I've had numerous people ask me, "Where did you find that?" throughout the years. However, as time has grown, the question has grown more and more ecstatic to the point where now I've been met with people asking it to me so frequently that it made me realize something: I don't think people realize how to find content on their own anymore. It's worse than just "everyone uses Google." Because now, people don't even use Google (let alone that Google doesn't even give you what you search for anymore): they just get shown which content to absorb according to which walled garden they're in: Facebook, Youtube, Twitter/X, etc.. Because of this content being fed to people, they've slowly lost the ability to discover it for themselves. As such, this page is a guide for how you can find your own content. This article first discusses some reasons for why you should, and then follows up with some concrete techniques and examples.

  • Why You Should Be a Web Surfer
  • The Halmos Technique
  • Contrarian Technique
  • A Personal Multigenre Directory
  • Why You Should Be a Web Surfer

    The reason why people don't do this is FOMO ("Fear Of Missing Out"). You have a finite amount of time. You can either be plugged in to the same content as others, or you can try to find new ones for yourself. There are a lot of people who try to keep up with the latest movies, shows, and memes because they don't "want to miss out" on the trend with others or their friends. If you are one of these, let me ask you, will you actually miss out?

    When some piece of media is huge, when some piece of news is huge, you simply have to trust that you aren't going to miss out. I've not seen Star Wars, but I can tell you the entire plot. How? Because it's so invasive in our culture, it's been described to me so much, that I end up getting it anyways through the fact that the vast, vast majority of people have seen it and reference it. There are two options here: you can be bummed out that you didn't catch onto it first, or you can be glad that the entire rest of humankind has your back on keeping you up to date which gives you time to do what you want: to search for your own nooks and find your own space.

    Or, let's take a pragmatic example. Case 1 is you and your friend both know and watched Star Wars. Case 2 is your friend watched Star Wars and you watched an obscure film about a knight playing a game of chess with Death (The Seventh Seal, for those curious). In case 1, the conversation is redundant, and actually rather difficult. You don't want to repeat something your friend already knows, and your friend likewise. You have to either repeat something out of nostalgia, or you have to come up with some sort of analysis that you'd hope your friend hasn't already thought of themself. In case 2, the conversation is a lot simpler, your friend can describe the whole plot to you, and if he doesn't find that interesting, you have a whole plot of your own to describe to your friend. In other words, you have something interesting to share, and so does your friend, and you haven't "missed out," you've only gained. Finding your own content is a win-win social situation.

    It's not just the pragmatics of social situations, however. It's also about culturing YOU. If you

  • Watch the same movies as everyone else
  • Watch the same news as everyone else
  • Read the same blogs as everyone else
  • Follow the same threads as everyone else
  • Then who are you, really? What actually makes you unique? There are small differences in how you analyze, sure, but don't you want to leave the path for a little bit, and have a greater chance at finding out what you're really interested in, and who you really are? You're only going to be able to have that opportunity if you break the cultural path.

    The Halmos Technique

    I call this the Halmos technique because I first read about it in Halmos' autobiography (I Want to Be a Mathematician, for those curious). He describes how he found good books and papers in mathematics. What you do is you take one book or paper, then go to their works cited and check out those books and papers' works cited pages. After three iterations of this, you'll see the same titles pop up again and again. Those are not only likely the good books and papers to check out, but in just doing this exercise, you're likely to come across a lot of interesting random books and papers that are lesser known that catch your eye.

    In theory, this is a graph theory method that's automated by what's called the "Page Rank" algorithm. However, in practice, Google and many other search engines have changed their algorithms so much that they really don't do this anymore. However, it's not hard to do yourself, and you do end up coming across a lot of interesting items you wouldn't otherwise. This brings up another important subcomponent of the Halmos technique: DON'T TRUST THE ALGORITHM. Yes, you're doing what Google should be doing in theory, but they aren't.

    Since you're reading this on Neocities, Neocities itself is great for this. Because very often, people have a "links" page where they put their favorite sites or links all throughout their pages. Check those sites out! And then check those sites' links pages, too! And then those pages' pages'... Wikipedia is another example of this. You check out an article, then go to the "See Also" at the bottom, and then the "See Also" of those pages. And then those pages' pages'...

    The Contrarian Technique

    Say you're a crow and you see two wet fields: one has two other crows on it, the other has none. Which one do you land on to search for worms? Probably the one with two other crows pecking around. Now say one has a hundred other crows and the other has none. There might be some wisdom of the crow[d], sure, but are you really going to find worms in a field with a hundred other crows on it? The contrarian technique involves following this logic by purposefully avoiding popular places. Not because they aren't good sources, but because others have it covered for you, and after all you're looking for something new.

    To do so, you have to be a contrarian. If a site allows you to search by least popular, do so. In fact, a good way to do this is to simply browse the newest available (if you see a weird option that seems like it's latest or newest like "trending", remember don't trust the algorithm). Put in a filter in your search so you only get results by the last week or the last hour. Searching by "Last Updated" here on Neocities is a great method.

    Another method is to make sure you aren't using the same stomping grounds as others. Don't do your search result in [just] Google. Go to Wiby or other countries' search engines like Yandex. Don't go to [just] Wikipedia. Go to completely different sides of sites like either RationalWiki or on the other end Conservapedia--you don't have to agree with them, the point is to find something new, you can always close the tab if you don't like it.

    How do you even find these different stomping grounds? Again, a good way to do so is to be a contrarian. If a friend tells you "Z is a terrible source," GO CHECK OUT Z. Chances are you'll agree it's a terrible source, but you can then use the Halmos technique to your advantage. Because chances are the source you hate will tell you sources they don't like, and therein you'll find some new friends and reasonable sources.

    P.S. Use the "Wadsworth Constant" to your advantage. If you're looking through videos, skip the first third. If you're reading an article, skip the first third. You'll skip right to the point and save a lot of time in your surfing.

    A Personal Multigenre Directory

    Once you find these different stomping grounds, write them down. It's one thing to find a new source, but it's another thing to forget about it. Think of this like quick-travel. You want to get back to the hinterlands in order to search even further beyond. What this means is that the most important part of finding new material is to make a directory of links yourself (kind of like what I'm already doing...) not just so you can find where you left off and leave off from, but also for others to do the same when they're following the Halmos technique.

    Keep in mind, it doesn't need to all be the same genre of search either. Don't just have a diet of clearnet sites, check out content in the deepweb using gopher, gemini, onion, zeronet, I2P, Freenet, etc.. Don't just use depth-first searches, use breadth-first engines, go check out the "last updated" on Neocities. Don't just stick online, go to a library. Don't just stick to U.S. sites, or if you can, go to different languages.

    Finally, but most importantly: just because a site updates frequently doesn't mean it has a lot of content! Chances are that the more frequently a site updates with new content, the more derivative and echochamber that content will be. It's better to check out many new sources a few times than a few sources many times.

    With all that said, have fun and happy surfing.