Alex Schroeder

I develop Oddmuse and run the Emacs Wiki. I have a blog.

I live in Zürich, Switzerland. I have a 60% job as a software engineer. German is my first language.

See my About and my Contact pages if you need more information.

If you need an emoji to indicate things I’ve said, I like to use a bee: 🐝


Who am I now?

I wrote this in March 2010.

LionKimbro recently asked Who are you now? What are you here to do? and I started writing…

I’m still madly in love with my wife, Claudia. ❤ 😄 ❤ ❤ 🤓 ❤ ❤ ❤ – 2010-03-10 marks our eighteen years anniversary. I’ve spent half my life with her, and feel like the luckiest man I know. As we’re approaching our forties, thoughts return more often to the choices we’ve made. Still no kids. Will we die alone? Would having children avoid this bleak vision of growing old and frail? Are we the first generation to start looking for alternative models of old age, where we move in with our peers and grow old together?

I play pen & paper roleplaying games a lot – about a dozen times a month! This flexes my creative and social muscles. Telling a story, entertaining people, organizing games, handling conflict, setting a mood.

I still listen to a lot of music. Lately I’ve enjoyed an Irish influence with The Pogues, Flogging Molly, and The Dubliners. I still enjoy Bruce Springsteen and The Cure like I did when I was a teenager. I listen to a Swiss indie music podcast by our state radio called “Sounds!”

I read a lot of books. I help organize an English bookclub in Zürich, but I still ❤ ❤ ❤ my Fantasy and Science Fiction books. The Malazan Book of the Fallen, A Song of Ice and Fire, the latest Guy Gavriel Kay, and many other unread books are piling up around me. I spend too much time reading Old School RPG Blogs and wish I could find better books with interesting medium-level origami stuff to fold.

I also sort of wish I could draw better. I’d submit more of my drawings to Fight On! magazine. Sometimes I feel like I should take up the painting of miniatures as another meditative hobby. But there’s just no time!

I keep working on Oddmuse, but I’m rarely compelled to write new code. It just works. That feels very good. I contribute very little to Emacs and Emacs Wiki. My heart’s no longer in writing software. Nevertheless I guess that’s where I still have things to contribute to society – writing Free Software. That, and community building around the software projects I’m associated with.

If you feel like chatting, hop on to Freenode and join #wiki or #oddmuse and talk to me. 😊

My role on Community Wiki: I think of Community Wiki as Mission Accomplished. I prefer the long silence between our posts to the activity on Meatball Wiki, for example. I never quite understand what goes on over there. I can’t relate to the most active posters, it seems.

I guess that makes me some sort of warden – I mow the grass and weed the spam. Not quite a curator and more of a caretaker. I feel strange and out of time, here. Perhaps I’m feeling the Wiki Now.


What interests me?

LionKimbro asked me this 2021-01-29.

new: 2021-01-31 11:02 UTCAlex Schroeder: An interesting question. I think Community Wiki only reflects a small part of what I’m interested in and therefore looking at my activity here is misleading. Trying to brainstorm: I like to play role-playing games and I’m interested in mapping programs that generate maps, and programs that allow me to modify maps without being an artist. I’d also like to be an artist. I’d love to be good at ink wash painting. I’d love to play a simple instrument like the recorder. I’m also interested in programs that generate texts to use for play, often driven by random tables because I think the neural networks currently en vogue don’t scale for single person endeavours. As a programmer at the office, I’m interested in why we keep writing software that I can barely understand. What drives this complexity? What drives customer wish-lists? What drives developer fashions? Why is capitalism the root of all evil? As a programmer at home, I’m interested in how I can write programs that are easy for me to come back to in a year, in two years, in five years. How to write programs that attract somebody else to help me out. How to talk about my programs such that other people see what’s great about them, such that they use them, and contribute towards them, but sharing my values regarding complexity and longevity. How to make sure that my works survive me. How social media works: what kinds of messages make people feel good. How to learn – and how to teach others – not to be a ReplyGuy?, not to be SeaLioning?, how to DeColonise? my writing, the intricacies of muting, blocking, archiving and expiry – I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of the idea of RecordKeepers?, see 2017-04-27 Record Keeping, a blog post that I keep linking! And thus, the design of social media, the filter algorithms that make them addictive, that encourage bubble formation, the drift towards stupidity online (NationalSocialism?, ProudBoys?, TeaParty?, InvoluntaryCelibacy?, AntiVaccination?, UrFascism?, and so on)… the link from these things to politics is important for our future and yet another symptom of our inability to deal with systemic problems such as GlobalWarming. I’m writing WikiLinks? for all these political topics not because I want to discuss the actual topics but because I feel I need to better understand them as symptoms of underlying social, political, or even economic issues. And in a way I wonder how we can talk about all these things with our friends, our class mates, our family – our community. Community Wiki.

Anyway, of all of these things, I don’t really see too much on Community Wiki, but this is why I care about Community Wiki. As you can see, I’m actually not all that interested in wikis except as a communication tool that encourages collaboration, mutual ownership. Wiki is praxis. Wiki is – or can be – an illustration of simple software design, of simple user interface design. I also don’t care too much about web other than that it serves as an example of SurveillanceCapitalism?, of CompoundingComplexity?, of RegulatoryCapture? (of the W3C), of MonopolyFormation? (of the browser market), or about Gemini other than that it serves as a counter to all of this. For me, Gemini is praxis. It is the actual doing, the making of a point.

But other than that, there’s also the personal. The love of my life, pictures of flowers, of nature, of hikes… My social media feed @kensanata has plenty of pictures, of tidbits of my personal life, which serves as a grounding, as an opportunity to connect on an emotional level (I hope!), and that is also important. Where does that fit in, in the context of community building?

As you can see from all the above, I have no idea what to say. Is this “taking one step further back?” I’d say I’m not ready to write “the” manifesto. What would it be like, except something obvious like “don’t take your freedom for granted!” or similar. The SmolNet is simply a meme, WordMagic – a word to focus the attention on something I care about, but … I’m not ready to write something like the Agile Manifesto and work on it. A SimpleSystemsManifesto would be a fun page to write, but also quickly forgotten, I fear. I don’t remember any manifestos except for “Workers of the world, unite!”

“People of the world, unite! – Community Wiki” 😃

Anyway, I’m not sure how to move forward from here. Would picking one element and turning it into a writing project be beneficial? Perhaps? At the same time, motivation and enthusiasm is something that cannot be commanded, or even wished for.

So here’s the alternative: I wrote a long StreamOfConsciousness statement about all the things I’m interested in at the moment, and if anything speaks to you, start that page and chances are I’ll weigh in. Or write a similar exposition and allow me and others to find common grounds.

Thank you

DavidCary: Thank you for keeping the CommunityWiki online.


new: 2021-09-01 18:57 UTCTimurIsmagilov: Found this thing in my GitHub feed, looks neat:

new: 2021-01-31 11:02 UTCAlex Schroeder: Thanks! Do you play RPGs? I am particularly happy with how I was able to build on it for Hex Describe. (Click the Alpine mini setting link and wait for a bit and you get a whole map populated.)

new: 2021-09-01 18:57 UTCTimurIsmagilov: I do not play Tabletop RPGs but it’s quite likely that I will at some point. I like the æsthetics though.


Define external redirect: WikiLinks ReplyGuy CompoundingComplexity SurveillanceCapitalism ProudBoys DeColonise NationalSocialism RegulatoryCapture RecordKeepers InvoluntaryCelibacy TeaParty MonopolyFormation UrFascism SeaLioning AntiVaccination

EditNearLinks: GlobalWarming StreamOfConsciousness FormOverContent GitHub