 5-6). Through control of hardware, software, and network connectivity, Kwet states that US corporations can shape infrastructure that is profitable for them and detrimental to South Africa. He provides as examples the engineering of copyright technology such as DRM, throttling, and centralized storage of media through services such as Netflix and Spotify (Kwet 7). He also explains how Facebook's Free Basics service, which offers a gated internet experience for free, can indirectly and directly censor free speech (Kwet 8).

  3. Global Surveillance Capitalism: Kwet gives an overview of “surveillance capitalism”, a term which he borrows from “several prominent scholars” writing in Monthly Review. Kwet asserts that Big Data is the “central component” of surveillance capitalism (Kwet 9). He uses Facebook/Twitter (social data), Amazon (e-commerce), and Google (search) as examples of a virtual monopoly on Big Data. Each of the tech corporations collects and processes data on its users, and that data is where their profits come from (Kwet 9) . Combined with whistle-blower reports that US tech corporations share that data with the NSA, Kwet asserts that Big Data enables “state surveillance” (Kwet 10).

  4. Imperial State Surveillance: Kwet asserts that the documents leaked by Edward Snowden, in which partnerships between the NSA and tech corporations were outlined, provide evidence that that the US government leverages Big Data and surveillance to support its policies in the Global South (Kwet 11). He compares this to the surveillance of black miners at the end of the 19th century, as well as US contributions in support of apartheid in the 1960s and 70s (Kwet 10).

  5. Tech Hegemony: Kwet compares ideologies adopted by colonial powers, such as eugenics and Social Darwinism advocated by Francis Galton in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, to the vision of a “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (4IR) theorized by Klaus Schwab. Schwab's 4IR is similar to the vision pushed by Big Tech corporations (Kwet 13-14). According to Kwet, this “Manifest Destiny for the digital age” considers “Big Data, centralized clouds, proprietary systems, smart cities littered with surveillance, automation, predictive analytics, and similar inventions” as the future of computing and technological progress (Kwet 14). Kwet asserts that it is dangerous to “fast-track Big Tech products into the classroom” because it risks reinforcing Big Tech's hegemonic ideology and the dependency of South Africa on services provided by US corporations (Kwet 14, 15).

Kwet's Solution: People's Technology for People's Power

“People's Technology for People's Power” is a reference to the People's Education for People's Power movement that anti-apartheid activists launched during the 1980s “in support of direct democracy in education” (Kwet 15). His solution to counter digital colonialism is a “People's Technology” movement that embraces Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and internet decentralization (Kwet 12-13).

Kwet cites Richard Stallman and the Free Software Movement, which itself was founded to combat proprietary software and the dominance of big tech companies like Microsoft. The movement defines four freedoms that, when followed, keep power in the user's hands and not the developer's. Kwet asserts that the freedom to use, study, share, and improve software are essential for South African's digital independence (Kwet 12). He also asserts that in addition to FOSS, citizens need “Free Hardware without digital locks”, and a neutral internet. He cites Columbia law professor Eben Moglen, who states that “the trio of Free Software, Free Hardware, and Free Spectrum (internet connectivity) form the foundation for a Free Culture...” (Kwet 12).

The other piece to the People's Technology movement that Kwet presents is internet decentralization. He gives an outline of the currently centralized architecture of what is a large part of the internet for the majority of users. Specifically, he states that “a small number of corporations” own the servers that billions of users access, which “facilitates colonial dispossession” (Kwet 13). He then presents efforts such as FreedomBox, GNU Social and Mastodon, which allow users to host their own servers and control their own data, as potential alternatives. He asserts that the use of Big Data is not the problem; it is the collection. For Kwet, colonial history will be repeated through digital means unless there are structural changes (Kwet 15).

Further Study

Digital colonialism treats internet technologies developed and controlled by large US Corporations as a method of real world colonization. Upon further research, it does not appear that Renata Aviala and Michael Kwet directly agreed on the meaning of the term, but in practice they use it the same way. While one may criticize the term as sensationalist and extreme, the examples provided by Avialia, Kwet, and other activists who decry digital colonialism are too compelling to ignore. Kwet's paper, despite having a bias against Big Tech, successfully shows that US tech corporations have an unhealthy and shocking amount of influence on the Global South. He also suggests practical ways to oppose the infrastructure that keeps user's locked into centralized tech products.

This review has helped clarify the difference between “digital colonialism” and “colonization of the internet”. Digital colonialism refers to the use of digital technologies as a new form of colonialism in real world countries. Colonization of the internet refers to the internet as the space that was colonized. Some questions that can further explore this distinction are:

  1. What metaphorical “places” were colonized in the internet? (E.g, e-commerce, communication/social interaction, media consumption, data storage and analysis).
  2. How were they colonized?
  3. What are some ways that “colonial powers” exercise and maintain control?
  4. What are the positive and negative effects of this control?
  5. What are some ways to positively counter this control?


Odrozek, Kasia. “Resisting Digital Colonialism.” Internet Health Report, Mozilla, 8 Apr. 2018, internethealthreport.org/2018/resisting-digital-colonialism/.

Cellan-Jones, Rory. “Facebook's News Feed Experiment Panics Publishers.” BBC News, BBC, 24 Oct. 2017, www.bbc.com/news/technology-41733119.

Kwet, Michael, Digital Colonialism: US Empire and the New Imperialism in the Global South (August 15, 2018). For final version, see: Race & Class Volume 60, No. 4 (April 2019) ; DOI: 10.1177/0306396818823172. Available at SSRN: ssrn.com/abstract=3232297 or dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3232297

Hicks, Jacqueline. “‘Digital colonialism’: why some countries want to take control of their people’s data from Big Tech.” The Conversation, University of Nottingham, 26 Sept. 2019, theconversation.com/digital-colonialism-why-some-countries-want-to-take-control-of-their-peoples-data-from-big-tech-123048

“Facebook: Company Profile, Data Center Locations.” Datacenters.com, 2020, www.datacenters.com/providers/facebook

About Me

I think and I write essays, fiction, and code. If you appreciate my work a shout out on Mastodon or Twitter can go a long way. I also have a novel, which you can read chapter by chapter on Tapas, or purchase as an e-book by clicking here. If you want to leave me a tip I have a Ko-Fi and a Liberapay. Thanks for reading!

Contact Me

A Poem

I wish that I could make something better to express the stress I feel inside because my heart is a cannonball and my soul is an ocean. I sink deeper, down through the abyss and my eyes burst from the pressure and the sun is drowned and I am blind.

I wish I could make something better.

I don't want pity I don't want you to see who I truly am. A cliche but its true. If you see what can you do? If you see how can you help? Just be.

There in the abyss I walk the bottom of the trench and search for a light that I can see without the gift of sight. It's not a gift it's a curse, because when you can see you can know and when you know the magic is gone, the fire is burned out, the metaphors all break.

I am not a creator I am a charlatan a wizard a conjurer an illusionist. I weave these words and hypnotize you to pay for something I could give should give for free but I have no other skills I like and I wish I could make something better.

But I never will because what is better? Views clicks likes revenue? These are words not numbers. Words with weight, words with melody, words with imagery. Words that I can string together to make impressive sentences that will make you think that I am something but all I am really saying is that it is far too easy to say nothing and far too hard to say something better but the better you get the worse you feel and the worse you feel—

Better is not a measure easily measured.

Pressure flattens me to the floor of the abyss and I cease to struggle and let the darkness in. After over under within without the blackness seeps but it is not darkness it is water and the only thing missing is light. Not just any light because I know the ones swimming around my heart are bait and I've been bitten before. But I bite anyway and my heart is consumed piece by piece. I need a new one.

I walk heartless across the bottom of the ocean floor looking. Look to others, look to plans, to rules, religions and comforts – but none of them have my heart. They offer substitutes but all they do is pump once and die. I need a new heart that won't die.

I wish I could write something better. Something with a plot, because things without plots don't sell. Plotting, scheming about how to trick you into thinking it is better and I am better because it is better but we are all broken.

But keep walking.

Past the plots and substitutes.

Through the black water.

To the end.

Of your line.

I walk into the cliff wall of the trench and stare up without sight. The wall is as high as my ocean is deep and the light is at the top. A hand reaches down.

I wish I could write something—

The hand is trailing blood and I am pulled from the trench and I am given a new heart and new eyes that cannot be crushed and cannot be consumed and I am—


Listen to this poem set to music: Soundcloud

About Me

I think and I write essays, fiction, and code. If you appreciate my work a shout out on Mastodon or Twitter can go a long way. I also have a novel, which you can read chapter by chapter on Tapas, or purchase as an e-book by clicking here. If you want to leave me a tip I have a Ko-Fi and a Liberapay. Thanks for reading!

Contact Me

When I first started writing my novel it was in LibreOffice Writer, but I quickly realized that while it worked well for essays and even my thesis, it was not ideal for writing fiction. At least, not for me. I wanted something stable and flexible enough to handle tens of thousands of words of dark, realistic fantasy. In addition, I wanted to make sure that when those tens of thousands of words were ready for publishing, I could convert the manuscript fairly easily from a single master file.

This guide is what I wish I had when I started, and I'm putting it together in case anyone else is curious or wants to use free and open source software to write and publish their novel.

  • Disclaimer: I am no expert, but this is what worked for me. Feel free to ask questions/reply with suggestions.

Step 1. Markdown

Markdown is a markup language with the goal of being natural to read and use. If you are familiar with HTML, it should be a quick start.

You don't really need to install anything to start using it, however I would suggest a dedicated markdown editor such as my personal favorite, Ghostwriter, to make the experience more streamlined. It's fairly minimal, but that's kind of the point. Writing requires focus, and Markdown does a great job of being practical and flexible while getting out of the way of the words.

Honestly, markdown is so streamlined you can use pretty much any program you want to write fiction in it. Here's a quick example:


# Part I

## Chapter 1

Once upon a time, there was a writer who wanted to write *in italics.* He felt, however, that the sentence was not strong enough *in italics,* so he wrote it **in bold**. Satisfied, he moved on to the next part by making a horizontal line.


*__Then he wrote the most important sentence he had ever written. So he bolded and italicized it.__*

>Then when it came time to write a memoir about it, he put it in a block quote.

# The End


Part I

Chapter 1

Once upon a time, there was a writer who wanted to write in italics. He felt, however, that the sentence was not strong enough in italics, so he wrote it in bold. Satisfied, he moved on to the next part by making a horizontal line.

Then he wrote the most important sentence he had ever written, so he bolded and italicized it.

Then when it came time to write a memoir about it, he put it in a block quote.

The End

You can refer to a guide for more detailed information, but as you can see, it's fairly easy to get the hang of – especially since fiction writing does not require complex formatting. In addition, Markdown let me use a cool digital typewriter to do most of my drafting. Sometimes you have to go to extreme measures to avoid distractions.

Step 2. Pandoc

Markdown would not be that useful for authors if Pandoc did not exist. Pandoc allows you to convert your glorious manuscript.md into pretty much any file format under the face of the sun. Follow the installation instructions for your OS/distro and let's roll.

Keep in mind Pandoc is a command-line program, which might be intimidating if you have never used a command line before, but their documentation is top-notch and with a little patience you'll be generating .epubs and .pdfs like a real hacker.


The .epub file type is the standard for e-books. Amazon has .mobi, but since you can upload to KDP with .epub it's not really worth it to generate with Pandoc unless you have a kindle that you want to export your manuscript to.

Generating .epubs is fairly simple with Pandoc, as the formatting requirements are not as strict as print-ready .pdfs, but it is not without its challenges. If you feel confident you can skip my guide and go right to Pandoc's guide for creating .epubs. Otherwise here's a basic step by step:

First, navigate to the directory where your manuscript is located, then open a terminal/shell. On the command line type:

pandoc yourmanuscript.md -o yourbookname.epub

Then press enter. Boom! You now have an .epub. Well done!

We're not done, however. Something useful to include is a table of contents, and fortunately, Pandoc can handle that. Simply add --toc after Pandoc.

Another option I used is --top-level-division=part. This will tell Pandoc to define the highest level heading in your manuscript as a part rather than a chapter. If you don't use parts, you can skip this because it is set to chapter by default. Altogether it will look something like this:

pandoc --toc --top-level-division=part yourmanuscript.md -o yourbookname.epub

Before you upload and become a self-published millionaire, make you sure you take care of your metadata. This is pretty easy with Pandoc. Just add a yaml metadata block to the top of your manuscript. It'll look something like this:

- type: main
  text: My Awesome Title
- role: author
  text: My Awesome Name
publisher: My Awesome Publishing Company
- scheme: ISBN-13
  text: 978-0-57-855858-5
rights: © Year My Awesome Name
rights: All Rights Reserved
  • Note: identifier: is only necessary if you actually have an ISBN. Even then, you don't need an ISBN to publish just an e-book.

With the yaml block at the top of your document, Pandoc will be able to read it and attribute it to the .epub. For more documentation click here.

Step 3. Latex

Here's where it gets juicy. Pandoc does a pretty decent job of outputting .pdfs by default, but figuring out how to format them for print on demand took me a lot longer than I thought it would.

Pandoc uses a default template to format the .pdfs, and while they look okay, they were not adequate for print on demand. I decided the easiest way to get the .pdfs I wanted was to modify the Pandoc Latex template and tell Pandoc to use that template. Fortunately, you don't have to sit through the long hours of tinkering it took me to get that working.

First, make sure you have latex installed. Latex is a .pdf engine that is capable of making beautiful print-ready documents. On most linux distributions, there is a handy “texlive-all” package you can install to get all the dependencies and extensions. On Windows and Mac, Pandoc recommends installing latex via MiKTeX.

Next, let's copy the default Pandoc template so we can modify it. The easiest way to do this is to tell Pandoc to output its default latex template into our custom template with:

pandoc -D latex > custombook.latex

Alternatively, you can go to the directory where Pandoc stores the templates, find “default.latex”, copy it, and rename it.

Next, open your custom template file and add these modifications after line 7:


% media settings
\usepackage[paperwidth=5.5in, paperheight=8.5in]{geometry}

\usepackage{titlesec} % make chapters start on a new page, and remove auto-generated chapter headings HD

\usepackage{tocstyle} %make the TOC pretty HD

\usepackage{fancyhdr} % make the headers pretty HD
\fancyhead[RO, LE]{\leftmark}

\makeatletter % remove header from chapter pages automatically HD
  \def\cleardoublepage{\clearpage\if@twoside \ifodd\c@page\else
  • Some notes:
    • I am not an expert, but this is what worked for me. If you run into problems, check the forums and documentation.
    • Make sure to delete the other \documentclass{} definition before replacing it with \documentclass{book} .
    • Under %media settings make sure to input the dimensions you desire.
    • If you get errors, read them. They can be very useful in figuring out what went wrong. Sometimes it's as simple as a missing {.
    • Latex is very powerful, and I am sure there is a lot more you can do with it. Feel free to experiment and improve upon these modifications.
    • Documentation is your friend. Sometimes sitting down and reading it is a lot more efficient than searching the forums, plus you learn more.

After you modify the custom template, you have to tell Pandoc to use it with --template=custombook.latex. Make sure your template is in the same directory as Pandoc's defaults. If you don't know where those are you can search for the file “default.latex”.

Now we're ready to generate it. Here's what your final command should look like:

pandoc --toc --template=custombook.latex yourmanuscript.md -o yourbook.pdf

In order to format the table of contents satisfactorily I had to remove the numbers from my chapter headings in my manuscript because --toc numbers the sections and it looked odd. Your mileage may vary but if you figure out an easier way to do this, let me know.

Step 4. Publish

Congrats! Now you can upload your manuscript to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Ingram Spark, and just about anywhere you want. I won't bore you with a tutorial for those because if you got this far, you can figure out those web interfaces pretty easily.

For a cover, I used Canva and a vector drawing of the moon I did with Inkscape. I was able to use the same .png for all e-book platforms, but for print, I downloaded the .pdf templates for each one and used LibreOffice Draw to modify them. There are myriad cover tutorials out there if you need help, or you can hire a designer at a marketplace like Reedsy.

Thanks for reading! I sincerely hope this helps.

Leave a tip? KoFi

My book, Dawn Must Follow Night, is a fantasy novel set in a realm where terrifying beasts converge every century from the Black. A group with a connection to the Black known as The Blades of Dawn are the only ones with the power to fight them. When a powerful lord decides to establish an empire, he targets the group, forcing them to battle not only the impending convergence, but also human ambition. It features magic inspired by theoretical physics and Lovecraftian horror, and realistic depictions of historical weaponry and combat.

Social: Mastodon , Twitter .

Hello friends!

Here you will find an updated list of links for Dawn Must Follow Night. Simply click on the desired store:



Barnes & Noble





Barnes & Noble

Dawn be with you, Hunter

Sorry for the radio silence. My wife and I took a vacation to Disney (my first time!), so I haven't had a whole lot of time to do research and write. I have had a lot of time to think, however, and I've decided to research colonialism and see if there are any comparisons between colonization of the “New World” and the colonization of the internet. I've spent some time narrowing it down and have a thesis to work with.


The dotcom boom of the late nineties and early two thousands can be compared to the colonization of the “New World”, in that many new entities competed for space in the new “vacant” frontier. In the end, large conglomerates got big and won out. Google, Facebook/Twitter and Amazon have “conquered” the internet, and now exercise vast amounts of influence over its inhabitants. This project seeks to understand the motivations behind colonialism in the hope of learning from the past in order to inform the future.

Research Questions

  • What motivated European nations to colonize the “New World”?
    • What motivated dotcom companies to colonize the internet?
  • What are the pros and cons to a centralized system?
    • In the colonial period?
    • In the internet age?
  • What can be done to prevent monopoly?

Step One

I feel that the questions after motivations are a bit vague, so my first goal will be to figure out the motivations behind the colonization of the “New World” and the colonization of the internet respectively.

Thanks for Reading!

This was just a quick update. If you have some thoughts you can follow me on Mastodon or Twitter. Mastodon is preferred because of the higher character limit and I check it more often.

I am off to the library to find some sources.

Disclaimer: I mean no disrespect to other bloggers and writers on any of the platforms that this is read. I do however, mean to disrespect the current ad-driven, marketing-centric model that dominates the blogging and internet writing landscape, which seems to reward quantity over quality.

In Walden, Henry David Thoreau tells a story about a Native American who weaves a basket and tries to sell it to a well-known lawyer in town. The lawyer refuses, saying he does not want any, astonishing the Native American. Thoreau writes: “Having seen his industrious white neighbors so well off – that the lawyer had only to weave arguments, and, by some magic, wealth and standing followed – he had said to himself: I will go into business; I will weave baskets. Thinking that when he had made the baskets he would have done his part, and then it would be the white man's to buy them. He had not discovered that it was necessary for him to make it worth the other's while to buy them, or at least make him think that this was so...

Words have no physical value. You cannot make bread from them, you cannot hold them in your hands or use them to clothe you, they cannot set a broken leg straight. They do, however, have a monetary value. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Disney, Stephen King, YouTubers, Podcasters, Songwriters... the products they make their millions from are built with words. It is not so much that the products themselves are intrinsically valuable, but we have been convinced that they are worth our while.

Do not misunderstand. I love words. I love reading. I love writing. Words have unlimited potential, and they will never die as a medium because they allow humanity to communicate through time and space in a beautifully simple way. Thousands of years from now a galactic colonist could read Les Misérables on a spaceship, and be just as enthralled with the story of Jean Valjean as a Parisian who lived through the time period during which the story was written. They may not understand as much of the context, but the soul of Hugo's writing shines through in an immortal way.

My dream job is to be a writer.

I thought I could do it. I thought I could play the game in order to do what I love, but I got sidetracked from my real goal. I wrote with heart. I didn't try to follow trends. I tried to avoid the psychological trap of pining for success, but I failed. I spent far too much time and emotional energy looking at my reads and likes and claps and re-tweets. Heck, I never even got over fifty followers and I still obsessed over it. I was shallow, and I should have known better. I stopped writing for the thoughts and the words. My original goal was displaced by a hollow measure of visible success.

There is actually psychological precedent that supports this.

Gordon Allport wrote in The Functional Autonomy of Motives: “A good workman feels compelled to do clean-cut jobs even though his security, or the praise of others, no longer depends upon high standards. In fact, in a day of jerry-building his workman-like standards may be to his economic disadvantage. Even so he cannot do a slipshod job. Workmanship is not an instinct, but so firm is the hold it may acquire on a man that it is little wonder Veblen mistook it for one... What was once an instrumental technique becomes a master-motive.”

Harold Lasswell said it more succinctly: “the human animal distinguishes himself by his infinite capacity for making ends of his means.

Whether you like it or not, the world judges success in the writing community by followers, likes, sales. We do it because the impact of words is so hard to measure, and the likes give us something to point to and say: “Hey look! All that work was worth something!” It is not that likes and comments are evil, just that they so easily supplant the original (and more important) motivation to write. In my case I started thinking more about how certain posts would perform rather than the quality of the words themselves. I made an end of my means.

Another problem was my conscience.

According to a peer-reviewed study, “unethical acts led to more subjective body weight”. That is: the weight of a guilty conscience is more than just a metaphor; it can be experienced physically. What does this have to do with where I publish my blog posts?

See, I'm a nerd. I love Linux, I love open source software and the movement for a more open web. I migrated/am migrating from Gmail and Google because I believe too much power in the hands of anyone, whether it be the government or a tech company, can lead to bad consequences for the common man. I deleted Facebook for the same reason (also who even enjoys their time on Facebook any more?). I believe that the tools and systems people use are just as ethically important as what they do with them. I want to do what I love with the tools that I love, which is why I have decided to quit Medium and Wordpress.

The new home for my writing will be on write.as, which is an open, non-ad driven, federated platform that I can be confident will remain under my ownership.

Here is what you can expect if you follow me:

  • Essays about writing, storytelling, government, philosophy/religion, technology, or anything else I am interested in. I will research the subject and employ critical thinking to the best of my ability.
  • A regularly updated collection of fiction on Tapas. My debut novel, a character driven fantasy set on a planet that rotates once a year, with magic inspired by theoretical physics and Lovecraftian horror, is being updated with a new episode once a week.
  • Engagement (if you want to discuss interesting topics) on Mastodon or Twitter.
  • A commitment to open source technology and libre everything. I run Solus Linux and try to utilize open source tools for pretty much everything I do.
  • I also make music casually on Soundcloud.

If you appreciate my work a shout on Mastodon or Twitter can go a long way. If you are able/desire to support more tangibly my book is for sale here.

I also have a Ko-Fi and LiberaPay.

Keep thinking.