Alongside the “Great Resignation” of 2021-2022, we are witnessing the “Great Recognition” of the simple fact that the #openweb is the only digital space where you can leave a true legacy as a thinker and a writer.
Walled gardens like #Facebook, #Twitter, Medium, and many others have tried to capture words over the decades. They failed. 100 years from now, when people look back in time to witness What People Thought, they won’t be gleaning the highest wisdom and deepest insights from tweets and likes and shares.
It will be Articles. Essays. In other words, Blog Posts. (Before you say “what about Newspaper Columns?”—in this day and age they might as well just be considered Blog Posts because we typically consume them the exact same way.)
Medium-to-longform content, written by individuals, and largely posted on independent websites for all the world to see. Not trapped inside a social network, but freely accessible*. I’ve never been more bullish on the power of the #openweb to both contain and promote forward thinking than I am today.
* Rest assured I’m not making a case here against paywalls—even paywalled #writing can be “freely accessible” on the open web in the sense that you don’t need to join a Big Tech platform to make #payments in order to access the content.
Well, another equally valid headline would have been Many Americans are unsure about a number of topics. 😜
Sereiously though, of interest to me is the stat that only 29% of those interviewed correctly identified #Facebook as the owner of both Instagram and WhatsApp. This is hugely problematic not only from the perspective of consumers understanding their choices around smartphone app usage, but it’s a major issue for Facebook as well. Facebook’s brand has become tarnished in recent years, yet it continues to move towards tighter integration of WhatsApp and Instagram into the Facebook platform and ecosystem. However, this could end up backfiring as people increasingly question their usage of the more “positive” apps which have escaped some of the ire directed at Facebook.
Every time I talk with a friend or colleague about how I’m not on Facebook but still use Instagram, I immediately add “yeah I know, it’s still part of Facebook.” Most of the time the folks I talk to know this already, but most of the folks I talk to are fairly digitally savvy. Farther afield, I fear a great many people just have no idea that even when they’re using Instagram or WhatsApp, the buck still ends with Zuck.
I don’t have time to do a whole write up, so here’s the gist of it: since I’m no longer using #Facebook to share family photos, I wanted to find a way to create a password-protected photo gallery. After some research, I tried out SmugMug. It works great! For only a few dollars a month, I can upload and present photos far more beautifully than I ever could on social media, it’s secure, and it’s ad-free. Simply perfect and just in time for the holidays. Now I can email or text the link & password to family and friends, and we’re off to the races. 👍 #openweb#lifehacks
Big news! I purchased the domain name openweb.social, which I’m simply thrilled was still available. I’m mulling over a few ideas of what to do with it. One possibility is that I’ll install Mastodon to power a new #openweb themed social network where people can discuss building a better community of content publishing and engagement via open protocols.
Another possibility that I’m just starting to tinker with is starting a what-if#website that deep-dives into the question of what it would take for #Facebook to adopt open protocols. What if you could take your “social graph” to another service (even one you built yourself!) and post content there, and your Facebook friends could still see your posts? And you’d still see your friends’ Facebook posts and even reply to them? It would make social networking more akin to email, where all email clients and servers are compatible even though they’re run by different companies and on different infrastructure.
Got any thoughts? Just click Message above (or reply to this email if you’re reading my newsletter) and let me know what you think I should do with openweb.social!
Facebook’s working on several significant internet connectivity solutions right now. Terragraph is their newest experiment. My simple take on these initiatives is this: as long as #Facebook ensures their ISP division only provides a “dumb pipe” that allows all internet traffic through without modification or prioritization, then I think their efforts are a good thing. But somehow I suspect what we’ll really get is internet that’s free because it’s subsidized by Facebook ad tech and prioritizes fast access to Facebook.
One significant thing that #Facebook did right is to allow users to download an archive of everything they posted on the network. I feel like the format of the data export is rather poor and in some cases hard for software to parse for interesting analysis, but it’s certainly better than nothing. I’m glad to hear #Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) is following suit. However, I generally don’t post anything to Instagram myself that’s not already in my #iPhone’s photo library, and I suspect that might be the case for a lot of Instagram users, so I’m curious what besides the photos & videos themselves will be included in the archive.
Two days after the relaunch of my #website and I’m still feeling the afterglow of excitement. The real challenge of course is being consistent in writing and keeping things fresh over time. But I feel like the new formats available to me make that job easier than in the past.
Next up: I watched the live stream of #Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearing yesterday and took quite a few notes, so expect some detailed analysis to drop tomorrow. Everyone else is rushing to get their “take” out the door, but I feel these issues are weighty and nuanced enough that I want to say something well considered.
If you’re around web publishing or general online news or blog-related tech long enough, Dave Winer is a name that keeps popping up. He’s been a strong proponent of the #openweb and highly skeptical of proprietary networks such as #Facebook long before it became fashionable to do so (like right now, apparently). I think a few years from now when we look back at the evolution of news and of the web, we’ll realize that the concepts underlying RSS (and hence blogging and podcasting ) were far more powerful, more useful, and more resiliant to commercial attacks than we’ve given them credit for.
#Facebook has spent an inordinate amount of time tweaking its newsfeed algorithm, when the real problem lies in the very concept of the feature. While the newsfeed seemed exciting and novel when it first came out in 2006, there has been very little innovation since. The online social needs of 2018 have far outstripped the pace of progress, and in fact we’re now witnessing the very real downsides to how the newsfeed affects people emotionally, culturally, and politically.