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.
I've had to remove my Twitter feed embed as it existed at the right of this content. Whatever Twitter did, it stopped working. It had something to do with their API changes or in their mandatory switchover to the new Tweetdeck or something. It might even be a temporary issue but it would not matter; I've completely lost faith in a coherent reliable Twitter experience. And that's coming from a guy who paid for the premium ("blue badge") tier on the basis it was excellent cheap hosting for real time media posts.
And so, where the fragmentation of the open World Wide Web is nearly complete, the agenda to frustrate and disrupt people from freely talking to each other in a cohesive manner in a single place of discovery, is now too, nearly complete.
With Twitter complicity. It's the planned and managed degradation of anything that allows people to broadcast and be heard outside the gatekeeping control of monetization.
I am unsure that I will replace the feed as I would like to use the slight to become more interesting and relevant here at my own dedicated publishing platform, something I'm always trying to do. This might be the kick that finally makes it happen.
By Dave for Personal Blog.
Okay Mr. Musk, very funny.
The Twitter logo is now a dog (at least when viewed from the website).
If the entire product did not now feel enough like a one-man whim project put together by some amatuer hack with too much time on his hands (cough), this certainly fixed that.
I'm putting my theory of managed decomposition out there now with respect to Twitter. This latest stunt clinches the theory -- in my own completely rational head at least.
Elon is working with other interests to destroy Twitter, and the reason has nothing to do with money and everything to do with social control. At some level, I postulate, Elon agreed to be the spoiler of Twitter by agreeing to purchase it or somehow otherwise come into control, then pelting it with unwise decisions to a long-term strategy of chasing people off it.
But why would he and the "other mysterious others" want that?
Well, why did anyone want to destroy the regular World Wide Web? A unified publishing platform to the planet where anyone crazy enough to post their nutty theories (cough), expose corruption, expose injustice, etc., etc., was too much for the status quo to bear. Promoting a migration to capitalistic-fueled social media platforms might have been the first trick to make people believe creating their own websites was too hard and too pointless, to kill the web, but there were other tactics. Oh, I just know it.
Unexpectedly, Twitter became just as bad as the open web. Too many people consolidated on it and found it to be a powerful broadcasting tool that was every bit as scary as the open web. The source of social movements, thought leaders, and even dangerous influencing of elections.
So, the same trick that destroyed the web for similar things is being applied recursively to Twitter. Chase people off, dilute the population, and encourage more fragmentation of the online populace.
Fragmentation means that it becomes too much work for people to discover and track a meaningful voice, and works to maintain the status quo in the process. The media stays in charge and the power of the digital age, contained.
Who knows how anyone might have convinced Elon to participate in this -- maybe with the promise of lucrative government contracts and grants or something. But trust me, however crazy you may find this assertion of mine, the truth lies closer to it than you may want to believe!
By Dave for Personal Blog.
I've got this hunkering to "switch to" Mastodon. It's billed as a Twitter replacement but it really isn't because it can't gratify the way that Twitter does. And quite frankly when we talk about a more open and rogue web in comparison to Facebook, Twitter was my comparitive rebellion.
I guess both Facebook and Twitter are their own little worlds, but somehow Twitter feels more like part of the "real" web. For a long time it had very liberal APIs which meant that a lot of your stuff could be ingested and rebroadcast elsewhere through a variety of tools (the embeds work particularly well with my blogging engine to this day), whereas Facebook stuff was meant for the Facebook place, period.
Maybe that rationale is a little obtuse but in any case no matter how hard people try to roll Twitter into a problematic free speech menace, I've never felt that way about it.
It's not just losing reach that would bother me about switching, it's the idea of joining somebody's good-will server instance that I know is costing them a lot to run. To be "tooting" and gobbling up server space with the media content of the people that I follow would leave me feeling bad for whomever capriciously allowed me to hop on board. At some point I'd wind up paying patronage if I have any kind of soul left at this age. Or not, and having that much less of a soul.
So, I'd want to run my own instance. But I'm finding out that doing so is pretty expensive. Or, at least, in my case, backpedals on trying to save money while having more technical fun and control using my own equipment and internet connection. To host this blog for example, I got rid of paid web hosting. It's running on a machine inside my house that I pay nothing extra for other than the electricity and whatever capital expenses there are in setting up the (cough) "server". Being pelted only a couple every other days with a single web visitor or two adds little to the overhead. It's no fiscal burden whatsoever.
But Mastodon, when you aren't just seeing it with user-only eyes, like pretty much anything on the web, looks a lot different from a technical and economic perspective. You have to pay for a database, the space, the data transfer, and so on.
I looked into the "marketplace" installs of some of the cloud providers such as Linode and others, and all of them put one at around $30-$40/month for a reasonable Mastodon setup. You can actually run a very meager instance for much less -- they had said meager offerings -- but I found myself wheezing with constraint just by reading about them.
Paying for your own single-user instance Mastodon server is just too pricey compared to the price of Twitter Blue. If you want to get down to it, paying for a Twitter Blue account is the same as paying a hosting company but for far less money yet far more storage capacity. And professionals there are left running it. Or what's left of them I mean.
Now, if you caught that I'm already running my own web server in general, you might wonder why not just run my own Mastodon instance and skip even the hosting fees? Then I'd be completely federated on the cheap!
Except that my setup has a lot of inherent technical incompatibilities that would take a huge learning curve to close. The biggest issue is that Mastodon runs on a Linux server (Debian) whereas everything I do is on boring old stupid-head Windows IIS.
Sure this is a PHP blog and all, but Windows actually does PHP and basic MySQL fine. That choice doesn't seem to be there with Mastodon. Hosting my own Mastodon would mean switching everything over to Linux, or, setting up yet a completely separate box in my house, thereby stretching the final stable amps from the house's ancient wiring and forever condemning me to avoid using the microwave.
Question of enough electrical power aside, I'd have to learn server-level Linux well enough to launch and maintain Mastodon, too. Not impossible of course (and I would add, probably inevitable just generally speaking), but not enough in time to feel secure with my own operation.
So I find myself passing. And I'm not even disagreeing that Twitter is crumbling apart. It is. It's just that it's collapsing in ways that aren't hitting me straight up yet. Ironically a guy with a big mouth like me would seem the perfect type to clash with the rules of any major social media platform, but I have a reasonable big mouth (I learned at some point that's how you really drive people crazy). I don't see myself ever violating Twitter, especially Elon's Twitter, and entering a contest of platform.
I must truly be old because I see Twitter as the most reasonably priced hosting provider for microblogging for a guy who will never say anything dangerous, in a dangerous enough way, to get booted.
By Dave for Personal Blog.
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.
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.
Broadcast Live via Twitter Demonstration
Don't you hate when you search for an answer to something you think is pretty straightforward, but it turns out your brain is so weird you're the only person either dumb enough to be asking (hence, no content to support an answer has ever been created), or, your brain is so complex, you are the only one who could ask the question (hence, no content to support an answer has ever been created).
Twitter is discontinuing Periscope in 2021 (and here is a Periscope of me postulating a theory of why livestreaming seems to be getting rolled back and complicated these days). I used Periscope as my main "man on the ground" live feeding platform for such things as house fires and riots, or the occasional weird attempt to produce regular weekend programming.
With news of its impending demise, I panicked. Instagram (Live) is not built for serious stuff -- it presumes pictures and broadcasts are personal social objects shared between people good looking enough to have enough friends to do that between. For your average content weirdo like me who still thinks the web and its products should be a bit unpredictable and uncontrollable regarding real matters, the Twitter ethos, however evaporating from the principle of that it may be these day, fits the bill.
YouTube Live or Twitch have just way too much overhead for spot live streaming, and Facebook for all intent and purposes requires you to sign in before showing someone's live video rationally. Facebook is not really about an "open" web.
But luckily as my video shows, you can still feed live via Twitter in what is basically an "integrated Periscope engine" resulting in something that is not so much different in experience at all. I had to make the video above because I could not find a clear answer that the lazy typing in of a YouTube query (I don't even think I bothered with Google) might yield.
By Dave for Personal Blog.
No, Twitter, just, no.
Same message to Facebook, and same for Google Play Store.
These "President Trump is being censored in social media" milestones always put me in the awkward position of having to explain how I can concurrently reject Trump's presidency while going nuts whenever social media platforms take measures to curb him. As per the current action of Twitter suspending his account.
The answer of course is that the actions taken against Trump really have nothing to do with Trump. It has more to do with my advocacy of an open web, and, a basic understanding that Facebook and Twitter are really just capitalism's answer to China's Great Firewall. No government, no corporation lobby, and certainly no government comprised of corporation lobbies, is ever going to give the power of worldwide broadcast to any wahoo that wants to operate a broadcast station unless there was absolute control over them first. One of the only ways to do that effectively is to create a chokepoint.
China freely turned its entire internet infrastructure into a chokepoint. Every internet user in China is easily surveilled, and content from elsewhere around the world is easily blocked, all from a (relatively) central control position. A percentage of Chinese citizens that go the extra distance to beat those controls through proxies and the like is small so the censorship effort is still effective.
In our culture, the same control is absolutely necessary (speaking as a hypothetical stakeholder of the status quo I mean) but the tact, as not to offend democratic narratives, is more delicate and far more decentralized.
To achieve this, a few simple ingredients along with a few simple rules about how they interact, are required. Left to their own devices these ingredients and rules self-evolve into (a superpower's requirement of) censorship and chill. Aside from the possibility that a few stupidhead 'socialists' can always complain about lack of regulation, there is no-body to blame.
One ingredient, and I can probably cite quite a few, is the commodification of curiosity and a taxing of human being's thirst for knowledge and understanding. In other words, search. The original search engines assumed that the point of their existence was to facilitate a breathlessly curious world -- not to monetize.
It didn't take long for Google and Google's early competition to realize that every search action was a goldmine and capitalist rules and zero ideas of counterweight regulations allowed it to grow into the behemoth it is now.
As Google proved it can dominate (as Microsoft proved it can dominate, as Twitter proved it can dominate, as Facebook proved it can dominate), the "government" of course forged its internal "off-book" relationships with each. Government regulation, action or inaction, came to exclusively favor these icons of what we now deem "Big Tech". For these big tech companies they reign supreme and get to keep making money. For the government, they get their chokepoints.
It doesn't take too much imagination to figure the sort of alliance this makes for, but if you need the picture, Snowden seems to have dumped them for you.
Twitter's decision acts specifically in response to what happened at the nation's Capitol. What happened there is a topic in its own right and I have ways of seeing how an out-of-control right-wing engineered it, and I have theories of how the left-wing engineered it. But I promise you this my dear reader, Trump was more part the mob than its leader.
You can read Twitter's blog posting on its reasoning for banning Trump's account, but as far as I'm concerned it's just a rationalization of tampering with something as sacred as free speech by stretching out the impact of a lot of subjective conclusions.
The real arguments have nothing to do with Trump's application of a social media platform, so Twitter and Facebook are truly creating their own relevance. Note how the debate itself solidifies themselves as "the internet" while the "real internet" is thus dissipated further without notice.
Trump, an apolitical sentient some time ago, simply picked up his inclination to run for president. Seeking the easiest path, he tuned into AM-right-wing radio, discovered an easy herd ripe for exploitation, and set out to do just that. It's that simple people. The mass media mediums that beget Trump were traditional radio and television. FCC stuff.
Point of fact, open expression to the widest gulf prevented this demigod from being re-elected. Can you even begin to imagine what a president like this one, traditionally bound to mere press releases and press conferences, might have done in the "usually" invisible political plane where backdeals and shady dynamics lurch? Fuck that. We needed to see this man's tweets.
By Dave for Personal Blog.