Dave The Web Guy

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Latest Troubles.

More Grumbling Over Social Media Demonization

03/10/2024

I will never understand why politicians and the mainstream media are so "activated" by the potential ill effects of social media.  I believe it's a war on people freely talking to each other.

When I'm given to contemplate I cynically cling to my abstract ideas of conspiracies against free speech (countries and authoritarian societies like China prove the raw dynamic exists - it's just a matter of shoe horning the same drive in a liberal democracy), or offended institutions not getting their cut of the dole from the big tech companies that build these communication platforms. 

Image of Mayor Adams giving speech against social meedia.

The mainstream media meanwhile wants a diminished landscape of people who are able to compete effectively against their profit making process and controls, giving it the driving incentive of rebuilding its relevance.  If social media is killing or sexualizing the children, spreading misinformation, undermining democracy (ironic claim), or depressing everyone - it's better to delete your feed and turn on the one-way influencing box of TV once again where a relatively few drive cultural narrative. 

Well, something along those lines.  It's not like I'm sitting in the room with the Illuminati while they work the whiteboard over these matters to say exactly.

But the truly maddening thing is that all of these charges would be lodged against the Internet and world wide web directly had social media platforms never become a thing.  Can you imagine the constant crowing about how depressed teens are because they surf the web or exchange simple email? 

Taking all the best intentions for what they claim to be, where were all these movements and grandstanding speeches as television, movies, and consumer advertising, tweaked and engineered with as much expertise as anything TikTok or Instagram have applied, were force paraded through children's minds for decades and decades?  Regulating mass commercial brainwashing does have its appeal if we are all suddenly "waking up" to how industry attempts to program us, after all.

Linkage



  By Dave for Personal Blog.

socialmedia

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Tough Road Back to the Original Social Media

02/17/2024

While browsing YouTube I came across this production by Lauren who makes the case to abandon social media and instead rely on a personal website.  It's exciting that someone like this 20-something young person seems to have independently contemplated the ramifications of self expressing  on social media platforms with a commensurate conclusion to use a personal website instead. 

As one who has tried to delete all social media platforms myself in favor of this very blog and website, I want to add to her points by mentioning at least one other that she either misses or inadvertantly glosses over which is the weening off of a desire for dopamine hits.

If conducted in a way where one completely deletes their social media accounts and then resumes posting at their own URL, expression becomes very lonely and can seem eerily pointless.  Although Lauren and indeed the entire new IndieWeb movement do address connectivity to others (engagement) and discuss solutions, it's important to understand that they are all less tangible than the "like" or the flattery of someone leaving a remark that is had through, say, an Instagram post.  

In making this point I am absolutely not saying don't do it.  I'm pointing out a substantial layer of bedrock to be prepared for, when you do.  I think Lauren in the video, speaking mainly to artists, covers the mental and emotional pathways to exclusive web publishing well enough, including overcoming the immediate perils.  But in calling out this other force, I hope to add some longer-tail resilience -- the grit necessary to carry past the 2 month point or in general, well after the initial rush of declaring one's digital independence. 

That emptiness by the evaporation of dopamine flow is going to feel heavy at first.  In time, as Lauren says, you will come to be focused on your message and your product rather than random validation of it.  Eventually validation will come from IRL engagements with your site that are discussed and appreciated through more intimate online connections or even offline completely.

That all being said, keep in mind too that if a "return to the WWW" sentiment evolved into a full-fledged movement, enough people might rediscover the enjoyable pastime of sitting with a cup of coffee and an open browser on an actual computer, clicking from place to place, person to person, perspective to perspective.  When people return to doing that, and begin interlinking and sharing their URLs again, so might that original form of external appreciation by a random audience.  

Yes, it will be a feat because in the time away we have as an online populace been away from that style of digital interaction, the world has moved to handheld devices where the "clicking" from one place to another has been replaced by the tap-as-needed one.  There really are literally only a fraction of devices left in the discretionary world where people who don't need them even buy a PC.

The other area of friction in making the transition is the learning curve, which aside from the promise of instant engagement and visibility, is the other major perk point social media platforms offer by all but eliminating that.  Learning some degree of HTML and scripting is far and away more difficult than simply "signing up" to something.  Again Lauren covers this nuance, turning it, rightfully, into a positive learning experience.  Doing so would in fact allow one to develop those skills, but crucially, it would happen slowly over time.  Perhaps more or less depending on where one is starting from.   

But by god I would advise anyone:  Try it anyway.  I was excited to come across Lauren's video because it just shored up my suspicion that yes indeed people are seeing the foils of the big platforms, all while beginning to appreciate the control and versatility of the original WWW one.

Linkage



  By Dave for Personal Blog.

socialmedia video www

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Just When I Was Getting the Hang Of Wit

07/18/2023

The tragedy of my recent downgrade of Twitter in my digital life is that I had made my most metrically engaged snark-tweet just before. I didn't even think it was that funny - and it sure was insensitive. But I suppose it timed well.



  By Dave for Personal Blog.

goofing socialmedia

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Picking An Online Expression Platform

02/21/2023

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:

Traditional Blog

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.

YouTube

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.

Social Media

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?

Wikipedia

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.

blogging socialmedia www

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Leaving Twitter, Leaving the Web

11/12/2022

Everyone is leaving Twitter for Mastodon or “Truth”, or other parts unknown. But there is no exodus back to the “pure web”. HTML. Blogs. - those sorts of things. This even after the actual pitch for setting up a Mastodon server is literally the pitch for hosting a website.

Mastodon server instructions capture.

At first I felt like, once again, people searching for digital freedom of expression were overlooking something they already had, which is the ability to host any persona and point that they like, right here on the raw web.

A website is an instance, just like a Mastodon account. It runs on a server which is individually managed, even if only at the content level, just like a Mastodon server.

In other words, the original web is decentralized. You don’t stop word of a cheap, free, and safe cure for cancer by knocking down one website, assuming that the information is absorbed and re-published, re-stated, and regurgitated by a thriving chatty WWW.

That all being said, by the time I come to write these words, I realize that there are of course many important differences between the manner of running a website and that of using a intermediate publishing instrument such as Mastodon (or even the original Twitter).

And more importantly, that at the end of the day, Mastodon may well be that place where the ease of web publishing offered up by monetizing control-freak social media companies is afforded, but without said influence of the almighty dollar and a debilitating demand for “growth”. The decentralized architecture is still there, along with the ever-precious friction-free form that allows people to shoot off a missive, thought, or the cure for cancer, all without the “work” of web publishing.

Okay I get it.

But I have to impress that the World Wide Web is still a thing and is still here, and is not that hard to capitalize on for freedom of speech, expression, and perhaps more crucially, individual presentation.



  By Dave for Personal Blog.

socialmedia twitter www

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Yes, Your Blog Can be Censored, But...

01/02/2022

I happened upon:

Snippet from Reddit forum.

Reddit discussion.

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.

blogging socialmedia

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Keeping Social Media Bad and Dumb

12/19/2021

I love this Tech Dirt article, Which Went More Viral Challenge: Local News Stories Or TikTok School Violence 'Challenge'? .  The question puts mayonnaise news media on the spot about so much coverage over something that wasn't actually happening.

Worse, it makes the mainstream media look complicit.

I'm surprised by none of it of course.  I'll just fall back on my mantra that this happens because the more social media is discredited, the more value old school media retains. Important because the value and authority of mainstream media are deflating at an unbelievable rate.

The collective strategy of giving so much coverage to every threat circulated on TikTok or whatever, in my view, is to highlight the dangers of low barrier publishing and to accent its unreliability. That it also provides cheap content for them is just a side benefit.

You may have noticed you pay attention less to overworked local media folks pumped into uniform productions by their corporate overlords.  The mainstream media knows that you are and that's why it's important for "bad" social media examples, and the WWW by native extension, to find their way to the daily news cycle.

It's okay you can admit it, mainstream news houses are no longer an authority.



  By Dave for Personal Blog.

deauthorizethemedia socialmedia www

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NYC Nostalgia, Interview With Livestreaming Guy

12/12/2021

Nostalgic NYC stuff.  I operated a blog title called "Tech for the City" very briefly while there.  I tried to dig up unique technology for exhibit at the blog, and at some point finally decided to walk up and interview this guy -- an early live streamer before Periscope and live feature components of Twitter and the like.  He was a regular at Union Square Park.

He had some beef with Turkey politics and I believe he was in some kind of voluntary exile.  Livestreaming was his chosen opposition voice, and he was certainly committed to it.  

Not exactly sure what happened to him, but I do know from his blog at the time he was staged to head back.  He was pissing people off, I hope he is okay today wherever he is.



  By Dave for Personal Blog.

interesting socialmedia video

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Full Instagram Previews are Back on Twitter

11/05/2021

This is great news:  Instagram posts are now going to show up on Twitter feeds as real pictures again.  As it is/was, sharability from Instagram to Twitter was limited to a link reference.  Post a picture of your pie, and a boring old hyperlink to that picture would show up in Twitter -- assuming you opted to share at all.

But, the Verge account of why the one-time behavior was ever changed in the first place, and the somewhat random meandering way it came back, exemplifies the disturbing capriciousness resulting from all these private enterprises bonking no-brainer easy solutions back and forth like gods, while we the digital consumers exist as mere pawns.

I for sure as a 55-year-old guy with zero social capital, or "synergy" if you will, should not be caring about this as much as I do,  but I believe in the digital revolution and really hate when we have examples of getting less usability, or a gain, by power broker whims.



  By Dave for Personal Blog.

socialmedia

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