At the request of individuals I respect, I am returning to weblogging.
It has been almost two years since I last picked up the keyboard for such pursuits, and during that period our culture has shifted towards the deepest Bolgias of Dante’s Inferno.
I stand, put my hand up to shield my eyes, look towards the horizon … and see a blasted, burnt, twisted and tortured landscape.
Blogs have been largely relegated in the face of the instant-satisfaction social media. Those that are being linked on commercial news services regurgitate universal knowledge, inspirational quotes, and ‘best practices’ boilerplate. In addition, we are now tracked, tabulated, diced, sliced and served to corporate interests on a golden platter. I don’t need to tell you why or how - we all know we’ve signed our souls away for the terrifyingly bad user interfaces of services like Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and others. Did I say bad? I mean purposely bad, to encourage you to do what they want, while making it truly difficult to do what you want. Type a bold font on Facebook. Can’t. Why not? Because it’s not about your being able to properly use the interface, it’s about discovering your interests and selling them to others. Not that any of you didn’t already know this. But we all need a kick in the ass to stop with the easy-to-consume poison Kool-Aid, and start caring about this. Others of my blog generation have made the move, it's past time for me to do so.
I call "time" for the renaissance of the independent self-hosted weblog. I don’t care what you use, or how you use it, but get the hell off the commercial social services and get an independent weblog.
Own your information. Control your information.
We’ve allowed these services to get too big for their britches, and they’re making choices none of us like very much. Their ethics are tortured and we have no democratic method through which to redirect their interests.
I’ll use social services as tools, but with things I do not value especially. I am going to be gradually weaning myself off services and hosting all my own stuff.
We talked about having all of our personal information on our own computers, either in XML or other file formats - we should control how that information gets disseminated, shared, used. We need to pull our information out of all commercial services and start ‘herding our own cattle’. It’ll be inconvenient at first, but if enough of us do it, the market must respond.
But how will we find each other?
First: Old fashioned blogrolls. I’ll post folks I follow - you post folks you follow. Don’t have to do it on your homepage, but make a page and put your favorite people there so we can all find them. Link it, reference it often in your social channels. Share what you’ve got, share what you find. We need to support independent bloggers. And remember to attribute finds!
Second: This is important. Really important. RSS. Introduce your readers to NetNewsWire or one of the other RSS constructs. Show them how to use it. If necessary, I’ll do a video. Smart folks today still think RSS is dead, and that RSS is useless. RSS is vital, needs evangelization, and it is the only way to cut social services off at the knees. Want to read articles YOUR way? Not curated by commercial interests? RSS, baby.
This blog will remain an eclectic one. A caveat, however.
I am one of the only early bloggers to regularly post on political subjects. It was unwise then, it is even more unwise today. I’m not a wise man, so I’ll continue to do so. But with a sense of balance in an unbalanced political environment. Too many today are frighteningly focused on millisecond-attention-duration political minutiae.
I need to make some personal philosophies very clear:
I do not watch television news. Ever. If I cannot read it in print or online, I don't pay attention to it (unless urgent breaking disasters occur).
I do not watch ‘political entertainers’. Ever. Never have. I didn’t watch Jon Stewart in his heyday, I don’t watch Maddow, Hannity, Colbert or anyone else.
I do not read editorials in the major newspapers.
Why, you might ask? I dislike having opinions spoonfed to me in cloyingly attractive little soundbites. Thousands, perhaps millions are being led around by the nose by a very small number of powerful commercial-ideological interests. That bothers me. It should bother you, too.
And a warning: I cannot stand people who watch these predigested politicoentertainment shows and then repeat them verbatim in my comment area the day after broadcast.
Think for yourselves, first, always.
I dig for facts-only writers and articles. And believe me, these days, it is not easy - even the major media channels are editorializing in their regular reportage articles. I read voraciously, swiftly. I used to post upwards of 50 articles a day here. I will not be that prolific now. But with NetNewsWire or other RSS readers, I can span thousands of sources in an hour or three. I read not only sources I agree with, but I also read those I disagree with. National and international. You need to look at all facets - even distorted ones sometimes - to get a more complete picture of a given situation. It is amazing how many times digging in virtual excrement can result in a diamond.
As I’ve spent the time to dig for data and facts, I expect you to post data and references to back up your opinions. This is HTML - ‘hyper text’ - and I expect readers to leverage its features. Treat a comment like a legal case. I want us all to network and raise our consciousness - hive mind, crowdsourcing, superminding - whatever term you’d like to use. We are better when we talk and think together. The current cultural/political environment is trying to separate us, divide and conquer. Not here, not on this weblog, not on my watch.
All online discussions that become intractable arguments can be settled by agreeing to disagree. Break the rule, you get banned. I have no patience these days for the pride-filled wilfully ignorant.
Finally (and are you still reading this) - I am not always right. I am not always wrong. But I like to believe I’m always open to new opinions, new experience. If I feel I need time to research something, I’ll ask for the time. If I make a mistake, I write a correction (as a journalist would). If I offend someone, I apologize.
I do try to not form deeply held beliefs in today’s ridiculously compressed time periods - those beliefs you fight tooth and nail over. Lately, since I stopped weblogging last year, I’ve realized how much I actually do not know. So I may sound a little different in tone as I approach our new culture, our new world of today.
I may not post every day, but rather than wasting my time on text-based social channels, I will be putting my expressions of interest here. If I only have ten readers now, it’ll still be worth more than the easy ‘like’ and continual focusing/refocusing of the AI-fueled targeting of my pysche by Facebook.
So welcome back, longtime readers. Welcome, new readers. Let’s see if I’ve still ‘got it.’