blogs by Gio


Recommendations for all sorts of things that don’t cleanly fit in a blog article or a Related Reading section.

In the spirit of trying to be useful, I won’t include extremely well-known items on this list. You don’t need me to tell you to play Half-Life or read GEB, but you might appreciate a nudge towards Superliminal or T.C. MITS. This is meant to be stuff you might not have heard of, not a drop-in replacement for top charts.

I’ll also try to avoid superlatives. Just know that if it made this page, I like it. In a similar spirit of concision, I’ll avoid recommending projects I’m personally involved in. Check the ol’ portfolio for that.

📚 means “I would also recommend extensive amounts of this person’s back catalogue, but in order to not totally clutter this page. I’m not listing all their good content. You should still check it all out, though!”

(Work in progress)


Tech Politics🔗

“Link In Bio” is a slow knife | Anil Dash, 2019
A really great opinion piece about how modern web “apps” try to maintain walled gardens at users’ expense.

Alternatives to the CompuServe of Things | Phil Windley, 2021
An excellent primer in the current issue with smart devices, and the dangerously lopsided power inbalances tech companies inflict on customers — and not because they need to.

Privacy and Power: Computer Databases and Metaphors for Information Privacy | Daniel J. Solove, GW Law, 2001
This is a relatively thick academic paper that essentially makes the argument that Kafka’s The Trial is a better metaphor for modern internet privacy issues than Big Brother.

Copyright is broken | Eevee, 2015
A very good article about copyright law in regards to fanart and derived works, and how the current legal and social paradigms have deviated so significantly from the original intent of copyright so as to be incredibly harmful to society and culture in general.

Microsoft Research DRM talk | Cory Doctorow 📚, 2004
This is the piece to read about DRM, aka the reason you can’t own things anymore. It hits the nail on the head perfectly in both excellently encapsulating the issue and defusing counterarguments and in being remarkably prophetic for the time.

The App Store is broken because it wasn’t designed to work | David Hansson, April 2021
An concise explanation of how malicious apps get approved on the App Store and the problems with the current App Store review and moderation model.

The three reasons YouTubers keep imploding, from a YouTuber | Michael Sawyer, February 2017
This is a quick look into the systemic pressures that push youtube personalities into scandals. It’s a direct response to the Disney/Pewdiepie controversy, but it’s also a good examination of the role YouTube, content platforms, and MCNs play in the “gig culture” of internet content production, and how constant pressure to keep up with changing algorithms can be destructive.

Why it’s easier to move country than switch social media | Cory Doctorow 📚, 2021
An article about the importance of having social madia platforms that are interoperable — “Competitive Compatibility” — and how tech companies have strategically shut down compatibility after securing large monopolies over dedicated customer bases, relying on artificially inflated switching costs to deter competition.

listening and trust, part 1 | Aaron Turon, 2018
This article talks about some controversy over decisions about the internals of the Rust programming language. While the internals are dry, the controversy and especially the resulting No New Rationale rule, which I think is an incredibly important and correct principle.

Yahoo, the Destroyer | Kaitlyn Tiffany, 2021
“How the historic company became known as a bumbling villain of internet culture”. A look at how Yahoo routinely purges legacy content focusing on Yahoo Answers (the most recent victim at the time.)

Github pledges legal aid for interoperators | Cory Doctorow, 2021 📚
A retrospective on a legal attack against open-source software from 2020 that begins with a really excellent, concise explanation of the core issues with DMCA sec 1201 and anti-circumvention laws in general. The problem with “felony contempt of business model” as an actionable legal principle.

In 2030, You Won’t Own Any Gadgets | Victoria Song, 2021

When you buy a device that requires proprietary software to run, the money you hand over is an entry fee, nothing more. … When hardware is merely a vessel for software and not a useful thing on its own, you don’t really get to decide anything. A company will decide when to stop pushing vital updates. It might also decide what you do with the product after it’s “dead.” … This is the reality of a service-first world. The power has shifted so that companies set the parameters, and consumers have to make do with picking the lesser of several evils.

Why NFTs are bad: the long version | Antsstyle, 2021

This long article explains technical and economic details to explain both why NFTs are bad, why they don’t work (they don’t do what they claim to do), and explains the hype surrounding them.

The New Wilderness | Maciej Cegłowski, 2019
Argues for a distinction between the traditional concept of privacy (as protections on specific data) and “ambient privacy”, or the “understanding that there is value in having our everyday interactions with one another remain outside the reach of monitoring, and that the small details of our daily lives should pass by unremembered”.

Hard Politics🔗

Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop | Anonymous, 2020
This article written from the point of view of an ex-cop explains the systematic issues that encourage abusive behavior among police officers and how the structural corruption makes questions about the motives of individual officers less relevant than they would like you to believe.

America’s Criminal Justice System Is Rotten to the Core | Clark Neily, 2020
An excellent piece by Clark Neily of the CATO institute summarizing how astonishingly corrupt America’s justice system is. Geared towards people who haven’t yet grasped the scope of the problem, and have a vague, unfounded trust in law-enforcement institutions. See also Prosecutorial Fallibility and Accountability, 2017

How Corporate Tyranny Works | Chris Hedges, 2020
An in-depth article about Steven Donziger, an environmental attorney who has been harassed, demonized, and even criminally prosecuted at the demands of Chevron after he won a major against them in 2011. An incredible look at how wealthy corporations can make themselves unaccountable with legal thuggery.

Why is the idea of ‘gender’ provoking backlash the world over? | Judith Butler, 2021
A look at nationalism, anti-intellectualism, and censorship in social spaces, focusing on the pushback against “gender studies”. Makes a case positioning “anti-gender movements” as explicitly socially conservative authoritarianism.

what are police for, and who should be policed?” | Jane Coaston, 2020
An excellent twitter thread about policing mentality and how people identify themselves as members of different groups. It’s short, read it.

Our Broken Justice System | Clark Neily, 2019
An overview of the fundamental issues with the American criminal justice system, especially focusing on the problems caused by replacing jury trials with plea bargaining.

Conspiracy: Theory and Practice | Edward Snowden, 2021
On public conspiracies and the difference between conspiracy practices and conspiracy theories.

Surveillance Kills Freedom By Killing Experimentation | Bruce Schneier, 2018

People change their behavior when they live their lives under surveillance. They are less likely to speak freely and act individually. They self-censor. They become conformist. This is obviously true for government surveillance, but is true for corporate surveillance as well. We simply aren’t as willing to be our individual selves when others are watching.


The Education of T.C. MITS: An truly unique book published in 1942. A treatise on the scientific and mathematical thinking written in something akin to free verse. It is a study in mathematics, an analysis of society, a defence of science, and a scaffolding of philosophy all at once. I own multiple copies of this to lend people.

The Jargon File: A collection of notes about capital-h Hacker culture and style, compiled circa 2003. Covers definitions, writing style, personalities, and even parables.


Video Essay-ish🔗

Why Electronic Voting Is Still A Bad Idea | Tom Scott 📚, 2019
A short, simple video that clearly and effectively explains the basic reasons why electronic voting systems are inherently dangerous, despite whatever the latest technical innovation/fad might be.

YouTube’s Copyright System Isn’t Broken. The World’s Is. | Tom Scott 📚, 2020
A long, interesting, in-depth about the reality of modern copyright law and the strange and often counter-intuitive way it intersects with internet culture and modern entertainment.

CO-VIDs: the gandhi trap | Ian Danskin ( Innuendo Studios) 📚, 2020
A short video essay about the optics of brutal state violence against peaceful protesters — Bob Altemeyer’s “Gandhi trap” — and the use of intentional disinformation campaigns to manipulate them.

Tomatoes, or How Not To Define “Art” | Ian Danskin ( Innuendo Studios) 📚, 2017
A summary of the “what is art” conversation/argument and the difference between experiential definitions and axiomatic definitions. An argument about how to think about words and definitions in general.

Unboxing the hidden politics of SimCity | Clayton Ashley, 2021
A video about how SimCity — a simple city simulation game — comes bundled with a particular political worldview, why such bundling is actually necessary, and the danger of treating a computer simulation as value neutral.

PragerU & The Law | shaun 📚, 2021
A relatively short but thorough video about the law and how the rhetoric of legality is misused by authoritarian factions, and how what some people refer to as “The Law” (when wielding it) has nothing to do with legality, policy, or any sort of civic process.

The Death Penalty feat. PragerU | shaun 📚, 2020
A long video essay about the political debate over the death penalty, the various factions pushing on both the issue, and their arguments.

CTRL+ALT+DEL | SLA:3 | hbomberguy 📚, 2018
This is an exploration of CAD (and other weird gamer webcomics in general), but it also makes the key point that fiction can offer perspective into how the author sees the world, especially when seemingly distorted and out-of-touch with reality without meaning to invoke camp.

The Strange World of YouTube’s Corporate Propaganda | Big Joel, 2020
A video essay about YouTube and modern content platforms in general. Makes the excellent point that YouTube’s business model depends on it seeming like an invisible, natural force, when in fact it actively engages in relationships very similar to employer/employee, but with fewer protections.

Let’s go whaling: Tricks for monetising mobile game players with free-to-play | Torulf Jernström, 2016
A talk from a mobile game development conference that explores the “dark pattern” design techniques to make addictive video games that extract as much money from the public as possible. Dark stuff.

The Horror of Universal Paperclips and Space Engine | Jacob Geller 📚, 20XX
A contemplation on the web clicker game Universal Paperclips, the space simulator Space Engine, the topic of automation, and the cosmic horror of scale.

Games, Schools, and Worlds Designed for Violence | Jacob Geller 📚, 2019
Another video from Jacob Geller, but on a completely different topic. A video essay about how spaces are designed for expected use, and the potential psychological effects of the militarization of common spaces like schools. Starts with the design of video game environments, but quickly moves to apply those ideas elsewhere.

Don’t Be a Sucker | USA, 1947
Anti-fascist propaganda produced by the United States military in the wake of World War II. An explanation of the social engineering and rhetoric that pulls people to fascist ideologies, as well as how police forces with discretionary authority to arrest people are tools of evil. Honestly heartwarming.

Rise of The Doomer: Why So Many People Are Giving Up | Sarah Z, 2020
A look at the “doomer”; the disillusioned, hopeless generation. Where the name came from, some of the causes of modern existential despair, and ways of dealing with the burnout.

What You need to know about stalkerware | Eva Galperin, 2019
A brief Ted Talk about so-called “stalkerware”: commercial spyware commonly used by abusers to do in-depth reconnaissance on their victims, often deliberately allowed or ignored by commercial antivirus and other security systems.

Level Design | Joe Wintergreen 📚, 2016
A collection of short videos from Joe Wintergreen about geometrical level design tools and problems modern game development workflows have that old systems like Quake and Half Life didn’t. See also his twitter thread here about the design tools in Half Life: Alyx

The Austrian Wine Poisoning | Down the Rabbit Hole | Fredrik Knudsen 📚, 2020
The incredible story of the Austrian wine poisoning of the 1980s, and how it turned out the wine industries of entire countries relied on poisoning their supply with antifreeze.

The War on General-Purpose Computing | Cory Doctorow 📚, 2011- ongoing
A series of talks by Cory Doctorow on legal and corporate attacks against general purpose computers, and how those attacks are serious threats to liberty. Started as prescient prediction in 2011, has evolved into a summary of how that’s happening today.

Manufactured Discontent and Fortnite | Folding Ideas 📚, 2019
On Fortnite, modern free-to-play game monitization and design, Fortnite as a “content delivery mechanism”, and games as a service in general. A good talk about hostile design and how digital spaces enable monitizing user agency and psychological pressure. “Fortnite is a glimpse of the future. An awful, perpetually monetized, vertically-integrated, vaguely hostile future.”

Skits and bits🔗

Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) | Real-Time Fandub Games | SnapCube, 2019
A group of voice actors ad-lib over the dialogue from Sonic 06 in one take with zero rehearsal.

🔞Adults React To PewDiePie | Retsupurae, 2012
PewDiePie is a YouTube sensation from 2010- who posted videos of himself reacting to video games. Here are some reactions to his videos.

Bowman skits 2011-2018
Starting around 2011, Michael Guy Bowman uploaded videos of skits and comedy routines.

Sesame Street: TV Repair

Stuart Ashens on Terrible Old Games
Stuart Ashens has a few great videos from presentations he’s done on terrible old computer games. See Terrible Old Games, Gallery of Shame, and Hareraiser. Also, he has some books!


Infinity Train | 2018-2020 An animated series about people who find themselves on a mysterious train.

Daria | 1997
An adult animated satirical sitcom about a cynical highschooler in the disappointing, shallow reality of suburban life.

Person of Interest 2011-2016
A CBS “science fiction crime drama”. Starts as a semi-procedural but goes to some really interesting places about surveillance, privacy, artificial intelligence, and the ethics of ASIs. Fun fact: this series seems like it was written in a response to the Snowden leaks, but it actually predicted them.

Elementary | 2012-2019
An adaptation of Sherlock Holmes set in modern-day New York. It’s the one with Lucy Liu as Watson, you know the one. It’s probably my favourite Holmes adaptation.

Psych | 2006-2014
A show about a detective who’s claimed to be psychic and has to constantly maintain the ruse while solving cases. Slapstick comedy.

Community | 2010-2015
A deconstructed sitcom about a study group at a lackluster community college. Dan Harmon’s show. Origin of that one danny glover pizza gif.

Infomercials | Adult Swim, 2013- Ongoing
Originally mock infomercials about fake products or services, though some of the later episodes evolved into more advanced unfiction. Some episodes on YouTube.

Unraveled | Brian David Gilbert, 2018-2020
YouTube video man Brian David Gilbert’s Polygon series on “unraveling” game lore and gaming culture

Petscop | Tony Domenico, 2017-2019
An unfiction series about a boy LPing a lost playstation game. Themes of child abuse and a murder mystery.

alantutorial | Alan Resnick, 2011-2014
An unfiction series about a man who makes video tutorials for the internet.

Gill & Gilbert | Patrick Gill and Brian David Gilbert, 2018
Also with Brian David Gilbert, a gaming streaming improv variety show. BDG describes it as a “nightmare public access show”.

On Cinema At The Cinema | Adult Swim, 2012- Ongoing
A comedy series by Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington. A movie review web podcast that deteriorates into… something else. I might call it a performance art soap opera? It’s hilarious.

A Measured Response | hbomberguy 📚, 2014- Ongoing
Well-researched videos responding hot-button topics that range from “quite a few people are wrong about this, actually” to straight-up lunatic conspiracy theories.

Audio series🔗

Thrilling adventure hour 2011-2020: A stage show set in the style of old-time radio dramas. Previously a live show at Largo, now ended with occasional much-worse studio recordings. Distribution seems to be in a very odd place right now, but the full back-catalogue is available on their Patreon (as lousy as I find that practice to be.) (Edit: full backlog of the removed podcast available here)

The Magnus Archives 2016-2021: A horror/mystery audio drama podcast with a focused plot. Complete.


Vivaldi: A web browser based on Chromium. Extremely customizable with lots of quality-of-life features and full support for Chrome extensions. Akin to what Opera used to be.

Greenshot: Excellent screenshot software. Low overhead with hotkeys for capturing a window, screen, or arbitrary region. FOSS.

ScreenToGif: Speaking of screenshots, ScreenToGif is an casual screen recorder for capturing quick clips or interactions. Has a very nice built-in gif editor too. Not a replacement for OBS, but much better for quick jobs. FOSS.

PowerToys: Remember PowerToys from Windows XP? Microsoft brought the name back for a set of Windows 10 utilities. Includes a colour picker, SVG previewer, and power tools for renaming and managing files in explorer. FOSS.

Wiztree: A windows-optimized disk usage visualizer (in the vein of k4dirstat) with special optimizations for NTFS drives with a readable MFT. Freeware with a donate nag button (I paid for mine)

Wincompose: A compose key for windows. Allows you to type special characters directly from the keyboard, but using a true compose key instead of memorized codepoints. Fast and lightweight, with support for standard compose file formats and custom expansions. FOSS

Babelmap: A charmap alternative that allows you to browse through the entire Unicode codeset. Supports manual font settings (including composite fonts w/ fallbacks) and searching for characters by Unicode name or block. See also Babelpad, which is a lightweight notepad app with Babelmap functionality built-in. Freeware

Sublime Text: An emacs-like comparable to Atom, with a robust package library based on Python. My usual go-to text editor for programming projects. I have at least 4 Sublime Text windows open at any given time. See also Sublime Merge, $80 or an unlimited free trial with occasional nags. Developers, see also Sublime Merge, a git client (comparable to gitkracken) from the same company. A lightweight, high-quality image editor for Windows. Not a feature-complete suite like Photoshop, GIMP, or Clip Studio, but a very good replacement for paint if you working on something that doesn’t require highly advanced brush features. Has a robust plugin system for extra effects and filters. Freeware

wolfram|alpha: Technically a website. An advanced, contextual calculator that can solve complex equations and, more importantly, handle unit conversions.


(Links omitted, as games are often available on your platform of choice.)

OneShot, 2016: An RPG maker adventure game. Mixture of Undertale and OFF vibes. Great story, great characters, incredible gameplay mechanics.

Hack n’ Slash, 2014: A combination hacking/adventure game where you get in-game tools to modify aspects of the game’s actual code. From DoubleFine, the developer of Psychonauts.

The Stanley Parable demo, 2013: Did you know The Stanley Parable has a free demo? Did you know it’s completely original content? Go play that sucker.

Hypnospace Outlaw, 2019: 90s internet simulator in an alternate history. Explore a network of terrible geocities template sites and find out a plot along the way.

Glittermitten Grove, 2016: A game with secrets in.

2064: Read Only Memories, 2015: A Snatcher-like adventure game. It’s got a robot friend!

The Turing Test, 2016: A Portal-like from Square Enix. Talos Principle and Portal vibes.

The Beginner’s Guide, 2015: From Davey Wreden, the creator of The Stanley Parable. “The story of a person struggling to deal with something they do not understand.” An incredible experience.

Gunpoint, 2013: A break from all the high-concept stuff. A stealth puzzle platformer set in a noir conspiracy plot.

Superliminal, 2020: A 3D non-euclidean puzzle game that uses forced perspective and strange loops to explore dreamscapes. I remember seeing the first tech demos for this, way before the game released.

Antichamber, 2013: A 3D non-euclidean puzzle game that uses an upgradable cube gun to solve a very wide array of lateral thinking puzzles.

Crosscode, 2018: A mock mmorpg with a pixel art top-down perspective. Really interesting combat, great characters, interesting story. Has a few rough spots difficulty-wise, but includes options to tweak that if you need to.

Factory Idle, 2016: A free “idle clicker” style game where you automate a factory workflow to make a profit. A combination between a clicker game and Factorio. Play with fimod.

Universal Paperclip, 2017: Another web clicker game, this time where you play as an AI whose job it is to make paperclips. An experiment in scale and AI objective optimization.

Megaman Christmas Carol, 20XX: A series of megaman fan games. Boss rushes against christmas themed enemies, with very nice feeling mechanics and easter eggs to explore.

Not Tetris (2), 2011: Tetris but with physics.

Rimworld, 2018: A dwarf fortress/gnomoria like scifi settlement simulation game.

What Remains of Edith Finch, 2017: A walking simulator that explores the strange house and lives of the Finch family tree.

Nier: Automata, 2017: Okay, I said I wouldn’t include the obvious stuff on this list, but Nier Automata is so incredibly good I can’t not recommend it. Possibly the best video game.


Device 6, 2013: Very interesting experimental storytelling that leverages the mobile platform. Good story, good puzzles, worth a buy. iPhone


pCloud: Cloud file hosting. Extremely feature-complete, with cross-platform file sync, selective folders, shared folders, and public file links. You can even send someone a link that lets them send you a file. Can be pricey though, unless you get the lifetime option on sale. Referral link, free month ($5) Recommendation suspended indefinitely until they fix major bugs with their software that result in all your files being deleted.

DigitalOcean: Good web hosting with very affordable plans for low-intensity use cases. Referral link, $100 credit


Michael Bowman: Indie rock(?), very good.

Metric: Alt-rock, wrote that one song from that one thing.

Cement City: Mostly fandom/club mix music.

Owl City: Electronic music project. Did Fireflies.

Casual Sunday: for my homestuck fans out there.

xdefconx Remix stuff

Noteblock Mostly game remixes

I dunno I’m really into electroswing lately


Homestuck 2009-2016: Homestuck! It’s a thing. A lot of archive content is unreadable on the public site right now, so I recommend using The Unofficial Homestuck Collection for the best reading experience.

MSPFA: Here are some fan adventures I like. (Or just mean to read someday, I guess)

This fun twitter thread from hbomberguy about cops who shoot their own dogs