Omigawwwwd. I have been bored and lethargic lately. I think there have been things to write about but I've been too deflated to bring them up.
This week I chanced to open up my blog's main page and found that the dead man switch kicked in with the dreaded Posting Lull page, which mean that I've been uninspired to post here for like 2 weeks at least.
I've really got to lower the content squelch to pick up and feel motivated to write about stuff, because it isn't like there isn't anything going on. It's just all so seemingly trivial that in the "formula of posting", the result value isn't big enough to actually do it.
And part of the problem, and you know I'm going to keep harping on this, is that those commercial social media platforms keep diffusing the impulse. Why open my blog and make a post when a short quip that guarantees visibility (or at least more of it) to X or Threads, satiates the impulse - right from my phone, right from the palm of my hand, at any time.
This is the challenge though, right? I keep this blog to prove the value and relevance of the craft, and, outside the commercial sphere at that. So I'm not giving up. If I'm not blogging well it means I'm not doing well enough as a writer, a journalist, a thought leader, a thought bleeder -- whatever label you want to put on it.
So! Here is what am doing right now:
By Dave for Personal Blog.
Well that didn't last long.
It's not that following my loud declaration that I wold not use social media for "reach", I recant that specific element, but it's pretty clear to me just two or so weeks after doing so, that there's simply no fun or point to the craft if you're not spreading your stuff like a weed wherever you can.
So, I am going to have to turn that dial back a little on my complete abandonment of social media and "continue analyzing the landscape".
I think the blog should increase its luminance, yes, and maybe that understanding will be a key positive takeaway from the Twitter shipwreck that spawned all this contemplation in the first place. But blogs and personal websites like this also have a duty to inject themselves into the broader digital conversation, wherever that is happening.
Twitter's morphing into something more akin to a closed service has definitely fragmented online conversation (not an accident I suspect, the status quo or the "Illuminati" or "UFOs", however you choose to define the mysterious powers-that-be, was terrified by a unified public square, in my theory of demise), and everything I said before about the independent publishing platform is truer for it.
But for me at least, in the capacity of a show, which I've always considered the online version of myself, I can't isolate my stuff which otherwise disappears into the nether when suddenly I croak and GoDaddy realizes that the recurring charges for the hosting are failing.
Especially when it comes to my personal blog. Understand that my voice in IRL matters is very much squelched day to day. I've grown keen over the course of my lifetime that people are kind of afraid to just "let this fucker talk." For me, it's about slogging through naked filibustering and diversionary obfuscating tactics just about every minute of my waking life. And maybe 20 percent of the time or so I would actually agree with people for wanting to stick a cork in me. It's this freaking Mars in Gemini I've got.
Putting it more eloquently though, I am not free or brave enough to spout off in certain circles even when it would be the more just thing to do. And while my online voice doesn't replace my guarded sentiments, it does serve as an omnipresent warning to everyone that my acquiescence is a frail matter of reason, when not an outright bypass outlet.
Like any writer, I consider my big mouth, my writing and my publishing, one of the few inherent powers of my nature, that I posses. Despite my quip about GoDaddy above, I'm likely to find a way to keep doing it beyond the grave (kind of like this guy but probably with a little more focus, and, oh yeah, without the apparent criminal insanity - I mean what a pretty crazy story). It would be cool to figure out a way, 'specially with all this AI business now.
My good audience, for better or for worse, I am meant to ooze through the gears of online conversation and must continue doing so as a matter of personal therapy, positive - or at least benign - narcissism, and to be feel "free".
My New Online World Order
So, with that all being brain-dumped, I'm going to try something a little closer to what they call "content syndication" in the blogging world. This is just a fancy way of saying that I do something like post here first, then and only then, echo through various social media channels as I see fit. Or at the very least, make sure that whatever order that I do it (because sometimes platform attribute drives the lead), that I do it with synchronicity with this platform ultimately being the dependable reference hub. This blog is what you want to follow if nothing else.
I've revised my follow information section to reflect this, accordingly, and yes, you'll be hearing from me on Twitter, Threads, Instagram, Facebook, yada yada. Oddly enough though I've canceled my Mastodon subscription because all this proved even more to me that it's a (correct-in-principle) blogging platform that I already happen to have here with this Battle Blog. If this platform fell through though, I'd sign back up and point my domain(s) there. Redundant in my case, it's perfect for anyone else looking for that independent resilient voice online.
By Dave for Personal Blog.
The broken or maybe deliberately dismantled embed feature of Twitter has really thrown me into a digital tizzy. That feature allowed me to keep at least some component of my website here updated at a far more frequent rate with all forms of media. Text, images, and video. I actually paid for Twitter because when you consider the latter two components, images and video, for purposes of instant publishing right from your phone, Twitter was a hosting bargain.
My first instinct was to wait out Twitter's issue (which I can now safely affirm what everyone else has been saying around me, seems to have a name called Elon Musk). But then in short order I found myself seeing the break as an opportunity to finally move my reliance and focus on any commercial conversation or content platform, and "perfect" my activities on my personal self-managed websites and blogs.
As I mentioned in a previous post, in doing so I seem to have stumbled into a growing community of people who feel the same way and are, in my interpretation, giving up the "reach" of commercial platform services in favor of a more vertical presence involving their own hardware and software, or at least managed services that they directly control.
For example, I signed up with a managed Mastodon instance hoster for my own Mastodon instance. Mastodon has a method for embedding (look in the right column of my blog), so that I can once again instantly publish media or the short quips I think need to be included at my website seamlessly as a matter of pure congruity.
But then again, I also worked on my Battle Blog code (Battle Blog being the official product name of the self-written engine you are reading this from now) so that I could in fact, albeit in a very controlled way that I would not have to deal with if I used, say, Instagram or Twitter again, immediately post media directly from my phone whenever from wherever.
That new capability sort of competes in function to having the Mastodon feed since it might not be clear why if I have an "instant publish solution" built right into the blog engine itself now, that I need Mastodon or even the old Twitter embed.
That might be a valid reason to dump Mastodon as fast as I signed up for it, but we'll see if there's anything to it before I do. I think that beyond the embedding feature, producing and having record of your content out there in the Fediverse is important too.
To wrap up this record of thought, I want to call attention to the restoration of Dave's List of Blogs Done Right, which is an effort to list all the commercial-free active blogs I happen to encounter or have my attention called to. If you like casually perusing content without fear of sensory intrusion (ads, pop-ups, etc.), this directory will keep you busy with a cup of coffee for awhile.
By Dave for Personal Blog.
We have the "clear web", the "deep web", and even the "dark web." But, is there also something we could legitimately call the "quiet web?"
I am not sure that the phrase "quiet web" describes what I mean exactly -- particularly since the first hit or two from a Google search brings up how it is used to describe the background machinations of the commercial e-commerce oriented web. The telemetry and the cookie tracking and all of that sort of thing.
What I'm trying to conceptualize is the web and the internet as it existed before the web became a place of advertising and data collection, where its instruments and philosophies were about openness and for lack of a better way of putting it, task readiness and optimization.
A good example of something optimized for the tasks at hand were Usenet or perhaps IRC clients (and to be sure, Usenet and IRC themselves). In the 1990s the clients that you used for these were built to access and allow for engagement for perhaps the price of the software -- assuming you weren't using freeware.
Too, there were message forums, personal websites like the very one you are perusing now, novelty websites, file repositories, classified ad sites, and so on and so on. All of which were built and provided to engage on the premise of usability first and foremost.
How the "quiet web" as I am thinking of it relates to any of that is that, surely, there has to be a population of web and internet users today who, having started their existence online in that era, fundamentally retained it as the tide of commercialization roared in and seemingly swamped everything around them.
These people, assuming they exist to a significant number to even define a community, still communicate on usenet, still keep open IRC clients, still prefer privately run message forums, and like me in this case at least, still maintain a WWW site that they will cling to until the day that they die.
They are there (again in a presumptive sense), but, because of the extra exertion it takes to live such a peaceful digital lifestyle, they are somehow elevated above the noise of the dumbed-down consumer web, possibly working smarter, faster, and better than their bent-neck human brethren who know of no potential beyond what a smartphone can demonstrate.
How great it would be if the working parties of the would-be "Quiet Web" were to somehow find each other and establish a consistent base of persona. If you think you might be one of these people, drop me a message.
As an Aside...
While Googling the "quiet web" as mentioned at the top of this entry, I came across the minimalist blogger of Manuel Moreale, which in turn led me to find Marginalia that describes itself as an:
an independent DIY search engine that focuses on non-commercial content, and attempts to show you sites you perhaps weren't aware of in favor of the sort of sites you probably already knew existed.
...just the fact that someone developed a web experiment with this vernacular is evidence that while disparate, people are nonetheless collectively beginning to wonder if we can somehow have (retain/bring back?) a better World Wide Web experience.
By Dave for Personal Blog.
If I were going to coach someone on which type of online expression platform to choose, I am not entirely sure how I would go about arranging the logic and subsequent conclusion. I suppose it would look something like this:
You have dynamic ever-evolving content that is fortified by your own drive for new questions in need of new and different answers. You're planning on leading a world conversation (not just participating in one) and are satisfied by constructing and presenting it without much count for attention, laud, or subsequent dopomine rushes. Cuz', nobody gonna read that blog in 2023 like they might have in 2005. But hey, congratulations, you're a thought leader.
You've no patience for writing and have the advantage of good verbal and animated communication skills. Maybe you're physcially attractive (read: "Cute girl does anything" to become lead YouTube voice in her subject -- though not to be sexist, it's really a question of charisma). You went to film or media school, or just dabbled your way to working with the tools well. YouTube isn't typically considered a "circle of friends only" medium, so as with blogs there's a presumption of wanting to flaunt your specific perspective to a wide audience. YouTube is a strictly monetizing contextual platform so while you can YouTube niche content with a low investment, you're not likely to get noticed unless you produce with profit development in mind to at least some degreee.
The channels of social media require perhaps the least amount of investment or any type of ramp-up with respect to proficiency. Social media tools are meant to be driven from mobile phones by people who will have little skill beyond something like texting or placing a Facetime call. But this low barrier friction-free interface means that you'll be more able to "be yourself" and more importantly expose you to millions of people just being a little janky too. If you want to participate but don't want to stand out unless proven worthy by a viral act of one sort or another, keeping it to Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, or whatever the in thing is today, is probably the answer.
Message Forums, Comments
Believe it or not, being an avid commentator has evolved (strictly in my opinion but I stand by its accuracy) into a type of expression platform albeit a very fragmented one. You can gratify your need to publish and be known by being a consistent and thoughtful commentator on meaningful message boards, and possibly even rising to the level of a moderator, administrator, or the whole enchilada. You can build a message forum online just as you might a regular website or a blog. If what you say is rich and insightful, entertaining and thought-provoking, you'll gain respect as a great writer but also a potent authority. And all on someone else's hosting dime. Can you say reddit?
Most people don't realize that Wikipedia isn't just a major website for digging up shifty research facts, it's also a publishing framework that anyone can start on their own. If you've got a niche hobby or perspective and don't care to pontificate more than you do to intellectually develop by allowing others to help fortify, starting up your own Wiki might be the thing to do.
In all cases it is possible to monetize or seek patreon support of one sort or another to fund what you are doing or profit by what you are doing - if the latter is what you're in it for. All platform modes have neat dashboards rife with charts and stats that give anything you're doing that "gambly/stockbroker/crypto-tracking" vibe so that you can watch anaudience grow and figure out how to keep one happy and coming back.
And, keep in mind, if you're more interested in brand building than expressing, you're actually going to have to do all of these things (well, except maybe Wiki, though, I have seen that done). Being a marketer or entrepreneur entails expression, true, but getting across a story or delivering yourself to the world for the sole sake of doing som is different.
You pick one platform and you make it yours to master.
By Dave for Personal Blog.
I happened upon:
Yes, a web hosting provider can "censor" you as much as Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media forum might. A web hosting provider might decide to take you offline at any time. So why do I offer up "running your own blog" and "hosting your own site", like yours truly, as some sort of panacea for avoiding it?
It's because it's more a question of resiliency and the culture of web hosting providers. Twitter and Facebook have decided to become moderators. Chances are your web hosting provider of choice, such as GoDaddy, has not.
Twitter and Facebook have hired teams of people looking for things to act against. A wise move considering that the top energy of these places involves people pumping in ground-level content, at what must be millions of interactions per minute.
On the other hand, a crank like me pushing out a blog post maybe once every few weeks, and then having that blog post generate enough interest to push people over the friction barrier to comment back, hardly merits a single intern doing the same.
But of course there are "high velocity" personal blogs out there, so even if there is a temptation to monitor activity with an eye to zap any hint of non-conformity, the impulse goes against the early-established ethos of web hosting which is something along the lines of "we just give you the space to rant, the consequences are on you".
Those dynamics do not make for bulletproof protection of course, which is the basis for my overall philosophy that no forum, analog or digital, is ever going to be completely free of the risk. In fact the Wikipedia article for internet censorship currently breaks down 7 control points that can be exploited in a way that either knocks you offline completely or severely diminishes your reach and influence.
But look: Having your own hosted blog or website drops you much farther away from the frontline debate and all of its component triggers. You are protected much better in cases where you are making a strong statement with perhaps ambiguous clauses, than you are on social media where there is less tolerance for either, particularly in the accumulation dimension.
The snippet from a Reddit thread above about Marjorie Greene's Twitter account being suspended over Covid misinformation posts, which prompted me to make this entry, is ironically itself a reminder why you can't even rely on the conduits of discussion on these matters to take place. If you visit the thread now, you'll find that it has been locked by the moderators.
So yeah, if you want greater resilience against censorship, and certainly more direct control, you need to get back to blogging and web hosting.
By Dave for Personal Blog.
I like to think that I patronize other blogs because I'm engaged by good writing and insight. But that's not really true. Sometimes I'm only moderately engaged or interested but I stay in the audience because I like the producer's approach and style insofar as the presentation goes. If they're doing all the things right such as tastefully embedding non-obtrusive ads or even better not advertising at all, and take pains to keep the visual balanced, I am enamored enough to keep coming back.
I guess I owe this dynamic more to a love of the craft and a hope that people will re-discover HTTP as a valid method of exchanging information as authors of their own publishing world.
My last incarnation of this blog included a section of blogs that struck me with this sort of happiness, and I am going to restore it. Probably before I leave for the gym today. I often find it hard to articulate why I think a blog is a good blog but by maintaining such an index here, I can at least present the pattern, which is probably more telling.
For the second though, here is The Geek Stuff. You see everything as it should be in blogging world.
I should disclaim that I run an ad blocker so my perspective of a "clean presenting" blog is somewhat mitigated. I've had to acquiesce to the fact that even if a blog producer still uses ads, they remain exceptional if they don't challenge the blocker or beg to be "unblocked". It's just the way it is. :(
By Dave for Personal Blog.
The new first rules of blogging are to be sure to have something to say. That means, establish that your message has these attributes:
Mind you, not having those qualifiers does not mean that your viewpoint or information is worthless in the grand scheme of things; just that it may not contribute to the digital sphere.
Today's web is not the 2002 web.
Let me explain. Stream of conscious blogging centering around the events of your day or weigh-in in on national economic policy was and has "tried and died". It died because millions of people deciding to give themselves the daily "homework" of self-reporting their day to an electronic diary could only end the way that it clearly did. Until we're all forced to live our days hiding in attics, most of what we experience is mundane and in need of serious primping in order to properly storify. It takes serious work, and that's after the work of maintaining the blog engine itself.
It's not that people lost the impulse to digitally share themselves. As blogging limped through its lifecycle, services like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter showed up to the party. And they offered ways, powerful and easy ways, to satiate this impulse. Social media trimmed down the expectation for long form presentation into blurbs -- or -- quite literally "Tweets", if you will.
Sure, it's all something you could be forgiven for, for still calling it "blogging", but these expression conduits are more in the moment and thus held to less an integral intellectual or grammatical standard. My label for this kind of online writing is "bullet prose form" and in 2021 it's about the only thing people posting online at all anymore, know.
Personally, I am sure that I discounted how things would turn out way back before all this noise and sludge took over online. I just assumed everyone's lives were fascinating if articulated and storified properly and that blogging would never die accordingly. But the barrier to online publishing is now too low and the noise too great. If you have a blog and bother to mention it, people have zero curiosity, sans other agendas, for checking it out.
The attributes I list above will beat the assumptions and leave people interested in what you have to say, if you are consistent about applying them. If it means you say things less often because the criteria just isn't there, that's fine. Your social media blurbs, wherever you are making them, are probably ideal for the point.
My own custom engine, Battle Blog, includes a feature that actually accounts for posting lulls -- de-stigma-fying lulls in the process. If you don't post in 10 days, no problem, the blog engine replaces the front page which normally contains your stream of blog postings, with a kind note that you are living life and building up to your next post. It then offers to show you the blog anyway and gives other options to explore. So far as I know, my clunky homebrew engine is the only blogging platform that does this, although I prodded the real blog engine makers to follow suit.
Someone landing on this text might wonder if as a whole my personal blog meets any of these criteria on a consistent basis. Look it over, does it seem to? Probably not. But that's because my motivations have less to do with building an audience and more to do with keeping the craft alive personally and as a whole. It's a living experiment in online publishing and as all experiments go may or may not prove to be anything of tangible value in the end. Put another way, even though I do have other blogs and online efforts I do in fact care about, here at this blog, I may not add anything to the digital sphere in this specific effort and that doesn't bother me.
By Dave for Personal Blog.
One of the most energetic blogs on today's web is something I hold as a beloved example of what blogging should be. Streetsblog USA has all this going for it:
And yet, I don't read it. Or at least most of it.
I subscribe to its RSS feed but inevitably when I land on its daily-refreshed article list in my RSS reader, I only pick through but a few of the articles at most, skimming for the gist, then moving on to someone else's content.
So, what's happening here? What is the seemingly perfect blog in my eyes doing wrong such that while I certainly appreciate and advocate its content, I keep it outside of my thorough field of daily online consumption?
We're supposed to respect blogs that build up their content engine as aggressively as Streetsblog USA. Even more so when that volume of output doesn't result in the diluting of the substance of that content, again as we can observe of Streetsblog USA.
Something just doesn't jive. I should really be eating Streetsblog USA up.
After some mulling I came to realize that, for a blog, it actually publishes too much for the moniker of "blog".
It's a firehose, and that's a problem. It seems to produce at least three articles a day, and when you factor in a missed day or two of purusing the RSS reader, this results in a wall of articles to wade through.
You might think I'm (Pea) Nuts
Pretend that it's 1975. You subscribe to a newspaper and inside the folds of its many sections back then, you open up to the daily funnies and look for your favorite strip. Peanuts by Charles M. Schultz was my favorite as a kid, so we'll pick that strip for this example.
What if on that funnies page there were not just one clean four-panel row of a Peanuts gag, but, say, there were 30 of them. 30 rows of different Peanuts strips taking up virtually the entire page.
You might read the first two before realizing that there isn't enough coffee in your cup to read all 30 separate cartoon strips of the same title, not to mention consume your other favorite strips and newspaper sections. I mean, you do have to be at work in an hour.
So, it's a great cartoon strip and you love it -- but even though you mechanically have all the capability in the world to indulge it, you simply don't have the luxury of that much time to do so. You didn't wake up looking to read a book. And that means you don't read most of what you love.
That would be comic strip fail. And in the same way, it's blog fail for publishing entities who crank out articles every 5 minutes. I should pause to mention it's not as if Streetsblog USA is the only example.
So, now, as far as I am concerned, blogs that do this, worthy as they are as conduits of information and viewpoints for niche subjects, are not actually consumable as blogs. They can be something else, "news sites" maybe, "repositories of data and commentary" about a topic, perhaps; but not a blog as long as we add the additional criterion for blogs as something that produces pointed content that can be digested in a single breezy pass. This pacing attribute turns out to be crucial.
My thinking here is certainly open to critique because of its subjective assertion. Maybe some people don't pan a list of blogs each day. Maybe some people are hardwired to consume more, faster, and might feel cheated not having a buffet of articles waiting for them each morning.
Many blogs are deemed failures when their producers under-produce and "wane away". But not much attention is given to the other extreme. To me, the blogging form feels most right when, whether weak or strong, a single impression is left before turning the page of a day to consume the next.
By Dave for Personal Blog.
The first real blog (aside from my personal blog, this one, which serves as the development iteration) to use Battle Blog 3.0 is Earl Pin Astrology.
I use it to talk about astrological topics which is a subject I've been interested in for years though, despite so, this interest has been rather dormant since about the time I was 20-something or so when chart analysis and interpretation were a daily thing for me.
Since about that time I quietly kept up on interesting articles and practices but didn't overtly carry on about it so much or offer to chart anyone other than the occasional love interest or family member.
My interest renewed in light of the apparent cultural resurgence in astrology, making it relevant again. At 50+ now, I find myself in social circles with an iota of something to say with any depth that actually impresses people when the topic comes up. Who'd have figured?
I am proud to marry my interest in blogging and astrology to produce the first real Battle Blog 3.0 presentation. Look it over, register, and also consider subscribing to the YouTube channel which I plan to use to address any commentary that arises from the discussion.
By Dave for Personal Blog.
As you know, I'm in the build phase of this blogging engine. Though it looks completely functional there are major functions still a work in progress. One of those is the archiving system.
To prep up with real content in which to actually test archiving with, and to keep up with a strategy of reflecting all of my online expressions synchronized between Twitter, Facebook, and this blog, I cross-posted most of my Facebook posts of recent months here.
The maneuver did help fill the tank for archive work, but I was surprised at what all that Facebook-ish inspired content wound up doing to the blog as a quality production stream. Rather than give the audience a predictable rhythm of emotion and topic as they read through the posts, the disjointed and wayward thought processes between them were more likely to give them a headache. Now, this blog has the production quality of bathroom graffiti. What happened?
To understand, one has to compare how content as it is drip-dropped into a (personal) Facebook feed versus how it is dropped (more like a brick than a drip) onto a blog like this one.
Facebook posts are spurred by the moment, and like Twitter, are meant to draw your impulsive remarks and shares as captures of the second. The resulting string of sentiments is an enjoyable cacophony of your mundane thoughts within a sophisticated framework where everyone is either doing, or at least knows that they can do, the same thing. Whether they do or not, the random screeds and shares as disconnected intellectual matter are tolerated and appreciated thanks to compositional empathy. Everyone gets that you might write about Aunt Maddie's tasteful potatoes in one post, then the impact of Trump's trade policies with China in the next.
That empathy doesn't exist with longer form platforms, such as a blog. Forget about the fact that a blog is not supposed to capture and cast impulsive thoughts in the first place, people can't relate to the process of feeding one as they do on a universal platform like Facebook. Loosely they understand that, well, first you have to build or customize a blog, then you have to log into it, then you have to "build a post". They imagine each post to be, what it is, which is work.
So, when a reader encounters spotty point-making and flippant ideas one by one on a blog, as my Facebook dump renders, it looks and sounds bad. It's just uncomfortable.
Hence, a consistent blog expression strategy will never be fulfilled by merely directly grafting content from your social media channels to your blog. The blog is too much of a production channel, and the content that needs to be on display there needs to be a reflection of focus and work. It has a voice to maintain, and it probably has a broader thesis to which each and every entry must be connected to.
By Dave for Personal Blog.