Dirt: Early Majority / Mind Maps
Outerwear collab, plus an appreciation of Are.na.
We’re excited to announce that Dirt has partnered with Early Majority (EM) for their upcoming Member Badge NFT collection! EM is a technical outerwear company focused on making products with and for a community of members rather than at a massive scale. It’s a “lean out” ethos for all genders.
Garments can be customized with badges designed by the likes of Miranda July, the Feminist Bird Club, and now Dirt–courtesy of designer David Alderman.
Member Badge NFT holders will have:
Early, guaranteed access to all future product drops
Exclusive Member pricing for all products on earlymajority.com
Access to their private server to connect with like-minded troublemakers and more.
Anyone from the Dirt allow-list who mints an Early Majority Member Badge NFT will be able to claim a physical Dirt badge which can be attached to Early Majority Apparel.
If you are interested in being on the allow-list, please make sure you fill out this Premint submission by the 2nd of September.
Digital mind maps
“Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications.” — John Perry Barlow, “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”
In elementary school, my brainstorming diagram of choice was the mind map. There were very few rules. Almost anything goes, really. The fun was in tying together freestanding associations — words, ideas, concepts, and actions — that had no apparent relation. I liked how you could look at another student’s chart and have no idea how A related to B, or B to C. That was the beauty of the mind-map exercise: exploring the elastic nature of thought from one tendril to the next.
Last year, a friend introduced me to Are.na, a platform built by designers and artists for the purpose of “connecting thoughts and building knowledge.” Since its launch in 2012, the site functions akin to a collaborative mind map for online content. Users create different “channels,” or folders, according to a topic or theme. Within these channels, they can upload “blocks,” pieces of content in the form of links, images, text quotes, or uploaded files. Channels can be private, open (any user can view and contribute blocks), or closed (anyone can view, but the creator is the sole contributor).
Are.na is where I’ve begun to save most of my miscellaneous images and links — lengthy articles, PDFs, and digital ephemera — for research, inspiration, or future reading. I have channels for artist manifestos, the color blue, and essays about the digital world. But unlike “second brain” apps like Notion, Mem, or Obsidian (which has the ability to generate a mind map-like diagram), Are.na wasn’t built to be a mental filing cabinet. It isn’t a life-hacking, Silicon Valley-funded tool intended to boost users’ productivity. Rather, the minimal interface encourages open-source free association, a slow collective harvesting of ideas.
There isn’t much logic behind my sporadic, spontaneous usage of the platform. I frequently upload texts I’m reading and links to art I’ve encountered, but it could take weeks, even months, before I sift through these materials. These boards are a mental archive that I add to over time, knowing that the gathered information will be available to me in the future. As a result, there’s no immediacy to my Are.na content consumption. Because I’m a writer, my boards are primarily centered around ideas and texts rather than visuals. Many artists and designers, however, treat their collections like aesthetic scrapbooks. Others simply create boards to save good memes. There are channels devoted to typography, fruit crate labels, slow living, and LSD blotter tab designs.
Such content, sourced typically from other virtual avenues, takes precedence over authorship and ownership of ideas and images. There is no clout to be earned; no frequent notifications to release a steady stream of dopamine. Followers and friends can see your Are.na activity, but there’s no exhibitionistic pressure to overshare. You don’t need to follow anyone to construct your own private mind map.
Is it future (Web 3.0) or is it past (Web 1.0)? Both, perhaps.
Are.na’s primary “social” aspect involves users making connections within open and closed channels. A user can link, or connect, content from one user’s channel to their own, kind of like a reblog (Tumblr) or a pin (Pinterest). But the platforms are more dissimilar than alike. A connection is not an endorsement. Images aren’t privileged over text. The site isn’t littered with low-quality images or algorithmic shopping recommendations since user data isn’t collected to sell ads. Instead, Are.na is funded entirely by member subscriptions. These premium users receive access to specialty features, which include unlimited private content, additional privacy settings, and workplace collaborations.
All these differences make Are.na a rare but necessary refuge from the noisy internet. Users are tiring of their bottomless, insatiable feeds. I sometimes imagine that I am crumbling under the algorithm’s watchful eye. It anticipates my desires and castrates any deviance. Social media’s attention economy has forsaken the personal for the automated. Meanwhile, users are desperate to breathe and slow down. Look no further than BeReal and its once-a-day Pavlovian tease as proof of this mental deceleration. Teenagers are leaving Facebook and Instagram for Tumblr’s forgotten pastures. These platforms — BeReal, Tumblr, and Are.na — all exude a static quietness that is rarely found on Web 2.0.
While John Perry Barlow did not anticipate the role of corporate power in shaping the modern internet, his 1996 “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” offers an urgent reminder: “In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost.” A dispersive ecosystem for thought and connection, like Are.na, can be a much-needed space to foster resistance. — Terry Nguyen
The Dirt: Social media needs to take a Xanax.
Tunes from the dirtyverse
In honor of our collaboration with Early Majority, our August playlist is GIRL MOSS themed. This playlist was curated by our friend Joe Therrien Kelly of Bubbi Radio.