Integrated reader

I would like to have an RSS reader built into my blog. It would be integrated with a blogroll.

I’d come here to read and reblog-with-comments, and friends who stop by could use the blogroll to branch off to friends-of-friends.

This would stand in for much of the feature set in decentralized social networks like Mastodon. There must have been many experiments in augmenting WordPress to act as a decentralized social network, but I haven’t seen any.

Blogging and context collapse

Posts in wide-open social media like a blog go to everybody, regardless of their relationships. Church friends and drinking buddies get the same blend of pieties and dirty jokes.

The expected readership for my little blog here is myself, a few friends who use RSS, and search engines. Those are incredibly dissimilar. Search engines will be used by work connections, and I need to use the same formalities as in a meeting. Friends who use RSS will be interested in technology. Between me and myself I am interested in my internal monologue.

Yet on a day to day basis nobody reads this but me, so my internal monologue is all that matters. There’s a mismatch when it comes to search engines and friends who use RSS. It’s a form of context collapse.

Quiet space

This is not a private journal. It’s not secret. It’s not encrypted.

This is not publishing. It is not a place to make my thoughts known. What I write here is for myself.

This is not personal marketing. It is not to make myself known.

Writing in this blog is peaceful. It’s like scribbling in a Moleskin while sitting on a rock in a park where I happen to be the only person. Others might wander by, but they would probably just glance over and go their own way, to jog or have their lunch or write in their own Moleskins.

Silence is resistance

Per Fingertips blog, social media is commercial marketing in the personal sphere:

With so many people trained by social media to be consciously projecting their thoughts and activities into the maw of the attention economy, it’s become difficult to earn the attention of others on the merits of what it is you’re trying to say, even within your own personal network. In this way, long-standing rules of the capitalist marketplace have infected our non-commercial relationships. … We use the word “marketing” to describe that very thing.

Those least interested in being noticed are going to have to teach everyone else how to stop requiring so much attention. How, exactly, can we do this?

I think the answer starts with what comes naturally to us: remaining silent. Being silent in this context is resistance. If people could learn to be silent in this way, refusing to put their words and pictures and emojis and links into the attention economy pipeline, a lot of it would rather quickly and thoroughly dry up.

It wasn’t bad to be a wrong optimist

From the vantage point of 2019 the Internet is a supreme mess. Elsagate. 8chan. Phone spam at 1/2 of all calls.

But back when the Internet was young I believed in it. It was going to bring democratization, not autocracy; decentralization, not FAANG; anonymity, not surveillance capitalism.

Like how in 1942 nearly everybody in the US was called up to either the military or the home front, most of us in the sunrise days of the web joined the cause in one way or another.

I studied composing and went off to write CGI scripts. My friend Adam got a MA from the super-swanky JFK School at Harvard and became a sysadmin. His wife Mary got a MA in literature and became a website coordinator. This was how we wanted things to be. It felt amazing, not ignominious.

WW II was followed by McCarthy.  The hippie lifestyle illusion was a setup for what happened to poor Sharon Tate, Tarantino be damned. Email was in invented in 1978, and spam was invented in… 1978.

I’m not sorry to have been a believer, by the way. It wasn’t so bad to be a wrong optimist. Maybe the frontier was a better world that came and went. Maybe we don’t know the end of the story yet. Maybe our current world is better than it would have been. I just don’t know. Being so wrong about so much for so long has been a golden opportunity to learn humility.