How the World’s Richest Person Inspired Me to Abandon Big Tech   Leave a comment

Pride in ownership.

Well, it’s been a few years since I’ve been posting here.  It’s time to blow the dust and rust off, and get serious about it again.  And for this impetus, you can thank the World’s Richest Person(tm), Elon Musk.

On 25 April 2022, Uncle Elon solidified his bid for Twitter, in the whopping amount of US$45 BILLION.  This deal had been in the making for a good part of April, with Elon making his usual less-than-adult remarks in his Twitter feed.  CNN quotes him as saying:

Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.

Well, what happens when the digital town squares (plural) are owned and operated by some of the richest people in existence?  Do you truly have free speech then, or are you beholden to the whims of those whose virtual soap box you stand on?  This is not a new problem on the Internet, at least in the post dot-com era, but it is one that has been growing worse.  After starting to break out of digital walled gardens like CompuServe, Prodigy, and the 800 pound gorilla of America On-Line, society has wandered back into the fenced-in electronic corrals of digital land barons like Facebook, Twitter, and Google.  People no longer own media, but rent their music and movie collections from companies like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Spotify.

And these public corporations are using you, and your data as a product.  Look at the stock prices and market capitalizations of these companies.  Are you seeing a cent from them?  Are you paying them anything?  Likely, the answer to either question is “no.”  You, my friend, are now a commodity.  Your cute pictures of your grandchild, your goofy video of your dog looking puzzled at stuff on the counter, are out there, making money for someone else.  Ever notice how once you search for something or comment about it online, that all you seem to get for the next few days or weeks is advertisements for exactly that product or company?  I do.

It wasn’t always like this.  There was a time on the Internet where you weren’t someone else’s product to be advertised to, and sold like a package of meat on some anonymous exchange.  To be bundled up like a sub-prime mortgage and sold for pennies on the dollar to whoever thinks they could make a cheap, and likely ever more sleazy, dollar off of you.  There was a time when there was a pride of ownership in having one’s own space on the web, not a Facebook feed where you were lucky if you could see what your friends were actually posting thanks to some mysterious “algorithm” that always seemed to surface advertisements and posts (usually paid) of “influencers” of stuff that was as likely to piss you off instead of interest you.

No more.

My data is my own.  I start now by starting to transition my microblogging (see:  Twitter) out of the Twitter walled garden, and into the greater Internet — something some people call the “Fediverse”, although I’m not certain I like the terminology.  But I can run my own platform there.  My data is my own, and those who want to see what I’m saying can read it, or not.  The Algorithm isn’t going to filter what I say, or who hears it.  Come find me at @bluknight@dotorg.org.

I’m going to start posting more long-form content here in the blog as well.  Microblogging is nice for some stuff, but I find myself running long threads of commentary, and maybe that’s not the best for being on a “Micro” service.  It also allows me to start moving my other media-ish content (videos and photos to share, maybe some live-streaming) in house.  And eventually my email relationship with Gmail, 10-12 years strong now, will end.

Am I leaving Twitter or Facebook?  Not right away.  There’s people I know, people I care about, that don’t know how to, or can’t, leave the walled gardens yet.  I need to see what I can do to help them along.  I can probably help others along the way, as well.  This is going to be a building and growth process, not a quick fix.  Not everyone sees the issues the way I do, and maybe I’m wrong in some places.

But it’s time to take a stand, and where I’m starting…  is here.  I welcome you to join me on the journey to a better Internet, and a better society.

Posted June 2, 2022 by mec in Uncategorized

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