Diaspora* experiment

So, social media. There are some things I really, really hate about it, but that is perhaps more about people who use it unwisely, and social media platforms that are, in my opinion, just plain bad and evil.

What about better social media sites? Are there any? I have explored dozens and dozens of them by now, because I wanted to know if there are any that I could recommend to friends as an alternative to That Horrible Thing (AKA Facebook). And also, are there any that are right for me?

One stands out as right for me, and that is Diaspora. I’ll tell you more about it in a separate post, if you like.

These days when I see an interesting thing, part of me wants to post that on Diaspora. But then I think “oh, I should post that on mirabilis.ca….” and then I have more coffee and wind up not posting the thing at all, because sloth and indecision.

I have found a way around this, and set things up so that (if it all works) everything I post on mirabilis.ca will automagically post itself on Diaspora as well.

We’ll see how that works! Perhaps it will get me past the indecision / sloth / coffee loop.

The web we have to save

The Web We Have to Save is an important and thoughtful article by Hossein Derakhshan, who was jailed for blogging in 2008. He’s free now, and sad about what the web has become. I’m sad about this, too.

Six years was a long time to be in jail, but it’s an entire era online. Writing on the internet itself had not changed, but reading — or, at least, getting things read — had altered dramatically. I’d been told how essential social networks had become while I’d been gone, and so I knew one thing: If I wanted to lure people to see my writing, I had to use social media now.

So I tried to post a link to one of my stories on Facebook. Turns out Facebook didn’t care much. It ended up looking like a boring classified ad. No description. No image. Nothing. It got three likes. Three! That was it.

It became clear to me, right there, that things had changed. I was not equipped to play on this new turf — all my investment and effort had burned up. I was devastated. [continue]

I was on the web for years before blogs existed. Were you? In those days, you needed to know things about HTML in order to publish anything on the web. (The original version of mirabilis.ca was hand-coded, you know: HTML, typed by hand, with no blogging software in sight.)

When blogging platforms like Movable Type and then WordPress appeared, suddenly it was easy for all kinds of people to start blogs of their own and write what they pleased. And they did!

I loved the bloggy world of those days, and I miss it. Now so many people use Facebook and Twitter instead of blogging, and I think that’s sad. Why put your content on a commercial network that views you as the product? Why give your content to some entity that does not respect your privacy, and does not give you full control over your own stuff? The answer is usually “convenience” or “because everybody else does” or some such. I understand this, but I mourn for the days when everybody wanted to blog, instead of post to Facebook. I loved the decentralized, quirky, independent feel of the blogosphere.

And that is, in part, why I’m here, blogging. I will not give my content to some commercial entity, no matter who else does. You’ll not find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or what-have-you.

What about you? Do you value independent voices on the web? Independent sites, like blogs? Do you have a blog of your own? Or do you, too, let some commercial company host your social interactions?

And what do you think of Hossein’s article?

Personality test for your blog (MBTI)

You know about the Myers Briggs Personality Test? Well, now there’s a version of that for blogs. Hop on over to Typealyzer.com, plug in the URL of your blog, and see what you get. Apparently Mirabilis.ca is an ENTP. The blurb says:

ENTP – The Visionaries

The charming and trend savvy type. They are especially attuned to the big picture and anticipate trends. They often have sophisticated language skills and come across as witty and social. At the end of the day, however, they are pragmatic decision makers and have a good analytical abilitity.

They enjoy work that lets them use their cleverness, great communication skills and knack for new exciting ventures. They have to look out not to become quitters, since they easily get bored when the creative exciting start-up phase is over.

I did the Myers Briggs test myself years and years ago; I always wound up with an ENTJ or INTJ result back then, so I guess that makes me an XNTJ according to the official test. But the blog! Ah, apparently the blog is another type altogether.

Link found here at CrankyProfessor.com.

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The Associated Press has gone mad

So the Associated Press seems to have lost its mind: they want bloggers to pay them for quoting excerpts from an AP story. How much? 12.50 for four words. I don’t know what they’re smoking over there, but seems like it’s crazy strong stuff. Here are some of the best responses I’ve seen on the matter:

My own reaction is pretty much the same as the one posted at TechCrunch. Why would I want to send any traffic to AP now? Why would I want to include any of their content if this is how they’re going to treat bloggers? Nuts to that.

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Mirabilis.ca now supports gravatars

What’s a gravatar? The Gravatar website explains:

A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is quite simply an avatar image that follows you from weblog to weblog appearing beside your name when you comment on gravatar enabled sites.

If you want a gravatar, you sign up at Gravatar.com. Then you select the image you wish to use as your gravatar, and you’re done. (It’s free.)

Once you have a gravatar, the gravatar image you selected will show up beside your name when you post comments on weblogs — so long as you post using the same email address you used when you signed up for your gravatar.

Here are a couple of recent Mirabilis.ca comment threads:

So, how much comment spam do you get?

I know some of you have blogs of your own. So how much comment spam do you get, anyway? The Mirabilis.ca total for 2007 is 28,651 28,745. Isn’t that insane?

Fortunately the Akismet plugin for WordPress takes care of it all for me, but still. Some days I go for dinner and come back to find 81 pieces of spam have arrived in thirty minutes. *sigh*