Category Archives: internet culture

the IndieWeb

This will be the 874th post on this blog. I’ve been doing this for many years now. I’m not exactly sure why. I do enjoy it. I am sort of compelled. I only have a few readers, but that is enough. For some reason blogging has always spoken to me.

A few times a year I do a quick search for new blogging platforms. I’m generally very happy with this site, which runs on WordPress, on server space I have rented from for many years now.

As WordPress has evolved it has become more difficult for someone like me to modify the themes available. They are just a lot more complex than they were back in 2006. I also very much don’t like the new themes that are available. As you, dear readers, may have notices, I like a very clean site. I want my words easy to read, without a bunch of junk all over the place. It seems I am very much in the minority on this. Oh well.

This year I came upon, a site and system created by an old coworker named Manton Reece. I’ve been playing with it for a couple of weeks, and I have to say it’s a nice system. This description will do a better job than I can of explaining it.

All of this led me to this concept/movement/thing called IndieWeb. In short, it is the notion of at least to some extent un-entangling from the social media sites and massive companies, or at least using them with a bit more thought while having your own thing going and owning your own data and content. Stuff that I feel like has been brewing in my mind for a while, and maybe yours too. Or maybe not. Who knows?

I’m not kidding myself. I don’t think this is going to change the internet habits of the masses, but I do think it offers and alternative way of thinking about online creative activities (like blogging) and life-on-the-internet in general.

Looking over many of the principles found on IndieWeb, it strikes me that I have been doing many of them for a long time. That’s probably a result of when I started creating web pages and just being involved in all this. That would be about 1994. There was no social media or big silos back then, so for the most part you needed your own domain name and hosting account to do anything. So all of that is normal to me. When I started my old skateboard trick tips video site, I had to host the tiny videos and pay  for the very expensive bandwidth because there was no Youtube back then. No inexpensive or free way of hosting video. As a consequence, though I’ve got a youtube account and have a lot of video there, it has always rubbed me the wrong way to give my content to them, in exchange for free hosting, to build their business and not mine. In fact, for the last few years I’ve actually used a pay account with Vimeo for the most part to host my videos. I realize not everyone can pay, but I can, and for me it is worth it. As a paying customer, I feel like I have a bit more power in the relationship than I do with Youtube.

Anyway, I think this is the kind of next-level information literacy stuff that people need to think about.

William Gibson

In the early 1990s, I read the Sprawl Trilogy by William Gibson and a bunch of stuff about hackers. When my wife applied to grad school for Library Science, I read through the materials she got, and saw stuff about the internet. Having no career, and finding this quite interesting, I applied to grad school too. So when people ask me how I got interested in my career, I can honestly tell them it was cyberpunk science fiction that pulled me in. At the time I read that stuff I had barely even touched a computer.

The Internet was different back then. The World Wide Web, as the highly graphical representation of the internet we know today, was just taking off. This was about 1994. Mosaic was the web browser of choice, then came NetScape. There wasn’t that much on the web, and I actually preferred using Gopher, which was a non-graphical predecessor to the Web. There was no such thing as home broadband. You used a fairly slow modem. Downloading an image took some time.

I feel like there was, back then, a more geographic notion of the internet. A lot of activity was still based around universities. When you went to a Gopher site, or a Web site, you had more an idea that you were “going somewhere” — the idea that you were actually traversing cyberspace was more immediate. My first job as a reference librarian was at NASA Johnson Space Center. When doing research for the engineers, scientists, and astronauts there, I’d often imagine myself physically exploring the data — immersing myself in it.

Not everyone was “on the internet” back then, so if you were, you felt like you knew something. It was cool. To this day I like to Telnet to a server to do some work — makes me feel like a wizard.

Anyway, I watched this documentary about William Gibson tonight. I really enjoyed it. I am grateful to William Gibson for igniting my imagination and leading me to a very rewarding career.

An Admission

Tonight, while sitting here reading random stuff on the internet and playing on Twitter, some guy from Miami took offense at my tweet about how Walmart is now giving benefits to same-sex couples, so fundamentalists and people who just hate gays all suffered simultaneous head explosions.

I investigated the guy who responded with some stupid but non-profane comeback about “liberals” and “socialists”.  OK – he’s from Miami. On his Twitter page he has a “no Che” symbol. You know – a picture of Che Guevara with a red circle around it with a red line through Che’s face. So at the risk of being hasty and succumbing to horrible stereotyping, I’m gonna say it was a Cuban-American from Miami who just hates Castro and is still just really hating Che, and of course he has therefore adopted a super conservative ultra-patriot persona.

I find this amusing because a friend of mine, also of Cuban heritage but raised in New York City, used to find great humor in this kind of thing. I think of my buddy and laugh. I wish I could hear his evaluation. Maybe I’ll send him the link.

Anyway, I blocked this dickhead so he can’t see my account or respond to me. I love having that power. I imagine his frustration that I not only didn’t start an argument with him, but now I have vanished from his confused universe.

Keep with me. I know this is quite childish.

three-stooges-wallpapers-three-stooges-23436836-1024-768So all of this, as well as other readings from the evening have made me realize this fact about myself. Not only does it give me pleasure when people I disagree with are unhappy because the thing we disagree on has not gone their way (this is sick enough, I admit), but I also enjoy it — I mean REALLY enjoy it — when people who agree with the people who disagree with me are disappointed and/or (preferably) angry about the same thing.

This is very similar to the German concept of schadenfreude, but rather than being happy about someone’s misfortune, it involves being happy about their unhappiness. And of course, what I’m admitting to here is the delight I take in the cascade of displeasure that happens all through the network of stupidity.

Clearly I didn’t have much activity planned tonight…