Our friend Jim Dillon alerted us to Deep Sea Diving, a newsletter of “wanderings to the hidden corners of the internet“:

Elan Kiderman Ullendorff has a great knack for finding creative ways to find interesting stuff online. By “creative,” I mean that they resist being force-fed whatever “the algorithm” decides you want to see, and/or they find ways to address a reference site (like Google Maps) in random, playful ways. Look at a couple of the entries and you’ll see what I mean…

We did, and fell through a number of refreshing rabbit holes. These are NOT the usual list of obvious strategies for googling things you already know about. These are aimed at pure discovery: driving down roads you’ve never been before.

Take this poetic approach to Random Street View from “5 Oblique Strategies for Navigating Google: random walks around the world”:

Use randomstreetview to visit a random location on Google Street View. Travel in whichever direction feels like it’s towards home. Screenshot the things that make you feel far from home.

Our favorite: “5 Oblique Strategies for Navigating Zillow: recipes for ending up in unexpected places”:

Search for one of America’s least-populated zip codes on Zillow. If there aren’t any listings in the town, click “Remove Boundary” and slowly zoom out until you find a listing

America’s least-populated zip codes are pretty surprising, and heartening. It took us through remote-ish areas of California and Portland to….the big island of Hawaii. “An almost completed off-the-grid home” got our survivalist imagination living in the scary/compelling camp in our heads…

Totally private setting on a 3 acre parcel in Hawaiian Acres in a prime location at Roads 7 & G, backing up to the forest reserve. The home sits high with storage and workshop area underneath. Electric is a 12 volt solar system and a small generator. There is a landline telephone to the home in addition to cell phone, and satellite service for tv/internet. Home is on a cesspool for the wastewater system. Behind the home is a lava rock foundation approx 48 ft x 28 ft and 5 feet high that comes with an older redwood water catchment tank. This might be usable for an ag structure. Water catchment is a ferro cement tank. Tropical setting with flowers, avocado, palms.

Ullendorff’s search for homemade music on YouTube led him to create his YouTune portal.

One way I’ve tried to step off of the music consumption conveyer belt is by spending long nights searching Youtube for the keywords “original song” through a rarely-used back door: sorting by most recently posted, and scanning the results for videos with low view counts…

…One video that stands out in my memory was posted in 2012. It had zero views when I first saw it; even now, 10 years later, it only has 120. Two people with strong voices against the backdrop of a red brick wall, too much traffic clouding the audio, but the belted harmonies still hit.

Ullendorff manages to launch us into deeply unique and authentic eddies of our algorithmed world.

Jim Dillon is a cabinetmaker who teaches and writes about wood working. Over the years, he’s shared MANY great ideas with us, both practical and ephemeral. Check out essays on Jim’s blog, and ideas for Woodworking on a Less Than Infinite Budget here. Thanks Jim!

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2 replies on “Oblique Strategies for Resisting Algorithms Online

  1. I didn’t know about randomstreetview. It’s fascinating!

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