Taking Back The Net

These problems were already solved

Anti is Hard, How About Old School?

I have commented a few times in this newsletter, my other newsletter, and in my podcasts (links to all of these at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/DanHugo as usual) that the current, trendy Social Media Platforms are, for me, tired and less appealing, but as anyone who quits will tell you, it’s trick to quit completely if any of your friends and family or even more an issue, your business or work in general rely on the various social media tools out there to communicate or conduct business. This is a shame, the worst kinds of silo that hold you with hostage threats.

I’ve just uninstalled the other Facebook application from my mobile devices. I think they call it LinkedIn, but the content there is more and more FB every day. The days of “Dynamic CV” were more useful in my opinion, but now it’s where you post your facebook stuff (possibly automatically, as many platforms will auto-post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others with a checkbox). I still use LinkedIn, a little but, but I mute more and more content.

Honestly, I think we could roll back the odometer a bit and not be worse off, when it comes to sharing. That is, if I want to share a picture of a visit to the Pinball Hall of Fame (foreshadowing?), I can do it on a personal blog or in this newsletter or I could just show it to someone in person, but in today’s world we much post it to Instagram and (thanks to my old IFTTT rules that I forgot to disable) have it appear on Facebook and Twitter and who knows where else. If it isn’t posted on the big social media platforms, it didn’t happen. How on earth did we get here?

So here are my thoughts on this as I reflect on how I got here (which is only a speck on the How did we get here? question, but I don’t have much else to go on at the moment) and what I would like to do moving forward.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and the rest… all need to be secondary engagement tools. I should never be posting original content on any of these (though thye definitely want you to), only links to my own content. The OpenGraph (and/or Twitter Card) infrastructure, for better or worse, makes this possible on a broadly-accepted scale.

Personally, I’ve been migrating away from a phone number and text messaging using that phone number. It will take a lifetime or two to kill phone numbers, and I’m annoyed that Telegram still relies on them, but it is possible to use Telegram, Signal, and my selection for eventual destination comms platform, Matrix, to meet modern communications expectations (with end-to-end encryption, live messaging, rich content, voice and even video chat). At this point if I’m getting a text message, it’s either bad second-factor auth, or spam (on my personal stuff… business is even worse, two lifetimes to get rid of the digits).

Everybody is chanting Blockchain! Blockchain! to decentralize the internet. Hmm. Those people probably have their wagers out on the craps table (I don’t view BTC and the rest as investments, nor as real or even fiat currency, they are gambling markers or at best, transaction transportation containers), but we’ve already had decentralized internet for a long time, until these big tech dorks came along. Was it perfect? No. But let us examine a couple of items here:

  • Domain Registrars are actually more diversified now, that’s good (the InternIC to Network Solutions to multiple registrars, not bad)

  • Hosting used to be fairly diverse, now you can run your own stuff in many places, including your own servers if your connectivity is capable.

  • Open source software has been powering the internet this whole time, if you want to deploy some services or some applications or roll you own, there’s an 80% or better chance that everything you need is a git clone away. Or maybe even a Docker container or similar pre-assembled package ready to try out!

  • Given the bullets above up to here, I can

    • run my own email server with any MTA (I like postfix even though it’s a pain to configure)

    • run my own news server (remember nntp? still exists) and if my friends want to peer, my announcements and discussions can get copied to those peers all the time… no more cancellation concerns?

    • run my own irc service(s) if I want real time chat

    • run an icecast server if I want to live stream a podcast

    • of course run apache or nginx or various other web servers to host my own web content or service

    • keep my content in mysql or postgresql or couchdb or mongodb or any of dozens of other traditional and special-purpose database tools

    • create my own tools, services, technologies building on the existing infrastructure, including many giants’ shoulders on which to stand

  • I hand over some control, and personal agency, to the likes of Substack and Twitter because I’m lazy, because I’m busy, or because I’m not able to roll my own… for me it’s the first two, for you it might be the third, either way it was possible to share your stuff (ideas, words, documents, pictures, videos, projects) online decades ago, the infrastructure has only become more capable and the tools more plentiful.

This will no doubt get more mention in the Quoggling Sand podcast and elsewhere, but there is no reason to cede so much to our big tech overlords. If I want to run for political office some day (I don’t, but it’s early), I shouldn’t have to ask a corporation to let me use their platform (and I’m not a fan of any particular political actor in that situation now, but the public square should be the public square, not a square on private property).

Let’s take back the internet already!

How Funny

A little break from stand-up this week, how about some fun skits and bits from television and otherwise…

MAD TV had some fun stuff with some great characters and talent coming out of it, but this sketch is, to me, perfection. Why? They stayed in character and stuck with the names throughout, and I would challenge you to do the same. Classic.

SNL First CityWide is a two-parter, and while this is (probably?) not live, the straight delivery of a ridiculous premise like this was solid. The simple ones work, which should be written on the white board in the writers’ room in permanent marker.

SNL Taco Town… there are plenty of SNL shorts, some hilarious, some ricidulous. Taco Town is such a spot-on commentary on silly food commercials, I’ve enjoyed this one since I first saw it broadcast.

Yes, Lonely Island has turned out some nice shorts, and you can’t go wrong with Happy Fun Ball, Shimmer, Bass-o-matic, and the list goes on, and SNL and MAD are only two of may fun outlets for comedy (most are better, perhaps). Until next week!

Light Reading

(The links provided for these books are not affiliate links, click away)

I just finished the audio book version of The Martian by Andy Weir, read by Wil Wheaton. It was pretty good, arguably better than the movie for the most part, though the movie ending was more movie-ish. I have mixed feelings about Wheaton as a book narrator, especially given his reading of both Ready Player N books, but he was not bad here. I am beginning to lean toward old school radio show production values for fiction books, wherein there are voices for characters. Get rid of the “…, said John” parts of the spoken word already!

I’m just about finished with a non-fiction audio book, Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid, ready by Sarah Barron. Here, Barron’s Irish accent adds a certain something to the recounting of historical tales where advances in forensic science and technique have changed and improved the way science is used to catch criminals. Interesting history lessons.


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Dan's BMaC Profile/Links Page

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Artwork Attribution

Photo by Ana Cruz on Unsplash