Mark A. Matienzo's Posts

Longer-form articles, like blog posts or presentations. They are distinguished from shorter-form notes.

When basil has gone to seed: contemplative pesto

We are growing three kinds of basil in our garden: “regular” basil, purple basil, and Magic Mountain basil. The regular basil and Magic Mountain basil have been thriving quite a bit; the purple basil, less so, as it is growing at the base of the regular basil plant. But the other two, my goodness. The regular old basil was going to seed, though, much to the chagrin of my partner. I’d promised for weeks on end to do something with all that basil, as the stems grew woodier, and as the flowers turned from brilliant white to the brown of kraft paper. Meanwhile, the Magic Mountain basil also grew tall and bushy, went to flower, but only because that’s what it’s supposed to do.

I’ve been reading Edward Espe Brown’s No Recipe: Cooking as Spiritual Practice, slowly, after picking it up on a personal retreat a few weeks ago. I have found it to help ground me in the practice of cooking, something I love to do when I have time (as I do right now, in the midst of time off from work), but loathe when I’m too busy. Standing outside, next to our raised bed, with garden shears in hand, I finally felt myself reconnect back to these lush and marvelous green and purple wonders growing in our raised beds. I felt the sunlight envelop me, and I saw how absolutely blissful the pollinators were amidst our basil plants: not just bees, but spiders, ants, and other bugs, too. And with all that basil, there’s but one thing to do: make lots and lots of pesto.

One of the things I’ve learned over time is that there’s no wrong way to make a pesto. Yes, there are wrong ways to make pistou, or pesto alla genovese, but that’s beside the point. With a good blender or food processor, you can do just about anything. With a mortar and pestle, it’s harder but you can appreciate the effort. But you don’t need a recipe to make pesto. Sure, there are proportions you have to get “right,” but that’s all a matter of preference, too. So here’s a recipe, lovingly imprecise, in the spirit of Ed Brown, based on how I make it. It might or might not work. It’s up to you to figure it out.


  • about four parts green stuff (herbs, greens, arugula, carrot tops, what have you)
  • one part fat (oil, lard, butter i guess)
  • one to one and a half parts umami/textural stuff (shredded hard cheese, nuts, breadcrumbs, maybe some dried mushrooms if you wanna get wild)
  • some alliums (garlic if you’re a traditionalist, could get wild with some scapes or shallots)

Chop how you’d like, as much as you’d like. Mix it together in some kind of bowl or vessel. Add salt, pepper, or anything else you like. Taste it; if you don’t like it, add what feels like it might be missing. If you make a lot, stick some in the freezer as a nice surprise. If you want to make a spread out of it, add some yogurt, or sour cream, or coconut milk.

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Evidence of Them: Digitization, Preservation, and Labor

This is a lightly edited version of the presentation I gave as part of as a part of Session 507: Digitization IS/NOT Preservation at the 2018 Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting. The session was overall pure fire, with thoughtful, funny, provocative, and challenging presentations by Julia Kim, Frances Harrell, Tre Berney, Andrew Robb, Snowden Becker, Fletcher Durant, Siobhan Hagan, and Sarah Werner. My heart goes out to all of them. All of the images used in the presentation were adapted from The Art of Google Books.

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Beyond hearing (one another): radical empathy in archives-as-workplace

I am writing this amidst being crammed into a seat flying back from New York City, after a few days of intensive meetings. Between a number of good and less ideal things, my mind has felt really unsettled lately, and I’m working through some professional malaise, and feeling a bit rudderless. In an attempt to give myself something be myself optimistic about and to set some direction, I reread Michelle Caswell and Marika Cifor’s Archivaria article “From Human Rights to Feminist Ethics: Radical Empathy in Archives”. Part of their analysis outlines four affective shifts in archival relationships based on radical empathy - those between 1) archivist and records creator, 2) archivist and records subject, 3) archivist and user, and 4) archivist and larger community. Given a long list of topics on my mind (precarity, developing inclusive workplaces and cultures, my own uncertain pathway), it felt like there was plenty of space to identify other shifts.

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Sending WebSub notifications from static sites using Netlify functions

As part of my iterative intentions for 2018, I started a project to rebuild and simplify my website. I’ve used Jekyll for quite some time (either by itself or with Octopress), and as part of the latest iteration of the site, I’ve been working to align the site more with Indieweb principles, and to smooth the deployment path for my site by hosting it on Netlify.

One challenge with Jekyll and other static site generators is that “dynamic-ish” functionality, including sending notifications through protocols like WebSub. The trouble is knowing where these actions fit into the build process for your site: you don’t want to send the notifications before your site gets built, or pushed to the CDN hosting your site. Recently, Netlify announced a private beta for its new Netlify Functions service, which provides lambda-style functions deployed as part of your site deployment. One of the neat features that exists as of the beta is the ability to trigger the functions via Netlify events, like when your site successfully deploys.

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Iterative Intentions for 2018

While I enjoy seeing what my friends are setting their intentions towards in the new year, I don’t really believe in new year’s resolutions for myself. They tend to wear on me heavily whenever I’ve proclaimed a long list of things I’m hoping to get better at. Instead, this year, I’m starting with a very short list. My hope is that I can commit to a small number of good habits at a time, which I can then build on iteratively. I want to have the windows of reinforcement stay small at first (maybe a week or two), and once I feel satisfied about whichever habits I’ve committed to, I can add more.

I’m starting with three items:

  • Rebuilding this website: simplified tooling; new layout/style; using and publishing more structured data, and a partial implementation of a stack following Indieweb and Solid principles. The last part is intentionally slippery, but I mostly really care about sending and receiving notifications at this point. I’m giving myself about a week to get this done.
  • Eating better breakfasts. I started 2018 with overnight oats, which happened to be mildly successful. I have a lot to master in terms of proportions and taste, to say the least.
  • Budgeting and financial tracking to better understand my ongoing expenses. This is something I’m undertaking with my partner, and we have actionable (but private) goals for this.

Wish me luck.

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A Push-to-Talk Conference Call Foot Pedal

My current position at DPLA, especially since we are remote-first organization, requires me to be on lots of conference calls, both video and audio. While I’ve learned the value of staying muted while I’m not talking, there are a couple of things that make this challenging. First, I usually need the window for the call to have focus to unmute myself by the platform’s designated keystroke. Forget that working well if you need to bring something up in another window, or switch to another application. Secondly, while we have our own preferred platform internally (Google Hangouts), I have to use countless others, too; each of those platforms has its own separate keystroke to mute.

This all leads to a less than ideal situation, and naturally, I figured there must be a better way.

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How We Work: The DPLA Technology Team Core Values

One of the most important aspects of the work of the DPLA Technology Team is ensuring that we maintain a common frame of reference for all of our efforts. This is situated in multiple aspects - in terms of our shared technical knowledge, the overall DPLA strategic plan, and more. Overall, however, the guiding principles for our work are best understood through the core values that inform how we work together within our team, as well as with our colleagues at DPLA and across the network of our stakeholders and collaborators. These values are not only designed to be aspirational; instead, they also inform practical aspects of our day to day work, allowing us to work together effectively through their articulation of cultural norms and expectations. In addition, our values encourage us to be intentional about our work, even when faced with challenges from deadlines, staff capacity, and other external pressures.

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Open, Free, and Secure to All: DPLA Launches Full Support for HTTPS

DPLA is pleased to announce that the entirety of our website, including our portal, exhibitions, Primary Source Sets, and our API, are now accessible using HTTPS by default. DPLA takes user privacy seriously, and the infrastructural changes that we have made to support HTTPS allows us to extend this dedication further and become signatories of the Library Digital Privacy Pledge of 2015-2016, developed by our colleagues at the Library Freedom Project.

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