An assortment of things to read as you sip your coffee, my dears.
2016: the year Facebook became the bad guy
Are people starting to realize what a problem Facebook is? Olivia Solon gets it – this is from her article in today’s Guardian: 2016: the year Facebook became the bad guy.
As the year unfurled, Facebook had to deal with a string of controversies and blunders, not limited to: being accused of imperialism in India, censorship of historical photos, and livestreaming footage of human rights violations. Not to mention misreported advertising metrics and the increasingly desperate cloning of rival Snapchat’s core features. Things came to a head in November, when the social network was accused of influencing the US presidential election through politically polarized filter bubbles and a failure to tackle the spread of misinformation. The icing on the already unpalatable cake was Pope Francis last week declaring that fake news is a sin.
This was Facebook’s annus horribilis. [continue]
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?