Honk if you love reading

National Park Service photo, 2004, of a spectacular nighttime volcanic eruption in Hawaii
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Hello! We hope you are enjoying Flaming Hydra. Thank you for a wonderfully exciting week of building and growing this wild beast.

We'd like a lot of people to get an idea of what we're up to (aside from BURNINATING), so today we've taken the paywall down on three recent Hydra pieces, henceforth free for anyone to read.

They are very good! Though we say it.

Media Proles
Tommy Craggs
A highly (@&#^%@!) relevant look at today's media landscape

Love + Work
jj skolnik
The work/life imbalance

A Talk with Barbara Smith
k.e. harloe
A lifetime spent gaining victories that may look small, but they're not

We'll be freeing more posts, from time to time. Please send these samples of Flaming Hydra along to anyone you know who might enjoy them.

We are very grateful for your support of our project. See you next week!

With fiery thanks, from the editors at


Today: Clive Thompson, a writer on technology and science, and the author of Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World.

Issue No. 19

The Language of Car Honks
Clive Thompson

1919 U.S. War Dept. catalogue photo of a Klaxon car horn with manual crank, beautiful sepia tones mounted on a typed and stamped cream card
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The Language of Car Honks

by Clive Thompson

Car horns are a strange communications technology.

We live in an era with a gazillion tools for expressing ourselves in complex, multifaceted ways. We’ve got text augmented with pictograms, audio recorders and video-production suites in our pockets,  captioning and slides and AI image-generators trained on a blood feast of the world’s art.

But car horns? They’re weirdly lo-fi. 

They can honk, or they can not honk. That’s about it. When you need to communicate with someone outside the car, that’s what you have to work with. 

It’s a paywall, but a small one

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