Dave The Web Guy

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Latest Troubles.

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.

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Understanding the Actual Forces

08/13/2023

I've been consuming a lot of content in the background related to the demise of the "old web."  Some of the content I'm coming across reasons in a way that makes sense to me while some of the analysis just doesn't hit the mark.  

I'm going to begin presenting some of this compiled content, but before I do, I want to simplify the reasons as I see them.  Any commentary I add to my finds will be judged in quality with respect to these.

Here they are:

The Original Web Depended on Desktop Computers

The primary consumption instrument for the web, among pedestrian users, changed.  People stopped using personal computers to interface the web and relied on their smartphones instead.  Since the "profit web" demands active foot (click) traffic, so went development.  The "desktop" web became a secondary presentation and was often left miserable looking in efforts to maintain "responsive design" principles.  Any component of a website that aligned with the spirit of curiosity-driven click navigation was presumed "bad design".

Social Media Platforms

Concurrently, social media platforms emerged, eliminating the technical friction involved with online expression.  A post that took a click to make was easier than one that took a website to erect and maintain.  Social media platforms also offered instant referable engagement to a critical mass audience, even for low quality expressions.  Websites, even in the pre social media era, were shots in the dark for engagement.  To illustrate, consider that a book sits idle on a library shelf for decades -- its author never knows who reads it.  Meanwhile, a writer can dump a bucket of pamphlets from a high window and watch people take (or not take) them for reading.  For the publishing masses, the latter is far more gratifying.

Google Monetized the Discovery Process

Major search engines slowly influenced the complete cycle from publishing to consumption by giving discoverability bias to for-profit enterprise publishers.   A poor writer's cure for cancer was made to compete against a rich man's snake oil when it came to connecting consumers with information.  Money now controls the ease by which information makes it to the searcher.  Smaller publishing efforts established over and around the profit drive are less compelled, if capable even, to participate.

Late Stage Capitalism

Our corporatocracy forever struggles to refine the human spirit of curiosity and intellectual culture.  It needs to draw out the component of human intellectualism and mentality that keeps business and commerce the defining ruling force in all matters, and, it needs to keep people consuming and "dumb."  Keeping people from using the same conduits they might use to marvel over and multiply the franchise of the Kardashians, to also connect with alternate economic or human and social development theories, fuels a deep bias towards all digital enterprise philosophies that perfect this refinement.  Targeting conduits of wildcard exposure and discoverability that an open web encourages means that big tech companies that can "read the will of its rulers" limit the full power of their own offerings, effectively doing so.  As a result they are rewarded by being allowed to stay large and in control.  By relatable contrast, in more open totalitarian states like China, certain behaviors tied to loss of population control are simply countered by forms of direct oppression.  What all of this means is that displacing the uncontrolled wild west web with a big tech one is an imperative matter of order.



  By Dave for Personal Blog.

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Getting Rid of Reach

07/11/2023

The following was originally posted to my local drama blog, BuffScan, but it equally applies to my personal blog here.

Following the implosion of Twitter in July 2023 I decided to activate a loosely devised strategy of eliminating "reach" as a driving component of BuffScan and all of my blogging projects.

Until then, Twitter had been viewed as the best social media platform to act as both a direct conduit to a critical mass audience and a bargain instant-publishing host that could effectively drop content onto the BuffScan blog through the service's ability to embed a timeline.  The BuffScan Twitter feed was a superior mechanical compliment to a site like this without competing with it as the platform.

But with the shutting down of or the unexplained breaking down of Twitter's timeline embeds, I quit using Twitter for that purpose. 

Fortunately, thanks to some personal engineering here on my personally-developed Battle Blog platform, and to the fediverse-oriented "Mastodon", I found ways to maintain "instant publishing" capabilities right from the firegrounds or crime scenes. 

If there is a fire that I am in a position to report on, I have the means to put a picture of it up at this blog in seconds, right from my phone.  Straight to the blog itself, or, if I prefer, straight to Mastodon thanks to its ability to allow timeline embeds -- the thing Twitter once did well but stopped.  There's no loss of immediate publishing.

What can't be replaced however is reach.  Which is to really say, I cannot rely on serendipitous exposure to thousands of people with each artifact of content that I produce.   Exposure leads to discovery and content consumption, and in the best outcomes, leads to unsolicited shares and permanent subscribers.

For many bloggers and website producers reach has become the keystone objective and measure of their website's worth.  Not achieving it, or not achieving it right away, has despirited many publishers into quitting the craft.  Without an audience it is natural to ask what is the point.

But I am going to buck that line of thinking.  First because of Twitter's demise, which proves you can't rely on social media in any form to become a defacto content machine for your production.

And second, because specifically not relying on "instant audiences" and "instant reach" as a blog producer, I am challenged to push more interesting content that make the publication stick on encounter.  

Maybe a more eloquent way of putting it is that I want to fail because I am boring; too understaffed to produce meaningful content; perhaps talentless as a writer and editor, or quite more likely, all of the above.   

don't want to fail because I didn't copy/paste enough to a dozen social media channels, all while losing my publishing independence in the process.

My newfound strategy, after all, is what we did before social media.  We relied on word of email (forwarding and listservs if you remember any of that), and most crucially, interlinking between individual producers.  Your blog linked to my blog, and my blog linked to yours.  And people sitting down at PCs with their cups of coffee and a desire to explore, clicked from one place to another, bookmarking whatever they thought fancied a future visit.

That's how a website or blog got its traction for "realzies" and I am blowing the dust off that old playbook to make it happen again.

Had it not been for Twitter's meltdown I'd have gone along with being buried by the reality that nobody "surfs the web" anymore.  Nobody is interlinking between their web personas. 

To get right down to it, nobody is linking at all.  Hyperlinking has gradually morphed into a scary proposition that only hackers try to bait you with.  Me sending someone a link to my latest blog entry via e-mail would only likely terrify a recipient into deleting the message straight away.

I think Death of Hyperlink, The Aftermath by Hossein Derakshsan spells out this reality well enough, and is a worthy read.

There's def going to have to be some unwinding of the past decade to make this work.  But I'll take that chance.  After what happened to Twitter, we know now that we can't rely on big tech to be the revolution in our little Information Age.  

We the the real people with a thirst to communicate and explore have been that revolution the entire time.  Twitter's crumble just snapped us -- well me -- back into the game.

I'll be following up with the new ways that you can follow this and my other blogs.



  By Dave for Personal Blog.

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Is There Such A Thing As The 'Quiet Web?'

02/21/2023

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.

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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.

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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.

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Neighbors App Advances to the Web

02/12/2022

I'm heartend to find that the Neighbors app, the anti-crime community notification app that binds tightly with Ring and other video doorbell and security cameras, at some point picked up a desktop option for viewing and commentating

I'm pretty sure it wasn't always this way because when I engage digital tools I always first check to see if I can do it over a regular computer.  I signed up for Neighbors when I used Blink cameras, which were integrated with the Neighbors app, though, not quite as seamlessly as native Ring cameras.  Blink cameras, while they can still be bought, were more a thing two or so years ago.  They were more a thing than Ring, I think, at the time.  So, two years ago I don't think they had a web option or I would have been all over it.

Image of bad guy on porch.

Neighbors App on the Web. Also, the Guy Here, a Possible Bank Robber Too

To me, it's just another example of major web tool publishers rediscovering people's preference for working behind big screens and with conventional keyboards and mice.  Or in this case, being vigilante (or just nosey).

Developing for the "desktop web" these days takes a very deliberate and purposeful production committment because of course the "monetization market" is among friction-free freaks, which means putting things into people's hands with mobile apps first and maybe a web dashboard second.  

Kind of unrelated to my missive here, the guy in that particular image above is said among the commentators of the posted video to resemble the guy also accused in a number of attempted bank robberies.  If so, between those robbery attempts and this theft of a Ring camera, he's obviously on some sort of spree.



  By Dave for for BuffScan.

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The Openness, Calling All Citizens Nostalgia Tour

12/28/2021

This is a video of me touring my old "Calling All Citizens" (and later and as depicted in the video -- "Openness") online campaign, hoping to encourage public safety agencies to keep their radio systems open and scannable by the general public.  I was active with this between the mid-90s and mid-2000s.  

I'm not much with producing online video, so my advice is that if you actually watch this thing that you a) full-screen it (the expander is in the video's control tray), and b) consider skipping past my long narrative opener before I actually begin touring the site, if you're in some kind of hurry or something.

I suggest full-screen.

My campaign is still "technically" alive in the sense that I remain an advocate for everything I championed, but, I am no longer a standout producer or leader in the cause.   This very posting is probably the most interesting thing I've done related to the campaign outside an occasional forum rant or tweet in maybe 10 years.

But I am simply no longer needed.  I am living long enough to see the real world taking lead over the issue right before my very eyes.  The demand for police transparency has actually become a thing.  So much so, that police officers literally wear body cams.  I have encountered an influx of news stories about police "going undercover" with their radio systems, including in my birth town community of Luzerne County. 

There's been more attention by the mainstream press as the deployment of digital and digitally encrypted systems have picked up steam and people wonder why they can't listen in anymore.

And, speaking of the press, people are rejecting "authorized" media outlets in favor of ground journalism techniques, social media, and I expect, soon, Web 3.0 -- the decentralized accent of it (still being an ambiguous concept, there are several ideas of what 3.0 is, but decentralization is considered a major component). 

People insisting on raw authentic information has turned into a revolution.  My website tour is an oddity of focus on what I have to imagine was among the first flickering embers.



  By Dave for for BuffScan.

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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.

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The War Between Mainstream and Social Media

10/05/2021

I was a little incensed by the topic of a 60 Minutes episode which featured a "Facebook whistleblower" who breathlessly reports that Facebook promotes divisive policies to make money. 

It's not that I think Facebook is being falsely accused of dividing people or harming the psyche of low self-esteem people; it's that CBS and all the other networks and profit-media organizations do exactly the same thing.

It's so damn hypocritical.

It's not only hypocritical, it's telling.  I have this belief in a war of sorts between classical "mainstream" media and social media platforms, with the former engaged in a life-and-death attack on the latter for control.  

Social media as a general concept demonstrates that we don't need a few concentrated outlets feeding us news with a few "authoritative faces and voices".  In terrifying realization of this, that's why the mainstream media is eager to underscore the lack of integrity in, and overstate the danger of, social media - even to said hypocritical levels. 

The CBSs of the world won't be happy until nobody trusts social media (or by another perspective, people freely talking to each other), and, in fact, come to fear it.  The old media must retain its power.

The kicker here as that I personally don't respect either institution's platforms because they are both fighting for dominant control over our minds. 

I say this of mainstream media for the reason I just outlined above, but in the case of social media platforms I say this because they maliciously eclipse the power of the core web, the original and pure form of "social media",  where people can really post anything they want.  Social media platforms draw people away from this power and wind up resetting "digital freedom" in their monetizing operational  image. 

This should be a world by now of a million independent blogs on the world wide web, but instead, we have a few big tech social media platforms with "feeds".

Set up a blog?  You'd be lucky today to find anyone born after 1995 who even knows the difference between the web and Facebook, let alone knows how to use Microsoft Notepad and an FTP client to post an image to the world.

I have no love lost for Trump supporters, but at least they got kicked in the teeth by social media enough that they became "woke" to this danger.  At long last, a large and meaningful (if not deranged) segment of the population was reminded of the social media company dominance that has way too much control over their expressions.

People:  Learn to host a blog on the actual World Wide Web (like the blog you're looking at now).  It's vulnerable to de-platforming, yes, but you retain that "last mile" freedom such that a stronger case is required as is a more complex initiation.



  By Dave for Personal Blog.

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Revolt Against the Ruinous Commercial Web

03/04/2021

Enough said here by the man in the video sayin' it - though I been sayin' it forever. The revolution against the ruinous "commercial web" is winding up. The YouTuber here is being kind however. He clinically refers to developers who partake in this as being "SoyDevs" at the mercy of clients. But the actual word in my book is "talentless". You don't take one of the greatest innovations of humankind and get to wreck it under guise of needing a paycheck. No. You're participating in the wrecking of it because you never "got it" in the first place.

The bloated world wide web.

Note, the YouTuber Luke Smith has release a follow-up to the video.



  By Dave for Personal Blog.

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Trump's Little Shop of Parlers (II)

01/18/2021

Continuing my few-parts "series" on news of the past three weeks or so.

Now I'd like to gripe about Parler being shut down.  And once again before I wade into this, yes I am anti-Trump or rather anti-Trumpism.  And yes I currently vote Democrat and in particular I voted for Biden.  But if your mind blows up that I can be anti-Trumpism yet still hate CNN and the oppression of free speech like a Trumper might, then you probably aren't intelligent enough for this blog.  Or, I'm too schizophrenic to be maintaining one.  Pick your conclusion.

Anyway.  When you get right down to it it's not so much scary that Parler was shut down as a service but rather its hosting was shut down (which of course shuts it down as a service).  For years and years and I have espoused the merit of privately hosting your blogs and web expressions on your own hosted services on the theory that you can't be moderated away in a deplatform event.  But here we are in 2021 and that is exactly what happened to thousands of noisy if not also delusional Parler users. 

To catch you up, Parler didn't effectively moderate the dangerous sounding people, so its host, Amazon, did it for them in one fell swoop.  Thousands of people who for sure consisted of some plotting to storm the Capitol were evaoprated, but so were harmless kooks enjoying their life preaching about elves living in their basement, or reasonable people who just wanted to duck the destructive and diminishing effect of commercialism on their rants.  Even I had an account in which I dabbled with to carry on my (perfectly valid) diatrabes against the media and the demise of the open World Wide Web.  As dangerous as it was, Parler represented freedom -- sort of.

Not Truly Free But More Fun

It turns out that Parler only represented freedom in the same way that one neighborhood garage for teenage friends to hang out in is more free than another.  But it still wasn't free.  The Parler dad was just cooler than the Twitter dad.  Eventually a rule could be broken and everyone sent home.  Or into the woods.

I cannot keep saying this enough.  The first step to real online freedom is reclaiming in large part what the early web was.  Millions of HTML web pages by people speaking and ranting about all kinds of topics.  Some poorly and loosely, but many with talent and a sense of presentation.  Back then these millions and millions of web pages were mansions unto themselves, and bringing down one, if it had to be rightly or wrongly targeted, did not bring down them all.  

The topics were often redundant, sure.  But while talking about the same general concepts of UFOs or the town ordinance on how far to keep your trash cans away from the curb might cluster around the same angle, the invidual voices of each author made each new encounter an enriching and often rewarding consumption.

A fair search engine was supposed to tie all these web pages together to your sense of curiosity, but alas, search became a monetized thing.  Now, the findable answer is tied more to how much SEO an author has invested in and how more by the rules of commerce they abide by.  If your knowledge is not packaged for financial return upon its discovery, your knowledge will not be noticed.  

But, a renewed interest in creating personal web pages would still work.  Twitter or Parler could be replaced by interlinks (remember "web rings" -- something like that but not quite so flashy), and of course RSS, which I believe went away because Google was hell-bent on destroying on the profitless intimate web.

As Doomed As Anything I'd Write

The final irony of Parler is that it was probably doomed anyway.  It billed itself as an enterprise solution of sorts but in reality (and if you understood how buggy it was, you sort of guessed) it was amateur coding that I put "slightly" above my own in terms of skill set.  This is to say, it was apparently a security nightmare that somehow even failed to strip geo-location metadata from the pictures you might have uploaded.  

Its producer was probably relieved to have a "cover of principle" to maybe die under forever, but the fact is that it would have been sued out of existence before long, once the freedom privacy-loving population learned that every picture posted was a map to their house.

As of this writing, Parler is back online, but I am sure with the challenge of reworking its reckless bubble-gum-glued-together gears.  

More power to'em if their team can do it.  I mean, if they are willing to not home-school government revolts.  But I would hope that a fraction of people with Parler fever would simply look into a cheap shared hosting account and feel free to unite with others doing the same.  The open WWW is your resilience and if you claim it to be, is your resistance.



  By Dave for Personal Blog.

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Bitter Over Twitter

01/09/2021

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.

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Ye Olde Computer Support Website

08/21/2020

I never went on to develop web pages or to code at professional grade levels, but for as long as the web has been a thing I have always developed web pages and coded.  Here are two videos (you'll need to full-screen these bitches to see them completely) showing off some work I did for the computer support department that I worked for from the mid-90s to about 2006.  

Ye Olde Computer Support Website Nostalgia 1 (Watch full-screen).

Ye Olde Computer Support Website Nostalgia 2 (Watch full screen).

I worked at the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute at the University of South Florida, which at the time had an independent (versus campus-centralized), computer support center.  There was a small crew of us supporting maybe 200 users or up to 500 PCs in that specific research building.

Back then formal lines between technical roles were not as defined or regulated, or, at least weren't for our small shop, yet.  A system administrator might just as easily be called on to install MS Office on a user's PC, as they might to add a printer to a server -- and vice versa.  Roles solidified in my 5 or 6 years there, but early on, anything was on the table in your role as a "PC tech".

If you could log into it, you were the dude doing it.

Under this liberal arrangement I at some point picked up the role as webmaster of the departmental website.  It was a natural for me because it did in fact involve coding (HTML and the old "Cold Fusion", AKA, the language of MySpace - fun fact), and it allowed me to craft in departmental service structure directly to the interface that people would be using to call upon it.  The website, to the extent I had control, was in effect support policy and procedure.  For years this worked out well. 

I was able to take this trip down memory lane using a weird archive site I had not heard of before called oldweb.today .

Looking at this today it's stunning how static my web skills have stayed.  You'll notice that my preference for the clean uncluttered mechanical social path between the various pages is the same you'll find, say, here at my very blog.  I have always preferred that a website look and behave like a document.



  By Dave for Personal Blog.

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Predicting The Fall Of The Useful Web

07/19/2020

The world wide web might have been a way to share all kinds of information in a useful way that ecompassed the input of multiple presenters for every topic imaginable, sometimes for the same topic many times over.  

Malcolm Gladwell effectively predicts the 2020 web in 2002.

It was imagined by the still-living web founder as something that would be an indexed resource of a million perspectives, all able to interlink and evolve in infinite digital interplay.

And then, commercialism.

Now web page/site development can only be justified by the amount of money it might procure its producers.  Web pages that don't or can't take on the architecture of e-commerce equate to content that might be better moved to evolving social media platforms such as Facebook.  Places where any universal search mechanism breaks down.

Malcolm Gladwell made the prediction above in 2002 that seems to hold up well in the 2020 web.



  By Dave for Personal Blog.

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Facebook As the Placebook

05/25/2020

I decided to click the little exclamation point for "More Website Information" that Facebook now includes with most feed posts, next to one of my own recent posts.

In the event you actually wonder if Hillary runs a pedophile ring, click the exclamation point.

The idea of this new information system is so that Facebook can give the average clicker an idea of a website's validity and integrity, a system largely developed in wake of attempts by foreign state competitors attempting to influence the outcome of elections by taking advantage our nation's low barrier information exchange systems (read: the web, social media).  You may recognize that effort covered in the mainstream media as "Russian Interference".

Why Facebook thinks that people who are actually brain-numb enough to believe Hillary Clinton runs a pedophila ring in the basement of pizza parlors would be inquisitive enough to try and understand the integrity of a given source publishing that information is beyond me.  People who "believe" and share that type of information are more than likely doing it out of personal satire, not because they actually believe it.

I actually think I do know:  Social media giants and the mainstream media both need you to believe that people are that stupid because it then permits them to introduce yet more controls and more instruments to track human inquisitiveness, while maybe driving a political or social agenda in the process.  Instruments such as the button under discussion that allows you to review "more information" about a given post, for example.

When I clicked on the one for my post, linking back to my website, I chuckled over the clinical assessment at first.  But gaffed when I saw this:

 

Dwghosting doesn't have a Facebook page, oh no!

Facebook, in the authorative presentation of a risk assessment agent, was pointing out that my hosting company, Dave the Web Guy Innovations, does not have a Facebook page.  The implication being that my content potentially threatens western democracy.

Holy smokes!  

Well I guess as owner operator of Dave the Web Guy Innovations and its functional subsidary Dave the Web Guy Hosting, I better start one up!  Get it going.  Get my presence branded and restore Facebook's version of "trust it" about me, to the world. 

If I really want to stand apart, to really show my authentic export to the world, I best also buy up some ad impressions and what not.  After all, if I'm not buying ad space, maybe I'm just a con going through the trouble to make a Facebook page to beat this incriminating designation as a "non-Facebook-page" owner.  Oh no!  Facebook:  Shutup and take my money!  Vindicate me!  Approve me!

So basically, Facebook, as part of its undeclared strategy to replace the World Wide Web with its own monetizing version of it, is casting fear and distrust of any digital stage built outside it.



  By Dave for Personal Blog.

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